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‘Thank You’s’ Do Go Out of Style.

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Steve Warnke

In this season 2 episode of Back of the Napkin - Friday Fails, Rachel Doyle, social entrepreneur, CEO and founder of GlamourGals, shares an early failure due to inexperience writing thank you notes.

BOTN S2E8 Recap - Friday Fails with Rachel Doyle

Thank you notes. The bane of existence for every graduate, newlywed, interviewee … and social entrepreneur.

Rachel Doyle founded GlamourGals to help alleviate elder isolation when she was a 17-year-old high school student. By the time Doyle reached college, GlamourGals received its 501(c)(3) status, making the organization eligible to accept tax-deductible donations. That success also led to an unfortunate incident that resonates with Doyle to this day.

Here’s the Pitch… And the Steee-rike!

“I was in college and still learning about the right way to do things. It's called experience, I guess you would say,” said Doyle. “I had been on a pitch panel talking about GlamourGals, and the panel was really impressed.” So impressed that one panelist sent a $500 check.

Doyle immediately thought to send a thank you note. She wanted to make sure she included the required legal jargon for a tax-deductible donation while expressing a gracious and personal thanks.

Time passed as she fretted about the proper wording. Apparently, too much time. Doyle received a terse email from the donor expressing disappointment. “I got it (the email) and my heart just sank because I had been thinking about it and I wanted to do it so well,” said Doyle. “In the quest, I guess, for perfection, I totally missed the mark.”

Negative to Positive.

Learning from your mistakes is a time-honored tradition. While it is one thing to avoid repeating a mistake, turning it to your advantage is something entirely different. Doyle decided to make the thank you note error a foundational lesson for GlamourGals.

Writing thank you notes became part of GlamourGals leadership training; training that includes a note-writing workshop and spurred a line of programming for volunteers. “Now even my interns, when they have a mentor call with our extended network of professionals, they immediately send a thank you email or a handwritten note,” said Doyle.

Writing timely thank you notes is part of the culture at GlamourGals, with a note sent to donors within 24 hours. “It seems small now kind of talking about it,” said Doyle. “But it compounded a whole bunch of things that then informed, I think, how I do business in general.”

Lesson Learned? Write Timely Thank You Notes.

Doyle says the thank you note situation exposed a weak spot in her business that she ultimately turned to a strength. “I had to check myself and say, ‘I have a lot to learn and I'm clearly not going to learn it if I don't keep trying’,” said Doyle. “For me personally, I make sure that I'm always open to learning.”

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