Schafer: How Doing Business Can Look A Little More Like Christmas Morning


It’s inspiring to watch a friend put in a big effort in a healthy activity even if you can’t match the effort.

If a friend starts talking about training for their first triathlon. you might decide that it’s good to add time on the stationary bike.

This is how it was to see entrepreneur Aaron Kardell, founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based HomeSpotter, publicly thanking the people who have helped him on his journey from starting the software company in 2009 through. ‘on sale last year.

He’s been working on it for weeks already, one thank you note per day posted on LinkedIn and the Substack newsletter service. He’s only just getting started.

Kardell calls him # givethanks100, but he said just before Christmas that he still plans to write those daily notes in April or May.

One of the things you can’t help but think about, reading what he’s posted so far, is that Kardell is a very wealthy guy. And I’m not talking about what’s in his bank account.

The # givethanks100 story began last spring when Minneapolis-based HomeSpotter was in the process of being acquired by Lone Wolf Technologies. Kardell knew he had a lot of people to thank when the deal was done. Then he found out what a lot of people do when they sell a business – that the days aren’t long enough to do it all.

As the hard work of integrating HomeSpotter into Lone Wolf progressed, busy months followed. Kardell wondered if the right time had already passed.

Then he decided he could find the time to write one note per day, using LinkedIn and Substack instead of mail.

Kardell spear # givegthanks100 on December 1st. The reactions on LinkedIn from the people he’s thanked so far are what you’d expect.

“Thanks a lot for the kind words Aaron Kardell!” wrote Amanda Maricle, who joined HomeSpotter in 2013 as an intern, then stayed on to become its longest-serving employee after Kardell himself. “I am honored to be a part of these 100 Days of Thanksgiving.”

An acquaintance protested that Kardell had made the classic mistake of confusing causation with mere correlation. His argument was that Kardell would have been so successful if they had never spoken.

Another, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rob Weber, gently insisted he should have thanked Kardell, not the other way around.

Some of Kardell’s notes have been deeply personal – he has already thanked his wife, Kate – but most of all he thanks clients, employees, investors, even colleagues at a small coworking site in St. Paul that once served as a head office at HomeSpotter.

This leads to a question that is not really easy to answer: What is the point of expressing gratitude when doing business means trading value for value?

Businesses buy the software they really need for their operations, even if it is an unproven startup. The workers are not volunteers but paid employees. The coworking site partners received rents.

Many startup founders seem genuinely grateful to their early investors, as many founders have knocked on dozens just to find a couple willing to invest. But they are investors and they did not donate their money out of charity.

Always. Saying thank you to these people makes a lot of sense.

On Monday morning, the first working day of a new year, customers can easily find another supplier or an employee can simply choose to stay in bed.

It’s probably true that a machine-signed Happy Holidays card in December by a vendor is a waste of paper and postage. But a handwritten “thank you for the business” note is both rare and wonderful. Hearing thanks through email and voicemail can also be helpful.

If business owners aren’t willing to tell customers, employees, and suppliers how much they are valued, they’d better be prepared to always be the cheapest supplier and pay the highest wages in the business. Marlet.

However, there is an even better reason to give thanks, and that is the effect this practice will have on the person with the wisdom to be thankful.

It was a point made last week by Weber of Great North Ventures, one of the first people to be dismissed by Kardell.

Weber described entrepreneurs as a hard-working group, so committed to the idea of ​​continuous improvement that they are seldom satisfied. This is one of the reasons why they don’t say thank you as much as they should, as he has finally learned during his own career as an entrepreneur.

Almost everyone, not just in business, is also programmed to take credit for the good things they’ve enjoyed in life while also blaming their setbacks on others. It’s called selfish bias, another of those little brain quirks that can lead to very selfish behavior.

Sometimes this is justified by getting the results you got, but it’s hard to imagine how anyone could think of this notion even for a minute and not realize how wrong it is. A lot of people barely manage to hold two jobs. Others work long hours for years in companies that eventually run out of money and close their doors.

Don’t imagine that it’s not okay to feel good after launching the new product, closing the deal, or paying off the line of credit. And please take advantage of every working day you get a check.

It’s also satisfying to come to the end of a tough week or year and know how much good work has been done.

And yet, at the present time, there is a large amount of psychology and wellness research concluding that people who regularly feel grateful for what they have and express it all the time are simply much more. happy. They came to realize that they didn’t get what they had earned, but more.

If you think so, you start to see successes at work and in business as gifts, much like unwrapped gifts on Christmas morning.

You hold the open box in your hands and look up to thank everyone who participated. And everyone is smiling.