There have been so many amazing stationery-themed initiatives born in the past several weeks, which would be fantastic news, except for the circumstances that prompted them all. Today I have yet another one to share with you, and while I wish it directly spotlighted what I hope many of my readers are thinking about — namely, systemic racism and its tragic results — that doesn’t strip #30thankyous of its value.
In fact, the concept is incredibly flexible: it could, for example, be a tangible way to help right past wrongs as one examines his or her privilege, making it a very powerful, healing process for everyone involved. It’s a small step, but a meaningful one.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. A lot of stationeristas may not be familiar with Marc Friedland. Marc describes himself as “storyteller and ideator, designer and artist, strategist and connector” — and he was an important brand long before I came on the stationery scene in the late 1990s. In fact, one year he stayed up the entire night before National Stationery Show opened, hand-painting thousands of covers of Status, their show guide.
So I was really excited to get an email from Marc a few weeks back about #30thankyous because I knew it would be really special, and it doesn’t disappoint.
“During these weeks of sheltering in place,” he wrote, “the need for connecting has never been more important. It has afforded me the time to put into action something that is at the core of Marc Friedland Couture Communications … heartfelt communication. I set out to put pen to paper and send a note of gratitude each day. This adventure is leading me to all kinds of discoveries. I’d like to invite you to join me and embark on an adventure of your own. There’s never been a better time.”
Marc was also gracious enough to let me interview him about all this — and I hope his insights inspire a few new journeys!
In all of his work, Marc told me, he works around the concept of “felt perception,” that is, starting with the desired emotional impact and working backwards. He mentioned that he uses one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes as a guide: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
One of the first beliefs he urges us to let go of is the idea of thank-yous as a chore to be gotten through. “Most people think of the feeling they had when they had to write 100 after their wedding,” he said. “It’s time to bring back the basics of gratitude.”
Another common obstacle is overcoming fear to both look inward honestly, and then share those insights with someone else. Marc noted that because the pen is mightier than the pixel, writing a letter and committing yourself to what you write for posterity can be daunting. We went through something similar after 9/11, he told me, “How do you express yourself given everything that’s going on?”
Written communications can help guide us through these times in personal way that goes far beyond the rote “unprecedented times” we hear about over and over in ads, Marc told me. “It’s all the same, language, with no emotion to it.”
Even without the events of the past several months, the power of the written word had been coming onto the cultural forefront, Marc continued. Apple TV tomorrow debuts “Dear…”
The 10-episode documentry series highlights the letters received by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem to Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland and even Big Bird from those whose lives have been changed through their work.
“While letterwriting has always been relevant, I think we are entering a time where it’s more exciting,” Marc concluded.
I couldn’t not ask Marc about the response his 30 letters have received. Some people wrote back, some didn’t — but that’s not the important part. The important part is the process of looking inward and sending that gratitude out, he underlined. “#30daysofgratitude took on a lot of different forms as time went on,” he shared.
So, what are you waiting for? Gather some supplies, and start brainstorming. If 30 seems like a gargantuan task, start with just one. If you’re writing people from all different chapters of your life, pick out some quality yet neutral stationery like this, and get to work!