If you know me, even just a tiny bit, you know that I make an effort to express my appreciation for the amazing people around me. Because, you know what? There are so many amazing people around me, and I wholeheartedly appreciate each and every one of you.
Between 2005 and 2008, I worked in an architecture firm. While I was there, I worked my tail off day in and day out. But there was something missing. It wasn’t the lack of flexibility in my hours. I was still young and didn't have a family yet, so I was okay with waking up at the same time everyday. It wasn’t the work itself. I enjoyed it at the time.
But the thing I missed was that I never truly felt that I—or the work I did—was appreciated. I felt as though I was the hardest working employee in the firm, or at least one of them, and despite all of that effort, and the extra hours I’d spend accomplishing things that weren’t even asked of me, I just felt like the work wasn’t seen at all. Regardless of the 110 percent I gave, no one seemed to pay attention.
During that time, I was promoted from drafter to senior drafter to job captain, and the only real appreciation was in the small income increase I received. But that’s not the appreciation I yearned for. I made big decisions during my time at the architecture firm. I made a positive impact that affected the whole team. I did much more than was expected of me.
Despite all of that, I still continued to be motivated and drive myself forward in my career because I wanted to get to a level where I was truly appreciated. I wanted to be a president or owner of my own firm, one that was recognized for some unique architecture, and my plan was to get there by the time I was forty or fifty. But, as most of you know, that never happened. I was laid off in 2008, and when I started my journey as an entrepreneur, that’s when I discovered the appreciation I was looking for all along.
After I was laid off, I created a basic guide to help architects pass the LEED exam (still available at greenexamacademy.com). It was simple, but I immediately felt like I was making a true impact because I started receiving notes of appreciation. People would send me emails thanking me for my study guides, thanking me for the free material that was on the site, or thanking me for helping them pass the exam. Sometimes those notes were just one or two words of kindness, which is all I really needed.
After a while, I would get the occasional essay-length note from folks who had passed the LEED exam because of my guide. I had helped them cut hours of studying they would’ve had to do otherwise. They mentioned me by name, thanking me for the things I had done.
Let me tell you: It felt amazing!
It was then I fully realized that one can really have an impact on the lives of people, even on the Internet. Even though you may never even meet these people in person, you can make an impact—simply by understanding their unique pains and problems, and sharing information that will help them overcome those pains and problems. That’s really what it’s all about:
Being empathetic, and sharing the knowledge you have with the goal of helping other people.
I save those notes of appreciation too. I highly recommend that you do the same. I have a folder in my email account that's specifically for those thank you notes. I look at that all the time because sometimes when I'm feeling down, or I don't feel like I have the energy to keep moving forward, or I'm not motivated, re-reading notes of appreciation helps me to keep going.
Now, through my work at smartpassiveincome.com, I actually receive handwritten notes of thanks and appreciation. It’s the best feeling in the world, and it tells me that I’m at least doing something right. I couldn’t thank you more for that, SPI audience. Thank you!
Appreciation in Everything I Do
The real reason I’m writing all of this is because I’ve been actively working on showing appreciation in everything I do. It’s incredibly important for me. I wouldn’t be here without you, so showing my appreciation is necessary. And, as I’ve said, I was in a place in my life where I wasn’t given the appreciation that I wanted.
A simple act of honest appreciation can go a long way, and so I try to embrace that in all things.
For instance, in my book, Will It Fly?, I have a credits section that calls out specific individuals who helped in creating the book. If someone has contributed to something that I’ve worked on, such as the book, I give credit where credit is due. The same goes for the closing section of many of my blog posts, emails, and podcasts. I say, “I appreciate you.”
You’ve probably heard me say that before. I say it a lot, and I mean it every time. I started to say “I appreciate you” after hearing someone say, “I wish I felt more appreciated.” I empathize deeply with that. Ever since that day, I made a concerted effort to make sure those around me know how much I appreciate them. And sometimes, in response to that, people say thanks for saying it, which is kind of like a joyful thanks explosion.
Ways You Can Show Your Appreciation
Showing appreciation is very important for all of us, not just as a subject matter expert providing a service or product online, but as human beings too. As an online entrepreneur, I feel like it has a great effect on how my audience responds to my content and continues to come back to consume it.
I also think one big way you can show appreciation is to make it a surprise. If you can catch people off guard, and show your appreciation in a moment of surprise, that’ll be memorable. As a blogger or content marketer or online entrepreneur like myself, your audience expects things of you. You create a certain amount of content each week, for instance. So, when people expect things of you, and they know you operate in a certain way, it’s fun to throw them off a bit by surprising them with appreciation. Go a bit above and beyond your routine.
It doesn't have to be a big surprise either. It’s like when you share with your significant other that you love them when you go to bed every night. That is a lovely thing, but it’s also expected, and becomes habit or routine. It’s the random “I love you” on a Tuesday at 3:48 p.m. that will often be remembered because it comes as a surprise. Those little things are what help the other person know that you’re thinking of them.
You can do this in person, but I also think there are many ways that we can do that online. For example, I often gift my email subscribers something brand new without them even having to opt in to receive it. They just get access to it. For members of my book club, they get access to discounted copies of some of my favorite books, signature copies of books, and other gifts and giveaways. I also give away gift cards and in blog posts here and there. You don't necessarily need to give away anything that's of monetary value. Perhaps you highlight a community member. I think that shows that you appreciate and are paying attention to them, too.
Another fun and easy way you can show appreciation is on social media, in your responses to your audience, and in announcements the way Gary Vaynerchuk does on Instagram:
People respond very well to simple, and visible, acts of appreciation like this. I do this every once in awhile, too:
Showing appreciation is so important to me, so I just want to say thank you for all that you’ve done for me. To anyone who’s followed my journey since I started blogging in 2008, thank you for your passionate support. To anyone who’s listened to my podcasts, thank you for your eagerness. To anyone who’s read an article on SPI, thank you for your time. You all mean the world to me. Your engagement on the blog, social media, on the podcast, is what helps me get up each day and keep moving forward. Your amazing insight and, yes, even criticisms, keeps me grounded and inspired to keep improving.
I'm sure there is someone one in your life who has helped you. Take a moment today to say thank you to them, and tell them you appreciate them for what they do. It will only take a moment and it'll make their—and your—day!
I appreciate you!