By Justin Kerr


Do I give a gift? Do I not give a gift? Who do I give a gift to? Should I write a note? What should the note say? When should I give everyone the gift? Today? Tomorrow? Tuesday? Don't worry - MR CORPO has you covered - he takes all the anxiety and trepidation out of saying THANK YOU and gives you an easy step-by-step approach to saying thank you in a meaningful, personal, and easy manner. Plus in the BONUS SECTION he shares his Mom's super awesome Starbucks trick. There may or may not be a SUPER SECRET BONUS SECTION in this episode - I guess you'll just have to wait and listen.



How to Say Thank You (12/14)

JUSTIN: I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care. I just called to say I love you, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.


(Intro music)


JUSTIN: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. That was my rendition of the wonderful Stevie Wonder song, "I Just Called To Say." And you'll notice that I was talking about calling to say you love someone, calling to say you care. Calling to let them know you mean it from the bottom of your heart. These are all different things, while not exactly using those words, these are all things that I would like you to use in today's topic, which is how to say thank you.


Let's talk about how to say thank you. There's a million reasons to say thank you. But for the purposes of today's podcast, I wanna focus on just one occasion: the end of the year thank you. So let's get to work.




JUSTIN: Now, navigating the end-of-year circus with all of its parties, all of its presumptions, all of its formalities, can be very tricky. Do you give a gift? Do you not give a gift? Who do you give a gift to? Who do you not give a gift to? What do you give as a gift? It's already too overwhelming and too complicated. So my advice is, do not give a gift. That way, you skip over all the political land mines and all of the traps that are out there that you could fall into. And as always, I'm in favor of keeping it simple. And in this case, that means just saying thank you.


Now, even though I just want to keep it simple, saying thank you can be a bit more complicated than you might think. So let's break it down into three parts: who do you thank, how do you thank them, when do you thank them. Alright, so let's start with who do you thank. The easy answer is, everyone. The only problem is, that can lead you to a generic solution: an e-card, a general email, something that you just buy and write your name on it. That doesn't count. And once you pass into this generic territory, you shouldn't even bother because it has no meaning. My advice? When it comes to who, less is more. Now, if you're a boss, I recommend that you give thank you to your immediate direct reports. Not the entire team. Let your direct reports honor their people. Just focus on your direct reports. And sure, you can give a big, verbal group thank you at your team meeting. But I would say, if you're gonna make it personal, stick with your direct reports.


Now, if you wanna go beyond the direct reports, I recommend you reach out to two to three other absolutely critical people you work with outside your team. the reason I say two to three is, I want it to be really special. And I want you to really think about it: who is so essential to your well-being in the workplace? It should only be two or three people. Focus on those two or three people outside your team. So my prescription is, direct reports plus two to three most important people. That's if you're a boss.


Now, if you're just an employee I want you to focus on the people immediately around you. Physically and emotionally. Don't feel pressure to thank everyone on the team. This is gonna lead you to that generic trap. Nobody wants to go there, okay? And of course, you wanna thank your boss. This goes for everyone. Everyone has a boss. Make sure that you thank your boss. And when we get into the section about how, we're gonna talk about all the different approaches depending on how much you like someone or how much you like your boss. I have a very prescriptive formula on how to give a thank you note to your boss if you do not like your boss. It's important to know how to do this.


Alright, so the key to thinking about who you're gonna thank is very simple: less is more. Because as you'll see, our goal is to make it personal, and you can't do that if you're writing a thank you note to everyone. So we've talked about the who, now let's talk about the how. And the how is probably more important than the who, or even the when. So listen up. When it comes to how to thank someone, the most important thing is to make it personal. One way to make it personal is to talk to the person directly. This can't help but be person because you're literally standing right in front of the person talking to them. 05:05 \


Now, the only thing is, this can be hard. And not just for you, the giver of the compliment, it can also be hard for the recipient. Unfortunately, and I emphasize unfortunately, we as humans and working Corpos, we're not great at saying thank you. We're great at taking things for granted. We're great at taking people for granted. But we aren't so great at recognizing and acknowledging our gratitude. I mean, think about Thanksgiving. We have one day a year where we're practically forced, under peer pressure, of going around the table to name even one thing that we're thankful for. And think about how awkward that feels in that moment. You're wracking your brain, you're trying to think of something you're thankful for. It's just not naturally part of our day-to-day existence. But we have to keep that in mind. And so it's for all of these reasons and many more that I actually don't recommend that you say your thank you. I actually recommend that you write your thank you. Okay.


