Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to our latest episode – please excuse me for the stuffiness as I’m just getting over a cold but wanted to battle through this to make sure today’s episode hit you all by Thanksgiving as it ties in perfectly. On a day where we all should sit back and reflect on all that we are thankful for, I am humbled to share this conversation with you all. And a couple of amazing gives to say thanks for listening in that I’ll share here in a second… but on to today’s guest.
My buddy, John Israel, is the author and founder of The Mr. Thank You Project: A Journey to Elevate the Level of Gratitude on the Planet…. One Card at a Time. Over the course of a year, he wrote 5 thank you cards a day, EVERY day – that’s 1,825 handwritten thank you cards over the course of a year!!! His new book tells the story of the surprising and amazing things that happened along the way! It’s easily one of the top books I’ve read in 2018 and if you’re looking to learn how expressing gratitude – both personally and professionally – can make you a better financial advisor and a better person … this episode is for you!
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- [16:07] John starts out by sharing a few stories, including the very first thank you card he wrote to a Starbucks barista at 5am in the morning, an over-the-top reaction to a note to a random waitress in Philadelphia, and even text message responses from handwritten notes he’s shared with pilots that have made sure he landed safely. He explains how thanking people for real, meaningful things impacted him just as much as it did them – even if he’d never met them before.
- [38:27] Then, John introduces the idea of what he calls “The Gratitude Loop” – and how a major breakthrough in his project led to a discovery that helped keep his own ego in check.
- [54:19] From there, we dig into why nothing bad can ever happen from saying ‘thank you.’ John shares a HUGE lesson for financial advisors about how saying thanks to even those who don’t become a client can be one of the most powerful things you’ll ever do. He shares how doing this himself led to a 300% ROI for John – even after he’d lost the sale!
- [01:01:39] John then reveals surprising and unintended results from the aftermath of The Mr. Thank You Project – including how it increased his profits solely in terms of non-canceled business and customer retention.
- [01:13:14] Next, John shares the amazing story of how expressing gratitude, like for instance a runner-up national championship team, can lead to incredible experiences you didn’t see coming.
- [01:19:08] Finally, I share a challenge to all of you listeners – that can help you bring the lessons of the Mr. Thank You Project into the real world, with the commitment of just one thank you card to start out.
- [06:15] The story of the man who set out to change the world – and why this story affected John Israel so greatly.
- [10:22] How writing Thank You cards put John in the heads of people he didn’t know – and the surprising responses that he received by showing his appreciation for them.
- [13:04] John introduces the rules of the Mr. Thank You project – and the clench move that ensured he would follow through.
- [16:50] How John gave the best tip a waitress had ever received – and the way it validated his work in the Mr. Thank You project.
- [45:53]John introduces the concept of the YNK factor – and the power of not knowing what good you’re bringing into the world – as well as how it relates to sales.
- [57:40] What John would want to receive from the people who don’t earn his business now to all but guarantee it in the future.
- [01:01:03] Why trust is so essential to building relationships – especially in industries known for being less than trustworthy.
- [01:06:26] The reason it’s okay to have canceled orders if you’re having success in business.
- [01:09:02] How to write a personal, authentic Thank You card – even when you’re saying thank you 5 times a day for a year.
- [01:23:06] The first person John thinks of as successful – and the power of mentorship.
- [01:23:46] What John wants to see thought of as absurd in 25 years.
- [01:25:42] Why Jay Papasan’s The ONE Thing is one of John’s very favorite books – and The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is among his most gifted.
- [01:28:21] The power of the actual experience of gratitude – and its lasting effects, especially in a field as up and down as sales.
- [01:33:38] Why people are more important than profits – and why this mentality always leads to profits.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- The Mr. Thank You Project: A Journey to Elevate the Level of Gratitude on the Planet One Card at a Time
- Start with Why TED talk (video)
- Skating Through College: How to pursue your passions and make a difference without sacrificing your GPA
- The Compound Effect
- Front Row Dads
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
- How to Win Friends & Influence People
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
This week’s first review comes to us from user Nwrightjr who says:
Thanks for the kind words and the review! So glad you enjoyed the conversation with Greg, he shared some incredible advice for every entrepreneur out there. I love hearing that after 12 years in the business you are still focusing on making yourself better, I find it’s a common trait of the most successful in our business. Thanks for the praise in regards to the podcast, these comments really do mean a lot and keep me hunting for more incredible guests to bring your all’s way.
The next review comes to us from user Jarrod_W who says:
Thanks for your thoughts Jarrod and the review. I wish podcasts would have existed in my college days… at least in the easy to access format they do today. Not sure where you plan on your business career taking you, but if you are already seeking out additional ways to learn and grow, my guess is wherever the next phase in life takes you, you’re going to be a rock star. Hit me up if it happens to include financial services 🙂
Next up is user daleshafer who says:
Thanks for listening in Dale and for the 5 star review! The episode with Ian Cron and the Enneagram lessons in his book The Road Back to You still impact me today a few years after I first met Ian. In fact I just texted a friend the other day to share his assessment test www.exploreyourtype.com and highly recommend taking it and then picking up a copy of his book for anyone in a relationship or business where you are trying to better understand what motivates others actions. So glad it helped you in the same way it did me Dale. Thanks for the super kind words and I’ll keep the conversations coming!
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from LegatoFinancial, who says:
Take the 1st Step to Building Your Ideal Practice: Apply for “Virtual Discovery Session“
For those of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them, versus them serving it. Yes it’s possible to grow your business and work less, this is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country… So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a 1-on-1 conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at bradleyjohnson.com/apply. It takes about 5 minutes to fill out the application so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing and how myself and my team may be able to help. We then dive into a Discovery session where we ask a lot of questions based on your survey. We do a lot of listening, and take a lot of notes to build a rough draft of our proprietary Elite Advisor Blueprint – 90 Day Plan™. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at bradleyjohnson.com/apply 🙂
Already heard it once or twice? Please leave a short review here, and tell me which guests I should have on!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:26] Brad: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for world-class financial advisors. I’m Brad Johnson, VP of Advisor Development at Advisors Excel and it’s my goal to distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
Happy Thanksgiving! And welcome to our latest episode. Please excuse me for the stuffiness as I’m just getting over a cold but I wanted to battle through this to make sure today’s episode hits you all by Thanksgiving as it ties in absolutely perfectly. On a day where we should all sit back and reflect on all that we’re thankful for, I’m humbled to share this conversation with you all. And also, a couple of pretty amazing gives to say thanks for listening in, but I’ll get to that in a second.
On to today’s guest. My buddy, John Israel, is the author and founder of the Mr. Thank You Project, a journey to elevate the level of gratitude on the planet one card at a time. Over the course of the year, he wrote five thank you cards a day every day. That’s 1,825 handwritten thank you cards over the course of the year. His new book tells the story of the surprising and amazing things that happened along the way. It’s easily one of the top books I’ve read in all of 2018 and if you’re looking to learn how expressing gratitude both personally and professionally and make you a better a financial advisor and also a better person, this episode is for you.
Here are a few highlights of what we get into. John starts out by sharing a few different stories including the very first thank you card he wrote to a Starbucks barista at 5 AM in the morning, and over the top reaction to a note to a random waitress in Philadelphia, and even text message responses from handwritten notes he shared with pilots that have made sure he landed safely. He explains how thanking people for real meaningful things impacted him just as much as it did them even if he’d never met them before. Then John introduced us the idea of what he calls the gratitude loop and how a major breakthrough in his project led to a discovery that helped keep his own ego in check.
[00:02:25] Brad: From there, we dig into why nothing bad can ever happen from saying thank you. John shares a huge lesson for financial advisors about how saying thanks to even those who don’t become a client can be one of the most powerful things you’ll ever do. He shares how doing this himself led to a 300% ROI for John even after he’d lost the sale. John then reveals surprising and unintended results from the aftermath of the Mr. Thank You Project including how to increase his profits solely in terms of non-canceled business and customer retention. Next, John shares the amazing story of how expressing gratitude like for instance a runner-up national championship team can lead to incredible experiences you didn’t see coming. And finally, I share a challenge to all of you listeners that can help you bring the lessons of the Mr. Thank You Project into the real-world with the commitment of just one thank you card to start out.
Okay. Before we dive into the conversation, I worked with John to set up two big gives for all of you Blueprint listeners. First off, you can download John’s Mr. Thank You 30-day challenge for free right at the top of the show notes at BradleyJohnson.com/53. This free download is designed to help you develop the habit of showing gratitude over just 30 days and John breaks it down into a system that is simple and achievable. Secondly, as a special favor to me, John autographed a boxful of copies of his book, the Mr. Thank You Project, and I will be mailing them out until they’re all gone. It is one of my top reads for 2018. I promise it will inspire you to say thank you more often.
So, here’s what to do next if you’d like your free autographed copy of John’s book. First, visit the show notes at BradleyJohnson.com/53 where you’ll see an offer to grab a free copy of John’s book right at the top. From there, you’ll get all the instructions on what to do next but it’s as simple as leaving an honest review on iTunes for our show. You can visit the link BradleyJohnson.com/iTunes to make it easy or on most mobile podcast players, just scroll down on the show until you get to the review section.
[00:02:25] Brad: Once you’ve left a review, just drop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org with your iTunes username and the best mailing address to ship you the book and we’ll drop you a copy in the mail as a thank you. That simple. As always, all the additional show notes, books mentioned, and people discussed as well as a full transcript of the show can be found on the show notes as well. So, that’s it. As always, thanks for listening. Without further delay, my conversation with John Israel.
[00:04:58] Brad: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I’m humbled. I’m blessed. I’ve got my buddy, John Israel, here today with me. Welcome to the show, John.
[00:05:09] John: Hey, thanks for having me, Brad.
[00:05:11] Brad: So, besides being a friend from a Dads Retreat out in Philly and one of the 17 Johns I know that work with Cutco, you also happen to do some really cool things on the side. So, what we’re going to talk a lot about today is your just-released book, The Mr. Thank You Project, and what’s been amazing getting to know you a little bit from a couple dad retreats from Jon Vroman, our mutual buddy that put those on, is as I dug into your book, I didn’t realize I was literally part of the story. As a lot of this was unfolding, I’m going to let you expand on what the Mr. Thank You Project was, but as we are talking about before we went live here, I feel like and I’m holding it up for the camera for those of you actually watching in, this is a thank you from my buddy, John, that he sent me not quite a year ago, but I feel like I have after reading your book, I feel like I’ve got an original copy of like a ticket to a Beatles concert or something. So, I’ll let you expand. I won’t hold the audience here just wondering, “What the heck is he talking about?” I’ll let you expand what was the Mr. Thank You Project and how did it come to be.
[00:06:19] John: Yeah, for sure. So, I guess to give to everyone a little insight into kind of who I am and what I do and how this whole came about so, by trade, I am a gratitude salesman. So, what that means is I help people say thank you for a living and on that end of it like career-wise, I work for Cutco closing gifts so we do gifts for companies, businesses to give away as housewarming gifts, thank you gifts after a transaction. It’s kind of been my world for 16 years and like how the Mr. Thank You Project began was how many things began where you’re searching for answers in life and I was at a stage where it’s funny, I was a strategy salesman who wasn’t very grateful. You could go ask 100 people who know John Israel, “What do you know about him?” and they might say some nice things like he’s driven or successful, but I don’t think the word grateful or appreciative or maybe even happy would be something they would use to describe me.
