There’s always someone to thank and appreciate. So why don’t we tell people what they mean to us more often? Why do we let excuses like — “I’m too busy” or “What difference will it make?” — get in the way of showing our appreciation to the people who bring value to our lives?
John Israel, Founder of the Mr. Thank You Project, joins the podcast to share his mission—to elevate the level of gratitude on the planet by inspiring 74 million Thank You cards. He kicked it off by writing five (5) Thank You cards every day for an entire year, which even got him featured on ABC News!
What if everyone in your life knew what they meant to you? Ready to take one small step? Simply start by thanking one person you care about. Then visit MrThankYou.com to join the movement!
- How to train your brain to look for the gifts in your life—and become emotionally aware in the process!
- What is the Mr. Thank You Project and how will it elevate the level of gratitude on the planet by 1%?
- John tells some incredible stories about sharing gratitude with the people he appreciates—from his friends & family to baristas and pilots.
- Learn how you can create a major impact with any community using the power of communal gratitude
- Hear about one of the most memorable communal experiences John created for me at this year’s Best Year Ever Blueprint!
- The importance of eliminating excuses to love and appreciate those who may not be here tomorrow.
- And much more…
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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TRANSCRIPTClick here to Read the Transcript
Jon: Welcome to all of our Achieve Your Goals Podcast listeners. Special episode with one of our guests from our Best Year Ever Blueprint Event from just a few weeks ago, Mr. John Israel. And John, I’m not going to tell you. I’m just going to hint at what happened at the event but then you’re going to hear firsthand from John about this mission that he’s been on. But I will say this, John pulled something off at the event that I think for many people there was a high point moment. And this was, and I’m biased, but coming from the words of the attendees, these were three days that were incredible that were powerful, filled with moments, filled with wisdom, filled with connection amongst each other, filled with a sense of purpose, filled with real authentic joy and positivity. And, John, you brought to that whole thing a moment that many people will be talking about for a really long time. So, I just want to give people a teaser so they understand how excited I am for this conversation. So, Johnny, great to have you here today, buddy. This is awesome.
John: Excited to be here.
Jon: You know, I mentioned this at Best Year Ever, but I wanted to call attention to this again and Sofie, by the way, is acknowledging, “You’re an inspiration.” Natalie says hi. Alex says hi. So, you got a lot of fans. I can’t even get this interview done because we have to acknowledge all these shout outs you’re getting. But, John, you and I knew each other probably 20 years ago, whenever it was, selling Cutco 17, 18 years ago. I had a coaching business. You were one of my very first coaching clients, so you probably got some of the worst coaching I’ve ever given and then…
John: It’s perfect.
Jon: Yeah. And here we are ten years after that and you become somebody who as I said at the event a few weeks ago I admire in who you are and how you show up, how you live as a family man first and you’re a successful entrepreneur, but I notice that you’re very clear on your family and how you show up in life is so important to you. So, thanks for being you, buddy. And I just want to start by asking you to tell us where did this Mr. Thank You Project start? Where did this all start?
John: Yes. So, many of the listeners or watchers or however you’re seeing this have probably heard of Simon Sinek, the founder of the Start with Why organization. He has a TED talk called Start with Why and ultimately what he was saying was people do not buy what you do. They buy why you’re doing it. Now at the time, I was one of the top distributors for Cutco closing gifts in the country. So, basically, I’m a gratitude salesman so I would help people express love and gratitude in memorable ways with people they care about. So, I thought about this statement of people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you’re doing it. I thought about what is that for me? What is my why? What is my purpose? And when I thought about being beyond just selling things like what is the impact that I want to have on the world, so I thought really what I’m about is increasing gratitude. So, I thought we came up with a tagline that who I’m committed to being and what our business is about is elevating the level of gratitude on the planet.
And that was great. We ran with that for a while and I happen to see our friend, Jon Vroman, speak at a conference and he shared with me the story that really kind of changed the whole perspective on how I treated my business. It was a story of a guy who wanted to change the world. And how it goes is there’s this man who wanted to change the world, so he went out and he tried to do it, and he spent years and years and ultimately found the world was too big, he couldn’t do it. So, then he said, “Maybe I’ll work on my country. I can try and change my country.” And he tried to do that and still found out that was too difficult. So, then he worked on his city and then found out yet his city was still too big. And then the one thing he thought it was his family, “That’s who I talk to every day. I can influence and change my family.” And then as many of us learned, you can’t exactly change your family. They are who they are. Then on his deathbed, he realized that he only had one thing he could change which is himself. In effect, in changing himself he could change his family who could ultimately change their city and the country and the world.
