If your career isn’t going anywhere fast despite that fancy MBA, it might be because no business school in the world teaches anybody to be nice. The world of business still believes that nice guys finish last, even if “guys” is exchanged for a gender neutral term. Brendan Kamm, co-founder and CEO of the digital gratitude platform Thnks, believes that perspective is long overdue for an update. Gratitude, a basic trait of all nice people everywhere, is actually an asset to be cultivated, he advises.
Kamm founded Thnks after many years of success as a business executive that included a long stint in sales. He is a student of the science of gratitude. Gratitude, he says, is more than a reflexive “thank you” when the barrister hands you your coffee. Gratitude establishes and strengthens relationships, creates reciprocity, and simply makes people happier. We asked Kamm about the science of gratitude, whether it can be expressed digitally, and what motivated him to move Thnks from New York to Nashville.
I understand that there is a “science” of gratitude. I thought saying “thank you” was simply being polite. What’s the science behind Thnks?
The science behind Thnks is deeper than a simple “thank you.” Use gratitude as a tool to deepen relationships, build lasting connections, and promote a better workplace experience. Saying “thank you” is a natural response for many of us in social interactions, similar to saying “have a good day” or “how are you.” But how often do people actually mean these things when they say them? The goal of Thnks is to create something personalized and thoughtful that the recipient will remember as being genuine. There’s a study at Harvard Medical School, which breaks down the science of gratitude. It illustrates that when appreciation is displayed and communicated, people rise in three areas: (1) They start to feel more valued, (2) Their emotional connections are enhanced, and (3) They establish a sense of personal loyalty. Thnks is a tool that makes it easy to tap into the “science” of gratitude via an adaptable and easy to use platform that facilitates creating an everyday gratitude habit in the workplace.
Thnks is a digital gratitude platform. “Digital gratitude” sounds oxymoronic to me. How does it work?
The landscape of the workplace and how we communicate continues to evolve. Human interaction in today’s world is often through digital interaction, video calls and emails, especially at work. Thnks has helped business leaders cut through the digital noise in a way that seamlessly connects and engages them with their peers, colleagues and clients. Whether you’re meeting in person or working remotely, Thnks has created a simple, efficient and effective way to show gratitude that’s personalized, professional and genuine. In the midst of a bombardment of work emails, advertising, and countless other distractions, Thnks is the message that people actually want to open! This is illustrated by our 90% open rate.
How important is gratitude in life and business?
The act of giving is mutually beneficial to both the giver and receiver, which goes hand in hand with showing gratitude. Whether it’s a kind gesture or word of affirmation, gratitude gives someone a feeling of appreciation for their contributions and hard work. In life, I think gratitude is one of the most important things to show in any kind of relationship. In business, it is still too seldom shown among professionals. Gratitude or showing appreciation is a proven way to establish stronger relationships in a business context whether you are sales prospecting, increasing customer retention or motivating employees. We recently passed the milestone of our clients having sent more than one million “Thnks,” something I’m proud of as it supports the way that we’re helping make gratitude a daily habit in workplaces.
You have a background in sales and client relationship management. How did that influence your thinking about Thnks?
My background as a sales executive really opened my eyes to the lack of gratitude in business and how relationships were becoming purely transactional and suffering as a result. I knew there had to be a better, more scalable way to help people show appreciation and establish stronger connections using the incredible technological tools that are available to us today.
You moved Thnks from New York City to Nashville. What motivated that move, and why in particular Nashville?
Thnks has seen incredible growth, particularly over the last two years. This growth made us take a look at where we thought the best place would be to firmly place our roots as a business. Our culture is a priority for our mission and Nashville’s reputation for hospitality, gratitude and thoughtfulness seemed like a great fit for our company. Nashville is a growing tech-hub, known for its thriving creative and entrepreneurial scene and a city that itself is seeing rapid growth. Our headquarters are now based just south of Nashville in the city of Franklin, an amazing place to further grow our business.