So, it was in 2016 I was at a unique stage in my life. My wife and I had a one-and-a-half-year-old son. She was pregnant with our second child. We just bought our first house and she had decided to leave her job to become a stay-at-home mom and we’re both excited about that decision but for me, it was also the first time that I was the sole provider for my family and so I felt a lot of pressure, a lot of weight of what I was now responsible for. So, I did what many of us do, and we’re in search of meaning and purpose and I went to YouTube and I looked up TED talks and I came across one that I think a lot of the listeners have probably seen or heard which is Simon Sinek’s famous Start with Why TED talk and what really struck a chord with me was just the simplicity of this message which is that people don’t care what you do. They care why you do it. And in relation to business, people don’t care what you sell. They care why you’re selling it. And if I was really honest with myself because I thought about that, “Well, why am I selling what I sell? Why am I doing what I do in my business?”
[00:08:18] John: In that moment, it was survival. It was literally just making ends meet, putting food on the table for my family and if I thought, “Okay. Well, if what Simon is saying is true, and people buy into who you are and what you’re about, man, I don’t think that’s a very inspiring place to be,” and I just didn’t feel like I could grow a thriving business to support my family on. So, I thought, “Okay. What could be a why that I could be inspired by?” And just the topic of gratitude was very relevant because, again, I’m a gratitude salesman. I help people say thank you. So, I wanted to find some way of working on having gratitude as a part of my mission so I created this mission statement that who we are as an organization, me and my small staff is that we are about elevating gratitude on the planet and like it sounded cool, sounded neat, clients loved it, staff loved it, and then I heard a story and I know we’re mutual friends with Jon Vroman, and I was at an event that he shared a story that really kind of struck a chord and set the stage for what the project that I started, and it’s the story of the man who wanted to change the world, and it goes like this.
There’s a man who set out to try and change the world and in the process of doing that, he found out the world was too big. He couldn’t do it. So, when he scaled back and looked at his country and thought, “Okay. Well, I can get involved in politics. I can affect change in my country,” and then he soon realized he couldn’t do that. And then he went back to his city and he’s like, “I know people, I can be influential, and I can change my city,” and the harder he tried, the more he found he still couldn’t do it. Then he saw his family. He’s like, “Oh, my family. I see them every day. I can change my family,” and as many people realize you can’t exactly change your family. They are who they are. And then it wasn’t until much later in his life that he looked back and he saw that the only thing he could change was himself and in effect by changing himself, he could change his family and they could change the city and they could change the country and ultimately, that’s how he could affect change in the world.
[00:10:16] John: And I heard that story and I took it very literally. I thought, “Well, if that’s true, and I am this guy who says he’s committed to elevating the level of gratitude on the planet, how am I elevating my own level of gratitude?” and I just saw the major inconsistency there. So, I thought, “Okay. Well, where have I seen or experienced the highest level of gratitude?” And I remember this experience of my wife right after she had our first son, and she made this commitment to use up all of her thank you cards. She had collected them and never sent any of them out as I think many people who have that stationary box in their desk with hundreds of cards and never sent them. So, she committed to giving all these thank you cards. She had about like 60, 70 cards and I remember quite literally while she was feeding her son with one arm, she was writing a thank you card with the other and she was just so committed to this practice and this process.
And here’s really what a struck a chord with me was seeing how it changed my wife and seeing how in this place of having just given birth and the emotions and the hormones and everything that they go through, she was the most gracious and loving that I’ve ever experienced in our relationship and I can directly relate it to those cards. And I remember how it even started affecting our community and people started reaching out and saying, “Oh my gosh, your card was just so unexpected, and it meant so much,” and I was at a conference one day and one of our friends who’s kind of a prominent guy in the community kind of like beeline it straight for me to say, “Hey, man, I got Monica’s card and I got to tell you, that was like a highlight of the year, totally unexpected, completely genuine, and just really a highlight and I just want to reflect that to you.” So, I had this very clear, okay, thank you cards can have an impact. They affect who’s writing them, they affect the community, they affect people out there. What if that’s my thing? Yes, I sell gifts, you know, that’s my world but instead of trying to make it that it’s about my job, what if it was something that personally I was just committed to in expressing and experiencing gratitude every day.
[00:12:23] John: So, that’s how it started, and on October 10th of 2016, The Mr. Thank You Project began and specifically what that looked like was a commitment to write five thank you cards every day for 365 consecutive days, and I know we’re going to go into stories and some stuff that happened but without even knowing what happened, the thing to know for you whatever you do for your business or your life or whatever you commit to is when you make a major commitment like that, an adventure emerges. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew there was going to be some cool stuff and I think that’s the interesting part is you can’t control what happens. You just got to be committed to the process and see what unfolds.
[00:13:04] Brad: So, for all of the advisors listening in, you hit a couple of the rules but in your book what I love is you lay out the rules of the game that you set down for yourself of here’s what I’m going on. So, you hit a couple of them, all notes handwritten. Every day five cards must be written and you couldn’t like thank them up like literally, you had to write five every day.
[00:13:25] John: Yeah.
[00:13:26] Brad: What were the other couple? Because I think there were a couple more in there, weren’t there?
[00:13:29] John: Yeah. So, they would handwrite five every day. So, they didn’t have to be done by midnight. It just had to be done before I officially went to bed, meaning every morning reset at zero, and I’ve been excellent as I could write a max of three cards per person, meaning I couldn’t write 75 to my wife because that would get really annoying.
[00:13:46] Brad: She would hate that. She would hate thank you cards every morning.
[00:13:49] John: Because they would just get ridiculous like, “Hey, sweetheart. Thank you so much for picking up the almond butter at the grocery store because that’s what I prefer over peanut butter and I appreciate how much you’re thinking of me,” like it would just get ridiculous and they would totally lose their luster. And also, by the way, I know me and if you give me a window out, I’ll take it as most of us are if we’re not clear in that…
[00:14:09] Brad: Well, welcome to anybody that’s decent at sales where they don’t give yourself a shortcut.
[00:14:16] John: Yeah. We’ll sell those ourselves in or out of anything. Okay. So, and then the last rule was for any and every day that I missed, I would donate $1,000 to charity and so that was kind of a big clench move that was like this is happening, there’s no way out. We’re going to follow-through.
[00:14:32] Brad: So, every day if I hit the next morning and the reset button’s at zero and I didn’t hit the five the day before, there’s $1,000 going to a charity somewhere?
[00:14:39] John: Yep.
[00:14:40] Brad: All right. Well, let’s bag in. I just want to share this adventure with everyone because I read the book and it was such an awesome book. Easily one of the top books I’ve read this year and I’m not just saying that because you’re a friend. I had high expectations. I’ve heard pieces of the story. I’m out at Jon Vroman’s event but, dude, such an awesome book so not only pull this off but also put it in writing so others can benefit from it too.
[00:15:07] John: Cool. Appreciate that.
[00:15:09] Brad: All right. So, let’s start with an event that I was actually at. This went down. I didn’t even know it was going down but then I read it in the book and I’m like, “Oh, I was there,” so I think it was day three of your thank you journey.
[00:15:24] John: Yeah. Yeah. So, day three. So, what’s interesting about this whole project of committing to expressing with five people gratitude and in written form is you’re constantly having to look for people to appreciate, which is kind of a unique filter to live your day. If your day is every time I have to find someone doing good so I can acknowledge it and appreciate it. It’s a really interesting way like what you start to notice is a lot of what’s great in the world and what people do because it’s so easy if all we watch is the news or whatever that it’s like, “Oh, the world sucks like the world has so many problems,” and it was interesting just to have the filter in my life. So, every day looking for five people to appreciate and I was boarding a plane from Los Angeles.
[00:16:07] Brad: Actually, you know what, I completely messed this up because I love how you open the book, the very first thank you, you wrote. So, you want to start there then we can share that. Because that’s when it hit home to me that I’m like, “Oh, dude. That’s so awesome that that’s how this whole journey got rolling.
[00:16:22] John: Yeah. Well, it was funny because I didn’t plan on this, but I was excited. You know, it’s like I knew the project was starting the next day. I took 10 days to get fully committed like make my list of who I wanted to appreciate because when you write five cards every day, that’s a combined 1,825 thank you cards. That’s a lot of people and so in my database and with my clients and with friends and family, I made an initial list of about 360 people. That still leaves a lot of people to appreciate throughout the year and so, I remember going to a coffee shop at like 5:30 in the morning because I just couldn’t even sleep. I was just so excited for starting the project. So, I go there and I go get my coffee, and the barista she’s super pleasant, smiling, happy, and she’s like 18 and I’m like, “Wow. An 18-year-old who’s excited and smiling early in the morning,” and then she helped me and then there’s hardly anyone else there so she’s like unpacking boxes and she’s just productive. She just like making stuff happen.
And so, I go back to my seat with my coffee and I realize, “All right. She is number one. She’s the first thank you card that I’m going to write.” And so, I wrote this card to her and it’s just like, “Hey, I know this might be super strange to receive a thank you card from a customer but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you waking up early serving my coffee with a smile and just everything that you do, unpacking boxes, being productive, and really just to make people’s day. I spend literally thousands of dollars at Starbucks throughout the year,” because we go there all the time when we travel, “and I just want to let you know how much I appreciate who you are, what you do, and everything you’re about. Thank you.” And then I signed my name and at the end of it I had to put, “P.S. I am totally married with two children, so do not take this as anything other than what it is which is simply a man saying thank you to another person,” because she’s like 18 and I’m like, “I don’t want this like telling her boss like…”
[00:18:22] Brad: Yeah. I don’t want the old creepy guy syndrome.
[00:18:25] John: I know, right?
[00:18:26] Brad: And then what I love is in the book you, literally, some of these you took pictures of before you gave them away. I circled your PS just because it made me laugh out loud. I thought that was hilarious because that is one of the things that you talk about in the book was when you randomly start thinking strangers, it’s like it creates this dynamic people aren’t used to at all.
[00:18:45] John: Totally. Totally disrupts what they’re expecting. Yeah.
[00:18:47] Brad: Yeah. Cool. So, that’s thank you card number one. You get this thing rolling. Let’s hear the story of day three where I’m literally sitting beside you at a random bar in Philly having a beer and having some fellowship and didn’t even realize this was going down.
[00:19:01] John: Yeah. So, to kind of like rolling it out, there’s five cards I had to write and all of them really kind of played into each other which was really pretty cool. So, first, I’m boarding this plane from Los Angeles to Philly and it’s two flights, two legs of a flight, so I have two sets of pilots and as I’m boarding the plane, I’m thinking about who am I going to appreciate today? The first people came to mind was the pilots or were the pilots because every time I fly, I’m praying for safe travel. You know, I’m married, I got two kids at home, most important thing for me of any trip is making it home. And to date, they have 100% delivered on that. And so, I thought, “You know what, I never get to see them. I never get to talk to them because for security reasons. It’s understandable. We don’t really get to communicate with them.” And so, I thought they had such an important job that no one gets to appreciate them. I’m going to do that. So, I board the plane and I asked the flight attendant for the pilots’ names which is a super weird question to ask by the way. They’re like, “Why? Why do you need them?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to write them a thank you card,” and then they’re like, “Okay. That’s fine.”
So, she gives me the names. I sit down and then I had this conundrum, which is how do you thank somebody that you don’t even know? And that was a big part of this journey was discovering how can you appreciate people from nothing? They didn’t do anything to necessarily – it’s not like they gave me a gift like they didn’t give me a birthday gift and so I have this obligation or this desire to suddenly thank them for something they did. It’s like having to search and dig for what can I acknowledge and appreciate this person for. And so, I just thought about what it must be like to be a pilot. I was becoming curious. What’s their life like? What do they care about? What are their values? What are their dreams? What are their goals? What are their biggest problems they deal with? And so, I thought about all those things and I started feeling really connected with regardless of knowing their name or really like their personal life, what their life must be like.
