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During my career at NBC-TV I had the privilege of attending a three-day business retreat with one of our nation's greatest leaders, Jack Welch. Naturally, I felt intimidated about speaking up in our breakout sessions thinking, 'What can I possibly say that wouldn't sound utterly simplistic to this brilliant man'? Observing Mr. Welch's open-mindedness, willingness to learn and appreciation of others, it didn't take long for me to realize that true greatness does not allow for arrogance or judgment. I also learned that truly great leaders show their gratitude freely and genuinely, just as Jack Welch did during that transformational retreat. The power of a simple and sincere thank you can touch the heart and lives of others more than we may ever know.

As solopreneurs perhaps we may not always think of ourselves as leaders, but we are. We are leaders in the economic growth and stability of our country. We are thought-leaders and leaders in our chosen industry. And during this week of Thanksgiving celebration we are given a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude and thanks to all who support us in our business and life endeavors.

This is a short week for many of us, and that may create added pressure. Consider your priorities; is there room for a little reflection and reaching out to clients/customers in a meaningful way? Think about a time when someone went the extra mile to let you know how you've touched their life. I have a drawer full of hand-written notes and cards from grateful clients. There is a folder in my Outlook inbox dedicated to emails that have touched my heart. These are meaningful to me and have helped me to understand the importance a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

What gratitude offerings will you extend this week and during these holiday season ahead? Look at your client list and isolate one unique quality that you appreciate about each person on your list. What do you appreciate about them? How have they impacted your business and/or life? If you're a product based business think about the customers who are loyal shoppers or who have sent you words of praise. How do you feel about these customers and clients? Now, step into your authentic self and, in true leadership style, let them know.

Here are some simple suggestions to consider. Please add your own in the comments section!

- Place a call to your special clients or customers for no other reason than to thank them and express the significance of their unique qualities.

- Send a personalized email or e-card telling them how and why they are special or what they mean to you and/or your business.

- Instead of sending a typical holiday discount offer, include a personalized note about a special experience involving a customer or your company's ability to 'give back' due to customer support. Make it heart-felt and genuine. Let your customers experience a look at the heart and soul of the company – YOU.

- Send a handwritten note to those who have had the most impact on your business and life during this past year. Not many people take the time to send a card or note through the mail now-a-days. This act will demonstrate your sincerity and depth of gratitude.

- Create a fun video highlighting significant events of this year within your life and company. Let your customers know that they are important to you and in what way they are responsible for your company's success.

- Add a bonus gift to the products that you ship out during the season. Insert an attractive note that has a personal touch to it, letting them know it's your way of thanking them for their support.

-Send a holiday greeting card (digital or print) to your client list with a picture of yourself holding up a sign that includes the client's name - 'Happy Holidays Mary!' Digital photography makes it simple and affordable to customize like this and it will be fun for your client to know that you took a little extra effort to make them smile.

Share your other ideas here – and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! A heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who support my Inc. blog and for the emails, comments and fabulous insights you've shared during this past year. I appreciate you!

Last updated: Nov 22, 2010

MARLA TABAKA

Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.




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