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A Little Thank You Challenge: Guest Post by Louise of Foxy and Fabulous

I’m delighted today to present a guest post by the very foxy and fabulous Louise of…(wait for it)….Foxy and Fabulous!  Louise is an amazing woman who sparkles with lots of sass, wit and ‘tell it like it is’ reverence.  Just prior to Christmas last year she started an incredibly meaningful campaign that really touched me and I wanted you all to know more about it from her directly.

I recently read a great thought in author Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘The Thank You Economy’ that said:

How do people decide they like each other?
They talk. They exchange ideas. They listen to each other.
And eventually, a relationship forms.

Reflecting back on 2012 I realised that’s exactly what I’d been doing on twitter, having conversations and forming relationships with sassy, switched on, like-minded people. When I first started on twitter I had no idea what I was really doing, so I searched out some people I liked the sound of and observed what they did and then did much of the same. Looking back I probably used to indulge my inner Mean Girl more than I should have. But this was pre my online bullying epiphany, and well before Alan Jones took meanness to a new low for everyone (for the umpteenth time in history). The longer I was on it though I realised that there was more to it to do it well. And by ‘well’ I mean engagement via retweets (RT), mentions and replies – and maybe traffic to your site, subscribers to your newsletter and potentially clients. So before too long I radically changed my approach. I ditched the mean girl bitchy stuff and unfollowed a bunch of vacuous reality tv stars, for which my brain was eternally grateful. Then I followed a bunch or smart, ordinary punters who had something to say (not unlike me ~ wink!) and tried to listen more than I spoke, reply to others who were asking for help and generally tried to care more and bitch and sell less. And that’s how I came to get to know a really wonderful bunch of people that I wanted to say thank you to. The looming end of year seemed like a great opportunity to do exactly that!

I had been thinking for a few weeks that I wanted to do something at Christmas to stand out, something that was useful and practical. At one point I was tying myself up in knots trying to work out the logistics of my ‘New Year’s Survival Kit’ idea. Not only what to include, but what I could afford to include that would be appreciated and not just accumulate as junk, because who needs more ‘stuff’ in life? Certainly not me! Then there was sourcing it and designing the packaging of it as I didn’t want anything that looked ill-conceived and poorly slapped together. And the anxiety of getting all that done in time, to be assembled, posted and received well before Christmas and the new year was stressing me the F out! This was my colour coded planning diagram, right before I ditched the entire thing.

Diagram drawing

I just kept thinking that there had to be an easier and more affordable way to do this. It was supposed to be fun and not keeping me awake with worry! So I went right back to the drawing board. I wondered out loud to myself what would happen if I just gave people money and let them decide what to do with it? And the concept kinda grew from there. I’d heard about similar types of money-based or paying-it-forward challenges but with mine I wanted to present the money in an appealing way, because let’s face it, they were only getting five dollars! I deliberately kept the money low because I was sending this to 25 people and I also knew that therein lay the challenge, being creative and doing something that was low or no cost but still meaningful to all involved. Ultimately I wanted people to stop and spare a thought for friends, neighbours or relatives who they might not have been in contact with for some time and \to show they cared in a really simple way. Because I truly believe that:

o you don’t need a reason to be helpful
o great things can be achieved with simple efforts
o I like lovely people who do kind things
o by giving, you open yourself to receive more than you already have
o with more kindness, more often, the world can be a better place
o the power of a thank you can reverberate long after it’s given .

And besides, the universal volume of things and stuff is limited, but caring is infinite. I thought if I wanted to be part of the infinite then others might too. I didn’t want to impose too much of a structure on the challenge so I just provided a few guiding principles:

1. they had to do something meaningful with someone to make a difference, and not just anonymously donate the money to a charity
2. they had the entire Summer to complete the challenge, and if they blogged or posted about it to let me know
3. to not over think what to do, just get busy doing it
4. and to have fun!

As I worked through it all, sourcing the gorgeous bits and pieces I used to present the idea, teaching myself to fold money via origami, pinning suggestions to a board and saving all the $5 I could for weeks on end it just felt so right to my core, in a way that the other idea never had.

In preparation for the send out I had privately asked everyone on my list of 25 people for their mailing address and only one didn’t respond.  I was more stunned that everyone was really happy to receive something in the post than the fact one person didn’t want to be involved. Make no mistake, intricately folding money into 25 origami hearts with give you major fucking hand cramps, not to mention dirty hands!! {I tried not to think of the cooties I might be catching}  You can see me folding hearts in this video.

I knew in my heart of hearts that if I was truly giving this of my free will and expecting nothing in return (other than to spread a little kindness to someone who could use it) then the moment when I let go of the envelopes into the mailbox was the last point at which I could have any attachment to the project. While that sounds all very zen, it didn’t stop me freaking out that people might react badly and feel duped into giving me their postal address!! I think I held my breath for the first few days after posting them, but it’s funny what you can talk yourself out of isn’t it?

Thank you tweets 1

Thank you tweets 2

I’m incredibly humbled by the generous reaction of pretty much everyone. Some people haven’t said anything, but my total commitment to being non-attached to the outcome of this project means that I’m not going to follow up to see if they received it, nor am I going to check in and prompt people to see if or what they did. I know, it’s a total lesson in humility and self-discipline for me too! In the coming months I will post updates in my newsletter so please come along for the ride if you’re curious to see what tidal wave of kindness the thank you challenge may have started!

So now it is time for ME to reveal what I did with the $5.00 that Louise so generously sent to me.  I will admit that I did get myself a little tangled in probably thinking about what to do with the money a little too deeply – to the point where I felt a bit paralysed.  I wanted to do something SUPER amazing with it but the more I tried to think that way the more I seemed to be unable to take action.  In the end I gave the money away very spontaneously – almost on a whim but I know it felt good and therefore was the right thing to do with it.

Once a week I sit in my local cafe very early in the morning and have a pot of tea, coffee or a juice. I am always served by the same very young woman who I know is a student on her way to becoming a chef.  The sneakers she wears tells me that like most students, she’s not rolling in money and she’s making her way through. So I gave her the money slipped in a Christmas card with a note from me saying thank you for her amazing service all year and that I hoped she would use it to buy herself a small treat of some sort.  It certainly was a treat for me to give it to her.  Thank you for making that possible Louise. 

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Louise FrancisLouise is a passionate pottymouthed professional photographer who loves to make women feel foxy & fabulous!  Talk to her about how she can help you put your small business and social media ideas into action.  An Accredited Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and a member of the Victorian AIPP State Council, she’ll also happily chat endlessly about her passion for all things grey, leopard print and sparkly.  Or you can join the conversation on twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and be prepared to be inspired.

2 people have commented
  1. CaAtherine says:

    I first met Louise through the world of Twitter, and loved her no holds barred approach to life. After connecting at a blogging conference we promised to catch up.

    I love that I can now call Louise a fabulous friend.

    I love that she’s not afraid to say it how it is. If that scares you, well you are missing out on discovering the frigging awesome, amazing woman Louise is.

    #thankyouchallenge I thankful for people who give unconditionally, allow people to be themselves, and I’m fucking thankful Louise is a friend

    X

    • Julie Parker says:

      Yay for amazing friendships Catherine – and Louise I am certain is part of many of those. Thank you for stopping by and sharing more about your connection with a very cool lady.

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