In this episode, Steli and Hiten discuss the true meaning of the season, Thanksgiving. Listen as Steli and Hiten go deep into our emotions to reveal what giving thanks is really about, how to show gratefulness and the importance of showing others we are thankful for them. They will also discuss how gratitude plays a role in creating a successful business.  

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:27 – It’s that time of the year to be thankful
  • 01:07 – There’s something really powerful in the act of being grateful
  • 02:09 – As long as you’re giving a genuine thanks, the receiver appreciates it
  • 02:31 – Life isn’t just all the bad stuff
  • 03:03 – Giving thanks is one of the MOST important things we can do as human beings
  • 04:02 – Thanksgiving is the start of another year
  • 04:59 – Steli discusses a book that created a grading system for emotions
  • 06:11 – The most powerful emotion is unconditional love
  • 06:23 – The second most powerful emotion is gratitude and gratefulness
  • 06:48 – Love and gratefulness are emotions we feel intimately
  • 07:02 – These emotions are connecting points to other humans
  • 07:41 – Gratefulness brings you closer to others
  • 08:19 – It puts you in a state that allows you to be the BEST version of yourself
  • 09:43 – Practice thanksgiving every day
  • 10:02 – Who do I truly appreciate in life?
  • 10:46 – Make it a practice to say “Thank you” to somebody
  • 11:31 – A signal that something isn’t right is when you want to “pass” on saying “thanks”
  • 12:28 – How Hiten practices gratefulness
  • 13:31 – Think about what you’re grateful and show gratitude for yourself
  • 15:28 – Be grateful to yourself—in how you speak and think of yourself
  • 17:39 – How can businesses be grateful?
  • 17:50 – When somebody gives you information, say “Thank you” first
  • 18:57 – Make customers happy by thanking them for their feedback
  • 19:27 – Most great brands are BUILT on gratitude
  • 19:39 – Are they thankful for the fact that they have you as customers?
  • 20:41 – Public examples can be found in Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, The Thank You Economy
  • 21:54 – Think of your company as a SERVICE to others
  • 22:17 – Give people an opportunity to be highlighted in order to motivate them
  • 23:06 – Instead of being tactical, be GENUINE and mean it

3 Key Points:

  1. Giving thanks is a sign of unselfishness—don’t withhold it.
  2. Work at having a positive dialogue and a gratefulness for yourself.
  3. Consider your business a SERVICE and make gratitude the starting point in your daily interactions.  

Resources Mentioned:

Steli Efti: Hey, this is Steli Efti.

Hiten Shah: And, this is Hiten Shah, and today, on today’s startup chat we’re going to talk about – well it’s Thanksgiving, and we’re recording so the first idea that popped in our heads lets you talk about being thankful, gratefulness, gratitude, and all those wonderful things that – you know oftentimes were thinking about it this time of the year.

Steli Efti: And, in the immortal words of Hiten Shah – before we decided to start recording this episode, I think you said something along the lines of you know, people love that shit! So, it was one of one of many reasons why it might be a good idea to talk about this, but I do think that there’s something more to this. So, of course we can just go – what are you grateful for your life? I’m grateful for this.

Hiten Shah: No, we’re not doing that.

Steli Efti: But, we’re not going to do that, right? we’re not gonna be that much of a cliché in this episode, but I do of a cliché in this episode but I do powerful transformative in the act of you know gratitude, gratefulness, appreciation and that that matters a lot, not just in life but also particularly in business. So, we never talked about this with told each other many times that we’re grateful for our friendship, for the hugs were giving when we see each other for the – for what we’ve created together.

So, I think we’ve communicated appreciation to each other many times, and I think we both are people that try to practice gratitude in our daily lives, but we never explored the topic I think kind of more in-depth – like how we think about this, why it’s important, what we’ve seen people do, how does it really impact or make a difference in business other than being like a quote-unquote just like a nice thing to do for whatever that means – so whatever it’s worth. What do you think that being grateful for gratitude is important?

Hiten Shah: Such a good question and start with. So, like I said I think people like that shit and what I meant by that is like as long as you’re giving a genuine thank, you for sending gratitude to somebody for something, the receiver tends to really like it and it makes them happy. So, I think that on the most fundamental level we give thanks – we should be giving you know providing gratitude or being grateful to others, or things, or whatever because it makes us feel good.

