The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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I want to take a moment to thank…

I love books. NO REALLY. I LOVE them. I also consider myself a voracious reader, and back that up with the fact that I read Every. Single. Day.  Sometimes twice a day.  I’m an old school reader in that I prefer physical books and won’t use an e-reader. I enjoy the musty smell of older books and the feel of the page beneath my fingers.

Candidly if I hadn’t chosen appreciation as my blog focus, I probably  would have gone with books.

There’s something that I cherish about books that ties directly in with my passion for appreciation and that’s the Acknowledgements page(s).

What are those you ask?  You know the place, where authors have the chance to say thank you to everyone who made it possible to get this book into your hot little hands. Here’s a sample:

FYI: It is intentionally blurred and redacted. You’re eyes aren’t tricking you!

 

Sometimes the Acknowledgements page(s) is/are the best one(s) to read in a book.  Here’s why I think so:

  • The writer has publicly thanked someone for their support and/or efforts. I love this monumental act of showing one’s appreciation.  It’s permanent for all to read for as long as there is a copy of the book available.  On these pages, you learn about the author’s friends, family, and writers who inspired them. Sometimes I wonder what criteria the author used to pick who was mentioned.  There are also instances where I believe that the appreciation shown on these pages may stronger than what she/he may have expressed in person.

 

  • You can learn about the how and why the author approached the book’s topic or plot they way they did. I love this behind the scenes look.

 

  • I’ll let you in on a secret.  I also read these pages to see if there is someone I know. I occasionally see the name of a writer or celebrity I like or a name that is the same as a friend of mine. I’ll pause and ask, “Is it MY friend or someone who just has the same name?” Inquiring minds want to know!

 

  • Finally, as I aspire to one day write a book, I’ll ask myself, “Who would I include in the Acknowledgements page?”

 

The Acknowledgements Page(s) really make me happy in general.  As I said, I love that writers are taking the opportunity to show their appreciation for those that made the book happen.  Plus it’s written, albeit typed, but it’s kind of a written thank you note — a thing that’s near and dear to my heart.

 

 

What about you?
Have you ever taken the time to read the Acknowledgements page in a book  or when you finish the last page you are “done.” Mic drop!  

If you haven’t read an Acknowledgments page might you do so now?
While I have read some good Acknowledgments pages, I unfortunately did not save any to share with you, but maybe you have read some that had stood out for you. If so, let me know! 


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Customers and Networking Contacts Deserve Your Thanks

It seems to be that time of year, where the question has come up again about how to appropriately say thank you to your customers and networking contacts or (to my horror) whether you should even take the time to send a thank you.

Just today I came across two references on this topic. One referred to the sales benefits you could attain by saying thanks (at all times of the year), and the other was around the topic of whether to send holiday cards as a way to show a business’ appreciation.

In the blog post by Julian Bush on Financenk’s, business development blog, called 4 Ways to increase Sales by Showing Gratitude to Customers he addresses four key areas about appreciation.  This article was totally up my ally as it had overall resounding support of showing and thinking about appreciation at all times.  Bush’s first two points supported my belief that your customers and networking contacts deserve the time to say thanks.  It’s his view that to succeed in business is to show gratitude.

Here are the two points that resonated with me regarding the client and network perspective:

Those who have helped you. 

He recommends taking time each day to send a thank you message via email, text, or Internet greeting card, (See my recommendation for this last one) to those who may have, for example, referred a client or helped you in some way.

I agree, though for me, every day might be too overwhelming and I’d want to ensure that the act of showing my appreciation was meaningful vs. a chore. (It would NOT however, be dependent upon how large or small the act of assistance or kindness was.)Picture1

 

Are you appreciative for knowing someone?

Bush’s expression of gratitude expands to all who positively impact your life. This could be your family, your friends, your customers and colleagues.  He believes that to share this appreciation will attract more of the same assistance and likely reciprocal gratitude your way.

 

 

His last two areas talk to written affirmation of what your thankful for as a whole, and in your daily life. Both are worth a review.

Bush sums up his post with the statement that by taking the time to show gratitude to your clients will reap the rewards of deep loyalty, an increase in client retention and profits. I really can’t argue this fact, as many of my clients have remained close over the span of 10-12 years. I think this partly due to my ongoing recognition of their assistance and simply their support of my business and/or services.

 

Xmas Thank you note

This leads me to the second reference I found today.  I came across this in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Sticky Branding.  A lead contributor, Jeremy Miller, posed the question, “What’s your take on the practice of sending season’s greetings cards to clients.”  While the response ran the gamut of sending personalized cards, to ones that go out at Thanksgiving or New Year’s, the answer was a resounding “YES!”  Again, I’m fully in support.  We should always extend our appreciation to those who have helped along the way.

Each year around this time, I feel lucky as I start compiling a list of customers, clients, network contacts, and colleagues who have been instrumental to my success over the past year.  Just prior to the Christmas holiday, I’ll send out cards (both traditional, non-secular printed cards or an email card (see my post on a great resource) wishing this group, “Season’s Greetings” and a reminder of how much their help, their business or general goodwill to me during the year has meant.  This list truly reminds me of how blessed I’ve been.  *NOTE: I don’t see these cards as taking the place of the acknowledgement I would have sent at the time of the action/assistance.