[00:20:51] John: So, essentially I wrote this note, “Dear pilot, I can imagine it’s probably odd to receive a thank you card from a passenger but as I was boarding my flight, I realize how much I missed my family and I realized in the same moment that you probably miss your family every single time you fly, which is a lot. And not only that, but you miss a lot of important events, holidays, and things that really matter to you just to do your job. And on top of that, I imagine that this is a job that you’ve been wanting to maybe since you’re a little kid because people don’t become a pilot by accident. And on top of that, you do have hundreds and thousands of people’s lives at your fingertips every day, and only to have a slightly rough landing because of turbulence and people complain about it. So, whether you hear enough from passengers or not, thank you on behalf of me and everybody on this plane.” So, I wrote that note and I gave it to the pilots, jump on the next plane, same thing, write the letter, give to those two pilots. And what was interesting about that experience was I was using my business stationery which had my name, my email, my cell phone number.
And here’s what blew me away is that within 24 hours, three out of the four pilots personally text messaged or emailed me to thank me for the card that they received and one went on to say, “You know, John, in my 12 years of flying, I have never received a thank you card from a passenger,” and that just blew me away because I’m like, man, these guys are such significant, such important jobs, and no one’s taking the time to appreciate them. And if it’s like that for those people with such important jobs with so much on the line, what about everybody else in their jobs in their relationships, in their careers, how much are people not being acknowledged and appreciated for who they are and their contributions to the world? So, that really kind of sparked some ideas in my head of how we can impact the world with this project. So, we land in Philadelphia. We do the Front Row Dads Retreat. That’s where you and I met for the first time and we had a great night and we finished off by deciding to go to a bar/restaurant. It was the World Series game. I remember that.
[00:23:01] John: And we pull into this restaurant bar that was totally dead. There was like hardly anybody in there and there’s one waitress, and as we walk in, there’s like 40 of us rowdy loud entrepreneurial guys and everybody literally stops and looks at us like we’re a spectacle because we are. We weren’t supposed to be there. We had no reservation and you can see the look on the one waitress’ face which is basically like, “You all just ruined my night.” She looked like she’s probably about ready to wrap up early, go home, but now we were going to keep her there all night. And we stayed there until like 1:30 in the morning. I don’t know when you left, Brad, but we are closing that place down.
[00:23:34] Brad: Too late.
[00:23:37] John: It was late but what was so magical and you remember this is that her name is Shante and she did a phenomenal job. Even though she was like the only waitress there, she really warmed up to us. You know, we were cracking jokes with each other. She just did a phenomenal job, got all of our orders correct, and I just thought that she just did a really great job knowing that we really kind of totally surprised her and she could’ve not been a great server and I think we would’ve understood because of how we showed up. So, I realize, okay, she’s my number five. She’s my last card for the day. So, I grabbed some stationary and I essentially write this note which is, “Dear Shante, I imagine it’s odd to receive a thank you card from a customer, but what I wanted to let you know is we are a group of entrepreneurial fathers here for a retreat to learn how to become better husbands to our wives and fathers to our children and tonight was very important because it was all about fellowship and community and for us to get to know each other better. And while I know we showed up and had no reservation, you went up serving us immaculately.
You could have been annoyed and frustrated and give us terrible service and we would’ve understood, but instead, you are great. So, I just want to let you know how appreciative I am and we are as a community for what you created tonight because it really made a difference in our experience together.” And I wrote that note, put in an envelope, walked over to Shante. She’s cashing her tips on a different table, I handed the letter, she accepts it awkwardly as most strangers do when I hand them a thank you card. And then as I’m leaving, I realized I got to go the restroom so I do a U-turn, go back in the restaurant, go to the bathroom and then as I come out of the restroom, Shante is there waiting for me and her head is cocked to the side. She got a little grin on her face and she runs at me and gives me the biggest bear hug of my life and says, “That is the best tip I’ve ever been given,” and then she put me down because she was literally picking me up.
[00:25:34] John: And we just paused for a second there and just like looked at each other and it wasn’t, you know, customer-server. It was human being and human being. And that’s really what I got on day three was just that regardless of people’s roles, we are all human beings with goals, aspirations, desires, challenges, and when we choose to be great in spite of our challenges, that truly is a gift and the best definition I have ever learned about of what gratitude is, the emotion of gratitude, it’s the feeling one has when they receive a gift or experience something as a gift and that’s what I experienced there. And what was great about with that experience with Shante is what I saw is that people just want to be seen, valued, and respected because we gave her a huge tip. The fact that there’s 40 of us, we’re all entrepreneurs, we’re generous guys, and no matter how much money she got that moment or any previous moment she said, “This is the best tip I’ve ever been given,” that says a lot.
That says that people are yearning for something that this matters to people. So, at the end of that day as I was walking back to the hotel, I mean, I was just like choked up, tearing up, and I’m like this is so important that we acknowledge and appreciate and see each other for really our greatness rather than our weakness. And that was just my first real experience of it and at that point, if I was level 8 or level 9 committed to the project, that totally brought me to a level 10 100% no matter what, I will finish this project because I could see the impact that it can have on people.
[00:27:13] Brad: Yeah. I could just sit here and have you tell these stories all day long because, I mean, just story after story after story, but what created them, I took a list of things from the book and we were talking about this before we went live and I know we’re going to also get to for all you financial advisors we’re going to tie this altogether of what it did for John’s business by the end, which was not the reason but it’s cool how you say it in the book, what you appreciate, appreciates, right? So, we’ll talk about how that impacted this business over the year too. But one of the things I took as I dug deeper and deeper into the book is you started this project with an external focus of how can I thank people that meant something in my life or did something kind or maybe go unrecognized throughout the day and should be recognized. But the more I dug into the book, I started to get this list of what it was actually doing for you and what it was doing for your family and the impact it was having on you internally that I don’t, my guess is you thought some cool things would happen along the way but did you have any idea what it would actually, how it would start to change you as a person as you went through this year?
[00:28:22] John: Yeah. I definitely didn’t know what was going to happen, but I was just kind of open to the experience of it and really, it’s like any challenge. It’s like for anyone here who’s maybe training for a triathlon or a marathon or anything that you’ve never done, you literally have to become a different person in order to accomplish it. I think that some of the reasons why we do that is we want to become more disciplined. We want to develop self-reliance or resilience, and so I didn’t know what’s going to happen but I knew I’d have to – it would affect my gratitude somehow but what really affected me was just the understanding of the responsibility that now shows up by appreciating people as a part of your life. In an example of that was, yeah, I shared a story in the book of the best thank you card that I gave my wife and it was totally unexpected. Actually, I wrote her a really long gushy what I love about you, so grateful for our marriage, and how we met, and everything. I laid that out and I gave it to her. And, no joke, Brad, she’d like literally didn’t say anything. It was just like, “Come on. Give me something here.”
[00:29:29] Brad: That goes to one other lesson you learned along the way that I’ll bring up later but keep going. Yeah.
[00:29:34] John: Yeah. But at the same time, by the way, we have like a three-week-old child, so I had very minimal expectations of anything that my wife would do so I was like, whatever, move on. So, what happened was I woke up one morning and we’re big coffee drinkers like that’s part of our life. Well, we just moved to Dallas, Texas and this is a brand-new house. We only brought one car with us because we were going to buy another car later once we were there for a little bit and I woke up and I make the coffee in the morning and I leave it for my wife a little later when she wakes up. And so, I was making coffee and I realized, “Oh crap, we’re out of coffee.” Now, this wasn’t a big deal for me because I was about to leave to go meet some clients, and I can just go through the Starbucks drive-through like no big deal. And so, but I’m like, “Oh my gosh, but my wife won’t have any coffee,” and she has no car to drive anywhere and the closest Starbucks is going to take her at least like 30 minutes to 45 minutes to walk with two young children in this brand-new city she’s never lived in. And so, I just didn’t know what to do. So, I was like, “I mean, I got to go.”
Because if I left, if I went and got her coffee and brought it back, I would hit the worst traffic and I’d be 30 late for my appointment so it was just kind of like a very tough situation and I decided I’m just going to go because that’s just what I decided in the moment. So, as I’m walking at the door, my wife comes down the stairs and then she says, “Hey, is the coffee ready?” I said, “We’re out of coffee,” and I just see, it’s like out of a sitcom, I just see the look of despair like because the information started getting to her head like, “Oh, we’re out of coffee. Oh, you’re leaving. Oh, I don’t have a car. Oh my God, I’ve had two hours of sleep and I have two children with me all day and I will have no coffee,” and I get to see the despair come over her face and I was like, “Sorry.” I walked out just like a cheese ball and I left and I get in the Starbucks line and I have this decision and I’m like, “Oh my God,” just wrote this amazing, loving, gushing how much I care about you thank you letter to my wife.
[00:31:30] John: Yet, in this moment, I’m going to put my work as a priority over our relationship and I decided in that moment like I have to do it. So, I ordered a second cup of coffee, drove the 10 minutes back to the house, dropped it off on the front lawn, on the front of the porch, and I put a little note on a little note card and all it said is, “You’re always worth a hot cup of coffee,” and then I jumped in my car. I had my appointment and I sent her a text, “Go to the front door,” and she took a photo of it, put it on Instagram, “Oh my gosh, I love my husband. Best husband in the world,” and she went on to say like that’s the best thank you card I ever wrote her. I’m like, “Well, that’s interesting because that was also the shortest one I’ve ever written you,” but what I think was important was that it was an expression of the commitment that I said the day before because it’s like you become responsible for your words. If you say I love you but then you don’t honor it with your actions, there you go.
[00:32:23] Brad: I love too in the book you randomly snapped pictures on your phone along the journey and I love it. You just set it right there on top of the coffee for those that are watching in or listening in, I threw it up there on the camera.
[00:32:34] John: Yeah. The lesson that I learned is that it is really a question which is how do you treat that for which you are grateful because if you’re truly grateful for something and you appreciate it, you will treat it differently. You will pause. You will notice it. You will give it love. You’ll take care of it however it needs and that goes with your staff, that goes with your assistant, that goes with your team, because if you say, it’s like a salesperson saying, “Oh, I appreciate my clients. I’m committed to 100% service,” but then you don’t return their phone call for 48 hours with the problem that they have, or whatever. So, it’s like act consistent with what you say you’re committed to and that was a huge lesson that really challenged me to grow. By the way, my client wound up being 30 minutes late so I was completely on time and here was the great part is that on that drive to my client, I was now in this great state of knowing that I honored my commitment with this project rather than driving to my appointment on time and feeling like, “I’m such the worst husband ever.” So, because of that, I got to affect how I felt internally and it worked out, in the end, both ways.
[00:33:42] Brad: That story right there, well, it actually reminds me a lot of what we talked about at the dads retreat which is it’s not so much as a parent what you say, it’s what you model. One of the behaviors that you show and how does that show up for your kids, your spouse, works the same way in business. I can say do this all day long, but if I don’t actually model it then your team doesn’t believe that actually, it means anything to you anyway. And one of the things just that little note made me think of and what you just shared right there, how it impacted you internally, Darren Hardy wrote a book called The Compound Effect and in it, he shares this cool story that actually reminded me a lot of your project. He had a buddy that was kind of like the buddy that outkicked his coverage. He had an amazing life that he took it for granted and so he was sharing with his buddies like, “Yeah. My wife and I really having issues and she’s doing this wrong, this wrong, this wrong, this annoys me.”
