It’s delightful to receive positive acknowledgement about your work and impact. The ones I remember vary in form quite a bit. Some were the briefest of feedback after a meeting or in the hall. Some were callbacks later on – sometimes as small as a casual mention in passing that I might have missed if my attention were somewhere else. Some were emails or texts.

While I will remember these, there’s something special about getting something tangible. A little card or gift is a delightful aberration when the vast majority of communication is digital, and the bulk of mail is, well, bulk.

I’ve received an end-of-year thank you gift a few times in my career. In a way, the timing added more impact. When work involves thinking in a daily, weekly, or quarterly way (an eternity!) getting a reminder of a longer cycle is noteworthy. For me, a little desk calendar was the reminder of colleagues Ilana and Bill now leading the charge at their strategy firm, Create with Context. Another time, a fruit basket (awesome) made me feel appreciated for the extra work and feedback I had with the folks from Wacom while I worked on Photoshop.

I thought of these as I looked back at the year. In 2014 I made the leap from large in-house teams to working solo as a consultant. After a career made at Adobe and LinkedIn, I felt I had a lot to offer smaller companies about designing solutions that scale. I also felt compelled to find time to put towards fine art and illustration. With both as goals, I worked backward to plan out how to run my business, Make It Legit, to give me room to make a serious foray into art. I honestly didn’t know whether my plan of alternating short contracts with painting would work at all, or whether it would be sustainable.

It has been working. And the overwhelming reason why it’s worked so far are the opportunities that people in my network have sent my way. Some happened surprisingly quickly (startups), some panned out after many months (the government…not surprisingly). All have been because of a handful of people who knew my work spotted opportunities that fit it.

So, for the first time, I made my own little business gifts so they’d know how much I appreciate it. And in a true reflection of my twin goals, I was able to make an art project out of supporting my design business. This is my heartfelt “thank you.”