Now, before I get into talking about why you write your thank you note, or how you make your thank you note, I wanna talk about a few other traps that come along if you decide to say your thank you. One of these traps is, think of that awkward moment when you're gonna have a prolonged eye contact. You know that moment. You're trying to say something meaningful to someone else, they lock eyes with you, you lock eyes with them. Who's gonna break eye contact, and all of a sudden, is this a meaningful moment? Are we looking deep into each other's eyes? It can get pretty awkward pretty quickly.


The second thing I would point out: the danger, some of the traps of saying thank you in person. The recipient might not know how to take the compliment. And they might be embarrassed. And your purpose is not to embarrass someone else or create an awkward moment. That's not at all what you're trying to do. So that's another reason to be careful. Now, you might also be tempted, if you're talking to this person, you might be tempted to go quickly or push through the situation and just say, "Thanks -- I just wanna say thanks for the year," or, "Thanks so much, this is great," "Okay, I can see maybe I'm wasting our time," or they're worried, so you rush through your thank you. The problem with that is you don't really get to say what you mean. Your thank you might just become white noise, like all the other meaningless small thanks that we say out of habit every day. "Thanks for holding the door." "Thanks for making my coffee." "Thanks for returning the report on time." "Thanks for sending the email." It just becomes white noise, and even though your goal is to make this, hey, this is a great thank you for the whole year, it might just come off as just one of these other generic thank yous and then there's no power behind it. Our goal is to make this a moment. A real, honest-to-goodness, real thank you.


To do that, I think you should write it down. Now, here's why I'm a big proponent of writing thank yous. Writing down your thank you has a few inherent advantages. Number one, it's physical. You can give it. People can keep it. They can re-read it. They can share it with other people: their boss, their wife, their parents, whoever it may be. And each time they see it, whether it's in their drawer, whatever the case is, they'll be reminded of you and they'll be reminded of the good things you had to say about them. This is all to your benefit.


Now, the number two reason that I think writing has some advantages is, it gives you a chance to articulate yourself clearly. Giving a compliment or saying thank you might be awkward for everyone involved, as we've already discussed. Plus, you might not say what you actually mean. There's too much pressure in that moment. But if you're writing something down, there's a lot less pressure. You can do a rough draft, you can just go with your instinct and write it down. But for a lot of people, that's gonna be easier.


The number three reason I like to prescribe to this idea of writing a thank you note is: it's inherently very personal to see and read someone else's handwriting. Especially in today's digital, tweeting, texting, how-dare-you-call-me-and-leave-a-voicemail world, there's something more meaningful to handwriting a thank you and sharing a little bit of yourself, something that's a little bit more personal. There's no two handwritings that are exactly the same. And don't be afraid to cross something out. In the middle of your letter, in the middle of your card, cross out a word, cross out a misspelling. This will do even more to make it personal. So don't worry about being perfect. This is about being personal.


Now, when it comes to what you should say in the note, there's three rules that apply. Number one, keep it simple. I call this the "less is more" rule. Number two, be specific. Number three, make it personal. Alright, the first rule, less is more. It should be obviously, I'm not even gonna talk about it.