And Darren sitting there listening. He’s like, “Dude, you have the most amazing wife ever. What are you talking about?” He’s like, “I’m going to challenge you. Each morning when you wake up rather than looking at the negative and what she did wrong or what annoyed you or didn’t do this or that, left the house with the last cup of coffee, that type of thing,” and he’s like, “Rather than like look at that, the first thing I want you to do, I want you to get a journal and write one thing you love about your wife in it.” He did that for a year. A year later, well, yes, his wife had changed a bit, because he was now praising the positive things so she was doing more of the positive things that he loved but the person that changed the most was him as he now realized how amazing she was and how 95% of the thing she did was awesome, it was just the little 5% that he was focusing on. And so, that’s what that story out of your book reminded me of is, you get more of what you focus on, and you chose to focus on what’s amazing about other people versus what’s not. That was so much of the lesson like as I was writing down some of the things preparing for this conversation just hearing you tell the stories.
[00:35:45] Brad: I saw day one with the barista. I saw day three with the waitress. You’d hear the story of your wife a little later on. It was cool to see how you changed along the way and follow that along in the story.
[00:35:56] John: Absolutely. It’s interesting you point that out because it took me a while to get that. It’s like there is this – it’s like human evolution like we in as far as our consciousness and awareness of like yet, first, when you’re young, you’re just paying attention to yourself because that’s all that really matters. That’s what’s, you know, you’re in your control. But as you grow, you realize, “Oh, there’s other people in the world and I’m actually responsible for communicating and being respectful and responsible.” And so, it kind of was like that same thing where I was very immature in my gratitude. I was very immature in my understanding of appreciation and really the impact that it can happen. You know, we’ll probably get to some other stories, but that’s really how the project evolved the same way that it just became less about me and more about like you started with me and then it became more about others and how it impacted them and really kind of where it could go from there and impacted people on a larger scale.
[00:36:47] Brad: I love how you open the book because I intuitively knew this, but I didn’t think about it this way and basically the “Read This First” section which is I think right after Hal’s foreword, “Gratitude is distinct from happiness for this reason. You don’t need to teach a three-year-old child to be happy but you do need to teach them to say thank you.” And what’s interesting like just going back to the immaturity like that you recognized that in yourself like I also have an amazing wife that makes me a better person and when I look at who she is today and why she grew up that way, her family did me a tremendous service. Gratitude was a big thing in their family like every single birthday, Christmas, handwritten thank you cards in the mail to every single person that ever got them a gift, or did anything for them. My family is kind of like, “Eh,” say thanks when you get it, which, yeah, gratitude was a big part of it. It was always please and thank you but not so much in written form.
And what I love is that my wife carried that through now and that’s a habit our kids have as well. And I was kind of laggard but hanging out with you has inspired me quite a bit, some cool things that we do. You know, just in business, in general, has really taught me that there’s a hunger for it out there. Nobody’s doing this to a level they should be and the people that do, stand out, and even going back your pilot story. Been doing this 12 years, no one’s ever thanked me for delivering them alive on the ground. Usually, that’s something you say thank you for. So, let’s go to I love your concept of you hit on this and you called it the I believe the gratitude loop. That was another cool lesson in there. So, you want to share a bit of that story and how you came to discover that?
[00:36:40] John: Yeah. This came out of as a really big break down in my project. It’s about I think was roughly 2 months into The Mr. Thank You Project and at that point, I had written I mean close to 300 thank you cards. You think about five a day times 30. It’s 150 cards every month so I’ve written close to 300 and I was just kind of this annoyed moment that I had sent out 300 thank you cards and only like 10% of people have even told me that they received it. Now, the 10% that received it, they acknowledged it. They were like very appreciative and reflecting so much gratitude back and it was really great and intimate. But then I was like, “Okay. Well, if 10% did say thank you, what about the other 90%? What about the 270 thank you cards that I sent that no one said anything?” and that’s what I was focused on because, at that point in the project, it was still my ego in play like I loved getting the feedback.
For me and my love languages, I’m a big words of affirmation person so hear back, when I tell someone I love you, thank you, and then I get back like stonewall, nothing, it’s this really weird feeling and at this part is like, “Did I do something wrong? Did I do something that upset them?” Is this weird as maybe this over the top that it’s making people uncomfortable?” All these emotions and everything had to do with me and then I had a huge breakthrough when I was sitting down with someone in my family who I had actually sent a thank you card to and the same thing, they didn’t say anything. And as I sat down with them, we were just talking about life and they’re talking about a break down in their marriage and it was just really, really a tough time and they were telling me, “John, it was so tough at that time that even you sent me a thank you card in the mail, I couldn’t even appreciate it. I was in such a negative state in my life and in my marriage, I couldn’t be grateful for anything and I wanted to,” and then we go on to have this great conversation about her family and what I can do to support them and any of that kind of stuff.
[00:40:39] John: And it was really life-changing because what I saw is that how people react or don’t react has very little to do with me because who knows what they’re going through. And it was from that experience that I just gave up any need to hear back from anybody of any card because, I don’t know, the funny thing is I wound up getting a card from somebody and back if they sent me a card like, “Hey, thanks for the card,” like, “Hey, here’s what I acknowledge you for,” and I didn’t even say anything because I was busy in the middle of the trip and I just forgot and then they sent me a text like, “Hey, did you get my card?” and I’m like, “Ah, I’m totally that guy. I’m totally the guy I’ve been complaining about,” and so I was just like, “Okay. Just cool down. It’s not a big deal. People don’t say anything,” and that really what was very transformative. Yet at the same time, I saw how important it was to acknowledge and appreciate people when they do acknowledge and appreciate you or give you a gift.
I had an experience with this client who they were looking at ordering some gifts and I said, “Oh, do you have new weddings coming up that you might need to get something for?” and her reaction was like, “Ugh, I’m not going to get them anything else,” and I was like, “Well, what do you mean?” She’s like, “Oh, I just got this really wonderful gift, and this and this and this, and they didn’t even send me a thank you card.” By the way, not that they needed to be receiving a thank you card, but that they were acknowledged for their generosity. And when we go out of our way to maybe do an elaborate gift or something really nice for someone and they don’t do anything in return, how do you feel? That’s how I felt. I felt that natural even if was part of my ego, it was this part. It was like, “Man, I felt I really put myself on the line. I was very generous and it wasn’t even acknowledged.” So, what happens for people is when those moments come again where there’s an opportunity to be generous or do a really nice gift, the reaction is like, “Last time I did that, I kind of got burned. It wasn’t really received the way that I hope,” so then we just go with a gift card or we go with like, “Ah, we’ll just skip sending them a gift this year,” or whatever because we have experienced, as it stacks up, that generosity isn’t valued.
[00:42:48] John: So, that’s where this concept of what you appreciate appreciates, what you acknowledged continues to show up. If you point out people doing something good, they’re more likely to do it again, and that’s what I called the gratitude loop is like. It’s a thank you and then you’re welcome. If these two parts to the story of like, Brad, if you and I were talking right now and this is an exercise I do in groups if I’m going to share the story at a conference, I’ll say, “Hey, grab a partner and partner A look at partner B and I just want you to just think and just say, ‘Hey, thank you so much for everything that you’ve done for me,’ just say that and really mean it. And then partner B, I just want you to stand there and do nothing, no facial expressions no acknowledgment. Nothing like just straight stonewall,” and they do it and you have to pause and wait there for a little bit and then I say, “How did that feel?” And their reaction is like from the people who were saying thank you was like, “I felt like insulted. I felt like I was vulnerable and I did something I didn’t need to do and it wasn’t even acknowledged and allowed to be.”
And then for the other people, by the way, who were on the other side, what they say is, “Oh man, like I felt I needed to say something. I wanted to but you told us not to.” And I’m like, well, that’s only because you’re aware of it. That’s only because I told you to be present to it and to not do anything but think of how many times people do something great in our lives around us but we don’t notice it. We don’t acknowledge it. And because of that, we’re cutting out the likelihood that they’re going to want to continue doing it over and over again and that’s really where the principle of what you appreciate appreciates actually exist. That’s why it works because of what this thing that showed up was called the gratitude loop because what you acknowledge and appreciate wants to continue showing up again because it sees that it’s valued.”
[00:44:29] Brad: Yeah. And there’s such a huge lesson there in that. I mean, that’s simple. That’s not complicated. A gratitude loop that is, “Hey, thank you. You’re welcome.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And what I see a lot of times going back to financial advisors out there and you built a business, I’ve got a team, that’s not easy. Building a team and leading a team is not easy. It’s one of the hardest things out there. But one of the easiest things to do if you actually take the time and going back to being aware of it which this project made you really aware is to express gratitude when you see good things happening. When someone on my team is a rock star and they crush it and it helps one of our clients and it took work off the rest of the team’s plate, acknowledge it, acknowledge it publicly, recognize them. That’s like the easiest thing to do when you’re aware that has the biggest impact. Like you said, that behavior keeps showing up but so many of us never do it.
I mean, I’ve been very guilty of that. I’m running full steam ahead all the time, as most entrepreneurs are like eyes on the prize, eyes on the finish line. If you don’t do that, nobody’s there with you along for the ride and so it’s been cool to see how – I love that exercise, by the way. I’m probably going to steal that from you.
[00:45:49] John: Feel free. Feel free.
[00:45:50] Brad: But you also had a concept you call it the YNK which kind of goes hand-in-hand with that, going back to the people that didn’t respond, and you had a story in the book. I don’t think, it might’ve been your family member. Oh, it was actually your childhood friend I think maybe.
[00:46:08] John: Yeah. So, it was a good friend of mine. So, what I wrote about was called the YNK factor, which means you never know because you don’t know the good that you do in the world and the impact that it’s going to have. And for the most part, that’s what it was like with this project of writing thank you cards. It wasn’t like I felt, “You know what, I think so-and-so needs a thank you card.” Like, sometimes it was like that but most of the time I just started being in the moment and inspired and just go with it. So, I have this friend and he’s an entrepreneur and he lives out in New Orleans, Louisiana, and great guy, very generous, lots of fun, my wife and I went out to go visit him with our son and we only had one child time at the time. We just had a great time. He literally took a week off from work, showed us New Orleans, showed us where all the Katrina stuff happened, took us to French Quarter Fest, this amazing festival and just showed us the whole time. He was our tour guide for free and he let us stay at his house which was really just generous. And in general, he’s been a great friend and so he was the one I was like, “Of course, I’m going to write him a card because I think he’s just a great human being.”
And so, I wrote him a note and just really acknowledged him for his generosity and his support and I also acknowledged him for he was about to become a father so his wife was pregnant at the time and I just wanted to make sure and I’m a big believer in supporting fatherhood and that’s why I’m part of the Front Row Dads because it’s such a different world from being a bachelor to suddenly having a child, or being single to having a child and/or married, but you get the idea. And I wanted to really encourage him in that time and to say, “Hey, you know what, I know you’re going to be going through some tough times and if you ever need anything, just remember, you’re amazing, you’re a rock star, you do great, you do good things in the world,” and I just acknowledged him for all of his good qualities and he came up to visit me a couple of weeks, a couple months later for a conference that happens to be in Dallas and of course we open up our home and he stayed with us and he pulled me aside. He said, “Hey, man, I got to let you know like I know you’re doing all these things with thank you cards and I just got to let you know that that card was like perfectly timed.”
[00:48:14] John: He invested in real estate and he’s like, “Man, I just found out like some terrible news with one of our properties and it’s going to cost us like thousands of dollars and on top of that like my wife and I had a fight and I just was everything that could go wrong was going wrong and then I walked out of my office to go pick up the mail and yours was that the first letter in there and I read it. I cried because it was like you knew this is when I needed it. It was like they showed up at the perfect time.” And of course, I didn’t know that. I wasn’t trying to do anything but acknowledge him for who he was and it was amazing how many times something like that occurred where someone said, “That showed up at the perfect time,” and I think I am a believer. I believe in God and I think that there is timing that we can’t control, but if we’re committed to doing good and in doing his work then I think that we’re going to really you will be amazed at how many of those things show up at how we impact people at the right moment at the right time.
