Mary’s Thank You Note Story

thankyounote“We share our gratitude and that has made all the difference.”  Click to Tweet

 Stories matter.  Today, I’m privileged to share a story from Matt McWilliams’ book, The Power of Gratitude.  The 90 Day Thank You Note Challenge will be over in a few weeks, but the Thank You Revolution will continue.  You have a gratitude story worth sharing.  I hope this story will inspire you to share your story.  Share your thank you note story in the comments.

Mary’s Thank You Note Story

Mary finally shut down her computer and tucked her chair under her desk.  

It was 12:42 A.M. and she was finally leaving the office. She’d be back in less than six hours for the executive team meeting, during which they would likely decide on another round of layoffs, including at least two of her remaining eighteen team members.

She was the Vice President of Sales for a company that at its peak had more than two hundred employees. Today, they had slightly more than two-thirds that many with another round of layoffs on the way.

Times were tough and her team was stressed to the breaking point. Almost half of their co-workers and friends had been laid off. Those remaining had their resumes ready and spent every spare moment looking for jobs. Morale was at an unmanageably low point.

As Mary prepared to step back into the office from the cold winter chill while her car warmed up, she remembered that she had forgotten to do one last thing before she left. So she trudged up to her office, reached into the top left drawer and retrieved a small envelope with the name “Henry” on it. She took the envelope and its contents, a short, handwritten note, to Henry’s office and slid it under the door.

“No one writes handwritten notes anymore,” Mary thought to herself. “He’ll probably think I am after something.”

By morning, Mary had forgotten all about the note. Four restless hours of sleep, a quick shower, and two strong cups of coffee after she left the office last night, she was back. Sure enough, the team decided to lay off another twelve people including two from Mary’s sales team.

As she exhaustedly sunk into her chair, with the weight of two more pink slips crashing into her shoulders, she heard a knock on her door and invited the visitor in. It was Henry, holding the note.

Henry looked the part of an ex-Marine, but Mary had never taken the time to find out if he was. Six-feet tall, clean-shaven head, and noticeably muscular structure, Henry seemed like an impenetrable fortress of manhood. To Mary, he was direct, cold, and all business. He was Mary’s last choice to be the recipient of her first thank you note. Nevertheless, he had helped her immensely earlier that week with next year’s forecast and so it made sense to thank him.

“Mary, I just wanted to thank you so much for writing this and leaving it for me this morning,” Henry opened up. “It means a lot to know that my help was appreciated. If you ever need anything else, just let me know.”

He turned to leave, but before he could reach the door, Mary spoke up.

“I meant it. I could not have gotten through last week without your help. With all of the budget cutbacks, I couldn’t make sense of how to make the conferences fit into the budget.”

“No problem at all,” said Henry. “Anytime.”

And with that, he was gone.

Within a week, Mary had learned more about Henry than she had learned in the previous two years working with him.

He was not a former Marine, but did serve as a Reservist in the National Guard. His two-week vacation every year went to training and his family was fearful that at any moment he would be called to fight overseas.

They were able to help each other with two difference projects. And Mary was able to lend Henry two of her team members to help beta test new software. Henry, in turn, wrote a thank you note to Mary for doing so.

Mary continued to write thank you notes and continued to form closer relationships with all of her colleagues and direct reports. She even began to leave post-it notes on computers and write messages to her team on their white boards.

But it was her handwritten notes that quickly became the talk of the company.

Team morale was noticeably improving. It didn’t take long for others outside the department to notice. When other executives asked why, she reminded them of the notes that they themselves received from her.

“Gratitude,” she said. “We share our gratitude and that has made all the difference.” Click to Tweet

“You know, I got a thank you note from one of my programmers last week,” T.J. told her. “On paper. Paper! I didn’t even know programmers knew how to write with a pen.”

The Thank You Revolution was spreading. The company culture was changing. Morale was skyrocketing.

Now if this was a Hollywood story, what would come next is the sudden resurgence of company profits, the returning of all of those who were laid off, and the promotion of Mary to CEO.

But this isn’t a Hollywood story. In fact, five weeks after Mary’s first note, seven more people were laid off, thankfully none from her department. She only wrote her first note nine weeks before she shared her story with me. We have yet to see what will result financially from the Thank You Revolution taking hold of her company.

It only took nine weeks for a culture of gratitude to institute itself in her company. In the past four weeks, the average person, she estimated, has written ten thank you notes each. And it shows no signs of stopping.

Managers reported more openness with their team members. Customers showed increased satisfaction and one CEO even responded to a thank you note with a referral to a CEO friend of his who was on the board of a large non-profit that is likely to become the company’s largest client.

Team members were arguing less. Married people even reported better relationships with their spouses. The Thank You Revolution was not confined to work.

All in nine weeks.

That is the Power of Gratitude.

That is a story from the Thank You Revolution.


As an added bonus, if you’d like to know the rest of Mary’s story, you can read it here.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s your Thank You Note story?

BIO: Matt McWilliams is a world changer. And so are you. Matt’s goal is to help you to be the world changer God made you to be.  To be clear, Matt will not make you a world changer. You already are. His goal is to help you find that person inside of you.

He blogs about personal growth, business, and leadership at and tweets about the #ThankYouRevolution and more at @MattMcWilliams2 (don’t forget the 2 or you get an egg).  To get a FREE copy of Matt’s book, The Power of Gratitude, click here.