It helps us remember that life isn’t just you know all the bad stuff or all those things that we tend to have a lot of deep emotions and scars over – especially when you’re you know in a business, starting a business running a business working at a start-up – all those things that are challenging I think the gratitude takes you out of that day-to-day grind or you know whatever it is that you’re stuck in and helps you think about it in a different way. Just life in general – when you give that gratitude, when you give that – when you’re grateful to somebody else they can feel it.

So, to me I think it’s one of the most important things we can do as human beings. It’s one of the most important things we should be doing more of. And, you know Thanksgiving, and this time of the year especially in America, tends to be a time when a lot of people take the time to say thanks and give thanks and you know that that’s a lot of there’s a lot of tradition to that.

In a lot of other cultures, it’s a little different – like in in in sort of religion I grew up in Jainism – we have something around this time, And, it’s actually more about what’s the word it’s more – about giving – it’s essentially apologizing for anything in the last year that you’ve done to anybody where you might have heard them. And, what I find interesting is to me it’s like another perspective on being grateful. So, it’s almost like you’re saying hey I’m grateful for you by apologizing for anything that I might have done harm to you with in the last year.

It’s just that time of the year partly, and another part of it is a year is coming to an end. Thanksgiving, in my opinion, really marks the start of that. Immediately you’re thrown into December, and you’re like oh crap there’s only one of these months left, and we’re going to a broad to another digit.

You know everyone thinks about this – there’s like all these posts about predicting what’s gonna happen next year and all the different industries. There’s a lot of reviews of this year that are going to start happening. It’s a really interesting time in the world as a whole and again I love this topic because I think that it really impacts people with we’re good to each other and it’s a way for us to very easily with very brief quick gesture be good to each other.

Steli Efti: Yeah, such a powerful stuff. I think that for me I’m going to answer this question as well and then maybe we jump into some of the practices like practical ways to be more grateful or to say thank you – to kind of include that into your life more. But, for me you know I don’t remember the book in my – I read a book a while back, and one of the cool concepts in that book was that there was like this group – somebody you know put it onto themselves to create this kind of grading system of emotions right? Like, from you know they had some kind of a scale let’s say you know zero to a thousand.

And, they put all emotions that have been expressed in language and some level on that scale from like the most negative to the most positive. It was a little bit more sophisticated than that but they’re just for simplicity sakes. And one of the interesting things — there’s a lot of interesting things about grading emotions on the scale like that, but it – and even how many emotions we have words for, but how few – if you ask the average person, I think something like what an emotion – what a week looks like in emotions. They have a very limited amount of words to express it. It’s like happy happy sad depressed pissed, right?

Like, 6-7 emotions that people will like even think in, but there’s like there’s a 30x the amount of words to express emotions right? And, then the different kind of gradients of them – anyway so without getting to get you on that – one of the obvious that not surprisingly – not surprisingly I think the most powerful emotion was obviously pure love, right? Unconditional love or something like that, but one level below that I remember that still like that kind of the second most empowering emotion that humans can feel based on that scale was gratitude or appreciation.

And, I’ve heard this in many different contexts where it – and I thought about this many times myself and I – and can’t come up with a – I mean there’s excitement, there’s happiness, there’s thrill there’s – there is motivation and inspiration is a lot of pretty pretty powerful emotions. But, gratitude and gratefulness is the closest to love – it’s I think – one reason why it’s such a powerful emotion is that love and gratefulness are emotions that we feel very intimately, but they are not selfish emotions. They usually include others right? At least in our thoughts.

Yet, you — yeah you might love yourself but when you feel deep love, it’s a connection to other humans – it’s the connection to other people or two things beyond just yourself. And, I think gratitude or gratefulness, or appreciation, that’s the other emotion that’s very powerful, but it’s not selfish. I can be inspired, motivated, excited you know — all gasp – I can have all these emotions that can be incredibly selfish and they have only to do with me.

They don’t make me necessarily connect with others or things that are greater than myself, but gratefulness, appreciation is one of those, so it’s a really powerful human emotion and I think one is just awesome to feel – just on the most basic level. And two, I think it brings you closer to other. It makes you feel closer to others, it makes you empathize with others, it makes you feel more part of something greater.