[00:49:11] Brad: Yeah. That was such a cool story in the book and I love the concept of you never know because you don’t. I mean, that was another theme that came out of the book was the level of empathy that you started to experience for others in the situations they were in like astronomically increased as I saw the stories unfold in the book and that had to be a piece of it I would assume.
[00:49:33] John: Yeah and then, Brad, I want to say I’m sure one more that this is a story you might want to talk about this later, but I think it’s appropriate with this part of you never know because it also relates to the ROI of gratitude and we want to talk about that a little bit in that idea if you don’t know what someone’s going through, what’s going on. Early in my Cutco career I was 19 years old and I sat down with a customer and did a sales call and she bought a modest amount of Cutco and it was fine, moved on. But what was great about the interactions, I really enjoyed this customer. Her name was Cynthia Blackman and I just had a great time with her. We got to know each other and I learned about her kids and her family and just really connected for those of you who have been in a sales process, the connection you can create with someone in an hour’s worth of time. And what was wild, though, is that in 24 hours later she called me to cancel her order and this blew me away because like really like did I do something wrong? And she’s like, “No, it’s nothing you did. I just need to cancel. Can’t say why. Got to go. Bye.”
I was like okay and I was a very young, very amateur salesperson. I was like getting frustrated and flustered and then at the end of it, I took another 24 hours to sit with it and of course I canceled her order and I just felt like even though she didn’t buy, I just need to let her know how much I appreciated her taking the time to sit down with me so I wrote her a thank you card. This is many years before the Mr. Thank You Project and I didn’t write thank you cards regularly. I felt I needed to and I just pointed out. I said, “Hey, Cynthia, I just wanted reach out and just say thank you for your time. I know it wasn’t the right time for you to purchase Cutco and I just want to let you know that regardless, I just really enjoyed getting to meet you and meet your birds that you had in the kitchen and talk about your family and your kids and I just want to let you know that if someday you’re ready to order Cutco, let me know. And if not, no big deal but I just really want to let you know how much I enjoyed our time.” I sent the card out and then it was interesting because instantly I felt better. I stopped feeling like consumed with this, “Ugh,” like thing this customer or, “Oh, people cancel orders,” and so I come in with trepidation for future sales because that might happen.
[00:51:37] John: It was just done. It was over because I got to say what I needed to say. And here’s what was crazy was literally two years later, this woman calls me on the phone and I’m in college I’m like 21 years old at the time and still selling Cutco and she calls and says, “Hey, is this Cutco John?” I’m like, “Yeah. This is Cutco John. Who is this?” She says, “This is Cynthia Blackman. You might not remember me, but I bought some knives from you several years ago and I had to cancel my order,” and I very vividly remember her and I was like, “Of course, I remember you, Cynthia. How are you doing?” She’s like, “Well, yeah, I’m ready to buy my Cutco. Do you still sell Cutco?” I’m like, “Absolutely.” So, she goes through and she’s like, “Well, here’s what I want and she asks for like she has this huge list of stuff, asks for no discount, no deal, and it was literally an order three times the size of what she bought two years previous. And I was blown away. I’m like, “Oh my gosh like this doesn’t normally happen,” and then so I was like, “Well, hey, Cynthia like thanks for getting in touch with me. I’m happy to help you here.”
And she says, “John, do you know why I’m calling you?” I said, “No,” and she says, “Because you sent me that card after our meeting and it really showed that you cared about me more than the sale and what I couldn’t tell you was that I just found out that I was diagnosed with cancer after you came by for your visit and I was going to have to leave my job, and my boys were going to have to move back in the house and take care of me, and I didn’t know what my future held but I knew I couldn’t keep my order and so I just so I knew that one day when I was healthy I was going to call you and buy Cutco.” And I mean it’s just freaking waterfalls just uncontrollable. You just cry and talking to each other. It was this amazing experience but it just it spoke so deeply to my soul that that’s what people care about, especially in working with a salesperson is that desire to feel like a human being and I just thought, “Well, how would I want the salesperson to treat my mother in this situation?”
[00:53:37] John: And that’s like been my litmus test, how would I want someone to treat my mother or my family in this situation? And I thought, “Well, I would want someone to treat her with respect, love, appreciation, no matter what because she’s got a good heart,” and I just assume that of everybody else and that that was like a huge game changer that for me later in my career really played out, and I think that should very prevalently with the Mr. Thank You Project of how this can actually impact your business if you’re committed to just loving people beyond the sale and how much really generously just shows back up in your life.
[00:54:09] Brad: Yeah. Well, that’s what’s so cool about this is how do you say it in the book, something like you can’t mess up a thank you but you say it more eloquently than that.
[00:54:18] John: Yeah. I just say nothing bad could happen from saying thank you.
[00:54:21] Brad: Yeah.
[00:54:22] John: Simple enough.
[00:54:22] Brad: And so, in this case, there’s a couple of things I want to hit on there that are huge and this applies so much to financial services. The first one is what it did for you. So, you’re a young 18, 19-year-old. You lost a sale that was a decent one that would’ve meant a paycheck for you. That really sucks. Every financial advisor that’s listening in right now can relate to you there because everybody’s had a deal that they thought was a done deal and it wasn’t. And what you did was, yes, at first, you’re like kind of upset like what did I do wrong? Maybe there’s some anger like externally to that person like why did they make this promise they didn’t commit to and follow through on? But then you took the high road. You let it go and, yeah, it wasn’t right away but two years later that came back. We’ll get into ROI later but that was a 300% ROI compared to what would’ve been, right, three times bigger order. And what’s powerful that I’ve experienced myself is by you writing a thank you card, it lets you just get over it and move on and closure, right?
And I can just think of an experience the other day just myself. We’ve talked about this and one of the habits that I’ve had is fortunately over the last 11 years coaching financial advisors and working with a lot of really successful individuals all across the country, I’ve had a lot more that have said yes and pretty much Advisor Excel has a history of if we get someone here, that’s an optimistic entrepreneur, it’s a great partnership and we work really well long-term together but guess what, we’ve had a few along the way that stopped in and didn’t stay. And I had a really tough one the other day that for some external father-son, there were some external things going on with that firm but they came on board six months, rocked it with us. We grew their business. We got them in mastermind groups that they wanted to be that they weren’t in. I mean, we were like if truly looked back, we delivered 110% on our promise.
[00:56:22] Brad: But what actually unwound the thing was a father-son that were on two different pages as far as their business and I remember navigating some really tough conversations as they were like, “Hey, we think we’re going to go back to where we were before because my dad just has a long-term relationship there they can’t leave behind, and it might not be the smartest business decision but it’s what we got to do right now.” That’s not fun, right? That sucks on all levels, and but I remember just acknowledging, thanks for the partnership, writing a note saying, “Thank you and it’s amazing.” Once I did that, I was good and once I could say my team delivered on every single thing we promised, it’s amazing how healing and how much closure you can have there and guess what, a year or two down the road when the timing is right, we’ll be here and we didn’t burn a bridge behind us and I’ve just seen that pay dividends over and over and over. So, I just love that you share that story because not only does it work in your business. It works in every business if you approach things that way. I mean, who wouldn’t want – you just elevated your set – was it Cynthia was her name?
[00:57:30] John: Yeah.
[00:57:30] Brad: You just became the best sales interaction she’s ever had in the history of the world because you thanked her when she didn’t become a client. I mean, that’s an amazing lesson right there.
[00:57:39] John: Yeah. It’s funny because I even think about when I go through my own sales interactions and I look at where there are opportunities to do this. I went in to go buy a car and I went to two different dealerships, basically, Toyota and Honda, and I was just like, “All right. which one’s going to get my business?” and went to Toyota and they couldn’t quite get the vehicle I wanted. It needed to be six and all sorts of stuff. And Honda was like very easy to go with and I had – actually I had a Toyota beforehand but I just went with the Honda because it felt right and they’re follow-up was immaculate. And when I thought about the Toyota experience, I was like, “You know, what would help right now is if the manager,” because I talked to the manager, the guy who ran the whole store because he was really trying to earn my business, “and if he had just sent a card,” because they called him and said, “Hey, are you ready to get your Toyota?” and I said, “Hey, man. Sorry. I went with Honda.”
And if he sent me a card anyways and said, “Hey, man, just wanted to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to show you how great Toyota is. We know you decided on a Honda this time, but we hope next time you’re considering a new car, you’d love to check us out again because we’re always evolving as a company to serve our customers better.” Oh man, are you kidding me? If I got that letter in the mail and I’m at that moment when I’m ready to start considering another vehicle, I’m going to at least consider, okay, he did something above and beyond in the point of a no sale to go out of his way to say, “I matter more than a sale,” because he sees the value in a long-term relationship, I’m at least going to consider and I’m probably even more likely to buy from them and if you were to do something like that. So, I think in most businesses there are opportunities to include those in interactions expressing some level of gratitude and appreciation just for someone’s time, and so that they have a feeling, an experience that they matter more than the numbers. Because here’s what happens, if people feel like a number, they start to treat you like a number. They start to shop around, find out who’s going to get them a better rate or a better return and they’re going to sacrifice service for a better price when really, I know a lot of people who were extremely successful, very profitable, and they don’t promise the best returns or the best ranking but they just offer so much value that the customer just feel good where they’re at and they’re okay with what they have and I think that’s key in building any long-term business relationship.
[00:59:42] Brad: Yeah. And in that car dealership example 100% he earned himself a second chance there. Guess what? You’re going to buy another car. So, you buy another car with a thank you note like, “Hey, this dude was a good dude. I’m going to give him another run.” It actually reminds me we’ve got one of our most successful advisors up in Ohio, a guy named Rob. He actually any time a client leaves his firm, handwritten thank you note. It goes out to him and think about how different that shows up than every other expense because most financial advisors – I shouldn’t say most. I’ve heard this. I’ve seen this happen over the years. When a client decides to leave instead of a thank you, what they actually get is a berating of, “Oh, you’re making a bad choice. This is going to hurt your retirement.” It’s just a shaming, right?
[01:00:31] John: Right.
[01:00:31] Brad: Because it’s ego-based like you broke up with me so I want to make you feel bad, and what Rob does, handwritten thank you note, thanking them for allowing his firm to serve them for the time that they did and for the partnership they had and, hey, by the way, we’re a successful firm. We’re going to be here. We know things change down the road. We will welcome you with open arms if you ever decide that you want our services back.” And guess how many of them come back. A lot of them.
[01:01:01] John: Absolutely. Because who does that? Nobody does that and you think of how many sales interactions clients have throughout their life, throughout the year that they never receive these things and there’s a big lack of trust in the marketplace. So, when someone’s at a moment where they need to make a decision again, they’re always going to go with who they have the highest level of trust. If that comes from a house, especially when in the face of a no, someone responds with appreciation and gratitude like that’s very distinct, that stands out, and that shows a level of integrity and just about valuing a person over profit that just has people want to come back there again.
[01:01:35] Brad: Yeah. So, let’s go into – this is a good transition to the ROI. So, what I love about the end of your book you’re obviously an entrepreneur and you’re like, “Hey, I didn’t set out for this to be a money thing, but it’s interesting how it played out 365 days later when I look at the numbers.” So, can you share a couple of the surprises you found along the way from an ROI standpoint?
