Saying “thank you” is free

by Karl Sakas on April 21, 2010

Photo of the Wailin' Jennys, by Art Turner at TheWailinJennys.com

Press photo by Art Turner, courtesy of TheWailinJennys.com

The Wailin’ Jennys performed to a sold-out crowd at the Fletcher Theater in Raleigh, NC on April 15. The Canadian folk trio was as good as I expected, but their closing wrapup was as memorable as their haunting harmonies.

Why? They took the time to thank everyone on the crew. Everyone–the two sound people, the lighting tech, the house manager, the event producer, the three publicists, and a few more people. By first name, with pauses for the audience’s applause.

I’m used to hearing musicians thank just the audience. Sure, we pay the bills, but it glosses over the team effort required to put on a successful show. I don’t know what Heather, Nicky, and Ruth are like off-stage, but their generous thank-you reminded me that success is not a solo project.

Photo of note from Henry Rollins, via Reddit.com

Backstage note by Henry Rollins, via Reddit.com

I assume the unexpected public thank-you is an indicator of what it’s like to work with the Wailin’ Jennys backstage. Who’s going to get a reputation in the industry as “easy to deal with”? Who’s going to get extra attention when they perform at a venue again a year from now?

In my volunteer activities, I make a point of saying thank you. When you can’t pay people, all you have is appreciation and recognition–and saying “thank you” is free. I keep a couple boxes of thank-you cards in my desk at all times, so I can send notes immediately without having to hunt for a card or a stamp.

It’s easy for high-achievers to falsely attribute 100% of their success to their own efforts. To be sure, those are a key component, but we’re not doing it alone. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my friends, family, managers, coworkers, clients–thank you!

Notecard photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/scrapstampsew/

Photo by ScrapStampSew at Flickr.com

I know a non-profit that makes in-kind donations to other local organizations for raffles, fundraisers, etc. The executive director’s policy is: “They didn’t send us a thank-you? They’re never getting a donation from us again!” A little extreme, but it makes sense.

Emails and Twitter DMs are all well and good, but when’s the last time you received a paper thank-you note? You probably remember who sent it to you, too. Buy a box or two and use ‘em.

What’s your “thank you” policy?

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