Everything I Learned About Business I Learned From My Dog, Part 1

(or, Why Our Dog Is the Office MVP)

Hit the play button to listen to the audio version of this article, read by the author:

I’ve had years of therapy, yoga, spiritual growth, religious study, blah blah blah.

But it was fifteen minutes of having a dog in the office that changed everything forever.

After all the wisdom and lectures, my dog is the one who taught me how to find balance at the office and in my life.

I Was Always Taught It Was a Dog Eat Dog World…Then We Got Macy

Eight years ago, I opened my own marketing agency. I only knew one way to work — all out. Fourteen-hour days formed a string of seven-day work weeks that blurred into years. Often, I’d get up from my computer literally not knowing if I had used the bathroom or eaten. I heard people mention this word pronounced “vay-cay-shun,” and I pondered its meaning and derivation.

My body was dehydrated and achy, but the mental toll was the most exhausting. I went through the days overwhelmed but determined, almost to the edge of numb. My mantra was “work harder.”

I did what I thought needed to be done to build a company. I was proud of my “work ethic.” I had become what a lot of people consider “successful.” I celebrated my achievements by setting even bigger goals for the year ahead.

But I was miserable and anything but fulfilled. And, my body was falling apart.

Then we got Macy Grey, a sixty-pound rescue pit bull dipped in bronze with a perfect white streak painted down her nose. Macy had been left by the side of the highway, less than a year old and having clearly just delivered a litter of puppies. To say Macy stole our hearts is inadequate. She gave us brand new hearts, bigger than we knew were possible. Joy entered our lives, bringing color to a grey world.

Bringing Macy to work was the natural thing to do — but little did I know it would also be the best business decision of my career.

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The Top 10 Things My Dog Taught Me (and Why She’s Our Office MVP)

  1. Drink lots of water and take regular pee breaks.
  2. Get outside every single day.
  3. Lunch is not optional, neither are treats or time-outs.
  4. Smell the flowers and the dirt with equal fascination.
  5. Joy and ecstasy are not to be reserved for special occasions.
  6. When someone is talking to you, listen intently to every word.
  7. Trust your instincts. Greet nice people enthusiastically. Avoid mean people.
  8. Expect amazing things to happen all the time.
  9. Today is a new day. Forget about yesterday. Tomorrow doesn’t exist.
  10. Loyalty is everything.

By following these rules, I learned the most important lesson of all: the world will not fall apart if I take care of myself.

This goes against everything I had been taught about business. It feels scary to declare out loud, and almost arrogant. I’m supposed to pay my dues and suffer, right? I waited for failure to descend around me because I dared to take a nap.

Everything I Learned About Business I Learned From My Dog, Part 1To my shock and delight, the opposite happened. My business continued to grow, and my clients couldn’t care in the least how I get the job done – in fact, they have expressed how thrilled they are with both my performance as well as my collaborative engagement.

In other words, I’m not an exhausted, stressed-out blob.

Yes, I do have to be focused and get more done in a shorter time. But, because I am learning to nourish my body, mind, and soul, my production has increased and improved.

Am I perfect? Far from it.

But when in doubt, I look to Macy to remind me of what matters. I even started leaving any and all technical devices at home when we walk, which is an absolute game-changer in mindfulness and being present. I’ve come up with my most creative and inspired ideas for work on these walks with Macy, and I know it’s not a coincidence.

How Would Your Work Day Look If You Implemented Macy’s Rules?

There’s a magical feeling of taking my life back and getting to enjoy this very moment. It’s a shift I wish for everyone. I’m not expecting everybody to go adopt a rescue (though that would be nice), but I invite you to follow Macy’s lead and discover how these small shifts in daily office routines can inspire you, delight you, intrigue you, and comfort you. You might just discover your work flourishes!

If you enjoyed this conversation, stay tuned for my second article, where I’ll describe in greater detail exactly how I incorporate Macy’s rules into my actual business principles and best practices.

Gotta go now and play with Macy.

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Greta Rose Zagarino
Greta Rose Zagarino is the creator of G.P.S. and founder of Greta Rose Agency, a development and design firm specializing in customized WordPress and e-commerce websites, SEO, graphic design, social media fan acquisition, and integrated marketing strategy.

Greta’s projects have been featured on NBC Nightly News, Oprah.com, Marie Forleo’s MarieTV, Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, theSkimm, the U.N., and TED. Greta is a recurring guest lecturer for Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

With over fifteen years’ experience and leadership in marketing, development, and design, Greta leverages cutting-edge technology and social media to help propel her clients’ businesses in a profound and measurable way.

She has received a service award from the Governor of California and is also the recipient of the prestigious Spearhead Medallion for Excellence in Service. She lives in Hood River, Oregon, with her husband and their rescue pit bull, Macy Grey.

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