Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thank You (Justin?)

A scholarly gentleman in his fifties opens up a birthday card only to hear Hannah Montana tunes blast out. The inside reads, “You rock little girl! Happy 13th birthday!” This is quite an odd card to receive from his daughter and son-in-law on his fifty-something birthday right? Well, maybe not. It’s interesting how your own little quirks catch on and influence your spouse over time. I’ve always gone down the random path of giving greeting cards. Now my wife and I always give out random cards to people on occasions.

Maybe I have been emotionally and mentally scarred by my experiences at greeting card stores with my mom as a little boy. We’d spend what seemed like years standing under the glow of florescent lighting on those ultra-shiny floors. My mom would sort through card after card after card looking for one that said exactly or at least painfully close to what she intended. Her sentiments were great and always have been, she always wants to say the right thing to make the person feel special. How unrealistic is it to think that a stranger, who doesn’t know me or my intended audience, is going to write the perfect thing I intend to say though? So why bother picking one out. Why not just make your own or be as random as possible? Just a random little thought I had while trying to pick out a Thank You card yesterday for some guys that were kind enough to meet with me on Tuesday morning. Even the Thank You cards were all wrong and either over the top or just plain cheesy. So I picked one up that said, “Thank You, here’s a piece of folded paper.” Then I wrote a nice little hand written note on the inside expressing my gratitude. With email being so frequent and used by everyone, we are desensitized to its messages. A thank you email doesn’t mean quite as much as a hand written card. It seems to be about the time invested to me. I can now manage my entire life (basically) from my phone so shooting off a short email to someone is convenient, but does it truly receive all my attention as I write it or am I doing it as a robot because it is the nice thing to do?

Doesn’t it mean more if someone in this age of convenience takes the time to sit down and hand scribe a note? For goodness sake our schools are taking away cursive writing and shutting down other programs because of technology and its conveniences. I would think that to go against the grain and do what is inconvenient and not something you frequently come across would carry more weight than an email. It’s kind of like seeing an Ariel Atom 2 fly by while walking downtown. If you don’t know what that is, check it out here. This is a beast of a sports car that is pretty rare to be seen. Because it is an infrequent happening to run across one of these, when you do it is memorable and you tell others about it. That same logic can be applied to thank you cards. It is important to let people you meet with or potential employers, clients, or partners know that you appreciate their time. So when meeting with professionals it would behoove one to be thankful and make yourself register at the front of someone’s mind by going against the grain and doing the infrequent and inconvenient. Setting yourself apart from the pack, in an overly crowded marketplace is about the only way to make a worthwhile impact, otherwise you are just another piece of paper. Next time you meet with someone be sure to take time and be different. This not only shows them you are appreciative and grateful as a person, but also benefits you by making you more unique than the next guy.

I’m not saying you should send a random Justin Bieber birthday card to a company to make a statement, but maybe I am. It’s all about standing out. Being sure to write thank you notes after meetings could be something that gives you a quick first step on the competition.

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