Why I’m Going to Start Giving Way More Gifts

Ever since I wrote about my engagement and my new house, the UPS guy has been at my house pretty much every single day.

Seriously, I’ve received more packages in 3 weeks than the last three years combined. Many of those have been gifts from friends, family, and a few people I’ve never even met.

To be honest, I’ve never been the best gift giver.

It’s not that my intentions aren’t good, or that I don’t do nice things for people, but when it comes to the thoughtful gift, I’ve just never been very good at following through. Which is too bad, because I could improve just about every aspect of both personal and business relationships simply by being better about giving gifts.

I want to take a second to illustrate why I say this, by mentioning a few of the gifts I’ve received lately:

  • Corsair Triple Smoke – During Pioneer Nation I held a (very) small get together at a hard to get into whiskey bar on Saturday night. I had a lot in common from a business perspective with a girl that came to the event, so I randomly asked her if she would be interested in joining. She did, and we all had a great time. A week later a bottle of Corsair Triple Smoke arrives in the mail. It was one of the whiskeys we drank, and I’d mentioned that I wanted to go buy a bottle because it was one of my new favorites.
  • Lagavulin 16 Year – Someone who I’ve done a lot of work with over the past couple of years, somehow found out what my favorite bottle of scotch is (Lagavulin 16) and sent it over as a total surprise.
  • Napa Valley Merlot – A reader who I’d only met briefly sent over a bottle of his favorite Merlot from his hometown in Napa.
  • Nest Thermostat – Over the last month I’d spent quite a few hours working on a guest post for a high traffic site. We could never get the post quite right, so decided to abort and I’ll use the content elsewhere. The person behind it sent me a Nest Thermostat with a note that said “Thanks for all the hard work on the article, thought you could use this for the new house.” Even he could not understand how perfect of a gift this was.

Why Am I Telling You This?

It’s not very often you get a thoughtful gift out of nowhere, and in the last month I’ve received a lot of very thoughtful, and very unexpected gifts.

I can’t even describe how appreciative I am of these. More importantly, it lets me know that these people I’ve had interactions with appreciate me and the time I’ve spent with them.

So what does this mean?

It means in the future, I’ll help them out however I can, with whatever they want. By spending a little bit of time and money, they’ve proven to me that they care – the very least I can do is care in return.

It wasn’t until receiving some of these gifts that I realize just how unthoughtful I really am. I rarely send out thank you cards, let alone send someone a nice bottle of scotch or a personalized thermostat 🙂

But now after understanding exactly how I feel upon receiving them, I realize I need to do a much better job of giving. 

Not only does it make you feel good, but it allows you to show someone you actually care as opposed to just saying it – and in a world where a lot of people like to talk, showing can be a gamechanger.

Does it have to be expensive? Absolutely not. A card in the mail can be just as meaningful as something fancy, at risk of being cliche, it truly is the thought that counts.

So today I’m making a resolution to give more. Whether it’s a small thank you note, or a thoughtful gift, I want to work this into my routine as part of my life and business. If nothing else, it will make me feel good, but I have a feeling over time the effect it’ll have on every aspect of my life will be a much greater reward than that.

Image credit: Gift box by Big Stock.

Liz Froment May 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

Hmm I think helping people quit their jobs is a pretty good gift.

But I wouldn’t mind a Nest system myself if you’re giving 😉


Sean May 16, 2014 at 7:10 am

Do you have a house to put it in? 🙂


Devlin Madden-Perdue May 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Thats a resolution I can get behind! I fall in the same boat as you when it comes to showing some appreciation/gratitude. It’s easy to forget how good a simple – though genuine – thank you can feel.

I also had no idea you were Ron Swanson’s illegitimate son, hah.


Matt Riley May 15, 2014 at 9:50 pm

First the Lagavulin 16 is very good. Been more into Rye or Bourbon lately as I have increased Old Fashioned and Manhattan intake lately. But they’re all cut from the same cloth. A few weeks ago I emailed Jodi Ettenberg an article I thought she’d like, and she gifted to me findtheinvisiblecow.com. I found it hilarious (I have a 2nd grade sense of humor), sometimes the simplest gifts are the best ones. That being said my favorite car is a Porsche 911 turbo and if you happen to come across one and feel like giving it away I’ll email you my address. You can drive it anytime you’re in the area or we’ll ship it to the Autobahn to see how fast we can make it go.