And so, I heard that story and I thought I took it very literally as if I say I’m committed to this big external outer goal of elevating the level of gratitude on the planet, how am I elevating my own level of gratitude? And if you meet a lot of people who know John Israel and you say, “Hey, what do you know about John?” They might say some great stuff, but I don’t think that the word gratitude or grateful would be one of the descriptives. So, I thought that’s inconsistent. So, I thought about what something I can do every day to elevate my level of gratitude and I’m always about habits, keystone habits, habits that you have that influence other habits in your life. And so, I thought when I’ve been the most grateful is when I was writing thank you cards, and I was acknowledging and appreciating people for the impact you’ve had on me and the world. So, I said, “Well, let’s do that. Let’s make thank you cards the thing. That’s how I’m going to affect myself and have an outward effect.” We don’t really have the big vision with it of how it was going to play out long-term. That kind of came with time but it was really just focusing on affecting my own level of gratitude and so I decided to write five thank you cards a day every day for an entire year and to see where it took us, and it’s been an extraordinary journey.
Jon: So, that journey of five thank you cards a day for an entire year, when did that start? What was the date, the first day? What year? What day?
John: Yeah. It was October 10, 2016.
Jon: Okay. So, you just finished that first year a couple of months ago.
John: Yeah. So, we just finished in October, the full 365 days.
Jon: All right. So, I want to hear about the story of writing these cards and what’s unfolded from that because it’s pretty incredible. Before I ask about that, I want to ask you another question, John, that I did not ask you at the Best Year Ever Event which is where did this value of gratitude for you, where did that come from? Was there something in your upbringing? Was there a life experience? Because I didn’t ask that a few weeks ago and when you just shared just now that that was something you really valued but realize you weren’t living in alignment with that value, not at the way that you wanted to, I just want to go back to where did that value, why is that important to you? Where did that come from?
John: Yeah. Again, I can tell you exactly the moment where I was sitting when it became very real. It’s about 12 years ago. It was actually right after we had finished our first-year coaching together and I had broken a sales record that I was really excited about and I finished that year and I had some people say, “Success without fulfillment is failure.” And with that, I had succeeded a high-level performance wise but internally I really had not. So, I did a lot of personal growth at the time and I started taking courses with an organization called Landmark Education and Landmark, they’re pretty hard-core in respect to personal development and I had a lot of transformation. One of the things that they’re really good at is to have people look at their lives and how it’s working and to be responsible for making your life work. And so, there’s a lot of instances in my past where there was resentment and anger and just frustration. So, instead of blaming, I took responsibility for those experiences. And instead of them being very painful, I started to appreciate the value that came from them, the lessons that showed up, and all the people that were a part of those times.
And so, when I started going to that work, I remember distinctly just thinking about all the teachers I had at the time that I didn’t realize were teachers in my life because I wasn’t aware and present at the moment to get the lesson. But it was in that moment that I realized, “Wow. So many people had my back at an early age that I’d never acknowledged and appreciated.” So, I took a day and literally, I sent email after email and I called people. And I just told them how much I love them and appreciated them, and I thanked them for all the effort and work they put into me even if I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Jon, I remember, I felt like I was just floating on a cloud of this amazing positive energy just exuding from me like when I thought about making the people. Then as soon as I expressed it, and that’s what I think is a very big distinction for people around gratitude that not just be a thing that you write in a journal and think about once in a while, but as soon as it lives as an expression, it lives totally differently.
And so, I remember at the end of that day having sent all this love and gratitude and appreciation and telling people and then hearing back from them the affirmation of like, “Wow. Thank you for acknowledging me for that.” It just felt right, and it felt complete. It felt like there was nothing else that needed to be said and I just remembered telling myself, “If I could feel like this every day of my life, I could die happy.” And it was like a moment where I made a decision to find the pathway to feeling grateful every day. I didn’t know what that was at the time because I thanked everyone I needed to thank so I just moved on with my life and I kind of forgot about it for a decade. And then as soon as it came to this idea of bringing gratitude back, it was very clear that this is such a high value. I remember that moment and I thought, “Wow. This could be that thing that I do that gets me back into that state every single day.” And I also remember telling myself, “Not only do I want to experience this. I want other people in the world to experience this,” and that’s really what kind of has evolved into the Mr. Thank You Project as it is today.
