Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse letters aim to engage with our community. By welcoming your ideas and sharing your stories, we want to help you strengthen your relationships with the most important people in your life.

As Labor Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about all the jobs I’ve had over the years, the people who’ve guided me, and the lessons I’ve learned.

One of the first stops on my career journey involved running the St. John’s Home for Boys in Queens, New York. It sharpened my skills of persuasion as I helped the boys find summer jobs. I saw first-hand how work gave them a sense of purpose and taught them the value of money.

Though my job was to help the boys, they also guided me. One of them, Norman, was hired by a local hardware store that was owned by a man with a similar background. Norman honed his skills to help customers, and by the end of the summer, he had earned a promotion. Before long, a future revealed itself to Norman: He could now contemplate the possibilities for his life.

labor day value of work

The story had such an impact on me that I’ve always encouraged my children to consider service jobs so that they could experience the relationships they create and the skills that they develop.

Relationships at work

As my career progressed, I learned a lot about the value of teamwork. Not long after buying my first flower shop, I learned that working together is far more powerful than someone toiling alone. Our success – especially during the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day seasons – would have been impossible without the clerks, drivers, and other employees.

Each member of a team holds a valuable place in the company. Think about all the people you work with, and just imagine if one member of the team was suddenly missing, and how that would affect all the other team members.

This Labor Day week, take a moment to reach out to those you work with. Let them know – whether it’s in person or via email or text – how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate all that they do at work and beyond. When you use your power of connection, you will make their day – and yours.

A labor of love and salad

I recently visited our facilities in Melrose Park, Illinois, where several of our brands – Simply Chocolate1-800-BasketsThe Popcorn Factory, and DesignPac – are based. It’s always fascinating to see the teamwork that takes place in the offices, warehouses, and kitchens of our brands.

This time, however, I was most struck by what was happening in the breakroom. My visit was on a Wednesday that coincided with the team’s potluck salad bar. Once a month for nearly a decade, employees bring lettuce, dressings, and other fixings to enjoy a healthy meal together.

Bob Nathan, who organizes the events, shared a bit of the history:

Nearly 10 years ago, three of us thought that we should try setting up a salad bar in the kitchen, where anyone interested would bring an appropriate item. We set up a sign-up sheet and it was a big success. A couple of months later, everyone was asking when we would do it again… so we did!

After another couple months, due to popular demand, I decided to assume the responsibility as the organizer and coordinator.  Like any other Melrose Park success, it takes a village!

Thank you, Bob, for organizing Salad Wednesdays and inspiring all of us!

If you’d like to try it at your company, here is a link to the signs and sign-up forms Bob and the team have created for their event. It works for both large and small companies. To keep group sizes small, larger ones might consider having individual departments invite another team that they do not work with every day. We’ll even try assigned seating to give people an opportunity to get to know one another.

Let us know when you try your own version of Salad Wednesdays – or what similar activities employees have organized at your businesses. I’ll share your stories in an upcoming Celebrations Pulse.

salad wednesdays labor day

More than a paycheck

Over the years, I’ve learned that work is more than a paycheck and more than “something to do” between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. It’s a chance to express yourself, learn new skills, and build relationships with people you’d otherwise never meet.

It’s one of the reasons that we started Smile Farms, which helps people with disabilities find meaningful work in agriculture and hospitality. Historically, they have struggled in the job market and have not been given an opportunity to enjoy everything employment has to offer.

It’s often said that our jobs form a major part of our identity, but it’s not just the work that makes us. It’s also the relationships we build in the workplace and how we choose to maintain them.

Lessons from our grandparents

Next Sunday, Sept. 10, is Grandparents Day. If you’re lucky enough to still have a grandma or grandpa, it’s a great opportunity to reach out and show your appreciation for everything they’ve done for you over the years. If you’ve lost your grandparents, it’s a time to remember them and share stories with your family and friends.

My grandmother, Margaret McCann, is a legend in our family. When her husband died unexpectedly in 1949, she took over his painting business while my 22-year-old dad learned the ropes. He was the public face of the company, but it was Margaret who knew how to price products and services, write up estimates, and manage the budgets.

The story of her keeping the family business alive has stuck with me and my siblings over the years and helped inspire me to build my own business.

How have your grandparents inspired you in life? Share your story with us for a chance to be included in next Sunday’s Celebrations Pulse.

All the best,


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Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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