[01:01:55] John: Yeah. Because, number one, there was an investment in this project. I mean, I had to buy like literally 2,000 thank you cards that I purchased, plus postage, plus some of them it wouldn’t just be a card. I might send them with a book or some type of a gift. So, I mean, it cost me several thousand dollars to do this project and, you know, was it worth it? Monetarily, did I receive that back? 1,000%. I mean, I remember a distinct experience where I had one client who they purchased a modest amount of product from me of gifts and then I sent them a card right away with funny joke and a Band-Aid and say, “Hey, in case you cut yourself again,” because he came by and told me he cut himself with his knives. Pretty funny. And I sent him with a Band-Aid. He cracked up. He calls me 24 hours later and says, “Hey, I just talked to my brother and my father, we on this other business, we want to order for all of our clients for Christmas,” and he went purchasing one single order that literally almost paid for all of everything for Mr. Thank You for the entire year. That’s only one. I mean, there’s countless other experiences. There is a direct impact because sometimes it does elicit a response.
And so, obviously, I would write a thank you card after every transaction after every sale. Here’s what was interesting and I couldn’t find this metric until the year was over but every business has a retention issue, has a retention rate that they know. For financial advisors, it might be, “I sent these many clients in a week. I’m going to get this many that actually purchase. Or I’m going to start this many contracts and these does many actually close.” There’s some dropout in every area of the business and if you want to grow profits, it’s one area to look. And so, for Cutco, for me, in my business, my retention rate has been as high as 10%. What that means is 10% of people who would make a place in order would return or cancel for some reason. And by the way, that was when I was like a brand-new salesperson. In my peak in my career, it got down to about 5% so that means out of like 20 sales, one might fall through and not work out. So, during the Mr. Thank You Project, again, I wrote a thank you card every single transaction I had. That return rate went down to 2.5%.
[01:03:56] John: From already a great percentage, cut in half, and that alone increased my profits about $6,000 to $8,000 for the year simply in non-canceled business and I thought about that number and I’m like, “That is massive.” When you look at a company, in a team, a big team and you implement some level of initiative that can lower cancellation rate by 50%, what does that do to your bottom line and your profits? I mean, that’s huge and I’ll give some specifics on how I did it because I think it’s not specific to Cutco. It’s really you can do this with anything. So, yeah, I write a thank you card. I try to write it almost immediately after the transaction because that way it was like you would get to them quickly so that if there was any sense of buyer’s remorse or anything that they would have something immediately they would get within a couple days.
So, I write a thank you card and I would something simple, you know, “Hey, Angela, really wonderful to meet you. Appreciate your business. What I realized is you can buy gifts anywhere from anyone for any amount and you chose to spend your money with me and I can’t tell you how much that means to me and my business and our goals so thank you so much for that. By the way, if you have any questions, problems, or when you’re ready for more, give me a call and I’m happy to help,” and I put that in a note and I would send it out. And what was interesting as I try to make every note a little personal. If I had a funny part of the conversation, I would include that. It’s great to add that. It brings the personality and the human connection. But by adding that little part at the end, “If you have any questions, problems, or when you’re ready for more, you’re ready to buy more, you’re ready to invest more or whatever, let me know and I’m happy to help,” and what was amazing is how many people that might have canceled that actually called me to say, “Hey, John, I had a question about this or my husband had a question about this. What do you think? Is that okay? Is this going to happen?” And I was able to re-explain something or maybe adjust their orders to a more comfortable size for them and we were able to save the sale.
[01:05:53] John: Whereas previously, before writing all these notes, people would just call the company, cancel out, and I would find out on my commission statement a couple weeks later and be like, “Oh, crap, I didn’t realize that happened,” but it’s way past the point of no return. I can’t do anything about it now, but by being preemptive on the front end of writing this card and by putting that little trigger in there that in case they’re feeling something to let me know, I think there’s enough level of trust that a lot of them decided to reach out and I was able to save some sales. I think that was a huge part and, by the way, I don’t think anyone should have an objective to have like a 0% like I don’t think that – I remember a sales trainer once telling me, if you’re not getting canceled orders, you’re not trying hard enough. Like, you’re not really trying to get out there, seeing enough prospects. Not to say that you should have high cancellations. I mean, that’s the other end of the spectrum, but there’s something to be like it’s okay that it happens because that’s just what happens in business.
[01:06:44] Brad: Yeah. So, here’s what’s cool about that is, number one, you’re doing more of what you should do anyway which is express gratitude to people that like and trust you and bought from you but by doing that, literally, you decreased cancellation by 50%, and the ones that had problems that weren’t ever telling you before they had problems and were just canceling, now those are actually turning up and actually is call on the cell phone or call to your team to say, “Hey, by the way, this showed up and it was supposed to be this,” and so you’re saving a bunch more sales. That’s a no-brainer. I’ve got kind of the last question before we get to the philosophical stuff, John. Like I said, I was fortunate I was actually I got a thank you card from you and I was actually one of the 90%. I feel guilty saying that but I didn’t respond and that sucks because I should’ve because this did mean something to me.
One of the things that I want to ask you about because I think sometimes people struggle with thank yous, because, yes, a lack of time, yes, it’s work but you write an incredible thank you card. I mean, it’s personal and so I’m curious, did you have like – you wrote a lot of these so you kind of perfected your craft for a lack of a better term over a year. Did you have a framework of here’s how I write this to make it incredibly personal, so it doesn’t just feel like this guy sent out however many thousands of thank you cards you did over a year?
[01:08:10] John: Right. Yeah. That’s a great question. So, I sort of had a framework but it was very loose so you’d be kind of like a bigger picture kind of philosophical statement that kind of led everything else. So, the root word of so the word appreciate, the root word of that is appretiare which is Latin for “to appraise” or “to set the value of a thing”. So, when we think of like someone buying a property or selling a piece of jewelry, what’s the first thing they do before they put it in the market? Well, they hire a professional appraiser who comes in with his list of questions to ask about the property to distinguish about it, what problems it might have, does it have any foundation issues, have there any pest and termite damage, what’s the location, what are the comps of other properties in the area? So, they go through all these questions to discover something’s worth. And so, really what happens is they come in with curiosity.
And so, when it comes to writing a great thank you card for somebody or appreciating somebody, it’s kind of taking that inventory. It’s taking those questions that I kind of brought up earlier with the pilot, and I’ll kind of bringing come back to it where it’s like what’s great about this person? What’s their value? What’s interesting? What’s unique about them? What do they care about? What are some of their biggest challenges and struggles? And this is what was a kind of a fascinating distinction when you learn about maybe a problem in a property, it might lower the value, but when you will learn about someone’s struggles internally, what they do actually means more. When you think about, “Oh, your wife or your spouse or whoever that everything that they do,” well, my wife says that’s not the case for everybody but whether it be taking care of the kids or all the grocery shopping or dealing with so much that they deal with that I don’t even see, when we think about all things that they do, it’s like, okay, they do a lot of things. But when you think about that on top of having minimal sleep, on top of you having to deal with a sick parent, on top of having to deal with all these things, everything they do has higher value and who they are as a person has higher value.
[01:10:17] John: So, when I write someone an acknowledgment card and that’s where I talk about in the book is the difference of a thank you card and an acknowledgment card, an acknowledgment card is really looking deeply at somebody and saying this is what’s great about you, this is what I love about you, and that’s where when I would write the letters of the pilot, I would say, “You know, what’s so amazing is like I thought about I’m missing my family, that’s what you do every single day. Thank you.” And so, I think depending on what they’re really like doing that for a client, I don’t think that’s necessarily appropriate, but saying something like you could have spent your money anywhere but you chose to spend it with me and for that I am grateful. So, I think it’s like what’s there to acknowledge? What’s there to appreciate? What are their goals? What are their values? What are their issues? And then if you can find a way to craft that and put into a letter, that’s great. And by the way, it takes practice. And this is kind of an interesting thing I’ll kind of leave with.
I’ll end this part on and you can yell more questions, I’m sure, but I was talking to someone who’s kind of a mentor in my life and he was asking me, “Hey, Hal,” I just given him a thank you card and we were sitting on a bus together going on this company trip somewhere and he was like, “Dude, I got to tell you like that card was so amazing and like I overheard about you doing this thing with thank you cards. Tell me about it.” So, we started talking about it. This is by the way, also around the same time where I wasn’t getting as many reactions from people as I was hoping for and he said, “Well, you know what, do you know what a junk ball is?” I was like, “No.” He’s like, “It’s like in hockey or sports where you’re not going to make every shot you take it. Not every pitch a pitcher throws is a strike, but it’s a part of the game and while I bet some of your cards weren’t perfect or the best cards you could’ve written, it probably still meant some more to somebody than if you sent nothing at all. And even though if to you it might not mean anything and they might not say anything, it still probably matters to them that they were acknowledged and appreciated. So, even if your cards aren’t perfect, it’s better than doing nothing at all.”
[01:12:18] John: And that to me was like really like, “Okay. It doesn’t need to be perfect,” and that kind of just got me over that it needs to be as pristine, poetic thing, and by the way, people are nervous about their handwriting. Just type the letter out and sign it at the bottom. I think it’s totally appropriate as well. Some people do that if they want to make it a really personal one and so you can type it out and edit it. And that’s one of the beauties of it is with writing a letter, you can rip it up and start a new one. And I’ve done that multiple times writing a letter to somebody and rip it up, throw it away, start a new one. The nice thing is you could do that, but sometimes for people having a vulnerable conversation doing this is difficult but writing it on a letter and mailing it is like kind of a step in that direction. It still requires vulnerability, but it still gets the message out.
[01:12:59] Brad: My thank you writing process is for everyone thank you I send, I need two cards. That’s my success ratio. With the combination of my handwriting and trying to say things the way I want to say them. Well, John, this has been an awesome conversation. Before we get to the philosophical questions, one of the things I love too is this journey of thank yous. You had some pretty incredible notable people that return the response and then also please tell the SAGs team or the SAG story just quickly. I know you’re a SAGs alumn and that’s a fun one. So, if you can talk about some of the notable responses you got back.
[01:13:35] John: Oh, 100%, man. So, I went to Gonzaga University in Washington State and I didn’t go there because they have a great basketball team, but I found that out when I got there and I became a huge loyal fan. I’m not a huge sports fan but I’m an absolute Gonzaga men’s basketball fan and if you guys watch sport or March Madness, you know that we historically had a pretty good team and we’ve gone very far, which is unique because it’s a very small school. It’s about 3,000 undergraduates at least when I was going there. And so, during the Mr. Thank You Project it was a very unique year for Gonzaga men’s basketball because we are actually ranked number one in all NCAA basketball as the number one ranked team. And we actually made it to the final so that the national championship game NCAA tournament, March Madness, huge deal is like going to the Super Bowl’s. It’s absolutely massive and we went against the University of North Carolina and we lost. It was just an ugly game and it was just a sad just like depressing loss.
And I’ve heard of people getting depressed about like their sports team losing or getting really angry and I just didn’t get it. I was like, “Whatever. You guys are just faking it.” And I don’t know if I’ve honestly ever felt depressed, Brad, but literally, I felt depressed. I was just sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe we lost. We made it so far and it was 9 PM at night. The game was over and I still hadn’t written my thank you cards and I’m like, “God, the last thing I want to do right now is be grateful for anything or anyone.” So, one of the mantras that came about in the project was if I was in a kind of a despairing moment or challenging situation, I would ask myself how can I bring gratitude to this experience? So, when I thought about it, I was like, “Okay. Well, yes, we did lose the national championship and we made it further than any Gonzaga men’s basketball team in the history of our school. This may be the best team we’ve ever had, and that deserves celebration.” And I thought, “What if I write a thank you card to every single member of the Gonzaga men’s basketball team?”