Jon: Wow. For me, personally, what I love about what you just shared this distinction between thinking about a person as an example that I’m grateful for. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself thinking about how deeply grateful I am for somebody and in my mind, I’m thinking, “Well, I can’t wait until I call them or write them a note,” and of course the thought then fades away as quickly as it faded in and I don’t follow through. So, I love this distinction about how important it is to express the gratitude towards others and the difference between that and just thinking about it. So, well, thanks for sharing that. So, 10 years go by. You had this realization and you decide, “I’m going to write five thank you cards per day for 365 days starting October 10, 2016.” So, what was the very first thank you card that you wrote?
John: It was to a girl at a Starbucks. She was my barista. I walked in at 6 o’clock in the morning says like, “Okay. It begins today,” and she was there bright and early smiling and taking my drink order but I’m sure she would rather be sleeping. And so, I was like, “That’s her. She’s going to be the first one.” So, I wrote her a thank you card and I just acknowledged her for waking up early and who she is, is not just a barista but somebody who does the most important thing for people in the beginning of the day and her positivity really is an additive to that experience. So, thank you for waking up early. And then I also put a little note at the very end, a P.S. that said, “By the way, I’m totally married with two children so make sure you understand this is just an appreciation, nothing beyond that.” Because she was like 21 and I’m like, “Okay, this could, you know, who knows that she sees me next time puts some hearts on my cup or something,” I don’t know. Maybe we should create some boundaries.
Jon: That’s so awesome. Thanks for clarifying that too because I could see some of us going out writing these notes and like creating unintended consequences. So, tell me when you started this, did you have a framework or like a loosely guided approach to who am I going to thank? How did you kind of open yourself up to whom I get – like in this case, okay great, it was the Starbucks barista. How did you continue to think about who you were going to express gratitude towards?
John: Great question. And this is a distinction, I want to give some credit to my mom about this because my mother is an artist and I was complaining about something with school and how hard it was and all the things I had going on and she said, “You know, as an artist you never complain about the canvas. You just learn to work with the canvas you have and create what you can with what you have.” And the reason I say that is because when it comes to writing five thank you cards a day, it’s like I have an idea like what I did in the beginning and for anyone who wants to do something like this is you make a huge list. You just go through your cell phone, your Facebook, your old emails and you just start listing people out and you’ll have a running list of 100, 200, 300. I think I got a list of about 350 people that I needed to thank that I knew that I was like, “Yeah, for sure.” And that list kept growing. And then I also left it up to some just whatever happens today and that was a great lesson was become a good finder. And what is the beauty in today or what is the beauty in the actions of others and how can I acknowledge and appreciate that?
One of the things I say is what you appreciate appreciates. What you noticed continues to show up over and over. So, if you see someone doing good with good behavior and you acknowledge it, it’s going to happen again and again. And it really creates an interesting ripple when you do it with people that you have no likelihood you’ll see them again, but it just might affect how they treat the next customer or the next individual because you just chose to acknowledge and appreciate them. So, I definitely had some specific people I wanted to thank and I started to do that but I also left room for if I see somebody that does something, I’m like I’m going to appreciate that person and then I would just do five. And I did do six and seven and eight a couple of times, but I kept it around five every time. Never less than five. There were consequences to not hitting five so I make sure to do that.
Jon: Wow. John, as soon as you say that you’re starting to look for the good, I can only wonder, how did that did it? And if it did, how did that change just life for you or your way of seeing the world or experiencing the world? Did it? The idea of, okay, I’m looking for the good, did that change any part of you at all that you can reflect on?
John: Yeah. There are two things. One is it just became exciting like it became fun because it was this game of like who is it going to be today? Because often they’re not expecting it, most people, and that’s one of the things with gratitude and a great definition of gratitude is the emotion and experience that you have when you receive the gift or when you perceive something as a gift. So, it’s kind of an interesting training for your brain to look for the gifts in your life and sometimes the gift is really just someone choosing to have a positive attitude or someone choosing to give you good service or someone choosing to show up and be great when they don’t have to. And that was really transformational as an experience but also as an awareness tool. Because when you commit to, committing to writing five thank you cards a day is not easy like I know people are thinking, “Oh, that must have felt nice all the time.” It did not. It was hard. I’m still married with children and a life and responsibilities and a mortgage and I had stuff to get done yet I always I needed to write five thank you cards every day so there was this dealing with the emotions.
