This may sound familiar to you. Well, it is. I don’t usually rerun my great ideas but I think this bears repeating, based on your feedback. And it’s also appropriate with graduations and weddings coming up. Maybe somebody you know could use a nudge in the right direction here.

When I was a little boy and we received a gift for our birthday, Christmas, or other special moment in our lives, my mom would not let us play with the toy, wear the new shirt, or do anything with the gift until we sat down and wrote a thank you note. This is a lesson I have carried on to this day.

In the past year I have tried to help several people with all kinds of items. I have called a commercial realtor I know several times to let him know his signs had fallen down, blown over, or were stolen. After doing this several times with not even a mention of a thank you, I’ve felt like quitting. My feeling is he thinks I’m annoying and sticking my nose in his business. I just wanted to help but since I’ve not been recognized, I was wondering if maybe he doesn’t want my help.

Recently I mowed someone’s lawn for free while they were on vacation. I never got a thank you and I’m wondering if they realize this was a fairly big deal or were they taking me for granted?

I sent a copy of my book to several people I met recently. I got a few e-mails thanking me for doing this but I haven’t heard from most of them.

Sadly, I could share a lot of instances like this. But I have learned something; I don’t do these things to get thank you notes. I try to help people because that’s the right thing to do. If we only do things to get something back, we’re not helping for the right reasons and that leads me to my point. We all need to help others to help ourselves.

Each of us has two bank accounts. There’s the one where we have our money. The place we deposit our paychecks to save for all kinds of things, such as college, a new car, our retirement, or even just a vacation. Then there’s the other bank account—our emotional bank account—and that resides in our heart. If you don’t make deposits in each of them, you will not be happy and never find your calling.

Paul Stoll is my right hand man at Grunder Landscaping Co. I have learned so much from him. He has taught me a lot about leadership, finance, relationships, and landscaping. Frequently I find myself talking to him to try and understand people. Several years ago I was bemoaning the fact that we had just spent a lot of money on bonuses, given our people some paid time off, and fed them well before Christmas and I didn’t get one thank you, except from him and two others. I wondered what the other 40 or so people on my team felt. Didn’t they know I didn’t have to do this? Didn’t they know this cost a lot of money? Wasn’t it enough? Do they appreciate anything? Paul, in a very calm tone, said, “Marty, the fact your team comes back year after year and does their job well is the thank you.” That was hard for me to understand; after all, my mom raised me differently. I wasn’t allowed to take anything or anyone for granted. But I did see what Paul was saying. And while today I still appreciate a thank you, I have come to realize you may not always get one. And just because you don’t get one, it doesn’t mean you aren’t appreciated. And just because you don’t get a thank you doesn’t mean you should stop trying to help.

With today’s economic climate, there are a lot of people who could use some help. Too many of us sit back and wait for others to take care of problems and complain about how bad things are. When we take action and do the right things, regardless of what we’ll get in return, we lift up everyone. And more times than not, the people who are constantly trying to help win at the game of business.

The leading independent businesses in my hometown are the ones who get behind several causes that help our community. They spend thousands of dollars to support causes; they donate their time just to help. I myself have given away hundreds of copies of my book, The 9 Super Simple Steps to Entrepreneurial Success, to students and groups. My landscaping company is behind several initiatives; some others will find out about; others no one will ever hear about. Those who help also end up helping themselves.

The companies that grasp and embrace the concept of helping will win in the long run. You don’t always have to charge a client or a prospect for services rendered. Sometimes doing it for free will come back to you ten-fold. If you’re working at a home that has a bunch of storm damage and the neighbor has one large branch that you can cut up and haul off on the same trip, do it and don’t charge them; just tell them, “Call us if you need help in the future.” If a client has a death in the family, go over and mow their lawn and clean up the house. If you read that a client or someone you’d like to have as a client is involved with some non-profit work that you have a passion for, send in a check. It’s little acts of kindness like this that will help you succeed in the long run.

I am still working on a brand new book. The working title is “Make Friends, Make Sales: The Art of Relationship Selling.” Helping others is one of the best ways you can make a friend. If all of us were more worried about just doing the right thing, I believe you’d find that many good things will happen to you. This week, well, this month, give some thought to ways you can help and then get to work. You’ll feel better and your business will do better too! Your thank you is the feeling you get from helping and that’s a pretty good thank you from the big guy above!

And maybe there is someone you should thank today!

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