Paying It Forward


I am a firm believer in the power of a thank you note. The tiniest things (like a sweet, simple handwritten thank you note) can make the biggest impact. The theory goes hand in hand with a lesson I’ve been learning the past few weeks. I remember being really young and my Mom teaching me about the “random acts of kindness”. Essentially, when someone else was least expecting it – and sometimes, for no good reason at all, you’d do something to bring value to that person, to encourage them or to lift them up – even if you weren’t sure they really needed it.

This is sometimes hard to do – especially when we get busy and bogged down in the details of our day-to-day. At MTH, Jeff Holt talked about the theory of bringing value to other people – even without expecting something in return. As a new business owner, I thought this idea was really interesting. It’s easy to ask for help from those around you as you are starting out – and thank them, sincerely, for their thoughtfulness. But what about the opposite?

What if, as a new business owner/entrepreneur/etc, you offer what you can bring to the table to someone else? This thought intrigued me a bit. I haven’t been in this industry for ten or even five years, but I do have a skill-set that is pretty strong. Who’s to say I can’t use that skill set to bring value to someone else rather than asking for the opposite? And without expecting anything in return? I’m a strong writer. I can talk the Trademark process up and DOWN. Even after one year, I KNOW what really really good custom service is. I know how to ensure that every bride feels and KNOWS that they are my TOP priority. And I am a good fundraiser. Yep, I have almost 6 years fundraising experience.

That’s where the MTH First Class Scholarship came into play. The brilliant Christopher Confero sent me a DM on Twitter about a tweet I’d just sent out. He wondered if that person needed help attending MTH, he wanted to help send them there. What an idea… I thought. So we talked about it for a bit. And rather than waiting or planning we got started. 48 hours, 17 donors and $710 later – The MTH First Class Scholarship was complete. And one pro’s life is about to be changed. As a scholarship recipient and a true, sincere, wholehearted believer in MTH and in Lara and Jeff – I knew I wanted to pay it forward. So by fusing my fundraising skills and Christopher’s obvious Southern charm and communication skills (not to mention an Army of Twitter friends) we made it happen.

Come full circle and there have been so many times in the past few weeks that I have been moved, encouraged and inspired to the point of disbelief. I’ve been reached out to, emailed and even had the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers show up at my door last night… from people who want to say “I believe in what you’re doing. Keep doing it.” I am so humbled by the kind words I’ve received from complete strangers, people I admire (and didnt even know they knew my name) and people who just felt the need to give a pat on the back.

So last night, I sat down at my computer and decided to do something that I hope will become a daily habit – reach out to a couple people who’ve been on my mind to let them know how much I believe in them. And not in a random “You can do it!” type of way – but in a sincere, heartfelt, “I know its not always easy but you will. Go. Far.” Type of way. The idea of paying it forward – coupled with a spirit of authenticity and genuine thanks is one I hope fills MY days and my works during 2010.

* The MTH First Class Scholarship application ends tonight at midnight! The winner will be announced by Lara on Monday.

Image from 100 Layer Cake

4 comments:

Stacey Halphen said...

Emily,
I have been following your story ever since I came across your blog and Etsy shop a few weeks ago. You have accomplished so much in just one year. I only hope that I can accomplish such great things this year for my new business as I begin to understand who I am as a stationery designer and what I want out of this business. I completely relate to each and every thoughtful post you put together. Keep up the good work b/c you do have an incredible impact on people. You truly are an inspiration for all of us trying to succeed in our own creative business.

Thank you for your dedication to "paying it forward"! I too, hope to be able to bring value to others through my knowledge.

BTW, I see that you went to the LSU bowl game. Is your husband from Louisiana??

Lydia Yeung said...

i love paying it forward. it is such a rewarding experience. we may receive anything back physically, but emotionally, it's definitely one of the best feelings ever.

can't thank you enough for what you've done so far. truly an inspiration.

Emily Ley said...

Thanks so much for your kind words! I am so encouraged and inspired by the comments I read on this little blog. They touch me every day. Best of luck to you both! Emily

Christopher Confero said...

You have to be one of the most amazing people I have met in a long time Mrs. Ley.

just saying.