It doesn’t isolate you in, and therefore I think it is a productive emotion and then you know having powerful productive connecting emotions puts people into, I think even the most practical sense into states of mind and a biochemistry that is more creative, that is more resourceful, that’s more empowering, that is more problem solving, is more energized – introduce the pure amount of energy is more decisive. So, you’re putting yourself in a state that allows you to be the best version of yourself – allows you to act with more energy with more creativity then other states like depression or anger other things.

So, I think there’s something that is greater than the practicality to the, emotion but I also think it’s a practical emotion. It’s an emotion that puts you in a state that allows you to think and act in one of the best versions of, yourself so I think it is something that if you do daily or if it’s a big part of your life, and helps you perform better at business, at home – it helps you be the best version of yourself. And, I think that’s even with the people that don’t like the fluffy, lovey, this is good for the planet and for Humanity type of stuff. I think it’s a practical emotion that because it allows you to perform better right now.

Hiten Shah: Yeah that I couldn’t agree more – ok so how can people like to start practicing this not just during thanksgiving?

Steli Efti: Yeah and by the way – Thanksgiving just because of that, is one of my favorite the US holidays. Coming from Europe a lot of US holidays seem slightly strange to me. But Thanksgiving at its core might – people come together to meet the family, they cook for each other, and it’s typically the time of the year where people ask the question what am I grateful for? I’m on board with all of this – there’s nothing that I don’t like about it

Hiten Shah: That’s awesome.

Steli Efti: So, but how do you practice yet beyond thanksgiving I’ll – I’ll give a start. I do have a small daily gratitude practice and in the morning I had tried to start my day with answering five core questions – these change over time depending on what I want to focus on – or where my life is, what I’m struggling with, but one question that never changes is the what or who I truly appreciate in life – what am my grateful for?

And, I try to answer that every morning, and the thing that I try to even then just answer it is to really feel it just take the moment to truly feel grateful – not just write the words and then move on to my email, or live tweeting something, but like taking the extra sometimes uncomfortable ten seconds, 15 seconds to try to fully get into the emotion of emotion of how does it feel? Why am I grateful, and feeling the gratitude, appreciation for that person or that thing in my life. And, recently turned it around and we mentioned this in a prior episode just recently – where I don’t just –  I’m not just grateful for something but then I make it up

Hiten Shah: You act on it.

Steli Efti: I act on it. I make it a practice to say thank you to somebody. I might say something nice to say some words of appreciation. Usually a lot of time it’s an email or a quick text message or what’s that message – or tweet or something. Once in a while now I’ll be also inspired by our conversation, I might just write something that’s for everybody right? When I don’t have one particular person in mind, I’ll just post something on Facebook and Twitter and and kind of share a little bit of appreciation love with the — my little universe online at least. But I make it a practice to say thank you to somebody every single day

Hiten Shah: That’s great I really like that.

Steli Efti: And one thing that I’ll say about that before I am I’m curious to hear your tactics or one ways to include more thankfulness great gratitude in your day is the days that – there are days when struggling with this and it’s always a signal that something is going. So, whenever I struggle with figuring out who else can I think for and I want to kind of pass on that practice and do something else kind of – put it aside and I’ll do it tomorrow. I try to force myself and go am I in a good state right now I’m not pissed, angry and depressed – is there something my life I’m struggling with?

Why is it so tough for me to find somebody to say thank you for? Usually it’s always because there’s something else going on in my life and it’s kind of a nice little – I didn’t and it’s kind of a nice little early signal when I struggle finding somebody to say thank you. It’s always a signal that something’s up with me and I need to figure that out, but anyways that’s my daily kind of morning practice.

Hiten Shah: Yeah I think that side effect of knowing when you’re struggling in that that – you’re probably the let’s say a bad mood right or just not feeling it. That’s a good reason to dig into something right and it’s almost like an indicator at that point – that’s kinda neat. Yeah, to me I think I’m gonna take a different spin on it. There’s a couple things. One I like thinking of what I am grateful for when I’m angry.

So, if I mad at somebody or something it could be as simple as ok I’m mad at that person or that thing, how can I be grateful for parts of it. So, some of its like oh that person’s giving me a difficult time or this thing’s going on in my life. So that instead of going down the path of like what’s wrong with this I try to think about what can be grateful for in this situation?

And, what that does for me is it’ll kick me out of the motive like complaining or bitching about it and go you know – could get me back to this place where I’m like oh well you know I can see that I can see the good in this situation, so that’s been really helpful for me to be grateful when I’m not feeling grateful I guess. And, grateful ideally about the exact thing grateful ideally about the exact thing that I’m not feeling grateful about. So, that’s been helpful for me as a tactic.