[01:15:36] John: And I do like to write actually so I’ve written a book. I wrote one called Skating Through College about my experience being a college student, paying for school on my own, and it’s really fun book and I was like, “You know what, I’m going to a letter to every player and I’m going to send them a copy of my book.” And so, I wrote all these letters and here’s what was so cool is that instantly, that depression, that negativity, all of it just went away completely right away. And I just started go diving into the notes. I went into the men’s basketball website and I looked up the whole roster. I got everyone’s name. I looked through their season. I looked through every game where did they have highlights? Where were they a key player? What was their career like working with the school for that year? And I just started writing and acknowledging all of this stuff in these letters and putting them with the books and sending them out. And even the redshirts, the people that didn’t actually play that season what I wrote for them was, “Hey, championship teams aren’t made in the championship game. They’re made in every single practice that led up to it and I knew you had a big part of that and challenged this team to be their best so thank you for helping make this team what it was.”
And I sent that out to every redshirt. I wrote a letter to the coaches, and especially I wrote one to Mark Few. Mark Few is the head coach of Gonzaga basketball. He’s been there for maybe close to 20 years and it was amazing sending all those letters out just how elated I felt and how proud of my team and this was like a really powerful lesson that I learned which is that if you want to change your experience of life, change the conversations that you have. And what that looks like in real time is I could have very easily jumped on Facebook and been like, “Oh, the ref suck. Oh man, so and so had the worst game of his career,” and I could’ve literally had a conversation everyone in my school was having about what was wrong and what wasn’t good about the team and why we lost, but instead I chose to celebrate and I chose to acknowledge every single player for why they made this team how great it was. And that was such a transformative experience to just be aware of how my conversations affect my experience of parts of life. That was in a massive lesson.
[01:17:38] John: So, I wrote these cards. I gave them out and honestly, I just kind of forgot about it like months go by. It’s now May. It’s actually May 21, it winds up being on my birthday, my wife comes up to me while having dinner for my birthday and she says, “Hey, by the way, you got something in the mail,” and she hands it to me and it’s a letter and on the top, it’s addressed from Gonzaga men’s basketball. I was like, “No F-ing way. This is not happening,” and I opened the card, the envelope, and inside is a handwritten card from Mark Few, the head coach of Gonzaga men’s basketball thanking me for all the cards that I sent, all the books that I sent, and appreciating me for my fanship and my loyalty and how much he respects all the alumni and how proud of his team he is and how grateful he was for me acknowledging them. I mean, I just about died. I was just like, “Oh my God, I mean, this is the best thank you card I’ve ever gotten back for sure.”
And it meant so much to like at that point this was like seven, eight months into the journey. Again, I have given up hearing from anybody about anything. I was just over that part but just seeing but still getting that acknowledgment and what that did for me as a fan, as a loving caring alumni, if I was committed, I am like next level committed to this team because of that and that was definitely one of the highest highlights of the entire year for sure.
[01:19:04] Brad: Such a cool story. And so, I’m going to call out a challenge here now because I’m inspired so all of you blueprint listeners listening in right now here’s my challenge to you. Take either the client that you thought you were going to land that, number one, the $1 million, $2 million, $5 million client that you thought was going to say yes and then second or third appointment fell out somewhere or that client that was a long-term loyal client that just told you they were going to leave and just moved their assets, I’m going to challenge you take five minutes, sit down, write them a thank you card, acknowledge them, tell them thank you for the partnership if they partnered with you for a while and how it was amazing to serve them during the time you did. If it’s the person that never became a client, how you are honored to have the conversations with them that they probably haven’t had with their own children, and you acknowledge the transparency and the courage that took to come down and sit with you and go drop one of those in the mail and see what happens. And then write me and then I’m going to pass that on to John because this type of stuff fires him up. I know that.
[01:20:11] John: 100% man.
[01:20:12] Brad: So, just go do that. That’s my challenge to you. Pick one. I’m not going to say write five a day. That’s a big one. Don’t pull a John and go sign yourself up for 2,000 thank yous. Just write one and see what happens.
[01:20:24] John: Yeah. And by the way, just to share one thing about this project because I do hear back from people. I love hearing back from people who like start to make thank you cards a habit and I periodically hear someone say, like, “I love your story, I’m totally going to do that. I’ve committed five cards every day for a year,” and my reaction surprised them because I say, “Don’t. Don’t do it. It’s really hard. You got to have a deep network and be super committed to like really doing this for a big purpose like a really big reason.” So, here’s what I would challenge you to is to do like one a day for 30 days. Just make a really simple commitment to doing at a small level because then you’ll get the experience of it and you’ll get addicted. And once you do 30 days, then maybe commit to six months and then maybe a year and then who knows? Maybe it just winds up just becoming a habit you have in your life which is amazing how many famous people and how many high-level executive CEOs have made thank you cards and expressing gratitude a regular part of their life and not only how much it affects their well-being, but actually really how much it does affect their bottom line.
[01:21:25] Brad: Yeah. Okay. So, here’s a fun one. Actually, it came out in like the second and third episode I ever did with a guy named Scott McCain. So, Hall of Fame professional speaker, best-selling author, number of different books, but I forget how this even came out but he told me a Zig Ziglar story. And so, Scott and Zig were on, when Zig was obviously alive, were on they had shared stages, they weren’t like best friends by any means, but they sat down and had dinner before together when they’re out on the road and Scott lost his first wife, I think it was to cancer, just nothing you would ever wish upon anyone at a fairly young age. And so, Scott’s depressed and going through what any grieving spouse would. And one day a box shows up in the mail fairly quickly after it happened and it was a six-page handwritten note from Zig Ziglar expressing that he had heard that Scott’s wife had passed away and how unbearable that must be. He can’t even imagine.
Zig did have a child that he lost at a young age and he actually wrote a book on it so he included a copy of that book and he said, “Hey, this is kind of the process I went through. Here’s like how I came out about on the other side but I just want you to know I’m thinking about you, buddy,” but he basically said that in six pages, and Scott McCain is still telling that story years after Zig Ziglar’s passed away. So, if you don’t think a handwritten piece of gratitude showing up in the mail can impact people’s lives, it can and it does as you’ve seen, John. So, that’s why I wanted to get you on here, man. This has been an incredible conversation. Are you good for a couple philosophical questions and then we can get out of here?
[01:23:04] John: Let’s do it.
[01:23:05] Brad: All right. Let’s start with this one. When you hear the word successful, who’s the first person you think of and why?
[01:23:10] John: The first person I think of, I think of one of my early mentors, JP Arley, and he was the first person who taught me it’s not about how much money you make but it’s about how much money you keep and he taught me about integrity and loyalty and he’s still a good friend to this day. We used to work together and we don’t and trust him with my life. He’s an amazing guy.
[01:23:33] Brad: Yeah. It’s awesome how often mentors come up in that. I think sometimes you don’t always realize you are a mentor when you are like how you’re impacting people’s lives so that’s cool to hear how that impacted you. This has become my favorite so I’d love to hear your take on it. If we were to look back 25 years from now and say, “This was really absurd,” or, “Wow. I can’t believe we used to do that 25 years ago,” and you would pick something, what would it be?
[01:23:59] John: Like something that we do like talking about like pogo sticks? Is that something like but current day that 25 years from now?
[01:24:06] Brad: Right. So, a good example would be like, “Man, I can’t believe like everybody in America used to smoke 25 years ago. That’s pretty absurd.”
[01:24:14] John: I agree with that. Yeah. Man, I think based on our conversation, I can’t believe that someone has, you know, I can’t believe that we used to talk via video and have cameras above where are the persons face was so we can’t actually have a face-to-face conversation. Fortunately, they’ve got cameras in the middle of the screens now so we can actually have face-to-face conversations and not look like we’re looking away.
[01:24:35] Brad: Dude, so we have to expand on that one. So, before we went live here and Emily that produces the show, this is our running joke because one of the reminders at the beginning of these shows is anybody that’s recording, at this time I don’t have a video crew that flies out and like records from multiple angles so maybe some somewhere down the road, but the reminder for every guest is make sure you actually look at the camera versus on-screen where their faces actually showing up so it looks like you’re looking them in the face. So, John and I are like, well, we’re going to start a technology company because it’s insane in 2018 that that technology does not exist on every single computer.
[01:25:12] John: Right. It’s absurd. Someone’s going to make it.
[01:25:15] Brad: Somebody’s actually going to reflect back on this conversation and be like, “Yeah. I got this really cool startup idea.” Now I’m a billionaire.
[01:25:26] John: There you go.
[01:25:27] Brad: Good answer, man.
[01:25:29] John: I’m okay giving that away for someone to get wealthy if they actually do it. I’m okay with that because I’m not going to do it and that’s one of those things, like, yeah, awesome ideas give some of them away.
[01:25:37] Brad: Just deliver on it quickly, please.
[01:25:40] John: Please do.
[01:25:41] Brad: Don’t let it be 10 years from now. What is your favorite book that you’ve ever read and why? Or maybe what is a book that you’ve gifted repeatedly over the years?
[01:25:52] John: So, there’s a couple different ones but I think that the one thing by Jay Papasan. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to share a TED stage with him a couple weeks ago and got to have a personal conversation with them because he’s one of my favorite authors. So, The One Thing is basically finding the one thing in your life that matters or in your business and really focusing your energy on that and how quickly your results show up. I’ve reread that book three different times, highlighted different stuff, and it was just so cool meeting him. So, that’s definitely a huge book. I will reread it again probably sometime this year. Think and Grow Rich is key, How To Win Friends And Influence People completely changed how I communicate with human beings which revolutionized my business. And what I gifted the most is honestly The Miracle Morning because for me and I’m good friends with Hal Elrod and his book I’ve seen that it changes lives and then so I wanted to give that away and I’m going to do a slight plug here for my book for a specific reason because it’s relevant for this in respect to giving things away like you can give like, by the way, I sell lots of gifts and expensive stuff, to give a quality gift to someone doesn’t even necessarily need to be expensive, but if it means something and if it’s attached with a message of why you gave this to somebody and why you care about them and how it relates to the book, I think that’s what makes something a really good gift.
And so, I literally wrote the book to be the best thank you card that you ever give somebody because I wanted to be something that elevates gratitude in a relationship because people see and understand the value of reciprocity and expressing love and appreciation and really the multiplying effect that it has. So, that’s a plug for Hal’s book and my book inadvertently the same time but, yeah, definitely Miracle Morning is one that I’ve given out the most.
[01:27:30] Brad: Yeah. Miracle Morning’s one of my favorites. Your book is now one of my favorites. In fact, I’m going to help you with that cause because I’m going to give a lot away for you so we’ll talk after this and figure out how to make that happen. So, what’s interesting is even going back to what created the Mr. Thank You Project, writing five thank yous a day I think you said what, on average about an hour-and-a-half of your time?
[01:27:52] John: Correct.
[01:27:53] Brad: So, going back to Hal’s book what I love is you start with a morning routine and Hal’s been on the show and I believe a piece of, well, I know a piece of his morning routine one of the steps is gratitude and appreciation, which a lot of that is like journaling and things like that that but you need to collaborate on an update to the Miracle Morning and for the little section in there because that’s huge writing a thank you note each morning would be incredible.
[01:28:21] John: Yeah. And something for the listeners to get, journaling, by the way, I still write in my journal every day. One of the things, I use the Five-Minute Journal. It’s one of my favorites and a great question that starts with is what are three things that you’re grateful for and, you know, I love to do that. I think that’s important to have that positive perspective and what I will tell you is like do some of that and then also replace that. If you do that as a habit, replace that with writing a thank you card and notice the difference because writing down and experiencing gratitude just for yourself is one thing but when you write it out and give it away, the actual experience of gratitude is really multiplied and the most powerful thing and this is actually from positive psychology. I didn’t invent this, but it’s called the Gratitude Visit where you actually write somebody a thank you card and then you call them on the phone like somebody that you really care about, a family member, a parent, a coach, a boss, a mentor, and you call them and say, “Hey, I’d like to get together for coffee or dinner or whatever,” and have it be in a relatively private place either their house or a coffee shop or your office or something.
