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Sarah Ratekin Blogger

I have taken the career path less traveled, and that breadth and depth of experience fuel my unwavering drive for excellence (both my own and others), authentic empathy, and an insatiable curiosity that allows me to see the world through an innovative and creative lens.

About fifteen years ago, I discovered my superpower. I could take a complicated subject and translate it into something that my audience could understand, connect with, and actually use to its fullest. New software, esoteric academic concepts, and complicated governmental business processes became straightforward and, dare I say it, EASY for my teams. I know! It sounds more like the plot of a comic book than real life!

And so when the time came to start my own company, I drew heavily on this skill, because many organizations are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on well-intended employee engagement/workplace experience programs that just don't have the ROI you need to justify the expense! That's inefficient financially, and heart-breakingly awful for the people who trust you to lead them.

A radical positivity activist, I'm also the founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happiness Is Courage, where I translate the science and the data behind what really fuels job satisfaction, employee engagement, and healthy company cultures into programs your people will actually use. I embrace cognitive well-being, happiness, and gratitude as avenues to greater personal and professional Resilience and organizational performance.

I've spoken at conferences across North America, facilitated numerous workshops on workplace excellence, and worked with groups from 1 to 6000+ to discover and embrace their personal strengths, ambitions, and relationship goals.

A Navy veteran, I also hold a Doctor of Business Administration and focus my research on how intentional gratitude impacts organizational performance. I also received a Masters Degree in Management and Leadership and an MBA. I've had the opportunity to be a guest on dozens of podcasts speaking on the power of happiness in the workplace and in life, and I'm the author of "Silver Threads: Living a Life of Gratitude" and the companion Silver Threads positivity and gratitude journal.

​​My spouse Kris, a certified Laughter Yoga leader himself, and I also travel extensively sharing the joy and power of laughter and positivity with community organizations, non-profits, and corporations in a wide variety of industries. The work you all do is very different, but the people who are making it happen? They're all very, very human, and I want to help you connect their passions to your purpose. Once you do that, the sky's the limit!

In our downtime, we enjoy exploring the outdoors (usually by kayak), dancing, and general merry adventuring! We currently live in Indiana with a truly astounding collection of garden gnomes who keep watch over my ever-expanding container gardens.

Books Authored By Sarah Ratekin

Recent Content

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Memorial Day Musings &Raquo; File 11
Memorial Day Musings

TL;DR: We have a long way to go towards repaying our servicemembers for their contributions to our society. Employers can do their part by understanding the powerful talent pool waiting to be leverage…

TL;DR: We have a lon…

TL;DR: We have a long way to go towards repaying our servicemembers for their contributions to our society. Employers can do their part by understanding the powerful talent pool waiting to be leveraged, and SHRM makes it easy with a FREE training.I grew up surrounded by veterans. And that's not as "beautiful" as it sounds, except when it was.My dad and his peers are/were of the Vietnam War era. My dad joined the Navy out of high school to avoid being drafted and to hold onto some kind of control over his life, and came home with his own demons from his experiences. He, and many o…

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Celebrating Hr (Yes, I'M Serious!) On International Human Resource Day &Raquo; File 5
Celebrating HR (Yes, I’m Serious!) on International Human Resource Day

Happy International Human Resources Day! Now, before you roll your eyes or block me from your feed...I know, believe me, I know... HR often gets a (sometimes very well-deserved) bad rap. According …

Happy International …

Happy International Human Resources Day! Now, before you roll your eyes or block me from your feed...I know, believe me, I know... HR often gets a (sometimes very well-deserved) bad rap. According to data shared by SHRM, the major professional association for HR professionals, there’s a significant lack of trust between employees and HR. Many people see HR as a necessary evil, and far too many leaders view HR as a convenient way to avoid the "messy parts" (i.e., the HUMAN parts) of managing people.I’ve been quite vocal about the shortcomings of traditional HR practices because, frankl…

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Negative Employee Experience Is Eclipsing The Good Work Your Company May Be Doing &Raquo; File 9 2
Negative Employee Experience Is Eclipsing The Good Work Your Company May Be Doing

Hey there, fellow workplace wanderers! Let's talk about something that's been lurking in the shadows of our corporate realms: negative employee experience. Yep, you heard that right. It's like a solar…

