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“All the days of the afflicted are bad, but one with a grateful heart has a continual feast.”  Proverbs 15:15

background-editedI’ve always believed it is the simple things that make for success in business.  Not the brilliant, not the celebrated, not the strategically complex. One of those simple things is the act of saying “Thank you.”  Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you.  I always take time to say it, to mean it, to write it, to email it, even to twitter it (much as I hate the patent superficiality of that particular social medium.  WTF.)  As Texas journalist and poet William Arthur Ward put it, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

For example, as CEO of my executive sales boutique Corporate Rain, I’m constantly talking to other CEOs and their executive assistants.  All day long, in fact.  Certainly, any meetings I set-up begin with emails and conversations, particularly with executive assistants and even receptionists.  I genuinely am grateful, particularly, to these assistants, for their care in making my time efficient and specific.  No matter how busy my day, I take time to express my gratitude for their effort.

Saying thank you is an emotional act.  It doesn’t just acknowledge someone’s effort, kindness, intent, or action.  It recognizes the person himself.  It’s even more important than acknowledging the principal person you are doing business with because it sets a tone for that discussion.  And it is a winning tone.  When you suffuse your preliminary actions with gratitude, it shines out of you as a penumbra of generosity.

00098977.JPGIt just feels great to say “Thank you.” with sincerity and a whole heart—not because an assistant is a person of importance, per se, but because it opens up your essential being to a trope of generosity and service before the “actual” business conversation begins.  Like so many little courtesies, it is the selfish thing to do.  And here I again hark back to my frequently repeated mantra, “Good is greed.”  In fact, research increasingly shows that thanking folks not only results in reciprocal generosity (where the thanked person is more likely to help the thanker), but stimulate eleemosynary behavior in general (Note the work of Adam Grant of Wharton and Francesca Gino at Harvard.).

Theologian and anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (hung by the Nazis 23 days before the Allied victory in Europe), said this about gratitude:  “Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things.  We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts….We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.  How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?”  (Life Together;  The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community )

Meister-EckhartNovember is the month of Thanksgiving.  I am thankful to all of you who read my personal business essays weekly.  Thanksgiving means gratitude.  And gratitude helps me catalyze the desire to make a positive difference.  Gratitude nurtures generosity.  Gratitude undergirds everything in me that is good and whole.  Gratitude is the vehicle and fertilizer for the flourishing of my future success as an entrepreneur and as a citizen of the world.  As Marcel Proust notes in A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  Lovely and true.

Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart put it this way:  “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”  Indeed, Meister.  Happy Thanksgiving!

31 Responses to “Thanksgiving and Entrepreneurship”
  1. Jeff Marks says:

    Tim

    Good one and I agree–recognition and thank you’s (those that are real and sincere) go a long way for the giver and receiver. And thank you for your provocative blogs and shared wisdom. Have a good Thanksgiving. I will certainly be even more aware of giving thanks to the little things.

  2. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Amen, Brother Jeff.

    Warm regards,

    Tim

  3. Tom Martin says:

    Hi, Tim!

    I enjoyed your blog post on gratitude very much — your sentiments and also the quotations you featured. (I’ve posted a link to your blog post on
    my Facebook page.)

    Tom

  4. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Hey, Tom. It is most kind of you to repost on your Facebook. Very good to hear from you again and thanks for reading.

    Tim

  5. Carol Goman says:

    Lovely!
    Thank you.

  6. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Thanks, Carol. So good to hear from you again.

    With warm regards,

    Tim

  7. Patric Hale says:

    Another good one – thank you!

  8. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Dear Patric,

    Thanks for continuing to read and comment.

    Tim

  9. Michael Drapkin says:

    Tim – thank you for writing your blog. You really are an exceptionally fine writer. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

    mld

  10. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    This is such a nice comment, Michael. I am deeply honored that a man of your insight, education, thoughtfulness, and entrepreneurial accomplishment would say something like this. I thank you.

    With warm regards—and gratitude,

    Tim

  11. Lucy Pullen Werner says:

    Hi Tim,

    John sent me the link to your wonderful blog…for which I thank him AND
    YOU!!!

    You “walk the walk” – I can testify that you’ve always said thank you for
    even the slightest thing I’ve done for you – and they’ve always, I fear,
    been “slight”.

    May this blog help others to be as gracious as you.

    Gratefully,
    Lucy

  12. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    What a very sweet note, Lucy. Thank you.

    Tim

  13. Lucy Pullen Werner says:

    There you go again with a thank you – that comes so naturally TO YOU!

  14. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Oh, pshaw, Lucy. Thanks again. I blush.

    Tim

  15. Jeffrey Fry says:

    Hum. The quote you put in your blog “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Proverbs 15:15 is actually attributed to Anthony Robbins… so I looked up Proverbs 15:15 and this is what I found:

    All the days of the afflicted are bad,
    but one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast.

    Just, FYI

  16. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Hey, Jeffrey. Good to hear from you again. There are many translations of the scriptures from the original Greek and Hebrw. The one you quote could easily be translated as my translation did. Or perhaps Ol’ Tony was subconsciously using the Good Book as his own. I also found a couple of more translations somewhat different than both our translations. I am always honored by your close reading of my posts. Thank you.

    T.

  17. Liz Rhodes says:

    Hi Tim!

    I enjoyed your Thanksgiving blog, in particular!

    We have so much to be grateful for and it is always good to remember that!

    It is a wonderful blend of reminders of the different levels of gratitude.

    I quite like the word eleemosynary :)

  18. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Hi, Liz. I love the word eleemosynary, too. So glad you’ve started following Making Rain and for joining the commentary on my weekly essay postings. I look forward to hearing more from you.

    With warm regards,

    Tim

  19. Susan Karlin says:

    Thanks, Tim.

    Loved your blog on gratitude.
    I share your insights.

    Hope all is good with you.

    Best,
    Sue

  20. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Hey, Susan. So delighted you are reading and commenting on my essays.

    T.

  21. Tom Martin says:

    Tim -

    I’m sure that Tony Robbins would say that this kind of thing happens all time, and when it comes to proper attribution for wisdom like this, you’re really splitting hairs…

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    With gratitude,
    Tom

  22. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Hey, Tom. Thanks for responding. I know you know Tony Robbins personally and I appreciate your kind words.

    T.

  23. Steven Greene says:

    LOL!

  24. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Silly me. Thanks for reading, Steve.

    T.

  25. Brad Smith says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Tim

  26. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Thanks for reading, Brad.

    Tim

  27. Nina Kaufman says:

    I really enjoyed your article, Tim. As you note, “saying ‘thank you’ is an emotional act.” When we feel grateful at the time we say “thank you,” that’s when the miracles happen. Otherwise, “thank you” is simply lip service to politesse. Empty words. And a wasted opportunity.

  28. Will Thomas says:

    Tim,

    Your great character shows at every turn, this being one of them. I enjoy Anthony Robbins, being a fan of several of his tape programs. And some of his comments border on the biblical, so this is understandable! In fact, I’m visiting my sister-in-law’s house for the week, and she has the following written on her chalkboard:

    Phil 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Seems like our friend Anthony was retelling a truth from the Bible, so your mea culpa is well founded!

    Have a great Thanksgiving!
    Will Thomas

  29. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Most kind, Will. I especially appreciate the comments of investors, like yourself, with a moral center.

    With warm regards,

    Tim

  30. Will Thomas says:

    Tim, I really appreciate your perspective in the marketplace.

  31. Tim Askew Tim Askew says:

    Thanks, Will.

    Tim

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