Thursday, November 26, 2009

What You Need to Remember This Thanksgiving...and Every Day

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. I'm writing this post from my couch right now with a stuffed stomach, which means I took full advantage of the one day each year that we are expected to over-eat.

I love Thanksgiving because of the food (who doesn't?), but also because it's a holiday where we reflect on why we are thankful. I've been participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge this month (I won't lie, I've missed a few days). This post expands on what I touched on in that post when I introduced the gratitude project.

The daily themes have helped me dig deeper to reveal gratitude for things other than what's usually top-of-mind - family, shelter and health. This project has reinforced that expressing gratitude as often as possible is a must. I've discovered that while I'm grateful for countless reasons, I'm really, REALLY thankful for friends and family who show care and appreciation. These are people who care about others just as much (if not more) than they do for themselves.

It's important to be successful in life (I realize success is defined in various ways), but it's just as important to make others happy. The most minimal expressions of care and gratitude can go a very long way. Here are a few personal examples:
  • A client at my agency who I don't work with on a daily basis but who I have connected with on and off line mailed me a congratulations card after I got promoted. I would have more than appreciated a congratulatory message on Twitter because that's how we frequently communicate, so I really appreciated him taking the time to mail me a card.
  • I did something nice for a friend/neighbor recently that probably only took up a few minutes of my day. As with the above example, I would have been satisfied with a text, phone call or e-mail to say thank you. Instead, my neighbor gave me a card and small gift. He wrote in the card that what I did made his wife and kids so happy.
  • A friend who recently went to Europe sent me a postcard from Italy. I'm Italian, and she knows Italy is on my short list of cities I want to visit. I was really touched that she thought of me on her trip and made sure to send me a little piece of Italy.
The moral of the story: Find a way to express gratitude and show people that you care. This doesn't need to be in the form of a card or a gift. Words are powerful. And please, don't wait until next November when you're surrounded by reminders that Thanksgiving means it's time to show thanks. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yeah Baby! There's Lots to Love About Ernie's Market

There are countless fabulous restaurants close to where I live, but MAL had been telling me for awhile that I HAD to visit Ernie's Market in Oak Park. He promised me it would be an experience and never would I encounter another person who loves to make sandwiches as much as Ernie does.

MAL didn't lie. Happy employees can make or break a customer's experience, and I can't imagine one customer walking out of Ernie's Market unsatisfied. Ernie is a 60-something happy-go-lucky kind of guy. After welcoming us with a hello and a big smile, Ernie immediately pointed out that I hadn't been there before. He asked me to put an open palm on the counter, and he dropped three Hershey's kisses in my hand. Now, one thing you need to know about Ernie before you go there is he's loud...very loud! Not in an annoying or overwhelming way, but more in a "I'm so excited to see you I could scream!" kind of way. Ernie's signature phrase is "Yeah baby!", which he exclaims whenever he gets the chance. Letters spelling out that phrase and this sign are front and center on the counter:

While Ernie piled our sandwiches high with the toppings of our choice (yelling out each topping as he added it to the sandwich), he asked me to guess how long he's been running the market. I didn't believe he had been there more than 50 years, but Ernie said it's been close to 60 years. He also said he's been making sandwiches day after day for decades because it's what he loves to do.

Before we left, Ernie made sure to tell us there's a Facebook fan page for Ernie's Market. He doesn't use a computer, but two of the sweet ladies who work for him update the page. It's obvious from the comments and photos on the fan page that Ernie has made quite an impact on his customers.

Ernie drew a smiley-faced heart on my heavy sandwich (and I opted for the smaller size!) before sending us on our way with a "Yeah baby!" and a request that we return often.

Ernie's energy and passion for his business is inspiring. If you live in the Detroit area, take a trip to Ernie's Market the next time you're in the mood for a hearty sandwich and a few smiles. You won't be disappointed!