Geoff Welch was in trouble. His company, Date-line Digital Printing, was on the brink of falling apart, and he was facing financial ruin.
The problem was himself. “I was being a good soldier,” he told an NFPW audience at its recent conference. “I’m an efficiency guy.”
He’d get the job done and leave, but he wasn’t spending time with his employees and worse, with his customers.
He had taken for granted that his customers were going to keep showing up. “If you don’t nurture relationships, they fall apart,” he said. “You have to take responsibility and invest in the relationship.”
After attending a few conferences, he realized some things. One that was particularly important was that he was acting like a victim and not taking responsibility. Another he learned through his wife, who had taken a class on gratitude.
“I was good at being thankful internally but very bad at expressing it,” Geoff said. He decided to make it a business discipline to send a thank you card every business day of the year. He figured that in doing so he would develop a discipline. To reduce barriers, he had hundreds of envelopes with his return address and stamps at the ready.
“But very quickly I recognized it just felt good,” he said. “It became something that I looked forward to.”
That first year he sent 260 cards. And the real win wasn’t in the cards he sent, but in what came next.
His company designed the cards that he uses. Then the company began offering three thank you notes every three months to people who signed up in Fairbanks, AK. He found that people were really interested in sharing gratitude and thanks. Through Thanks Fairbanks he invited others into a discipline of gratitude.
He started a bog, Powered by Humanity, that became a book. The next thing he knew he was being asked to speak about service and building a life that matters. This led him to opportunities to interview “really cool people,” including Seth Godin and Simon Sinek and giving a TEDx talk.
“You have to get past the fear that your idea doesn’t matter, and that it won’t have impact around you,” Geoff said. “You have a choice about how you are going to matter to people around you.”
Thanks Geoff for sharing your story.