Thanksgiving TY Note

There were many takes on the timing of these cards. Some proposed the Thanksgiving holiday time – which I agree, is right in line with the holiday’s meaning as we think about it today. Others expounded on the “Christmas” card time frame, still others a New Year’s timing.

While I personally aim for Christmas, I thought the New Year’s group had a point. Perhaps if I delayed my delivery slight, my card could provide more impact. My card/message would be seen/read and break through the clutter. However, I did disagree with the strategy some who’s goal was to send these notes to increase business.  I send my holiday cards as a message of appreciation and thanks.  I’d like to think that no matter my timing, that the sentiment (and yes I do include a personalized 1-2 sentence thank you on each and every card I send) would be received/appreciated no matter when it reaches my recipients mail/in box.

 

 

What you do you think?
Does your business send cards?  Do you personally send notes when someone has helped you or after you’ve completed a project with a client?  Do you see your cards or thank you notes as a way to increase business/used to impact business?  Would you send one regardless of the financial impact they may or may not have? Or is there an impact on your brand or company that you think sending these out may have?


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Why Do We Say Thank You?

This will be the first of a three-part post that will focus on saying “thank you” and thank you notes.
 
TY Quote

 

January is National Thank You Month.
(National Thank You Day is 9/15 – Don’t worry I’ll remind you!)
I suspect that it may be due to the fact that many write thank you notes for their holiday gifts this month, so maybe it’s Hallmark generated?  Whatever the reason, make sure you say “thank you,” this month.

 

 

Origin of “Thank You”
The month-long recognition got me thinking about where the saying “thank you” came from.  “Thank you” was taken from the phrase, “I thank you,” which according to Wikipedia’s Word and Phrase Origins, “the word “thank” derives from the Old English verb “pancian,” meaning to give thanks, which in turn derives from the Proto-German term “thankojan,” which also spawned the Middle German term “danken,” meaning to thank.” (PHEW!)  It was meant as a way to express good thoughts or gratitude.  Thank you Wikipedia!

 

 

Thank you noteEarly Thank You Notes
This of course led me to now wonder about the origin of the actual thank you note, so I did some more digging.  ehow.com*  was a great resource where I found out that “thank you notes” started with the Chinese and Egyptians, who shared messages of fortune and goodwill on slips of papyrus.  In the 1400’s, the Europeans expanded this practice and began exchanging and locally delivering handwritten notes as a new way of social expression.

Early versions of what we now know as greeting cards weren’t introduced into America until the mid 1800’s, all thanks to German immigrant Pouis Prang.  However, he wasn’t responsible for the formal practice of writing and sending thank you notes.  We can thank the etiquette books for that, as they began promoting and recommending proper practices for showing our appreciation and the formal writing of thank you notes several years after the greeting cards were introduced.

 

I love showing my appreciation to others for their kindness and assistance and believe that saying “thank you” and sending thank you notes are two of the most important things we can say and do in today’s society.

Too often the practice of expressing one’s gratitude gets lost in the shuffle of daily life or on the flip side is forgone because there are some that feel entitled to any/all assistance.  On this latter view, these people often feel that because they deserve the kind gesture, help or good will, there is no reason to say “thank you.”  I strongly disagree with this notion.  Kindness and assistance are things that are shared and given by another – they are not a given right.  To say thank you only takes a minute, or a little longer if you are sending a note, but extends the kindness further.

 

Here Are Just a Few Reasons To Say “Thank you”**

  • When you are the recipient of a gift
  • When someone (family member, friend or stranger) holds the door open for you
  • When a colleague, co-worker or industry professional has provided their time, advice, assistance or an introduction
  • When the restaurant server at your table brings the food and after she/he has cleared the table
  • When a family member has helped you in one way or another — yes they deserve to hear it too!

** Some of these instances would also be followed up with a handwritten or typed note.

 

Three-Part Post
As noted earlier, this will be part of a three-part post.  In my follow-up posts, I’ll focus on when to send thank you notes and tips on writing them for personal and business/professional audiences.  Please feel free to send me your ideas and input on this subject.  I’ll do my best to incorporate your feedback into these two posts.

 

Have you said “thank you” recently?

 

*Additional thanks to Jennifer Dermondy’s ehow.com article.


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Little Notes … Big Impact

Oh the joy of finding a love note, word of encouragement or appreciation tucked inside your jacket, purse, luggage, lunch bag or on your keyboard.  The little things can mean a lot.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and giving little notes, pictures or an inspirational quote to show I care.  I’m not necessarily talking about creating anything elaborate, but rather something I make on the spur of the moment.  Think of a note or picture on a post-it note, index card or even a message written several pages ahead in a loved one’s notebook. (Parents seem to be particularly skilled in this practice, especially when it comes to wishing their kids good luck on an upcoming test or tryout/audition.)

