The Power of Pen on Paper

The following is not a sponsored blog. I promise. (But Delta is a Leadercast partner, and we love them.) 

I fly a fair amount. For many years, I wasn’t brand loyal to an airline, but being based in Cincinnati, a Delta mini-hub, I found myself on mostly Delta flights. My experiences with them over time created what is now a red-hot passionate loyalty to them. (Ask my wife – whenever we plan a vacation I ask if Delta flies there before making our final decision.)

Earlier this year I was on a connecting flight to Atlanta. About halfway through the short one-hour flight, the attendant handed me a business card. I looked at it to see it was from the Captain, Stefan Nagy. It seemed odd, but after turning the card over, I saw a simple hand-written note from the Captain thanking me for flying with them and for my loyalty.

Something about it made me feel very appreciated and, for lack of a better word, special. I recently told a friend the story, and he asked if it meant anything to me or if it felt cheesy or forced. I told him that it meant a lot to me – just to be seen and appreciated by the leader of the flight crew. 

I met Captain Nagy as I de-planed. I was expecting a seasoned, gray-haired, straight-out-of-central-casting pilot. Who I met was a young, emerging leader in his twenties. Someone who appeared to be new to his dream job…and it showed in all the best ways.

As I walked up the jetway to catch my next flight, I thought about the kind of leader I was in my twenties. I had more shortcomings than I’d care to recount, but I was generally very grateful to have the leadership positions I had. Then I remembered I used to write hand-written notes to people often. I stopped that practice over time, blaming the larger world for shifting to digital. Why write a note when I can send an email? A letter with a stamp? Are you nuts?

But that day a (circa) Gen Z pilot taught a 50-year-old man a lesson: take the time to tell those you lead that you appreciate them…and use an old-fashioned pen and the nearest piece of paper whenever possible.

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Joe Boyd

Leadercast CEO Joe Boyd is a storyteller and entrepreneur. Before Leadercast, Joe led Boonrise, a highly successful creative agency, and production company. He is passionate about leadership development and speaks about improvisational leadership, storydriven living, and embracing failure.

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