So, I think one thing I would say is becoming hyper-aware of my emotional state every day. And understanding that with emotions and likening it to a snow globe where you have something like with a lot of charge to it like someone says something and you get really upset by it or you see someone that you have an incomplete relationship with if someone says their name and you instantly get upset. It’s like a snow globe. You shake it up and there are all the things floating around and just by allowing it to settle, you can see clearly and that’s how I think about emotions. And so, with gratitude, it really just became my filter of how I had to live my life. If I want to thank somebody, I have to deal with whatever I’m feeling right now in order to allow myself to see the gifts and to see the good that people have. That’s not easy. So, there was a lot of things that I had to do. I shared a story at Best Year Ever and I came home one day, a really tough day on the field and I opened the door and it woke up the dog which barked which woke up one of our almost asleep children and then they started crying and then that woke up the other child who my wife had just gotten to sleep and now we have a barking dog, two screaming children and then my wife just staring at me like she wants to kill me. And then I have to go walk up to my office and write thank you cards. It’s this absurd idea.
So, I’m in the state where I just feel like I ruined everything that was good in my family and now I’ve got to say thank you to people. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it, Jon, so the only thing I needed to do was just be the snow globe and just lie on the ground and allow the emotions to be. And just kind of think through like, “Okay, what happened? What does it mean? Does it really mean that? Does it mean my wife doesn’t love me? Does it mean that I’m the worst dad in the world? It doesn’t really mean that.” And then I spend some time with a journal. It took a total of about 10 minutes to just allow that emotion to pass and then I knew who I wanted to thank for the day and I wrote the cards and it came out super easy and then I came outside and apologized to my wife and we had a great evening. So, that was a real gift and just being responsible to have to be grateful every day. You have to deal with what’s in the way of it and that was a really, really powerful experience all year long.
Jon: What a great lesson. Thank you for sharing that. John, did you ever get any interesting responses back from your thank you cards or reactions that were surprising or memorable or noteworthy?
John: Yes. So, one of the, and this is really early in the experience which gave a lot of feel to it, but I was boarding a plane to the Front Row Dad’s Retreat in Philadelphia and I was getting on the plane and I pray when I travel for a safe flight and to date, I’ve always had a safe flight. So, I always realize there’s one person who’s really in charge of that which is the pilot, how they’re the ones who make this happen. So, I realize, “You know, I never get to thank the pilot,” so that’s my people today. So, I had two legs of a flight, two pilots each flight so four people to thank right there. So, I brought my cards and I thought about what do I want to say about them. And so, I just wrote out what I wanted to thank them for if they’re standing in front of me. And that’s an interesting thing with acknowledgment and appreciation, is the root word of appreciate is appreciado which means to appraise and when you appraise something, so if someone’s in real estate and you have a home and you wanted to sell the home, you want to get the appraised values, they look at every component of the home to understand its true value. They want to look at all the cracks, all the imperfections, all the beauty, all the great things. You don’t just take one thing. They look at all of it.
So, to appreciate someone, it’s sitting and thinking about what do I appreciate and love about this person? What is not easy in their life that they deal with every day and what is something great that they do? So, that’s what I wrote down and I wrote down all the things of whether you don’t become a pilot by accident. You want to do that as a kid or as a grownup. So, I acknowledge it like, “This is probably something you’d been wanting to do for years and you want to do hours and hours of training and all to be on a plane to have people who were upset that they’re late because of some malfunction that has nothing to do with you. And I know when I fly, I’m missing my family and this is what you do for a living so you probably miss a lot of family events and experiences. And I just want to say thank you on behalf of everybody on this plane for everything that you do because whether you hear it enough or not, we value who you are.”
And so, I just wrote something like that for each of the pilots and I hand it to him as I leave. And this particular stationary I wrote them on was business stationary, so I had my contact information. And within 24 hours, three out of the four pilots emailed me to thank me for the cards that they received. And one of them said, “John, in my 12 years of flying I have never received a thank you card from a passenger and you know what, everything you said was true. We miss a lot of things with the family and I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge that. We love what we do and we’re grateful to have you as a customer.” And it was really interesting because it was like this connection that got to happen with me and this human being I don’t know. It was really cool to experience but I also thought there’s not enough of it. Like I saw there’s a true value that this is a missing like this could make a big difference for people in their jobs if they were acknowledged and appreciated for all that they do. And so, that was on day three and I was like, “Oh man, I got to do this. I got to keep going.” And that’s kind of gave me a lot of fuel for the future.
