I want to tell you about one of my daily practices. Something that I do in just 5 minutes (sometimes less), every single day, that makes people love me.
It’s simple, fast, and you can do it as soon as you’re done reading this article. In fact, I pretty much expect you to.
Every day, I send a nice text to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while.
That’s it. Just send a quick text message to someone.
Now, to be clear, I don’t really do this to make people love me. I do it because I love people. A side effect of the practice is that they love me more than they already do.
So, let me tell you about this little habit of mine.
For a long while, this wasn’t an intentional daily practice; it was a sporadic thing that I did whenever it seemed appropriate. If someone popped into my head, I’d shoot them a note and tell them I thought of them, miss them, etc.
In the fullness of time, I began to realize this was one of my favorite things to do, and that my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances got as much out of this as I did.
So it’s become something I do every day.
Here’s how I’ve made this a consistent practice:
When I find that I’ve got five minutes of downtime, I open up my messages and scroll all the way to the bottom—since text conversations are listed in descending order of most recent, it’s an easy way to see who you’ve not spoken to lately.
To keep things pure, I’m not mercenary about this; I don’t message someone simply because they’re at the bottom (chances are, they’re there for a reason). But there are certainly fantastic people I love whose paths just haven’t crossed with mine for some time. Life gets busy, after all.
I slowly scroll up, and if a name catches my eye or something tickles my mind, I write out a text message to them and let them know that they’re the bee’s knees.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: I like to mention “no need to respond.”
I’m doing this to be nice to people, not to force them to say something nice to me. I don’t want anyone to ever feel obligated. Also, some people are super uncomfortable getting compliments or receiving these messages, and letting them off the hook for a response goes a long way.)
All told, this takes 5 minutes out of my day and has added to my life in an incredibly satisfying way.
It’s a nice, easy way to keep in touch with people. And from a business perspective, it’s a pretty low-investment-high-yield habit for keeping relationships “warm.”
As for why I love this enough to do this every day, it’s pretty simple.
Selfishly, I just really like making people feel good.
Along those lines, and more altruistically: you never know what someone is going through. It’s entirely possible that your message is JUST the thing they need, and can be the difference between a great day and a terrible one.
For example, here’s a text between my buddy Tim and me:
See the response? “Really needed this today.”
How awesome is that? I made his day better in just minutes.
I’ve gotten similar responses from other people. Here’s another — this is an exchange with Melissa, one of my online clients from about five or so years ago.
SO: I highly suggest you steal this from me and make it a part of your daily routine. It’s 5 minutes of your time to do something nice for someone. You’ll love it.
Sending a text message is super fast and easy. But there are a lot of other simple things you can do to make someone’s day better.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some gestures people have made that brought a smile to my face, so here are a few ideas:
- Ramit Sethi likes to send food. This year alone, he’s sent me a few pints of ice cream from Salt and Straw, as well as a box of cookies from Levain, one of the best bakeries in NYC. This is incredibly thoughtful and made my week.
- Craig Ballantyne and John Berardi, two of my mentors, have each sent me a hand written note at some point over the past three months. Just a small thing to tell me they were proud of my accomplishments. Each of them made me tear up.
- Sol Orwell, the founder of Examine, sent me a five or so pairs of fancy socks. He knows I love socks, and that I probably needed some for my place in NYC (I’m notorious for forgetting to pack socks), so he took care of me. So awesome.
- A few months back, Pepsi revived a 90s classic, Crystal Pepsi. I don’t drink much soda, but this was a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I posted on Facebook that I was excited about it but couldn’t find any locally. Four days later, a 6-pack of Crystal Pepsi showed up at my apartment, courtesy of my friend Sam. My surprise and delight were hilarious.
- After speaking at his event in Queens, my friend AJ Mihrzad presented me with a gorgeous knife that had my name engraved on the handle. I use it every week to open packages, and each time I think of him.
There are so many ways to make people feel good and special and loved. Each different in their own way. The ones I’ve listed above vary from a simple card to a custom knife, but none of them are overly complicated or expensive.
And a text? A text is free. So is a phone call.
I promise you: if you take just 5 minutes out of your day to just remind someone you’re thinking of them, the world will be a better place.
Not just your life and their life, but the world. I truly believe that.
Now, it’s your turn. Go be nice.