Another thing is that I think most of us really really forget to do is think about ourselves and think about what we’re grateful for about us – and our own life, or what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve done this year or whatever it is. This is the beauty of this grateful thing and you know I’m saying thanks. You can make it about anything and that’s why it’s so powerful.

And it kicks off a different emotion for you. It kicks off probably different brain chemistry and chemicals and all that they actually make you feel better as human – make you feel you know more grateful maybe. In some ways a lot more connected to everybody else, everything else just because you’re willing to put that out there and say I’m thankful for that. And this idea that you can do it for yourself, to yourself I think is really powerful –. and something really valuable.

Outside of that, yeah as much as I can remember, I will I will do my best to be thankful regularly ideally I would I would do it on a on a sort of a much more weekly basis so I can be thankful up for the things that I accomplished that week. And, for me it’s like now there’s just a constant like every week there’s a week in review and I’m writing a lot of stuff there I know Stella you mentioned that like you write your accomplishment for the year right? Everyone that I think? Is that correct?

Steli Efti: Yeah I kind of have a little track it’s just like an Evernote, and it’s a every month is like bullet – just a raw bullet-point listen anything good that happens during a month I’ll go into that kind of your tracker and just add a bullet point to that month. Sometimes I’ll edit image if it’s something particularly powerful. And then at the end of the year, I’ll have like a whole list of every month and bullet points of everything good that happened during this year.

Hiten Shah: Yeah, I really like that. I think that’s another – same thing you’re just being grateful for what’s happened in your life.

Steli Efti: I’m – yeah I want to highlight one little thing and then let’s wrap it up maybe even with like practices we’ve seen and startups and businesses for companies to be more grateful right? So, I really just want to highlight the – you can be grateful to yourself. I think that such an it’s such an obvious thing but at the same time I think it’s like the least kind of used place to send gratitude and appreciation to. I think we all struggle with like having positive dialogue about ourselves telling ourselves good things about each other.

Now, there’s a few human beings on the planet don’t struggle with this. We all know who these people are, but most good people have a tough time to look in the mirror have a tough time to look in the mirror right? Or even just write down like here’s the four things I’m grateful I’ve done – grateful I’ve grown and grateful I’ve learned.

I think that can be a really powerful thing because it’s uncomfortable and the other thing that you said that that stimulated something is that it that it can be something big or something small.

I remember somebody tell me that they – she would do her a gratitude practice but by design would try to be grateful for the smallest things possible and I think that’s also a really powerful thing, so she would be grateful – she would take like a few minutes to be grateful in general. She would just sit there and be grateful for this breath of air and then she would be grateful for the glass of water and she’d take a sip and be grateful for the water. She would be grateful for very basic things, maybe it’s the breeze maybe the sun that’s out there, maybe she would see a little beautiful flower outside of the window.

She’d be grateful — intentionally grateful for the small things that still are amazing and I think that’s a really powerful thing I was just thinking about something I want to do more because – I usually try to search for like the more meaningful bigger items in my life you know sometimes it’s health – it’s a lot of my children – it’s that type of thing, but I love the idea of practicing gratitude for the tiny things in life.

I think that can be really special so right. So enough about that — our businesses how can businesses be more grateful. What are some businesses that are particularly good at saying thank you at being grateful and showing appreciation? How can appreciation and gratitude be part of your company culture? Do you know any great examples? Have you done any cool things in in your companies, or the company that you advise that we could share with others out there?

Hiten Shah: Yeah I think there’s a ton of that kind of stuff. I would go to a very basic level because you’re talking about small things and it’s like here’s a one little bit of a riff on something I said earlier, but when somebody is giving you information in a company like customer support information like a customer’s giving you some information – it could be something that’s really harsh or critical – say thank you first – harsh or critical to say thank you first. That that that helps a lot.

I’ve even had some aggressive customers you know be really apiece just by first starting off by saying first of all thank you so much for sharing this. And then you go into whatever you want to go into – like they’re wrong or whatever. But, that’ been really great. A lot of times even like I have a weekly newsletter and people share links, and very few people would ever ask me if I’m to put their link up.

