Five Business Secrets I Learned from My Dog

By Gail Z. Martin

My golden retriever, Chase, was with me from the time I started DreamSpinner Communications nine years ago.  Sadly, we just lost him to old age, but in that precious time we had together, Chase taught me a lot about life.  Here are the top five things I learned from him about being successful in business:

Secret #1: Make friends everywhere you go.  Very few people can see a golden retriever and not smile.  Most people have to come over to pet one, and they stay to chat a little.  A dog can be a great ice-breaker, and because of Chase, we got to know a lot of strangers who became friends. I even got to meet this awesome virtual vet. For Chase, every stranger was a friend waiting to happen.  There’s some real wisdom in that, because success is not a do-it-alone kind of thing.  As the song says, we get by with a little help from our friends.  You can never have too many of them.

Secret #2: Wag a lot; bark a little.  Most of the time, Chase delivered a full-body wag that could knock a can of Coke off a coffee table and send papers flying.  But when it was important, he had a bark that got people’s attention (and respect).  What I learned was that you need to start out wagging (it makes lots of friends and makes people happy), but there are times when you’ve got to bark, and when that happens, let your voice be heard.

Secret #3: Take time to play every day.  Rain, shine or heat, Chase would drag me outside at lunchtime to throw a ball for him.  He loved to run after it (he was a retriever, after all), and watching him always made me smile. I was also surprised at how much our little outings (usually only a few minutes long) could also change my mood, brighten my day, and give me a mental break so that I went back to work feeling happy and refreshed.  Breaks are good for us, and we do better work when we take them.

Secret #4: When storms come, rely on your friends.  Although he was a big dog, Chase hated thunderstorms.  Whenever a storm would come, he would find his people and sit close to us (usually under our feet).  He couldn’t stop the storm, but he knew it wouldn’t be as scary if he was with people who loved him.  We can’t stop the storms that happen in our lives—economic downturns, delivery glitches, supplier problems, etc.—but whatever comes our way gets easier when we have a supportive group who can help us keep it together until the storm passes.

Secret #5: Show people how much you appreciate them every day.  Whenever I left for even an hour, Chase greeted me at the door as if I’d been away for months, wagging and spinning in circles, letting me know how very, very glad he was that I was back.  I never doubted that he appreciated me in his own doggy way.  It’s a pretty good habit to pick up (you don’t have to spin in circles or wag).  Let the people in your life know how special they are to you, how much you appreciate them, and how fantastic you think they are.  That includes family, friends, neighbors, employees, vendors/suppliers, referral partners, clients and everyone who makes your life possible.

I will always miss Chase, but I’m grateful for the time we had together.  Many people heard his deep “woof” in the background of a phone call, and he was the muse for all of my books.  His memory will stay with me forever, but so will the lessons about life and business that I learned from him.

So…take a moment to be grateful for the pets and people in your life, and show them how much they matter to you.  And while you’re doing that, keep your eyes open for the wisdom that they can share that lasts a lifetime.

Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications and helps companies and solo professionals in the U.S. and Canada improve their marketing results in 30 days. Gail has an MBA in marketing and over 20 years of corporate and non-profit experience at senior executive levels. Gail hosts the Shared Dreams Marketing Podcast. She’s the author of 30 Days to Social Media Success and The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book. Find her online at, on Twitter @GailMartinPR and check out her Facebook page at 30 Day Results Guide.


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