I also like adding the element of surprise if I can.  I think it’s best when the recipient comes upon these notes unexpectedly.  And candidly, I probably enjoy the element of surprise as much as I enjoy letting someone know that I am thinking of them.

Here are some samples I found online that illustrate what I’m referring to:

  

 

 

 

 

Haven’t tried it?  Don’t have a significant other or child?  I also try to create these moments of delight by simply saying thank you.

I often like to recognize the help that I receive at work, by handing out thank you “notes.”  I thank my co-workers, direct reports or even my boss when they have helped make a bad day better or if he/she has provided instrumental assistance/guidance on a project.  I’ll also maintain that element of surprise by dropping off these notes when the recipient is away from his/her desk. 

As a bonus, I found a great product made by Compendium, Inc. that makes my effort even more impactful.  It’s a pop-open 2-1/4”w x 1-7/8″h card with “Thank you” on the front and an inspirational “thank you themed” quote revealed inside when you “pop” it open.  Again, it’s not a formal note, it’s simply a few lines of appreciation that I write on the back (lines are provided), accompanied by a great quote.  And while the quote is always a surprise, it’s ironic how often it seems tailor-made to the event or the help that inspired it.  

 

Want to try it but don’t think you can draw or you need inspiration?

If you’re too unsure to create your own, you can buy these the cards.  I found and buy mine at this MV gift shop, but you can purchase yours at this Compendium site.  They sell 26 different themes!! – I didn’t know that they had so many.  Personally I’ve used/sent four themes so far: “Thank you”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “I Believe in You” and “Whatever it Takes.” 

 UPDATE 2016: Compendium has revamped the cards – some changes for the better others not sure (definitely more packaging which I’m not a fan of, but I do like the call out to “open” the card – which was quite tiny on earlier versions.)  Their new site is http://www.live-inspired.com (which was automatically redirected in my link above.) The name of the product changed to “Thoughtfulls, (under “pop-open cards” in their Products drop down.)  They also have “lunch mail” which are notes targeted to kids.

I’m also not clear on how the “thank you” and “thanks” cards differ – it’s not really spelled out on the site. (I own a new box of Thank you, Thoughtfulls and it’s a similar approach to those I’ve used in the past.) 

 

So what are you waiting for? Make a big impact by sharing (and hiding?) an inspiring note of love, appreciation or luck today!

Do you have a unique way of showing that you care?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share it today.


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Count Your Blessings – Even the Small Things Matter

While reading one of my LinkedIn Group e-letters today, I came across this great 21 Day Happiness Challenge.  It falls right in line with what I talk to and am focused on in this blog, appreciating the people, things and opportunities around you.  I couldn’t help but share this great story.

Tory Johnson, of Spark & Hustle  and also known for her Good Morning America Deals, posted a challenge on her Facebook page.  It was sparked when she received negative comments after she congratulated Madonna on her Superbowl appearance, (Why Trash Madonna).  In the post she was “stunned when [she] posted “Go Madonna!” on [her] Facebook wall and several people trashed the Material Girl’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl.”  She went on to argue that while everyone can have an opinion, it seemed that some went out of their way to be negative.  I agree.

In part, I started this blog to share some of the positives in this world and how we can look at things in a different light or should pause when faced with a challenge or negative perception.  Today so much of what we hear or experience focuses on negativity (just think about your nightly news).  I’d rather share ways of how to stop and look around us and appreciate what’s in front of us or focus on what we’re grateful in those moments of negativity or adversity.  And baring that, perhaps all it would take to turn around that moment or day would be to do something for someone else or acknowledge what they bring to your life/how they helped today.  Something to consider don’t you think?

In the 21 Day Happiness Challenge,  Ms. Johnson wants her followers to share three little or big things that they are grateful for each day, for 21-days, which by the way is statistically how long it takes us to create a long-term habit.  She wants people to focus the things that they can appreciate versus assuming nothing went well or that everything went wrong.  It will be interesting to see the results.

While the Challenge officially started on February 7th and ends February 27th, I think that this should be something we consider putting into practice beyond that “end” date/21 days.  Why not count your blessings about the things that you appreciate on a daily basis?  Or even better yet, recognize verbally or through writing who you appreciate and why?  

Did you know that research has shown that we are 31% more successful when we’re happy and that we have optimized brain function when we think positively?    

Here are the three things I’m grateful for today:
1.  Finding this article to further remind myself that each and every day I can find something to be grateful for even on the tough ones
2.  The positive feedback I received today on my blog
3.  Having a chance to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather today. (It felt like it was at least 50 degrees!)

I’m also going to add one more for today. (Hey, it was an especially good day!)
4.  Having a client say that he recommended me to another business owner just because he was so happy with my work and not because I’d asked him to


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Welcome

I’ve created this blog to discuss appreciation in many forms, whether it be appreciation of the small things in life, appreciating others both on a personal or in the workplace, or how you can show your appreciation.  Whenever possible, I’ll link to other relevant blogs and articles that either support or contrast my point of view.

I’ll post as often as I can, and as the spirit moves me.  Please feel free to suggest topics or questions about appreciation.

I hope you like what you see and that you’ll follow me.