Fostering a Culture of Gratitude: A Thank You Revolution Story

“English is not my first language,” Pat wrote. “And in India we are not taught to express our feelings in business as much as in the United States.” So Pat (Short for Parthapratim) never thought he could write thank you notes. “I read your post about thank you notes,” he began. “And I thought it was a good idea but not for me.”

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“I run an IT department of mostly younger people. We rarely use actual paper.”

Pat runs a department of twenty-four people for a multi-national company. The culture, as he describes it, is very “professional.”

Pat ignored the post for two weeks until one day, as if by divine appointment, he got a handwritten thank you note from a friend in his IT managers group. Pat had helped him with a project in his company as a favor and a week later, Pat had a note from him in his mailbox at work.

He read the note, sat back and reveled in the feeling. As he perused through his RSS feed, seeing my blog reminded him of the original Thank You Revolution post.

“At first, I was sad,” Pat wrote. “I didn’t want to do it but it was like I couldn’t avoid it any longer. So I ordered some cards and had them rush delivered. I knew if I didn’t start that week, I would never start.”

Pat wrote seven his first week. “I had a lot of people to thank in my backlog.”

Pat has been writing thank you notes for three months as of this writing. The cubes of this team are littered with them. Team members’ notebooks have them as bookmarks. His boss, the CTO of the company, has one of Pat’s notes behind his desk on display for all to see.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Pat confessed. “I was almost hoping they would not work. I wrote seven and didn’t write another one for two weeks. But then I started noticing that my guys had them in their cubicles, so I wrote some more.”

His team members consider them a badge of honor. His colleagues have begun to do the same and he was recently asked to make a presentation to the executive team about the impact of them in his department.

BONUS MATERIAL: Listen to the audio version above for the rest of Pat’s story and the amazing effect the Revolution has had on his company.

He was nervous as he prepared. He would be facing the eight leaders of the company. He had never met any of them other than the CTO.

As he was preparing his slides and speech, he realized that the presentation was boring and unemotional.

“I had two days left,” he told me. “I basically had nothing. I threw out my entire presentation and started all over.”

The day before the meeting, with a still blank presentation, one of his programmers asked for his help and as Pat was leaving his cubicle, he had the epiphany he had been looking for.

“I saw the card I had written him tacked to the corner of his side wall,” Pat wrote. “His name is David and he had recently confessed to me that three months ago he was ready to quit.”

“The second note I ever wrote was to him. He told me that no one had ever done that for him.

“David is my best programmer. Losing him would have been horrible. The note caused him to stay.”

So Pat opened by sharing that story. Then he shared slides showing pictures of the notes around the office. He even asked the CTO to bring his with him and read it.

The entire presentation lasted only four minutes. He received a rousing ovation from the executive team. They asked him for a resource guide to use. He told them about the Thank You Revolution.

His company is now considering adding this as a part of their training. Pat reported that each of the executives wrote him a handwritten thank you note within a week of the presentation.

And so the Thank You Revolution continues to grow…one person, one note, one stroke of the pen at a time.

Action item: Join the Thank You Revolution and start spreading the word in your company.

This post was adapted from my free book, 
Two Powerful Words: Revolutionize Your Work, Your Relationships, and Your Life with the Power of Gratitude!
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Question: : How can you make expressing gratitude a bigger part of your culture at work and at home? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • That is so great! I was reading this thinking of all the people in my life including my wife that I have lost gratitude for things that I use to have a ton of gratitude for. I take for granted the awesome things that people in my life continually do. I’m going to be writing a lot today:)

    • That is awesome Zechariah!

      Mind sharing any stories from it as time goes on?

  • I started a 90 Day Thank You Note Challenge at the beginning of the year. It has been fun to see how t his simple challenge has launched others into intentional gratitude.

  • Steve Pate

    You know not to sound redundant, but just getting started, by buying simple cards, and make a day to do so. It makes me feel more thankful for those who surround me.

  • Nancy Heidger Benavides

    Our technology driven world has advanced society in ways that are wonderful. Unfortunately, this same advancement has led to many being starved of the basic human need to be personally appreciated. Thank you for for continuing to address the benefits of being thankful as well as the need to be thankful!

  • lulu

    The thank you note “movement” has always been my way. I truly believe in saying thank you in a personal way. And everyone loves receiving mail!!! My only concern is a glut of thank you. Like an apology given over and over until you doubt its sincerity, are you not worried about over doing it to the point it becomes pointless. I quote from the story above. “Pat has been writing thank you notes for three months as of this writing. The cubes of this team are littered with them. Team members’ notebooks have them as bookmarks.” (highlight mine) I think we need to measure out this form of thanks. We indeed should always be grateful, but there are many ways to express it. If I received a note from my boss thanking me for heading a meeting in his absence, I would indeed be thrilled. If that was followed by a note for helping with the picnic, then another for staying late, then yet another teaching a technique, then…it would become a tad redundant – and to be honest, a little suspicious. I think like all tools we need to use thank you notes wisely. As to the attitude of thankfulness – bring it on!