Handwritten thank-you notes return

Douglas Conant, Campbell Soup’s former CEO, invested an hour a day (an eternity in a Fortune 500 CEO’s schedule) and claims to have written at least 30,000 thank-you notes to employees over the course of his 10-year post at the soup giant. More recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed he is challenging himself to write one personal thank-you note each day.

In today’s world of communication, thanks to email, Facebook messaging, Tweets, WeChat or Snapchat, (to name just a few), many have abandoned pen and ink for expressing gratitude. However, something tells me a refreshing recurrence of the lost art of handwritten thank-yous is starting to trend once again.

We’re all aware of the value attached with writing thank-you notes, as it’s one of the best ways to personally express one’s appreciation, and it’s a natural way for hospitality to boost client loyalty, referrals and overall success.

A feel-good story from John Kralik, a judge for the California Superior Court of Los Angeles County, really drove home what I sense is a trend on the rise. His approach of writing employee and client thank-you notes (tallied at 900-plus) was taken to ease him out of despair and into a newfound successful phase of life.

When Kralik started a year-long daily thank-you project, he didn’t consider how the practice of thanking people might actually be good for business. With everything going wrong in his life and work, Kralik decided to spend a year writing a thank-you note each and every day. Quickly, it became apparent that gratitude not only improved his own outlook and that of his employees, but it also appealed to clients.

Kralik wrote to everyone from his top clients to his barista at the coffee shop, taking the time to describe the specifics of what he was grateful for. The practice improved his outlook, repaired broken relationships and — imagine this — turned his struggling law firm around.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has taken personal, handwritten thank-yous a step further by sending letters to the parents of Pepsi executives. She began doing this after a trip home to India where she witnessed her own mother’s pride over the praise she received about her daughter’s success. So Nooyi decided to write to the parents of each of her direct-reports so they could not only experience pride in their children, but also would know they had succeeded as a parent.

What are your thoughts on the handwritten thank-you trend? Do you or will you participate, and do you feel it’s an instrumental task for your place of business? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!