Hey there, fellow wo…

Hey there, fellow workplace wanderers! Let's talk about something that's been lurking in the shadows of our corporate realms: negative employee experience. Yep, you heard that right. It's like a solar eclipse, overshadowing all the good stuff your company is trying to achieve.Now, before we dive in, let's address the elephant in the room: sinking happiness levels, especially among (but not limited to) younger professionals.Picture this: you're scrolling through the latest Gallup World Happiness Report, and what do you see? North America, where many of us call home and where I primarily con…

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From Paradox To Possibility: Redefining Success For Women In The Workplace &Raquo; File 2 1
From Paradox to Possibility: Redefining Success for Women in the Workplace

This blog was inspired by two things. 1. It's Women's History Month, and 2. we recently watched the Barbie movie with that intensely relatable monologue by America Ferrera.If it's not already seared…

This blog was inspir…

This blog was inspired by two things. 1. It's Women's History Month, and 2. we recently watched the Barbie movie with that intensely relatable monologue by America Ferrera.If it's not already seared in your psyche, she starts with this line: "It is literally impossible to be a woman." Oof. Yeah. Preach it, sister. I think every woman I know has been caught in the tightrope walk of needing to "make your presence felt" while at the same time being nudged to "play it down a bit" in our work or social circles, and I know similar impossile pressures are put on our gender-rebel colleagues as we…

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Dancing Through Change: How Companies Can Move Beyond Resistance To Embrace Transformation &Raquo; File 3
Dancing Through Change: How Companies Can Move Beyond Resistance to Embrace Transformation

Ah, the paradox of organizational change: companies clamoring for innovation and improvement while simultaneously resisting the very changes that could lead to their evolution. It's a tale as old as t…

Ah, the paradox of o…

Ah, the paradox of organizational change: companies clamoring for innovation and improvement while simultaneously resisting the very changes that could lead to their evolution. It's a tale as old as time, or at least as old as the corporate world itself. Why does this happen, and more importantly, how can a hope-focused approach help navigate these choppy waters? Let's talk about that! The Conundrum of Change ResistanceImagine you're at a party. Everyone's having a good time, the music's playing, people are dancing, and then someone decides to change the music. Suddenly, there's a pause—a …

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Save Money, Look Cool: 3 Tools For The Savvy Entrepreneur &Raquo; File 2 10
Save Money, Look Cool: 3 Tools for the Savvy Entrepreneur

As someone always on the lookout for smarter, slicker ways to hit my business targets, I've seen my fair share of 'revolutionary solutions' being peddled my way. Sound familiar? It's like every day a …

As someone always on…

As someone always on the lookout for smarter, slicker ways to hit my business targets, I've seen my fair share of 'revolutionary solutions' being peddled my way. Sound familiar? It's like every day a new gadget or gizmo is promising to be the panacea for all our entrepreneurial woes.Amidst this cacophony of pitches, I've stumbled upon three stellar tools that genuinely deserve a spot in the modern entrepreneur's arsenal. Think of them as the Swiss Army knife of the business world—versatile, indispensable, and incredibly budget-friendly. These aren't just tools; they're your allies in carv…

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Micro-Dosing Appreciation- It'S Not Just For Mushrooms! &Raquo; File 10
Micro-dosing Appreciation- It’s Not Just For Mushrooms!

Kudos Deficiency Syndrome (KDS) is a term I've completely invented to describe a common workplace issue characterized by a lack of recognition and appreciation for employees' contributions. This syndr…

Kudos Deficiency Syn…

Kudos Deficiency Syndrome (KDS) is a term I've completely invented to describe a common workplace issue characterized by a lack of recognition and appreciation for employees' contributions. This syndrome leads to disengagement, reduced productivity, increased turnover, and a negative work culture. Unfortunately, KDS is becoming ever more widespread. Only about 15% of people say they express appreciation at work, and 35% say their managers have never thanked them! KDS is one of the many types of Organizational Inflammation wreaking havoc on our companies and the people in them.Enter Apprec…

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How One Company Turned Gratitude Into Misery - A Cautionary Tale &Raquo; File 6 4
How One Company Turned Gratitude into Misery – A Cautionary Tale

TL;DR: Employees are distrustful when companies suddenly start talking about "Gratitude", and it's easy to see why - it's often a disaster. Stories like this are far too common. Background: A compan…