Sean May 16, 2014 at 7:09 am

Oh weird, I just came across a GT3, but I thought it would be too much car for you, so I politely declined the offer…sorry about that! 😉


Sandra Pawula May 15, 2014 at 11:05 pm


This is such a good illustration of how generosity can really touch someone else in such a wonderful way. I appreciate your emphasis on the fact that simple can be as good as an elaborate gift. Because, honestly, most of us don’t need more stuff! Too much stuff creates stress in my life. I’m happy to keep it simple.


Sean May 16, 2014 at 7:09 am

Simple is always a good thing 🙂 And while I’m the first person to recognize that I’m anything but a minimalist, having stuff for the sake of having stuff is certainly not what we should be striving for.


Karen Marston May 16, 2014 at 2:08 am

If you do come to Edinburgh in the autumn, I will take you to the (members only) Whisky Society. Good times will be had.


Sean May 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

Now that WILL happen.


Charlie Freeman May 16, 2014 at 2:47 am

I absolutely love getting unexpected gifts, no matter how small. I think it’s one of the truly underestimated actions a person can take as it goes so far. I’ve always wanted to reciprocate and do more small things for others but there’s always an excuse, be it monetary, time or something else. Excuses they are though, you heard it here first ladies and gents. Time to give more.

As always Sean it’s great to read your blog and find out how you’re doing.
(first comment ever and i’ve been reading it for around three years, just got on the wordpress wagon!)

All the best bud.


Sean May 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

Charlie, thanks for finally dropping a note!


Sharon Ogle May 16, 2014 at 7:34 am

Okay, I try hard to stay out of the “Don’t post too much on your son’s website, cause you’re his Mom and you’ll embarrass him” realm, but your readers need to know that I did teach you to write thank you notes, I did give you the “It’s better to give than to receive” lecture more than once, and last but not least, when you do give gifts, they’re usually the “crazy, think outta the box” type… Like giving your mom a DNA test for Christmas so after 25 years she could finally find out if her twin daughters were identical or not… :-)Every day’s a new day and we can always improve at something.


Josh Denning May 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

To Sean’s Mum,

I think you should post on your Son’s blog regularly! It seems you have wonderful insight to share…

I mentioned Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer in my previous comment.. The greater truth is that if we’d only need look to the teachings of our wonderful mothers..

We’d probably need to buy storage huts for all the gifts we’d receive because of all the good we’ve done..

I think 😉 lovely to see you share on the site…

Sean, your Mum is awesome..

Best, Josh
The Tropical Entrepreneur


Dave Stokley May 16, 2014 at 8:24 am

I think it’s all about the fact that it’s unexpected and unprompted. Doing anything that shows someone that you’re thinking about them even when they’re not around is pretty powerful.

Another thing you might try is unsolicited compliments, especially to strangers. A 100% free gift that is often even more meaningful to the person getting it! Reactions are always so excited and surprised, which I guess in a way is kind of sad. I don’t think we say enough nice things about each other.

Thanks for the reminder!



Enzo May 16, 2014 at 9:59 am

Small things can make a big difference in someones life. Few days ago I surprised a good friend of mine with a small tile and when she read the text on it she started crying. Even though the text was personally, receiving a small thing (when you least expect it) can make some one happy or even cry in my situation. But that same counts for you Sean, when I stumbled upon your blog I couldn’t believe what you pretty much gave away for free (outside Location Rebel). Even when we all know it’s out there on the internet, but not as detailed or put together as your blogs. I will be sure to thank you one day! But let that surprise you.

Keep strong and entertain us with your travel story’s and helpful tips!



Scott Asai May 17, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Those gifts are examples of the most powerful form of communication: listening. A thoughtful gift can go a long way and is easily remembered for long time.


Josh Denning May 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Hi Sean,

I love this post, it’s been something I have been thinking about lately. Guys like Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer are often talking about the spiritual and personal benefits of giving..

And of course the fact that there is nothing nicer then to give something to a fellow human being in return for a favour or just to show genuine thought and care..

Even if it’s only brining a bag or oranges, a fruit or like yourself, some people knew your personal tastes sent you nice bottles of scotch that not only shows they cared but they listened.. What a joy people listened and cared 🙂

I read those kinds of books a lot before I became more a business and marketing books lover. There are still many great learning’s I am yet to implement… I think the gift of giving is one that I can start practising on as well!

Thanks for the great post, Josh
The Tropical Entrepreneur..


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