Thank You, Karl Rove

White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian | August 13, 2007 |

November 2004.

President George W. Bush had just won a second term as president.

In fact, the race was decided by the state of Ohio. The margin of victory was razor thin, too. If 60,000 votes had flipped in the other direction, Democratic candidate, John Kerry, would have won the presidency.

I saw this first-hand having served as the national get-out-the-vote director for the GOP/Bush’s reelection.

Election night was exhilarating, but I was exhausted and deep down, I knew I was about to start a new chapter in my life.

It was also the end of a three-year political campaign run (helping run a U.S. Senate race and a governor’s race as well) where I had 21 days off–total.

It was a time of uncertainty and vulnerability. And that’s when one of those small, life-changing moments hit me.

And it came from Karl Rove–affectionately nick-named “The Architect” by President Bush, for his work engineering his two presidential victories.

In the election business, he’s on the Mount Rushmore of political consultants. Not just of my generation–of all time.

And Rove did this one simple act that changed my life, helped me be a better person and frankly, made me millions

Photo by Jay Godwin |

I received a hand-written note from Rove thanking me for my service on behalf of the president.

That thank you note changed my life.

The act was simple, it was generous, it was thoughtful…and I deeply appreciated it. I wanted to be more like that.

Why did Karl Rove do it?

It’s easy really: He cared, he was grateful and he was willing to carve out his most valuable asset — time — to express it (I later learned from a colleague that Rove blocks off time in his schedule every week to hand write notes of appreciation).

And so I did the same thing.

Yup, I’m a follower…I try to model people who create acts of kindness and generosity. I saw a small gesture, like a hand-written thank you note, go 1000x further than an email “thank you”, a phone call “thank you”, or worse, the Facebook “thank you” DM (don’t be that person!).

Thousands of hand-written notes later, I can’t live without doing them. Yes, it’s helped make more meaningful connections with those I work with — and those relationships have grown my business into the millions.

But that’s not why I do it.

I do it because I love the feeling it gives me to go deeper with my family, friends, colleagues and clients.

And you should be doing it, too.

The simple act of hand-writing a thank you note is not utilized enough in today’s world (and if you think about it, it’s an outlier way to make deeper connections with others).

Curious on how to do this with consistency? Here are my takeaways for you:

  1. Don’t overcomplicate it. The easier the commitment, the more you will do it. Start small — commit to writing one thank you note a week to someone you love, care about, or want to make a better connection with. Commit to one a week for six months (24 total thank you notes), then re-evaluate.
  2. Answer these questions, “How important is it for me to spend time thinking of others with gratitude? Is writing a thank you note a ‘must’ or is it a ‘should’?*If it’s a “must,” you will do it. If it’s a “should,” you won’t.
  3. If you want to go deeper and study my “thank you note” philosophy — read “My Pecan Butter Story” and watch my short conversation with Gary Vee.

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P.P.S. — Cal Fussman is one of the greatest interviewers of this generation–he has sat down with the world’s most influential people: Muhammad Ali, Dr. Steven Gundry, Tim Ferriss, Jeff Bezos, Ryan Holiday, James Altucher, Seth Godin, and Al Pacino. In our interview, we discuss this ONE outlier idea that will not be disrupted in the economic tsunami of innovation and automation. And if you master this one idea in your marketing, your business will explode. If you ignore it, your business will be dead in less than 10 years. Click here to listen to our interview.