TL;DR: Employees ar…

TL;DR: Employees are distrustful when companies suddenly start talking about "Gratitude", and it's easy to see why - it's often a disaster. Stories like this are far too common. Background: A company, previously applauded for its innovative peer recognition program, encountered unexpected challenges following a major shift in its employee appreciation strategy. The original program allowed employees to earn points for both recognizing colleagues and being recognized, redeemable for tangible rewards like flex time and gift cards. This year, the company transitioned to "Gratitude Moments," a p…

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Shapes In The Mist &Raquo; File 4 2
Shapes In The Mist

I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse, but a LOT of people share a LOT of their experiences with me. (I'm pretty sure it's a gift, even if some the "wrapping paper", i.e. people's lived experiences a…

I'm not sure if it's…

I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse, but a LOT of people share a LOT of their experiences with me. (I'm pretty sure it's a gift, even if some the "wrapping paper", i.e. people's lived experiences and the trauma inherent in them, is kind of awful.)It happens in forums like LinkedIn or Facebook, of course. I actively invite those conversations, and while listening to people's stories about workplace shenanigans often fills me with empathy, concern, and sometimes even compassion-based rage on behalf of the people I chat with, I love those human connection opportunities. I wish I could claim …

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Whipped Cream Isn’t Just For Desserts: Savoring The Richness Of Professional Development &Raquo; File 1
Whipped Cream Isn’t Just for Desserts: Savoring the Richness of Professional Development

Happy National Whipped Cream Day! As I sat down with my morning cup of coffee, I thought it would be appropriate to whip up some thoughts on professional development. It's often seen as the 'whipped c…

Happy National Whipp…

Happy National Whipped Cream Day! As I sat down with my morning cup of coffee, I thought it would be appropriate to whip up some thoughts on professional development. It's often seen as the 'whipped cream' of the employee experience – delightful, but optional. In fact, some leaders even see it as completely unnecessary fluff, sort of the "empty calories" in the company budget. And if the rest of your employee experience is, shall we say, unsavory... No PD is going to fix that! So if you consider professional development as a luxury or pointless afterthought, I'm here to tell you nothing cou…

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Magic Beans For Sale &Raquo; File
Magic Beans for Sale

"I hate black-eyes peas but I choke 'em down... One of these years it'll bring me good luck!"I had this thought this morning, having watched my social feed fill with comments just like this througho…

"I hate black-eyes p…

"I hate black-eyes peas but I choke 'em down... One of these years it'll bring me good luck!"I had this thought this morning, having watched my social feed fill with comments just like this throughout this first week of the year, and having lived in regions where this practice is sacred I know I'm putting myself in the hotseat but...If you've been eating for New Year's for decades and your luck still sucks.... MAYBE... just maybe... the food isn't the issue. ;)Maybe it's sticking with "How we do things around here" that's actually preventing you from disrupting the dysfunctional pattern…

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&Quot;Maybe We'Re The '...Ungrateful Kids...' We Complain About...&Quot; &Raquo; File 33
“Maybe We’re the ‘…Ungrateful Kids…’ We Complain About…”

Self-Reflection is often uncomfortable, but some of the best personal growth opportunities come from those not-great-feeling moments. My spouse is a Boomer-cusper, and many of our friends are in their…

Self-Reflection is o…

Self-Reflection is often uncomfortable, but some of the best personal growth opportunities come from those not-great-feeling moments. My spouse is a Boomer-cusper, and many of our friends are in their 60's and 70's. We were sitting around a firepit recently trying to solve all the problems of the universe... as you do around a fire! Our friends are fascinated (and a little weirded out) that I've made a career out of workplace happiness, and they always have lots of questions for me... I love it!After a couple of hours of philosophical wrangling, one of them paused for a long time before wi…

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Nobody Expects Spontaneous Gratitude! &Raquo; File 36
Nobody Expects Spontaneous Gratitude!

