It seems that we live in a thankless world and this void seems most pronounced in day-to-day business. The ever increasing pace of commerce in the new millennium seems to leave little time for a thank you or even common courtesy. Global competitiveness seems to have sapped us of empathy and compassion. Yes, this is a cynical view of business today but I fear it is true. It is my opinion that we are mired in a deep dark thankless funk that rivals the world of Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens lore.

For example, advertising is overwhelmingly negative. Charles Schwab, a brokerage company without analysts, ran ads a few years ago showing other brokers to be commission-hungry con artists, pushing a bad stock; in the advertisement a full commission broker joked about “putting lipstick on that pig.” The pressure of controversy seems to have gotten the better of them (i.e. Schwab). Although Merrill Lynch was shown by New York City prosecutors to have very similar internal email conversations, CBS, thinking it too controversial, refused to run the ad. (The ClickZ Network).

One only has to turn to YouTube or most anywhere on the web to read the smear campaigns that tear down political candidates in our 2008 Presidential primaries. Barack Obama is a victim of a Republican smear campaign which spread false information about his family history, religion, and background using a false Wikipedia citation. This is an example of negative advertising at its best with lies included. Regretfully, this negative viral message spread like crazy, misinforming thousands of readers.

Presuming that you buy into my harsh view of current affairs in the world, what should you do? I suggest that you do the opposite. Greet the world by saying thank you to your customers, colleagues, suppliers, and competitors. Be different than the rest and look for the good in things and be grateful. At the very least, it will make you feel better. I can only imagine the shock on people’s faces when you greet them cheerfully and express good tidings.

William Arthur Ward said that “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Give the gift of your gratitude. Give often.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

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  1. Hi John,

    I’d just like to say you are dead-on with this post. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of instant gratification, communication and given everyone a public soap box. Anyone can create untrue and negative information which can easily run rampant online. It beckons to be related to examples of collective behavior where individuals do things they normally would not when they are part of a group or “mob”. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be easily abused. It really comes down to each of us having an understanding of the reliability of such information. You wouldn’t grab a Weekly World News and take it for gospel. On the same token, you must be cautious about the sources online and the motivations behind the content.

    The Internet has done a world of good. It has made giving so much easier and it has also opened up the world to many who were previously closed off to much of the world outside their own community. It enables us to communicate more with friends and family, it enhances our business relationships and it creates a whole new marketplace for goods and services giving consumers the upper hand.

    I whole heartedly agree with you about saying thank you, displaying common niceties and expressing gratitude. I grew up in the South and was taught how to respect my elders, say please and thank you, call my parents friends “Mr. ___” or “Mrs ___”, and have good table manners. Just a plain and simple good upbringing. It’s funny to me how many children I see not respecting their elders, boldly talking back to teachers at a young age, wasting the day away playing too many hours of video games, and not even showing the most basic of manners when out in public. This starts with better parenting and parents who are more involved in their kids education. I would love to see a shift back to these basic common values and niceties that once were.



  2. Zack,

    Great comments.

    There is questionable data on the web which makes me careful to research the sources closely. Good point.

    I agree that the web provides a forum for passive aggressive behavior much like driving a car—like when the the little old lady cuts you off on the road.

    Thanks very much Zack for your post.


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