years ago.  Inspired by the satisfaction we were gaining from our collaboration, Maggie and I started thinking about the idea of writing a book about all kinds of partnerships: Women working with women, men working with men, women working with men.

8 years ago. We decided to focus on women,  a decision based on feedback from a mentor who urged us to examine the benefits we received as women working together – benefits he saw as unique and energizing. The truth is we hadn’t seen our partnership or its benefits in terms of gender until that moment.

7 years ago. We started interviewing women business partners. They weren’t easy to find so we had to become detectives seeking clues to uncover these amazing collaborations. Over time, we talked with 125 women and through their stories we validated that, just as our mentor had said, there was something energizing, unique and heretofore unexplored in the ways women work together.  We got that tingly feeling that comes when you stumble upon a huge discovery: partnership was an under the radar professional solution for women!

6, 5, 4 years ago found us sending book proposals far and wide to agents who were interested but ultimately felt that what made our book different — the fact that no one else had explored this solution before — was its downfall, How could they be sure it would sell? Where would it fit on store shelves? (The answer would someday be next to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.) We felt like climbers who could see the top of a misty mountain but never quite get there as we trudged forward and slid back.

Our main sustenance on that mountain was feedback. We grabbed every morsel we could get, mulling it over and applying it to the many drafts of our book proposal. Sometimes the feedback from one agent directly contradicted the feedback from another and sometimes it directly contradicted feedback she/he had previously given us. It didn’t matter. We vowed to see every piece of advice as a gift from busy people who cared enough to share their thoughts. As we opened ourselves up to their feedback, our trust in our selves grew. We transitioned from swallowing all advice whole to selectively savoring it. In other words, we grew clearer, cleverer and more adept about knowing what feedback to accept in its entirety, what to take in part and what to say thanks but no thanks to.

3 years ago … found us with an agent and an editor who could see where and why this book mattered and challenged us to probe beyond the solution of partnership to the reasons for it. Coming to terms with this meant more proposal writing, more digging and more feedback.

1 year ago.  Power through Partnership hit the shelves and we celebrated! We’d climbed the mountain, we’d accomplished our goals and we’d taken in a whole lot of feedback to shape a book we were proud of.

And now. November marked the year anniversary of the book’s release and, more than that, the anniversary of a cycle. Over the course of this year, we’ve talked partnership at book talks, keynote presentations, workshops, and conferences. And through all this we’ve collected even more feedback. The focus has shifted from feedback about the words on a page to us as authors, message deliverers, and presenters. Sometimes the insights have been about what we are actually doing – successfully or not – and sometimes the responses are about expectations that we are meeting or not. Sometimes these expectations are clear and sometimes not so much.

But no matter what kind of feedback we get , whether it’s personal, impersonal, positive, negative or something in between, what we’ve learned over these 9 years is that it is a rare and precious gift, ours to mull over, make sense of and ultimately value in whole or in part.

This is our thank you to you and to us – for these 9 wonderful years of learning, growing and giving through the power of feedback!