I’m a big fan of thank-you notes, especially in the fast-paced business world. I’m totally old school about it and prefer handwritten ones, sent through the U.S. Postal Service with a cancelled stamp. They show that someone cares enough to take time from their day to put pen to paper, and their tactile arrival increasingly makes a huge impact in our desensitized and cluttered digital world.
This year I received two for our efforts at Oliver Russell that were utterly indelible and demonstrated that sometimes the impact we strive to make with our professional lives is completely invisible to us, until someone lets us know in micro moments — such as a thank-you note — along the way.
And wouldn’t you know that both came from fellow B Corps, who I find to be comprised of the some of the most thoughtful of people in the world.
The first came from Mark Lung, CEO at Eco2librium, the world’s highest-scoring B Corp.
Mark is an accomplished business person who I look up to in so many ways — really a role model of mine as someone who gets shit done in big, big ways. He’d been trying to raise $125,000 from investors for quite some time to fuel growth for his social enterprise in Africa and wasn’t having any luck. While he’s great at making social and environmental change, he’s self-effacing to the point that it sometimes hinders his marketing efforts.
We decided to help him in his fundraising endeavor, free of charge, developing a strategy and a sharp and compelling story presented in a pitch deck that he could use with prospective investors. And that was the end of the story until I received a note a few months later from him that read:
“Dear Oliver Russell Team,
“We received $500,000 in a gift for our solar enterprise in Kenya. The individual was very taken with our work and philosophies and this was communicated to him clearly and artistically in the pitch deck you helped create. Thank you.”
That note and Mark’s result are one of the highlights of my business career as a social entrepreneur.
The second missive arrived just last week, on a day when our team really needed it as we had just missed out on two significant proposals in what’s been a tough new business year for us. It arrived, completely out of the blue — or perhaps “out of the black” is more appropriate — from Aimee Woodall and her team at The Black Sheep Agency. Not only did it come from out of the black, it demonstrated that we are at our best when celebrating others, even when we could rightfully be celebrating ourselves.
“Hello Russ and the Oliver Russell Family!
“We are the Black Sheep Agency, a fellow B Corp here in Houston. This year we are celebrating 10 years and what better way to do so than to celebrate those we are inspired by! Thank you for putting purpose above profit and thank you for giving a voice to those that need to be heard. Your team deserves this trophy as a moment of recognition for making the world a better place We believe in you and what you’re doing. Keep making a difference.”
Oh yeah, it also came with a pretty rad trophy. These folks have some awesome attitude and brand personality. Congrats Aimee and team on 10 years in business!
And oh, yeah — I got teary upon receiving both of these notes from contemporaries I respect — role models for me in this world of social enterprise.
So, if you’re working to make a macro impact in the world, take a micro moment to make one that’s just as important in the big picture. Write someone a note of gratitude — it’s going to be my professional resolution for 2020.