Personal Growth
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Personal Growth

You Are Doing Birthdays Wrong

A month ago, my friend Amber Rae had a birthday party at her beautiful DUMBO Loft. They call it Wonderland for a reason, instruments, plants, swings and on this occasion, a gaggle of her amazing friends.

We ate food, tasted wine and danced around for an hour and then the big moment came. Her Fiancee Farhad brings out a cake and invited her to make a wish.

Farhad had approached me earlier and asked me to say something when we joined the group, but I noticed something that made me speak up before she had an opportunity to blow out her candles.

Something felt wrong.

Here was Amber, an amazing writer with a book deal in the works and so many dreams to be manifested, and we were about to have her share her grandest wish to herself, silently…because as we all “know,” it won’t come true if she shares it with anyone.

Think about that for a second. The exact opposite is true!

If we want our wishes to come true, we need to tell people, especially those who have our backs.

One of the rarest forms of currency that we have today is attention. There are only a few moments each year (if we’re lucky) that our entire community of friends will be around us and pointing their undivided attention our way.

Your birthday is a moment in time when your friends are gathering with the intention of lifting you up. The traditional birthday wish get’s in the way of letting them do what they are there to do.

The good news is that this is easy to fix.

Next time you are at a birthday dinner or party for one of your friends, take the lead before the candles are blown out and invite the birthday girl/boy to share their dream with the entire group…

“What is your wish for your XXth year on the planet?”

“What is one thing we can help you accomplish this year?”

“What if your major goal for the next year?”

Put that goodness into the world and let your community of supporters make it a reality.

And always remember that allowing ourselves to be helped is one of the easiest ways to deepen our important friendships. It allows your friends to be of service (the quickest path to fulfillment) and allows you to feel seen and supported.

Go beyond “Happy Birthday”

After I realized how we were getting the birthday wish wrong, I looked at how other birthday traditions are no longer serving us and there was one more that was staring me right in the face.

Your Facebook wall. Case and point below

Don’t get me wrong, these posts are a nice gesture that I appreciate…but deep down, we know that they are not that meaningful, or long lasting.

Remember when we first got Facebook 10 years ago. One of the best parts of our birthday was heading to the wall to see the flood of messages from all of our friends and family.

It was undeniably awesome to feel like the center of all that attention. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I remember counting the number of wall posts I used to get at the end of the day. It was some sort of ego filled point of pride…that number had little to do with me feeling more connected or closer to the people that mattered.

Our digital world has changed…Facebook has become less of a collection of our friends and more of a graph of coworkers, that girl from the conference and billy from 8th grade.

When our birthdays hit on Facebook, we are greeted by a sea of templated messages from folks that we haven’t seen in a year. We all know what the “text the number 1” to wish someone a happy birthday message look like and most users opt for these thoughtless, automated messages.

I’m not against the birthday messages on Facebook, they definitely feel nice, but like the birthday wish, we can do better and it’s quite simple.

Go beyond “Happy Birthday”

Whenever we are giving a compliment, or affirmation, it is important to remember that it is not our statement of affection that impacts the recipient, it is our explanation of it.

“Happy birthday. You are literally the funniest person I know!”

“Happy Birthday, you are the best friend I could have asked for last year.”

“Happy birthday,! I really love what you’re doing in the world and hope the next year is awesome.”

Do you have a best friend or family member with a birthday coming up?

Here at Tribute, we specialize in making it easy for people to share meaningful messages with the people they care about on special occasions…especially birthdays.

I’m speaking from experience. I started Tribute because my girlfriend Miki did this for me. Simply said, it was THE most meaningful birthday present I’ve ever received.

Take 60 seconds to create a Tribute for them and share your unique url out with all their friends and family. Check out a sample Tribute that was recently created for our friend, John….

Tribute provides a safe, compelling place that gives your friends and family permission to share the love, appreciation and support that matters.

I guarantee that hearing WHY your best friends love you will be 100x more rewarding than counting up the number of strangers that posted on your wall.

Visit us at and get your own Tribute started today.



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Andrew Horn

Founder // - Spreading gratitude and meaningful human connection in the world — prev. @dreamsforkidsdc and @abilitylist.