But, pretty much every time someone shares a link I said I just say thanks for sharing. And recently someone said well did you like it are you gonna go put in the newsletter? I said well you’ll see in the news right? What’s the point of asking me like you’ll see the newsletter, but I just get – I love it when people – I’m just thankful for any input I can get it in a business, and I think that really starts making customers happy if you could just thank them for what they’re providing you which is feedback.

So, thanking customers for feedback is the best example I have because that creates a lot of word-of-mouth. That creates a lot of customers love. So, that’s the one simple silly really easy to do tip which is more often than not try to think the customer especially when they’re really critical of you because that’s the that’s the stuff you want more of, and it’s really hard to get. If someone’s willing to be that critical that’s important. Outside of that I think most great brands are built on gratitude, and so you can see it in their twitter account, you can see it in their communications. For real though, you can see it in their marketing copy.

Are they thankful for the fact that they actually see you as a customer? You can tell when they’re doing things for you. You can tell when they actually are helpful; you can tell when they are very respectful when they raised their prices for example because nobody wants their prices raised on them. And there’s a lot of companies out there that do this really badly. There’s a bunch of a bunch of ways you can do it really well.

It might a whole another episode how do you raise prices the right way but I think that’s another big piece of this for me which is like — it’s pretty easy to just look at a company and know if they’re actually grateful for having their customers. Or on the other hand, if they think they deserve their customer.

Steli Efti: That’s a powerful one – do you think you deserve your customers. That is a great question awesome. Also, I’ll throw some of my observation into this and then we’ll wrap this episode up and will thank everybody for listening

Hiten Shah: Absolutely.

Steli Efti: So, there’ve been some very public examples, and I don’t really know how much they live this – it’s an interesting question. I remember that he liked that there’s even Gary Vaynerchuk had the Thank You Economy book, and I think in there were some examples of like the wine company that he was running back in the day where they would have liked two people that would – you can call them Thank You Officers or something – that we just send gifts the customers and get out of the way to identify customers that need to be thanked and appreciated highlighted. I think that’s kind of – that’s a really cool neat idea.

I think that within companies, I’ve seen this more and more, especially in remote companies, but I think this is an idea that kind of will spread beyond that – is there’s more companies that practice the art of giving team members a platform to say thank you to other team members very publicly or highlight something somebody did that maybe most other people in the company didn’t notice.

There’s very kind of formalized ways to do this where like every employee gets 20 points and they’re very game five and you can give your golden coins to people that have done awesome stuff and blah by that very complicated things, but it can be as simple as like we mentioned before —  we’re experimenting with the use of the know your company as a service, and we just send one email a week and allow people to ask questions to everybody in the company and one question that I tried to you know put in there like maybe once a month or so is the who in the company do you want to get kudos to?

Who do you want to say thank you for? Who did something that went unnoticed almost we wouldn’t know about right? And, it’s giving people an opportunity to highlight and put somebody else on a pedestal. And, thank them, and give them high fives and give them appreciation is – can be really powerful thing, can be something that makes people, are motivated and inspired at work. It kind of creates a work culture where people look for who’s gonna who are the people here that do amazing work and how can I appreciate them, and also obviously makes everybody want to be that person, and want to be somebody that helps others.

So, just highlighting it can make – can make a big difference and I see more companies doing things to empower people to highlight that in the – back in the day I guess it was like the employ of the month at McDonalds, on the board. But, this is much more like anybody and everybody in the company can highlight somebody in the company, so I like that idea.

There’s many ways to appreciate people, but I think one of the – still one of the most powerful things, instead of being super tactical about it is being genuine, being honest, and authentic I think when you say thank you and you mean it, it can be the those two words can be incredibly powerful.

And, you could write a whole poem and your appreciation and gratitude for somebody, and it could mean nothing if it doesn’t come from a place of honesty and if the person that receives it doesn’t believe it. So, there’s no easy way to be a more grateful company, or great more grateful person other than to truly practice feeling it more meaning it and then saying it so that people can actually receive it and take it on board

Hiten Shah: Yeah I love it

Steli Efti: Alright. That’s it from us. Thank you so much for listening. We’re actually truly grateful for all the people that are listening to the podcast, and everything we’ve learned through the podcast and everything we’ve learned through the audience sharing things with us and – a lot of things – a lot of things to be grateful for around the subject, so thank you all out there.

Hiten Shah: Thank you.

[End of Audio]

Duration: 27 minutes