Mom Was Right: Two Simple Steps for Success

By: John Ricco, CAE

The Thanksgiving holiday begins a time of year where we often take stock of our annual accomplishments and shortcomings and generate thoughts of grandeur for the upcoming year. Thanksgiving is time to express gratitude for the blessings we have to family, friends and colleagues. There two simple ways you can use the theme of Thanksgiving which, if you commit to and are willing to invest less than 1% of your time, will pay huge dividends in 2015 and beyond.

“No duty is more important than that of returning thanks.” – James Allen

1) Give Sincere Thanks – in Writing.

Most of us can do a better job of expressing our gratitude toward to those that help us be successful.  In less than 5 minutes you can hand write a 3-4 sentence thank you note, address it and pop it in the mail.  Thank people in your office.  Thank people in your network of colleagues.  Thank the vendor that gave your print job priority and turned it around in 24 hours instead of three days. Thank the family or friends who help with kids or pets while you are out of town. Just start somewhere.

But I have terribble terrible handwriting. But I don’t have stationary. But too much time has passed. . . Etiquette experts will tell you it’snever too late to express thanks, it does not matter what your handwriting looks like (try to keep it legible though) and you need not use fancy stationary (company logoed note cards or store bought thank you cards are fine).1

Photo provided by & Naypong

ACTION: Set aside time to write three heartfelt thank you notes a week (a total of 15 minutes).  Surely you can find that kind of time in your week.

2) Connect With Your “Lost” Contacts.

Remember Tom who you grew up with back home? The guy you used to go to lunch with every six weeks until you moved across town 2 years ago? Connect with him.  Call him.  E-mail him. Set up a coffee with him.  Do something that lets him know you’ve been thinking about him and appreciate the relationship you once had with him. It can be as simple as e-mailing an article he may be interested in or calling to say, “it’s been too long – let’s grab coffee soon.”


 Photo provided by & Ambro.

ACTION: Reach out to two “cold” contacts each week. Do this on the days where you’re not writing thank you notes!  Again, this should only take about five minutes.

If you invest just 25 minutes a week writing thank you’s and reviving “cold” relationships (that’s less than 1% of a 40 hour work week) at the end of 2015 that’s roughly 250 people that you’ve thanked for helping you in ways large and small or simply reconnected with.  250 people that will remember that sincere thank you note, that joint coffee break, that article you sent – all who will likely be ready to help when you next need it.   Perhaps it’s that project that you started way too late to finish on your own.  Perhaps it’s that job opportunity at Tom’s office that just opened up.  Regardless, you are one step closer to enlisting the assistance of friends and colleagues who know they are appreciated by you.

As much as we hate to admit it – Mom was right. Drink your milk, eat your veggies and send your thank you notes.


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