Second rule, be specific. When you go eat at someone's house, you don't say to the host or the hostess, I liked everything, thank you. 10:00 That's too generic. You pick something super specific and you say, "I loved the green beans. That sauce you put on it was absolutely incredible." Do you see what I did there? I made it specific. I made it meaningful. And now it counts for something. So the same applies to your thank you. Generic doesn't count. Be specific. Now, the third rule is, make it personal. Reveal something about yourself, or admit something to them. This will draw your audience in. It'll make them see you differently, it'll make them feel closer to you and connected to you. You might even draw on experience that you had earlier in the year. There might have been something that really was meaningful to you. A compliment they gave you. A boost in self-confidence. An opportunity for a project. Don't be afraid to go back over the last year and draw on that experience, and re-highlight it. You may have even already said thank you, but use this as an occasion to bring that back up. Because the point is, if you go back in time and remind them, what you're saying to them is, that was truly meaningful. Even now, one month later, two months, three months, six months, nine months later, I'm still thinking about how great that is.


And finally, if you don't really like your boss, or your direct report, my advice is to still give them a card, but keep it super, super, super short and sweet. I would say something like, "Good luck in 2017. Justin." You've done your duty. You did the right thing. You gave 'em a thank you note. But you also stayed true to yourself. That a win-win.


Now, when it comes to the when of this thank you, it should be obvious for the reason that I'm putting out this podcast today. You need to say thank you now. You can't wait until after Christmas. You can't wait until it gets too close to Christmas. Cause here's what's gonna happen: you're gonna have this card in your drawer, you're gonna be waiting for the perfect moment to give it to your boss, that perfect moment's never gonna come, and then all of a sudden they ducked out before lunch and you thought they were gonna be there. And guess what? Now you didn't give them a thank you note before the end of the year. Now you're a sucker. Everyone else did it. Now you're a loser. Alright?


Now, here's the thing: if you give a thank you note after Christmas, it's worth 75 percent less than if you did it before the holidays. So don't screw this up. Go home, write your thank you notes this weekend. Leave them on everyone's desk on Tuesday, alright? Not Monday. Monday's too busy, everyone's back from the weekend, your thank you notes are gonna get lost in the shuffle. Put them on their desk on Tuesday. That gives you the rest of the week to have a positive acknowledgement of the note, and also to catch up with everyone. Now that's how to say thank you.


Now, having said all that, that's my prescription for saying thank you. But I am gonna admit, earlier today in the office I saw one of my co-workers, Nick, who was on the second episode. He actually went out right before lunch and he went to the liquor store and he bought everyone a bottle of alcohol and then because he has really good interpersonal skills, he was able to walk up to each person, casually at their desk, give them some alcohol, and he engaged in a meaningful conversation with each person as he gave them the alcohol, and in general used this as a moment to show a connection, to say he's grateful for the work, and different things like that. So, my prescription, I try to point out some of the benefits and the downfalls of talking in person versus writing things. You can make the choice for yourself. Of course, it's gonna depend on your interpersonal relationships with other people and the team members. But I wanted to give you a lot of options, and I also wanted to acknowledge, Nick gave me a bottle of alcohol today as he left, so shoutout to Nick, thanks for the great, uh, Veuve Clicquot. And for anyone else that wants to give me gifts, Veuve Clicquot is a good thing.


But that brings me to my bonus section. Bonus! Section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! (clapping) I love you! Bonus section! Splash!


Alright, shoutout to my mom for today's bonus section. She taught me this. And this is the power of the five dollar Starbucks gift card. Tips are awkward. You and your girlfriend can have a disagreement over how much you should have tipped someone. But you know what no one can argue with? A five dollar gift card to Starbucks. Everybody loves Starbucks. Except Nick Grover. Nick Grover hates Starbucks. But unless you're a total coffee snob, everybody likes Starbucks. Everyone likes something for free. And I strongly, strongly recommend you get on board with this five dollar Starbucks thing. Now, here's the thing. When in doubt, give someone a five dollar Starbucks card. 15:02 Someone did something above and beyond in the office? Give them a five dollar Starbucks card. You're out and about and someone helped you with all your bags and your groceries and you didn't expect it? Pull out a five dollar Starbucks card and throw it at 'em. They're not gonna take money. It's gonna be awkward. Maybe you don't have enough change. You can't ask someone for change. Five dollar Starbucks card -- it's right there, give it to 'em, boom, end of story. So keep 'em in your desk and then this shouldn't just be for this time of year. It should be year-round. Make it a habit of yours. Someone did something? Acknowledge it. It's such a small cost. If I told you you could make someone's day better and be the highlight of their day for just five dollars, wouldn't you do it? Of course you would do it. So take the advice of my mom, carry around some five dollar Starbucks cards, and start giving them out like candy. Alright? That's the bonus section.