Today is NOT Employee Appreciation Day - making it the PERFECT time to express appreciation to the people around you. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Errrr... I mean... Nobody expects spontan…

Today is NOT Employe…

Today is NOT Employee Appreciation Day - making it the PERFECT time to express appreciation to the people around you. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Errrr... I mean... Nobody expects spontaneous appreciation! ;)Why does this matter? I'm glad you asked! ,Gratitude improves retention. 53% of people say they'll stay longer if they feel more appreciated by their boss. ,Gratitude enhances productivity. 81% of employees say they're motivated to work harder when they are appreciated by their boss. ,Gratitude is crucial for belonging. When people feel appreciated, they feel like …

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Gratitude At Work – One Company’s Story &Raquo; Giphy
Gratitude at Work – One Company’s Story

(Part 2 of a 5-part Series)Most people do not regularly experience gratitude at work, either as recipients or as an active intentional practice of their own. And yet we know that just generally, whe…

(Part 2 of a 5-part …

(Part 2 of a 5-part Series)Most people do not regularly experience gratitude at work, either as recipients or as an active intentional practice of their own. And yet we know that just generally, when we feel appreciated, we feel and do better. What would happen if we purposefully made gratitude a regular part of the “ways of working”?This question had been nagging me since I first started down the path of focusing on employee experience, and now I had the great fortune to partner with an organization who had already dabbled in a gratitude challenge for their employees, and they were …

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Hey, Thanks! Or, The Power Of Gratitude In The Workplace &Raquo; File
Hey, Thanks! or, the Power of Gratitude in the Workplace

(Part 1 of a 5-part Series)At its core, gratitude is an excellent antidote for the isolation which has become such a problem for so many of us. While the COVID-19 pandemic put a painfully bright spo…

(Part 1 of a 5-part …

(Part 1 of a 5-part Series)At its core, gratitude is an excellent antidote for the isolation which has become such a problem for so many of us. While the COVID-19 pandemic put a painfully bright spotlight on the problems that are caused by isolation, the truth is most of us are more functionally isolated than our predecessors in both our personal and professional lives, and this has been a growing concern for decades.When I talk about gratitude, I’m speaking about a feeling of appreciation to someone or something that has benefitted you. It can be large, small, life-changing… and it ca…

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Ties That Blind &Raquo; File 2
Ties that Blind

White privilege shows up in the weirdest places.Very long story distilled radically: My dad retired to Mexico and remarried (briefly) several years ago, and I have a half-sister who is 15. Her mothe…

White privilege show…

White privilege shows up in the weirdest places.Very long story distilled radically: My dad retired to Mexico and remarried (briefly) several years ago, and I have a half-sister who is 15. Her mother is Mexican, and my hermanita (little sister) grew up and still lives in central Mexico with her older sisters. They are beautiful, strong, brilliant women, all of them. (Runs in the family.. ha! I digress...)I hadn't taken the opportunity to visit in person for a zillion and one (mostly lazy) reasons. We've managed to form relationships mostly over the internet, the girls and I, with a strong …

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Diversity, Equity &Amp; Inclusion - It'S More Than Just A Catchy Job Title &Raquo; File 3
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – It’s More Than Just a Catchy Job Title

“I didn’t know you were gay. I thought you were in the military!”I’m actually not going to write about my complicated relationship with that comment from a former colleague but suffice it to…

“I didn’t know y…

“I didn’t know you were gay. I thought you were in the military!”I’m actually not going to write about my complicated relationship with that comment from a former colleague but suffice it to say it stopped me in my tracks, made my blood run cold, and if I had a “panic meter” on my forehead it for sure would have pegged out at MAXIMUM DANGER DETECTED.Back then I was working for a company deeply steeped in the “Good Ole Boys” approach to life, business, and everything else. Sexual innuendo was normal. Sexual harassment was, too. Gender roles were still seen as “natural”.…

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When Does The Grace Period On Ignorance Expire? &Raquo; File 6
When Does the Grace Period on Ignorance Expire?

His skin was SO black, and SO shiny, I was convinced he was a robot, and I was scared.I was about eight years old, and my dad was a non-traditional student at the university in the nearest big city …

His skin was SO blac…

His skin was SO black, and SO shiny, I was convinced he was a robot, and I was scared.I was about eight years old, and my dad was a non-traditional student at the university in the nearest big city (Green Bay), and being a consummate People Person, he was always inviting people to our farm, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large ones. My dad's also been a strident advocate for the underdog my whole life, and when he found out that the Muslim students at the university couldn't find halal meat (not a common grocery option back in the early 80's... at least not in Wisconsin!) he worked …

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