Thank You Note: My Oprah Moment

by Mindy Lockard on January 16, 2014

One question I am often asked is how late is too late to write thank-you notes?

My answer, it’s never too late.

Keeping in mind that sending notes months after a gift is given or an act of kindness is extended, is not the best way to express gratitude. But, it’s better than not writing at all.  Truly.

When we make Thank-yous fun, kids will love writing notes.  Even teens. Yes, even teens. To support my case, let me share a recent story. I call it my “Oprah” moment. The moment when I gave thirty Sheaffer Pens to thirty high school seniors.

She gives cars, I give pens. Kind of the same thing… no?

I have had the honor of working with the International Marketing Class at my local High School. During a Networking Etiquette session this fall, one of students asked me about the best type of pen to have on hand for thank-you notes. Sheaffer of course. But they can be a bit out of a high schooler’s budget. Then the wheels started turning. I approached Sheaffer with my idea and they were beyond gracious, agreeing to donate pens for the entire class. Thirty of them.

Enter the “Oprah” moment.

The day before Winter Break I arrived at the High School with a basket of handwriting goodies wrapped in shiny red ribbons.


“They are going to be so excited!!!” the teacher told me.

Whoa, go easy there Mr. D, teenagers of a tech generation “excited” over a pen? I often get excited about pens, but teens? While I knew the students would appreciate the pens, I wasn’t sure if it would reach an “excitement” level.

Shame on me.

The room errupted in excitement.

Then I got excited. Channeling my inner Oprah announcing, “You get a pen, and YOU get a pen!”

Yes, yes, I said that. Out loud.

It felt amazing seeing this generation of iPhone loving, instagram happy, texting instead of talking appreciate a fine writing instrument and hearing, “I can’t wait to write a Thank-You” and “This writes so well!”

Music to my gracious ears. And then, to top it off, what did they do next?

They got busy, writing notes…

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 10.14.32 PM


Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 10.14.55 PM

and more thank-you notes.

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 10.14.13 PM


So often I hear how rude teens are today. I disagree. It’s not that they are rude, but in many ways we’ve stopped teaching or sharing gracious habits.  Assuming they don’t care. Well we all know what happens when we ass-u-me.

When we exposed people to quality of a gracious life, they are unbelievable grateful.

So let’s keep the gracious word alive and pass on this gift of a handwritten tyou notes. It’s never too late to start teaching or sending.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Coryanne Ettiene 01.16.14 at 10:07 am

Loved reading this and I can totally see you saying “And you get a pen” with a big grin on your face.

Karl Schaefer 01.16.14 at 10:58 am

Great job Gracious girl! Yes, too often we generalize about “teens”, but they may just surprise you when you set them up to succeed!
And thanks for the advice on how late you can send a thank you note/card.

Mindy Lockard 01.16.14 at 3:01 pm

Ha! Yes, Coryanne, it is true. It slipped out… and I’d say it again:)! Thanks for visiting.

Mindy Lockard 01.16.14 at 3:02 pm

Thank you, Kari. You are so right, we do generalize “teens” and honestly, they surprise me every time I work with them. Not because I don’t expect them to be great, but they are really amazing smart and thoughtful people. They just need a few tools now and then. Love seeing you here.

Barb Marshall 01.16.14 at 3:04 pm

This story made my heart smile! Love that the i-phones and other gadgets took a back seat to a pen and a note. I gush over exactly this kind of thing over at I think you (and your students) might enjoy. p.s. I just tweeted this post

Mindy Lockard 01.16.14 at 4:36 pm

Thank you so much Barb for your sweet comment and sharing on twitter. I look forward to visiting your site. Best, Mindy

Mariette's Back to Basics 01.16.14 at 5:51 pm

Dearest Mindy,
For you, initiating to give away 30 Sheaffer pens to these High School students, excelled whatever Oprah might be giving away from her billions of net worth. She raked in that much money by the exaltation of victimhood, the no-fault moral universe…
You on the other hand are passing on something of dignity, of moral value to these fine young people by promoting the handwritten thank you notes!
For that I do applaud you and wish more people nationwide would take that opportunity to step in and hand such a meaningful and fine writing instrument to these young students. That will stay forever with them!
Was this your 1st big score for 2014?
Sending you hugs and blessings!

Tim Williams 01.17.14 at 2:00 am

Hi Mindy, This is a great story, and I am so pleased that we have even more young Ambassadors for Sheaffer! Well done, and thank you for your continued intiatives and support for Sheaffer! Best wishes Tim

Joy Weaver 01.17.14 at 4:36 pm

You are changing the world one teen, one pen at a time.✒️Keep up the great work Gracious Girl

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