Now, before we go today, it's a super secret bonus section. Super secret bonus section. Super secret, super. It's a super secret bonus section. We're gonna talk about gifts for a second. Now, I'm not a fan of alcohol. I did just talk about Nick giving me alcohol, and because it was a great bottle, now I'm slightly a fan of alcohol. But in general, I'm not a fan of giving other people alcohol as gifts, and I'm not even a fan of receiving it. It's kind of a lowest common denominator gift. It's kinda like, I know so little about you that I didn't know what you would like, so I just got you booze. But you know what, it's -- it's a fallback, let's call it a fallback, alright? And Nick, I did just wanna make clear, thank you for the bottle of Veuve Clicquot. I really do like it.


Now, when you wanna do your thank you note, pick your card carefully. It matters. You can go cheesy, go Hallmark route, and do something funny. You can create your own card and tape an image on it. You can draw something. Whatever you wanna do, remember the rules. You wanted it to be personal. You want it to be meaningful. So think about what card you're gonna use.


Here's another one most people miss: don't use a black pen. A black pen looks like it came off the printer. You can't see as much of the personality. So at minimum, I want you to use a navy pen, but I'd love for you to use a different colored pen, because all of a sudden this says: this must be personal. They couldn't have photocopied this. So use a colored pen for your thank you note. Most people are gonna miss that.


Now, I just wanted to talk about my most memorable gift. My most memorable gift was, I made for Jenny Ming, who is the CEO, I made her a oversized thank you note. It was gigantic. And I cut it out of a piece of cardboard, and I just hand-wrote on it a simple note. And said, thank you. And she still has that on her desk eight years later. I just ran into her. She still remembers me as the person who gave her the oversized thank you card. So make it stand out in the crowd. Do something a little bit different. Cut up a big piece of paper. Do something a little bit strange. Surprise them. Make it personal.


The other thing I did was -- I'm not sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, I'd have to let the team kinda tell you, but I was super into watercoloring at one point, and I did a watercolor character or each team member, and gave them basically like, a painting or a drawing of each of them with a funny phrase on it. Now, there are a thousand things that can go wrong in that scenario, but in this scenario, I think it actually worked because I'd worked with the team for a long time and I kept it light and fresh. And again, it was personal to each one of them. The quote had been something that we said to each other, or an inside joke. So it was some type of shared experience I was drawing upon.


So when it comes to gifts at the holidays, again, I like to avoid gift altogether. I really want to make sure you find a way to say thank you, whether that's in person, whether that's through a handwritten note, whether that's the default of a bottle of alcohol, make sure you say thank you. Okay?


Now, before we leave today, I wanna talk about one more thing. Last week on the show we talked about how to manage up. And in the bonus section, we talked about: make sure you do not try and go over your boss's head. This is not managing up, I think I said, this is shooting yourself in the foot. Well, I got some feedback from some of our listeners. And one listener in particular asked me a question and they said this: "Dear Mr. Corpo, I listened to your episode talking about managing up and the idea of people going over the boss's head. Has this ever happened to you and what did you do about it?"


