I like thank you phone calls…

There is nothing better than a thank you phone call. We creatives live for the day when our clients call us and say thank you. But not only those thank you calls that just say thanks for our hard work, but when the client shares with you something where you can tell they can see the final product through the same lens as you so passionately created it.

Today was one of those days. I had worked hard on a 25 minute documentary, telling the stories of thriving rural churches in Western North Carolina. These stories were shown at an annual conference for close to 2000 people to enjoy. The purpose, to reinforce that the United Methodist Church is thriving in rural communities across the western part of the North Carolina.

From stories of communities teaming up to provide free dinners to communities, to churches in the middle of farm land creating communities around pre-school child care. In the middle of all these stories, there was one very special moment. A special interaction between a pastor and child.

They call it the Welcome Table in Andrews, NC. All are welcome to come and enjoy a free dinner. Many come because they enjoy the fellowship, many come for a good, home cooked meal. Many faces, many people, joining together to provide a sense of community at the table of good food. The pastor of Andrews United Methodist Church agreed to chat right in the middle of the big gym where close to 100 people were enjoying dinner. During a very passionate part of the interview, a young boy came up and gave the pastor a hug and said thank you! It gives me chill bumps as I write this post.

Today, I received a call from my friend who hired me to take on this project. The first thing he wanted to share was the heart felt reaction from the room of 2000 people when the boy hugged the pastor. The Bishop leaned over and told him, “you can’t stage a moment like that!” No you can’t…you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

I am thankful for phone calls like these…just thankful!

This just made my day! Just made my day!

It is all about a Thank You Note!

So today I found a little surprise in my mailbox, a thank you note. Well, there was more than just one thank you note…two. Below you can read the thank you note from one of my students. The note was not to me.

I teach Business Writing at Clemson. It is my goal to teach students more than just how to write, but how to use writing to build relationships. I teach them to think like entrepreneurs. I teach them to think about building career relationships. This thank you note is not only just a representation of a student thanking and praising a teacher, but using the knowledge learned in the classroom. Today, I am the student! It has come full circle!

There are so many times if we wonder if we are making an impact, but tonight…this one student made me shed some tears. I love teaching! Thanks Kelly!

Read below!

All it takes is a thank you note!

There are so many layers to a story, and those layers can continually evolve regardless of time!

I was riding home from Charleston, SC a few days ago. The wife and I were tired and it was getting close to 8pm, a long day visiting my sister-in-law Susanna at the College of Charleston. As we were navigating the back-roads of this I-385 detour, my iPhone began ringing with an unfamiliar phone number displayed. This self-employeed businessman never passes up an opportunity to talk about business, so I answered. The gentleman introduced himself and called me by my name…he said, “My name is Gary and I helped your family three years ago when I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Columbia.” This begins our little journey.

This story ultimately begins with a trip. My wife’s family is notorious for packing a car full of family and that car is notorious for breaking down at the worst of times. This time it was a hot spring day, Friday afternoon traffic in Columbia, SC. Seriously, 5pm traffic on Interstate 26 towards Bowman, SC. Bowman was their destination, where my wife’s grandfather had passed away. They needed to be at the funeral home before 6:30pm, to greet family and friends the day before the funeral. Stuck on the side of the road, they do what they normally do…call me. Being two hours behind them, I did what I knew best…call Enterprise Rent-A-Car, because they have a simple motto, “We’re Enterprise, we’ll pick you up!”

So I called the nearest Enterprise based on their location, it was a branch at the Columbia, SC airport. Gary from Enterprise answered the phone and I explained the situation. He broke protocol, took a Town and Country van, dropped it off, helped them exchange cars, and my family was on their way arriving in Bowman right at 6:30pm. He stayed with the car until the tow truck arrived and then got a ride back to the branch office. It was this can-do attitude and service that has now earned a lifetime customer, yes…I am a card carrying rewards member of Enterprise.

After hearing this story, I wrote a series of letters to his boss, the corporate office, and the southeastern manager. A series of thank you notes. It probably took an hour of my time. He had the time to help my family, I had the time to tell Enterprise…because of Gary, they now have a loyal customer.

Back to the phone call. So while talking to Gary on the phone, he began telling me that it was those letters that prompted him to call me. He was calling to thank me. He told me that those thank you letters changed his life. HOLD ON? I asked, “what do you mean, changed your life?”

He continued explaining; because of that letter, he was immediately promoted to a marketing division. After a while, and a few downsizing efforts, he was laid off. I immediately perked up and wondered where this conversation was leading. He went on to explain that he took some time to consider what was next after Enterprise. He had enjoyed investing his retirement package at Enterprise and began helping family and friends with their portfolio. This prompted him to begin researching the business of investments. After a series of meetings, many certification tests, several interviews, and a long training process…it was decision time for Edward Jones Investments. He went to meet with a VP of Edward Jones, and as a part of his application package for his own branch, he included this very letter from that I wrote to Enterprise. The VP basically told him that this letter was the only thing he needed to make his decision.

So Gary was calling me on this day, March 1st to thank me. You see, it was March 1st…this day that his branch in Lexington, SC was opening for the first time! He had reached his dream, to own his own business, be his own boss, and help people. He was thanking me for writing that letter. What he did not realize, while he was thanking me, tears were running down my eyes. I was actually thanking him, because this story, this day brought a new meaning to my life. It was this day he had changed my life. His one phone call, his few minutes thanking me made me see the world in a difference way. He had once again made a serious impact in my life.

It is amazing what a thank you note will do. It is amazing the residual effect from a single gesture. It is amazing the layers to this story, that connected us once again. I have yet to meet Gary, but I will be making a trip to shake his hand. Thanks Gary, thank you for being you. You are an inspiration!

This post is dedicated to a few people:

  • To Denise Weathers, my mother-in-law who is no longer with us but made a tremendous impression on Gary that day!
  • To John Warner who taught me the value of a simple social media called a thank you note!
  • To Bob Dotson who has helped me learn the value of the red-string and finding those stories with layers.