Jon: That’s a beautiful story, John. Thanks for sharing that. You have another story, probably many like this but you shared one recently about where you involved others on the plane and thanking the pilot. Tell us about that because this is great.
John: Yeah. So, my goal one day is to maybe be sponsored by Southwest Airlines. Who knows? We’ll see. So, basically, I travel a lot. So, this became a habit to write thank you cards for everybody but like anything that you do a lot of, it starts to get a little dull and you want to find ways to spice it up and make it interesting. And I had just spent a couple of days hanging out with our good friend Jeff Kaylor. And for people who don’t know who Jeff Kaylor is, he’s a motivational magician so he does magic and shares to people stories about how to make magic moments. And I just heard him talk about something called conspiracy theory which is like when people know about something that somebody doesn’t know, it creates this really fun tension in the experience and it really heightens the ultimate culmination of it.
So, I was thinking about, man, this is so neat that I get to participate in appreciating these pilots but what about everyone else? No one else gets to do this. So, I had the supplies and I was like I’m going to see if we can make this happen. So, I got the names of all the flight attendants and the pilots and I wrote them a much smaller thank you card, just a couple of sentences for me. And then what I did was I put them inside of a folder and I wrote a note on the front that says, “To whoever receives this, you are invited to play in the Mr. Thank You Project where we send love, gratitude, and appreciation to people who are undervalued in their work. So, inside of this envelope or this folder are five thank you cards for the flight attendants and the pilots and we like to invite you to write a note of appreciation or simply sign it. If you don’t want to participate, just hand it on to the person next to you but when you’re done, make sure this is handed to the woman in the red dress and C23G if you’re the last person on the plane.” And that was actually the person who is sitting next to me by the way and she didn’t know I put that, but I did that because if anyone was going to give extra love and gratitude and appreciation, they’d look at her and not me, and it’s kind of a fun way to separate myself from the experience.
So, I walk up to the front of the plane. I have no idea how this is going to go down so I’m totally sweating and I’m just like I’m excited and nervous. So, I walk up and see these old women and they’re sitting in the front the handicap section and I hand them, I’m trying to tell them as loud as possible over the sound of the engines but it’s quiet as possible, so the flight attendant doesn’t hear me and wonder why I’m talking to passengers in front of the plane. So, I explained like, “Hey, we want to thank the pilots on the plane like there are cards in here,” and I’m just like trying to point to it and like mouth what I want them to do and they’re like, “That sounds great.” So, they took the envelope and then I walked back to my seat. And as soon as I sat down, I had instant regret. I’m like, “What the hell did I just do? I just asked a bunch of strangers who don’t know each other, don’t know me to say thank you to another complete stranger. This is weird. This is not normal, someone is going to be upset, someone’s going to tell TSA. I’m never going to be able to fly again. My career is over.” Like it just went down the rabbit hole every possible negative thing.
And 30 minutes go by, Jon, and I don’t see anything. I’m in the middle of the plane and I don’t see anything being passed around and I’m just getting more and more nervous. But then out of nowhere, I see the envelope or the folder pass over somebody’s head. I was like, “Okay. It’s in motion, it’s in motion.” And then another 30 minutes go by. This is a long flight, so this is from Philadelphia to Las Vegas so it’s about the five-hour flight. And then 30 minutes later it gets to me and I open this envelope toward this packet inside that the cards are like almost completely full of all this love and appreciation and I was like, “Oh my God, this is epic. This is going to be amazing.” But I realize that they’re going to run out of room because we’re only halfway through the plane. So, I add some sticky notes. I throw them in there and I just say, “If you run out of room, fill these out.” So, I let it go by and it continues to go and go. And about an hour goes by and I decided I had to go to the restroom and kind of see where it’s at. And it’s in the second to the last row so I’m like, “Oh my gosh, we’re almost done,” and there’s about 30 minutes left in the flight so I was like, “Perfect timing. We’re going to get it back and we’re going to hand them out and it’s going to be amazing.”