And get together with them and don’t tell them you’re going to do this, but then pull the letter out and then say, “I have something that I like to read to you,” and then read the letter to them of what you want to say and how you feel. And what the studies have shown is that the amount of gratitude and happiness, and joy of someone feels last up to six months from that experience. And they tested this on highly depressed patients and people who are just having like up-and-down emotions and what they found is it was it was such a powerful tool that people just would draw back to you when they have all these negative things to think about, they would just go back to how powerful that experience was. So, nothing if they do that every day but if writing one a day is part of your miracle morning and/or doing gratitude visit has a very powerful impact on your life and obviously, it’s going to have a huge impact on that relationship.
[01:30:14] Brad: Yeah. That’s an incredible idea. So, we both experienced this at Jon Vroman’s Dads Retreat. Actually, it was right after you kind of shared pieces of this story because I remember we were up on that little lookout and that kind of national park, all those trees, and we journaled and it was write someone in your life a thank you note that you’re grateful for them. I wrote a note to my dad. You talked about a powerful experience and now as a parent myself, I mean, we have three little ones at home, I aspire that someday my kids look back on my time with them and just as I’m not their best friend, you know, I’m trying to groom them into successful adults and sometimes that’s not easy and that takes discipline and things like that but I hope someday they look back with an appreciation of, “Wow, dad, I’m glad you did this, this, and this. That made me who I am today,” and what I realized now being a parent is how thankful I am for my own parents, but that I hadn’t always expressed that.
It’s in my head that I’m thankful but I haven’t actually expressed that to them so that they can know that I’m thankful. And sitting there writing that letter like I started tearing up like you’re going through this whole journey of like, wow, this was me growing up. This was my dad taking me to that one game, all the sacrifices that she went through. Not only was it a powerful experience for me but then when they actually received that letter, wow, speaking of waterworks like my dad’s calling me. I’m like I feel like I’m a little five-year-old just tears rolling down. It’s such a powerful experience.
[01:31:52] John: Well, and what you just, yeah, what you uncovered there, Brad, and this is a big experience I think from the project is that gratitude it’s like this thing. It’s this emotion that we have and it’s also a tool. It can be a tool for emotional management and to help us move through challenging times like so what you did right there, I don’t know what you’re thinking about prior to writing that letter. You might’ve been thinking about your business. You might have been thinking about your life. Who knows what you’re thinking about, but just by redirecting your thoughts like what can I be grateful for, for this person, like it just changes your process in how you’re thinking and how you felt afterwards made a big difference. So, I actually have found that that’s where if you’re feeling challenged, if you’re feeling anxious, if you’re feeling like worried about your business, a good question to ask, “Wow, man, I’m feeling all these feelings. How do I want to feel right now?” and then one of the most common things I feel, I want to feel grateful because I know I have so much in my life but I’m just not feeling it. Okay. Well, how can I give away that which what I want? How can I give gratitude or increase someone else’s level of happiness so that can actually affect me?”
And what you find is by doing that, it totally changes your state. And as a business person, as an entrepreneur, our emotional states, I mean, we get hit up and down. We make a big sale, we lose a big client, we have to deal with a staff number. It’s just like up and down all the time. So, consider this conversation as not like, “Oh, you have to change your entire life and do this all the time,” but like now you have a tool to work through emotions and parts of your business to be really effective and successful in what you’re doing.
[01:33:27] Brad: Yeah. It’s almost like a levelizer. It’s like…
[01:33:30] John: It totally is. It’s an equalizer.
[01:33:31] Brad: Yeah. For sure. Dude, this has been such a fun conversation. So, last question for you. I’ll let you get on to the rest of your Friday. What is one piece of advice you can share with the audience that’s led to your success up to this point, John?
[01:33:44] John: One piece of advice. Now, are you talking in relation to life and business, specific to Mr. Thank You?
[01:33:49] Brad: Anything. However you define success.
[01:33:52] John: Yeah. Man, it’s just we’ve talked about it today and this has just shown up again and again and it showed up yesterday is that people are more important than profit and what winds up happening is you profit more because of that mentality. Just yesterday I was out seeing a couple of clients in Ojai, California which is kind of where we’re visiting right now and clients place an order and there’s another client that I knew in the area that I was like, “I could stop by and see them,” and I just didn’t feel right to come in and just ask for business again and to say, “Hey, you want to purchase more gifts?” So, instead, I just showed up with a gift. I showed up with a copy of the book and gave it to them and we just had a great conversation and I literally was like I’m going to end any desire right now on my side to get more business in this conversation and I just asked about what he’s doing and he just listed like a celebrity’s home and he just got a lot of great stuff going on and I asked about his family and his kids. We shared this great conversation and then eventually I had to end it and say, “Cool, man. I got to go home. Take care of the kids while my wife is in yoga.”
And he’s like, “Hey, that’s so great. Hey, thanks for coming by, man. By the way, stop by again soon. I need to order some gifts for my clients. I got to order some knives for my house. My wife loves Cutco. We never bought any for our house yet. Let’s totally do that. Let me know when you can come back up here.” I was like, “Sweet. That sounds great.” And I just can’t tell you how many times that when you lead with relationship but people they know what you do. They know how to serve you and support you that they’re going to do business with you, they’re going to refer business to you, so by leading with relationship, you get everything else that you want and that has been really what’s lead my career to where it is today.
[01:35:24] Brad: Awesome. Awesome advice. Well, John, thank you. I’m grateful for you carving out the time to hop on here, share this incredible journey you went on, and this is going to be a relisten I know for a lot of those listening because so much of this applies to our business and just life in general and how you carry yourself so thank you so much for hopping on here and sharing with everyone.
[01:35:46] Brad: Absolutely. Thanks and thanks to you, Brad, for being a great dad and your commitment to being an entrepreneur and serving other people and like you’re just a great dude and so when I have the opportunity, no problem jumping on here and just pump to connect with your audience and just want to let them know if you don’t know Brad personally, he’s just an amazing human being so like he walks his talk and he’s a very generous dude so thanks, man.
[01:36:11] Brad: Thanks, John. Man, you’re making me blush over here. Well, hey, if your path, if your travels bring you to Kansas, you always have a place to stay, man.
[01:36:20] John: Thanks, man.
[01:36:20] Brad: So, we’ll let our kids wreck the house together.
[01:36:25] John: They will do a great job at that.
[01:36:26] Brad: Yes. All right, man. Until next time, John. Take care.
[01:36:30] John: Cool. See you, guys.
[01:36:34] Brad: Thanks for checking out the latest show. On to this week’s featured reviews. This week’s first review comes to us from user Nwrightjr who says, “First-time listener. Great podcast. Five-stars. I have been a financial advisor for 12 years and I’m always looking for a new avenue to get better at my craft. Your podcast is spot on to what we need in the field and it was the best hour-long podcast I have heard all year. Can’t wait to listen and expand my knowledge base. The Enemies of Success were profound and I see those all around me in this industry. This was able to get my compass back online and I feel refreshed. Keep up the good work!” Thanks for the kind words and the review. I’m so glad you enjoyed the conversation with Greg. He shared some incredible advice for every entrepreneur out there regardless of whether you’re in financial services or not. And I love hearing that after 12 years in the business, you are still focusing on making yourself better. I find it’s a very common trait of the most successful advisors in our business. Also, thanks for the praise in regards to the podcast. These comments really do mean a lot and it keeps me hunting for more incredible guest to bring to you all’s way so thank you.
The next review comes to us from user Jarrod_W who says, “One of the best podcasts I’ve ever listened to. Five-stars. I’m a college student studying business. I stumbled upon Johnson’s Blueprint podcast a while ago and got hooked. He teaches some very practical knowledge which has ultimately changed my mindset about business as a whole. I highly recommend this podcast!” Thanks for your thoughts, Jarrod, and for the review. Man, I wish podcasts would have existed back in my college days. I think, well, the easy to access format definitely didn’t exist back then. We probably had to search that on Napster and illegally download them or something. I don’t remember. But not sure where you plan on your business career taking you, but if you are already seeking out additional ways to learn and grow, my guess is wherever the next phase in life takes you, you’re going to be a rock star. If that happens to be financial services, make sure to hit me up, alright?
[01:38:34] Brad: Next up is user daleshafer who says, “Recently found this podcast. Wow! Five-stars. I found this podcast, thanks to the “you might also like” feature. I am so grateful. In particular, the episode with Ian Cron and the Enneagram sent me down an incredible path for understanding myself and others. Also, very much enjoyed the episode with Michael Port. This is the podcast to listen to if you are an advisor, or any professional “sales” person and you are looking for meat, you know, tangible takeaways you can immediately build into your practice. Incredibly grateful for this content and the bonus resources, Brad. Thank you.” Thank you. Dale. Thanks for the kind words and the five-star review. The episode with Ian Cron and the Enneagram lessons in his book, The Road Back to You, still impact me today a few years after I‘ve met him. In fact, I just texted a friend the other day to share his assessment test. It’s actually at ExploreYourType.com. I highly recommend taking it and then picking up a copy of his book for anyone in a relationship or a business where you are trying to better understand what motivates the other people’s actions and your own for that matter. So glad it helped you in the same way as it did me, Dale, and thanks for the kind words and I’ll keep the conversations coming your way.
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from LegatoFinancial, who says, “Game Changer. Five-stars. I have never taken the time to listen to podcast before primarily because I get bored easily. However, I can’t wait to get in the car to listen to Brad and all of the amazing guests that are on the show. I feel like I’m sitting in a boardroom with the most elite board of directors available; all giving me the most practical advise from years of experience. From family time to best business practices to how to dress for success, this podcast is a true game changer for my business and my family. I truly appreciate the time you devote to helping myself and others in the financial planning industry. 10 stars if it was an option! Thank you, Brad!”
[01:40:34] Brad: Thanks for the review, LegatoFinancial! I’m going to assume this is the same Legato Financial we work with out in Kentucky and want to give you an extra special shout out, Justin and Jessica, who are two of my favorite people in the world and it means a lot to hear you say that you feel like the podcast is sitting in a boardroom with your own personal board of directors. I have to say that it’s not the act of taking the time to just sit in the boardroom, but rather it’s the working hard to implement and execute the ideas that makes all the difference and you’ve both been a testament to that over the last couple of years working together. So, congrats on the incredible growth year in 2018 that you all have been having and I can’t wait to see all the big things in front of you as we go into 2019. Congrats on an incredible year! You deserve it.
As we wrap this show, thanks again for those of you who have taken the time to write a quick review. I love reading each and every one. And for those, of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors just like Justin from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them versus them serving it. Yes, it’s possible, it actually is, to grow your business and work less. This is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country. So, if you like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a one-on-one conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at BradleyJohnson.com/Apply. It takes about five minutes to fill up the application so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing, and how myself and my team may be able to help. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at BradleyJohnson.com/Apply. So, that’s all for this week. Thanks for listening in and I will catch you on the next show.
[01:42:27] Brad: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. For access to show notes, transcripts and exclusive content from our show’s guests, visit BradleyJohnson.com. And before you go, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you’re liking the podcast, you can help support the show by leaving your rating and review on iTunes. Not only do we read every single comment, but this will help the show rank and get discovered by new listeners. It really does help. Thanks again for joining and be sure to tune in next week for another episode.
The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Advisors Excel. The guest speaker is not affiliated with or sponsored by Advisors Excel. For financial professional use only. Not to be used with the general public or in a sale situation.
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