Thank Outside the Box!

Gratitude Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: Saying thank you takes just a few minutes and it costs us nothing but the associated time and thoughtfulness. I was recently in a meeting with about 120 people. This team’s leader and and Executive Vice President (EVP) was telling a story about how he was concerned that he missed the retirement of a wonderful team member, who had been with the company for 34 years. The good news was that his information was wrong and he had another day to make sure he could give her the appropriate thanks. At that time we were discussing how we might bring more “WOW” to our customers and teammates. So with the information about this pending retirement, we decided to call her right there and have all 100 plus team members shout out a collective goodbye and “THANK YOU!!”

So the EVP called her cell and because she was looking after customers, the call went to her voice mail. Nevertheless, this great leader seized the opportunity to leave a surprise voice mail, specifically expressing gratitude for her positive spirit and extensive contributions. And then on the count of three, all 120 people yelled, “THANK YOU!!” Moments later, she texted friends and other teammates how tearfully surprised and touched she was. Her text began, “OMG…” You can imagine the rest. Of course, her 34 years of contribution are worth much more than a simple voice mail message and a shout out from teammates. However, it meant something very significant to her AND to us! Sadly, too many people leave organizations in a disquieting way, like somehow they never existed. 

During this same session, another wonderful leader shared a letter she has discretely carried in a protected plastic folder since 1997. At that time she was a bank manager and gave a loan to a terminally ill customer, who was nearly bankrupt due to unbelievably expensive drug costs not covered by Canada’s vaunted health care system. This leader was the customer’s last resort…NO other bank would touch him because of his debt. He was not only very sick physically but all the financial institutions diagnosed him with “fiscal terminal disease.” The letter, received by this bank manager several years later, and a testimony she keeps as one of her most precious possessions, is a personal note sent to her and the CEO, thanking an “angel” for saving his life. The customer was alive several years later and fully attributed his additional years to this fearless, caring banker! 

Gratitude and “thank you’s” go hand in hand, freely available and accessible to all of us. 

Character Moves:

  1. Say “thank you” every day! Be grateful every day! Say thank you and be grateful for the Pancakes. (Here’s an excerpt from “Six Habits of Highly Grateful People”).


Grateful people are habitually specific. They don’t say, ‘I love you because you’re just so wonderfully wonderful, you!’ Instead, the really skilled grateful person will say: ‘I love you for the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry and the way you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired and how you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better!’ 

The reason for this is pretty simple: It makes the expression of gratitude feel more authentic, for it reveals that the thanker was genuinely paying attention and isn’t just going through the motions. The richest thank you’s will acknowledge intentions (‘the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry’) and costs (‘you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired’), and they’ll describe the value of benefits received (‘you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better’).”

Pancake gratitude in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I don’t find this to be a big deal and I’m certainly not trying to boast, but it seems relevant. For no real reason, really, or not one I can explain, when I leave the gym (a 24 Hour Fitness in Santa Monica) on a daily basis, I’ve developed the habit of saying “thanks guys, have a good night” to the assorted employees at the front desk while throwing my towel in the bin and walking out the door. Well, recently, the manager pulled me aside, introduced himself and personally thanked ME for doing that. Apparently out of the hundreds of gym goers, I’m the only one who does that, and it has gained appreciation… My response was, “of course!” (Which I think is one of the most common responses to a “thank you,” these days). Because really, I think it’s just nice, easy, and right. Upon reflection though, I know for a fact my co-workers don’t get nearly as many “thank you” reps from me, so I have to up my “thank you workout” routine in my own office.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis