The Mr. Thank You Project

In 2016 Plano resident John Israel set a goal to write five thank you cards a day for an entire year. He had no idea he was starting a movement.

Today John runs, which allows others to join him in raising the level of gratitude on the planet by sending and tracking their own thank you cards. More than 3,000 cards have been tracked around the world so far, and the numbers continue to grow. He is even publishing a book, “The Mr. Thank You Project: A Journey to Elevate the Level of Gratitude on the Planet, One Card at a Time.”

The idea began soon after John heard a TED talk by Simon Sidek called “Start with Why” that focuses on the reasons people do what they do. At that time, John said he was lost in his business. He and his wife were rearing their first child while their second was on the way. With a new house and the added pressure of becoming the family’s main provider, John said, “I was getting really stressed and overwhelmed with life, and I was working to work. There was no vision, so Simon’s talk really stuck out for me.”

John Israel's new book "The Mr. Thank You Project: A Journey to Elevate the Level of Gratitude on the Planet, One Card at a Time" // photos by Kathy Tran
John Israel’s new book “The Mr. Thank You Project: A Journey to Elevate the Level of Gratitude on the Planet, One Card at a Time” // photos by Kathy Tran

He started thinking about his work in the corporate gift giving industry. Essentially, his job was to sell products that businesses could give to clients or employees to express gratitude. “My business is all about gratitude,” he said, “That’s my world.” 

Although he recognized this in his career, he realized that most people who knew him would not describe him as a person of gratitude. He said, “I thought that was really inconsistent, so I was looking for some way that I could really embody gratitude as an activity every day for a year.” From there he decided he would write five thank you notes every day for a whole year. He could write no more than three cards per person, and to keep himself accountable, he agreed to pay $1,000 to a charity if he missed even one day. 

So he began writing. He gathered a list of 350 family members, clients and Facebook friends, but that still left a large number of cards that he would have to write to others as well. He liked the creative element of constantly searching for things to be grateful. The first thank you card he wrote was to a Starbucks barista. His gratitude stemmed from the fact that “she was just super cool at 5:45 in the morning, and she was just smiling and happy… she was just on it.” 

As he continued writing, he began noticing many people who go most of their life unthanked. He told about boarding an airplane once and asking passengers to write thank you notes to the flight attendants and pilots. John anxiously waited for the folder he passed around, only to find out that at the flight’s end, one of the attendants threw it away before opening. Once he told the attendant what it contained, the attendant ran out of the plane to the trash truck, and began digging through big trash bags until he found the dirty folder. The cards inside were in perfect condition. 

John’s book is full of stories like this one that will hopefully inspire people to experience gratitude in all areas of life. His hope is that we can change the world, or at the very least our own lives, one thank you card at a time.

Mr. Thank You > The Mr. Thank You Project Book >
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