So, then I go to the restroom, sit back down and then the pilot says, “Alright, guys. We’re clear for landing. Everyone, take your seats.” So, I didn’t get the cards and I was like, “Oh well, I’ll just wait until we land.” And so, we land. And everyone starts to stand up and I’m standing in my seat letting people go by and I just got this huge grin on my face and I was like waiting, waiting for this envelope to come back and I’m waiting and waiting, and people start leaving and more people leave, and then it gets to the last row, and then everyone’s gone and I don’t have an envelope with all my thank you cards in it and I’m like, “What the hell happened to my thank you cards?” So, I go to the back of the plane and this is actually a plane that was also continuing on to another location. There are some people were still on the plane and there was an older gentleman in the back row. So, I said, “Hey, did you see a brown envelope and it had some thank you cards inside of it? Did that come to you?” He’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah, I gave that to the flight attendant,” and I was like, “Man.”
So, I was bummed because I didn’t get to surprise them but I was like, “All right. Well, at least they got to them.” So, then I go over to the flight attendant. I say, “Hey, do you have the brown envelope?” And he was like, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Yeah there’s a brown envelope. A gentleman in the last row handed it to you,” and he’s like, “Oh, yeah. I was picking up trash and so he handed me something and I threw it away.” I was like, “Are you serious?” I was like, “Man, that had hand-signed thank you cards from everybody on this plane. We have to find it.” And he’s like, “Are you serious?” And he had just opened the back door because they come and picked up the trash from the plane. He runs down the stairs and tell like yells at the trash guy and he stops his cart. They pulled bags off the trash truck. They’re ripping them open trying to find this envelope and after multiple bags, he pulls out my brown envelope soaking wet because it had been dumped with everyone’s drinks and everything, and he just like walks up the stairs back to me holding this like little coffin of gratitude.
And I was just like, “Oh no,” and then I opened them up and all the cards are in perfect condition and in fact, even better because every centimeter is filled with some note of appreciation, gratitude for these pilots and there are dozens of post-it notes. And I now need to get the hell out of this plane. So, I’m jamming them in envelopes, handing them to the flight attendant is like, “This is for you,” and I run off the plane and clearly, I was trying to be incognito with this whole project but obviously people realize who the guy was who started this.
And what was interesting because the first experience was really what it did for the people who received the cards. What was really transformation about this one for me was as I was leaving, people started to realize they’re like, “Hey, was that you? Are you the guy who started that Mr. Thank You thing?” And I was like, I said, “Yeah.” And then I remember one gentleman, he was like, “That was so cool. I’ve never been a part of something like that and I want to thank you for that because my son was with me and he got to participate in that and he got to learn something really valuable today because of that. So, like thank you for letting us be a part of that experience.”
And then I got off the plane and it was this multiplying experience for me but also just getting to see what the multiplying power has in other people when they get to participate. So, we call this the communal gratitude experience. I’m trying to find a cooler name but that’s what I have so far. My friend was like, “You got to call like a gratabomb, man, because it’s like this explosion of gratitude.” I’m like, “Dude, I am not going to say, ‘Hey, would like to see the gratabomb we’re passing around the plane?’” So, that name did not win so we’re still working on it. The communal gratitude experience had been pretty extraordinary and that’s where I see there’s a lot of compounding power with communities and businesses and organizations to bring this inside of what they do.
Jon: Wow. And so, now that you’ve shared that story, John, which is just awesome, I can share with everybody that you helped to pull that off at the Best Year Ever Event two weeks ago. And for most of our listeners, they’re well aware, there might be a few that are not aware, that Hal who started this podcast a year, so we started the podcast years ago, but one year ago he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He’s been battling it and he was not able to be at our Best Year Ever Blueprint Event last year which is our big flagship event. People coming from around the world and so for him to be able to be back there this year is very special. His whole family was there, his mom, his dad, his wife, his children. And so, John, you pulled up an epic communal gratitude experience by having all of us fill out cards and then there were even a few folks who stood up, this was all a surprise and read these cards to the Elrod Family while they were all in the room. And that was a transformational moment.
And so, I’m personally excited to see more and more of these communal gratitude experiences happen. You and I were just talking about how, I mean, just think about if I lead the team, doesn’t matter if I have a team of five people or 500, this kind of communal gratitude experience is the kind of thing that can make a huge difference in the culture of any type of community. I think that’s awesome. I want you to share, Jon, there’s one more story I’d love for you to share that we didn’t share this a couple of weeks ago. You touched on it for a moment just before we push record here. Could you share the story about two folks that you wrote cards to that I don’t think got your card?