Great question. Thanks, anonymous writer. It has happened to me multiple times and here's what you want to do. First, don't overreact. There's nothing to be gained in the moment. You can't try and make a scene, and there's too much emotions at stake, so I don't like to do things right in that moment. 20:00 And then, the way you're gonna handle this is gonna be dependent on what type of relationship do you have with this person? So this person in my case was a direct report. But depending if I had a good relationship with that direct report or a bad relationship, that's gonna kind of give me two different paths I'm gonna go down on dealing with someone who tried to go over my head. Now, what I wanna do in either case, though, is you wanna sit down with this person and you wanna acknowledge that you know what they did. So I literally sat down with someone and I said, hey, you know, do you have a minute? You know, let's sit down, let's talk for a second. And I literally said, hey, I noticed, you know, yesterday in that meeting you were trying to go over my head and -- and you know, curry favor with the vice president. I'm just kind of curious, you know, what was behind that? Like, what were your driving -- or, what do you want to accomplish with that?


And you see what I did? One, I acknowledged, you're not as clever as you think you are. Two, I acknowledged, I'm pretty clever cause I noticed this. And then three, I've now put all the pressure on the other person to articulate in a pretty harmless way, "Hey, what were you hoping to accomplish, or what were you thinking here?" All the pressure is on them to have to explain themselves, versus me lecturing or saying, "Hey, please don't talk to my boss. Please talk to me." That's gonna sound insecure. That's gonna sound like you're worried about something. But if you say, "Hey, I saw you doing this. Why did you do it? I thought we had a great relationship, I'm always looking out for you, you know, what was behind it, because I wanna understand, cause I wanna help you get to where you wanna go." And you also wanna reinforce to the person, that's not the way to do it. There's a reason you didn't bring up that topic, or there was a reason you were waiting for that. And you wanna share that with them. Be radically transparent. In my case, I kinda called him on it, asked why did they do it, I understood why they did it, and I said, "Listen, I understand that. But I gotta tell you, be careful, because I was lining up the other three people to support you in this promotion, and now you've just hurt your chances in that."


So again, use it as a teaching moment. It's not acsusational. But again, put the pressure on them to have to explain themselves. The less you're talking, the more they're talking, the more they can learn from it, the more they can take responsibility for the situation. So, I'll use that as my "Ask Mr. Corpo" section. Keep the questions coming. I'll be interested to know if everyone agrees with me on the thank you notes, the alcohol, and everything else.


So without further ado, let's hit the outro. Forlorn Hope Wines (?), yay. You know what? Forlorn Hope Wines. Go onto the Forlorn Hope Wines website, use Mr. Corpo discount, and send your team wine. Forget about everything I said. Everyone should send Forlorn Hope Wines as a gift to their team. You get 15 dollars off when you use the Mr. Corpo discount. So go ahead, give wine as your gift this year. It's my gift to you.


ROB: Mine's not out, though.


JUSTIN: Uh, yeah. Something like that. Okay. And you just heard Rob, my awesome producer. Rob, let me just say, thank you for another great episode. I really appreciate what you did. And specifically, because I wanna make this personal, I wanted to say that your Kansas City Royals sweatshirt really made me feel comfortable during the podcast today, because it's got great colors, and it feels kinda cozy. And so it made me feel comfortable opening up in front of you, and opening up to our listeners. So thanks for wearing that sweatshirt, Rob. And otherwise, hit us up on the social channels. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and email us your anonymous questions at


Now, get out there and say thank you to somebody. Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to mention, this is super cool, but Mr. Corpo podcast was featured on the Spotify homepage as the featured buzz-worthy podcast. We were right next to Lana -- Lana -- Lena -- Lina? Lena Dunham and her Women of the Hour podcast. So we're right up there getting up with the big boys and the big girls. Oh, you know, whatever that means. No intention physically, I meant just like, in terms of their impact on the world, big boys and big girls and all those things. So super excited. Rob, the producer, hooked that up. Shoutout to Spotify, thanks for featuring us. It's our first feature. Rob, is there any other big news. I can't think of anything. No, let's just be happy with the Spotify news. Alright, that's it. Over and out. 24:25


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