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My Journey To Better Thank You’s

February 26th, 2008

I’m kind of a weird guy. I have a hard time saying Thank You. For all of the times when I want to, and when I know I should, I don’t.

the ultimate book of thank you notesI started to seriously think about it when I came across a partner’s blog post (Liz Handlin’s, on her eBook about thank you’s), and I wrote about it here. For me this was like a “guy’s guide to saying thanks.”

So I went to WalMart and found a pack of 25 thank you cards that weren’t too, you know, feminine. I got them just before a conference last year with the idea that I’d write them for people who touched me, from my partners to conference organizers to new friends I would meet.

I chickened out.

I did, however, force myself to write a heart-felt thank you to someone who did something significant for me (and JibberJobber). It was awkward to write a note like this but it was straight from the heart, and I felt good after I dropped it in the mail.

I still have 24 thank you cards left.

Deb Dib - executive power brandThen, a couple of weeks ago I got a thank you card from one of my other partners, Deb Dib. Deb and I have a neat relationship – the kind you get when you are both stuck at the airport for hours together. We had a chance to really get to know one another and get beyond the superficial part of the relationship.

She had to send me something business-related, which she could have done in a regular envelope, with a short note. Instead, she sent me a card. It wasn’t a regular thank you card, like the kind I bought at WalMart. This was a real card, with the following message:

If you want
happiness for an
hour, take a nap. If
you want happiness
for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for
a month, get married. If
you want happiness for a
year, inherit a fortune. If
you want happiness
for a lifetime, help
others.
– Chinese Proverb

This message really touched me (I’ve had the card next to my keyboard since I got it). It was above and beyond, and definitely cooler than my standard thank you cards.Heather Gardner - Volt Recruiter

Continuing my journey to better thank you’s, I got a box in the mail yesterday from Heather Gardner. When I was in Silicon Valley last week Heather had a gift for one of my kids. As we were driving around she found out I have four kids (hey, I’m from Utah, what can I say? :p), and she said “oh! I’ll send you a box with gifts for them and have it there when you get home!”

Now understand, I didn’t ask for, or expect anything like this. But it has left a lasting impression on me. And a huge impression on my kids (they think my JibberJobber buddies are pretty cool. I think so too ;)).

This is an impression I won’t forget. Like when my coworker, Cory, would take me to lunch for my birthday. Every year. I never took him (I was the boss and wasn’t sure how to handle it). I regretted that then, and I regret it now. But I’ll never forget how it made me feel to get a birthday lunch from Cory.

Or the special card from Deb. Or the box from Heather.

Feel awkward to do this stuff? Yeah, probably, especially if you are like me. But man, the lasting impression it leaves! These are shining examples of how to nurture relationships!

8 Comments »

8 responses to “My Journey To Better Thank You’s”

  1. Scot Herrick says:

    One of the things that hinders writing thank you notes is not having everything you need to write them in one sitting. Consider the stamp. If you don’t have it, you have to wait to send the card until you do. If you’re in Silicone Valley, you have to buy a stamp or wait until you get home at the end of an exhaustive week. You won’t send the card.

    In my backpack, I carry the thank you card, the envelope, and a set of stamps in one of my folders. You write, place in envelope, have the address (I assume out of Outlook) and the stamp. Drop in any mailbox and you’re good to go.

    A lot of not following through is simply not having the tools readily available to do so.

    Give it a try!

  2. Jason Alba says:

    Totally agreed Scot – the card, the envelope, stamps and ADDRESSES (JibberJobber.com helps there :p)!

  3. Jason,
    Re: your WalMart thank-you cards…. “Mother always told me” that thank-you notes should NOT have the words “Thank You” printed on them. This was an etiquette thing back in the day, but I think it also makes good (practical) sense in business. A totally handwritten thank you is much more personal than a canned Hallmark greeting.

    Get some blank cards with just your name printed on them, or some nice photography or artwork on the front. Then you’re equipped to send a thank-you note, a sympathy note, or a congratulatory note at a moment’s notice.

    (Hint: While you’re at the store, read some of the printed cards for ideas on wording!)

  4. Liz Handlin says:

    Hi Jason

    I have a feeling that a lot of people, both men and women, feel sense of awkwardness about writing thank you notes. I have been trying to figure out why more than 5,000 people have downloaded my free thank you note ebook over the past couple of months and I think that awkwardness could be part of the answer. I write letters, cards, and thank you notes all the time so in a way its hard for me to figure out why anyone would need a booklet of sample thank yous but I have come to realize that very few people do much writing anymore. I don’t really know why that is but it seems to be the case.

    There is a website I really like called Mannersmith, founded by Jodi Smith, and she just created a thank you note wizard which is super cool and could be really useful for you and others. You just click on the occasion, and answer a few questions and it creates a thank you note for your right there. Extremely cool. Here’s a link to the wizard: http://www.mannersmith.com/resources/tyn_wizard.cfm

    Have a great day Jason…thanks for spending the effort to make your blog the “go to” place for great information on all things related to job searches. You have created a wonderful company and a wonderful community and I am happy to be part of it!

    Your pal from Austin,

    Liz

  5. What’s this, a suggestion that we all have to get something for your kids. Forget it!

  6. Sara Hurd says:

    I’m learning the power of sending cards through the mail. Not many people do it any more. Not only does it stand out and leave an impression, but it makes me feel great and hopefully makes the recipient feel good too. We could all use more gratitude in the world, eh? :)

  7. aphenix says:

    I always thought the hardest part of thank you note writing was what to fill the page with after “Thank you for…” until Leslie Harpold’s How to Write a Thank You Note. usable even for when you’re feeling awkward about a business thank you!

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