John: Yeah. So, it was about midway through the Mr. Thank You Project and every day it resets at zero so there’s always someone to thank and appreciate. And with that list, I had a few people. One was a mentor that knew me and one was a mentor who didn’t know me. He was the author of a book that I really appreciated. His name is Dan Poynter and the other individual was a very close friend’s dad. And so, I wrote them their thank you cards and in the same week within I think about one day of each other, before I sent their cards out, actually, I found out that they had passed away.
John: And I remember the moment when my friend called me to share with me that his dad passed away and I had no idea his dad was sick and he had about six months runway and I didn’t know anything about it. And actually, the challenging part was I actually had his card for about a month-and-a-half, John, and I didn’t give it to my friend’s dad because that friend and I actually had a falling out. We had basically stopped talking. And so, I was really nervous to reach out and say, “Hey, can I get your dad’s address?” just because how things finished off with our friendship. And so, I never sent it. And in that experience, because of that, I also never got to thank his dad for the impact he had in my life. And I never forgot that because what I saw there was how that happens every single day in this world that there are people who pass away that I have a laundry list of those that love and care and appreciate that they won’t know for whatever reason. And really that reason is because it’s on us to live in that expression and there’s a lot of vulnerability. It’s required to openly and honestly say thank you and to admit the value someone’s had in your life. It takes time. And some people, we get busy and I just think that those are such crappy excuses when compared to the opportunity it is to love and appreciate someone that may not be here tomorrow.
So, that’s kind of my encouragement that I would leave everyone who’s listening is that if there are some people that you feel need and deserve to hear from you what they’ve meant, then you should tell them because you never know. You never know what’s going to happen. But here’s an interesting question. What if everybody in your life knew where they stood with you? What if everyone in your life knew the value they had to you? How much would that change your relationships and your experience of life? And I can tell you that I’m not a perfect individual and clearly, I missed the basket a lot because I took a lot of shots this last year, but I can tell you it’s also a really cool experience when I see a lot of people who I’ve had, I’ve done that. I’ve had the time and by making it a commitment, it didn’t go away like you talked about, Jon. It’s not that thing that, “Oh, I know I should do that.” For me, it was like I know I should do that and I have to anyways because I’m going to write five thank you cards today. So, I’m making it a commitment.
And by the way, I’m not telling all the listeners that you need to write five thank you cards every single day, but you might start with something small, maybe commit just 30, maybe 30 days in a row. Maybe make it a 100-day challenge and say, “I’m going to write one thank you card a day every day for 100 days in a row,” and just notice how it changes your life and changes your relationships, affects your community, transforms your business. And once you do that, it’ll be a habit you will never want to let go for the rest of your life. And that’s really where we kind of come to, Jon, with the Mr. Thank you Project is we want to make gratitude habit in the world. That is what we’re after.
Jon: Wow. So, John, thank you for that final story. How can people join in on this mission? You’ve created probably the simplest possible pathway for people to join in this mission of spreading gratitude. Where can they go to learn about this?
John: So, if you go to MrThankYou.com, our website, where our mission, so the big mission is to elevate the level of gratitude in the planet by 1% so that effectively is 74 million thank you cards written across the planet. And so, all you do is you basically go to the website, you type in your name, your email and how many cards you’ve sent out into the world and then it’s going to populate the number up. I think it’s a couple of thousand right now. And that’s how we’re going to keep track of it and you just keep going back there after you sent out a card or a couple of cards and we keep track of it on our end and that’s how you get to participate and it’s pretty cool, it’s pretty amazing to see the ripple that this is creating because this isn’t about just making John Israel famous for this thing. This is just giving people a tool that just makes a difference and we’re very clear about that. This isn’t a maybe like, “This might be helpful.” This is like life transforming, can really affect you and your community in a big, big way. So, we invite everyone to participate. It doesn’t cost anything to go there. Here’s what you got to do. Thank somebody and then go to the website and let us know about it. That’s it.
Jon: Awesome. And that’s MrThankYou.com. Well, Johnny, I know this is the beginning. Well, it’s already started but where this is going to lead to is going to be beyond what I think any of us could hopefully imagine for. So, I’m thrilled to see this mission that you’re on and how you’re spreading it for all of us to benefit to be reminded to spread gratitude with others in our lives. It’s really awesome, buddy. Hey, thanks for being here today.
Jon: All right. Hey, talk to you soon, Johnny. Take care.
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