An Interview with a Chief Gratituder

Mandy Arioto we love

What is it about hand-written notes? For whatever reason paper and pen makes words mean more. Throw a stamp on it and send it in the mail. Suddenly, you have encountered a gesture of goodness transforming your whole day. Because caring for one another is found in the details.

That is why we love GRAMR.

This year when you register for MOPS membership you will receive a sneak peek (read that free stuff!) of all the cool products GRAMR is making to spark a wave of gratitude.

When we met the guys at GRAMR we knew we had to share their story. That is why we are partnering with them this year to help us all notice goodness and express gratitude.

Let us introduce you to Matt Richardson, cool dude, chief gratituder, believer in handshakes and paper and pens.

Matt, what inspired two 20-something guys to start Gramr Gratitude Co.?

Brett and I grew up together in the Silicon Valley where we watched Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. sprout up and dominate our lives and conversations. The Bay Area is a very inspiring place to grow up, it makes you believe anything is possible, but something has been happening there lately that is largely a by-product of all of the communication tools and apps being developed every week— we are convincing ourselves we don’t have time for anyone anymore. You’ll notice that every communication app that starts to take off, only becomes successful if it is able to reduce the amount of time it takes to communicate with someone, and if it makes communication more efficient and convenient for us.

What gets lost in all of the efficiency is meaning. You can’t really let someone know you love them dearly in 140 characters or in a 5-second video that disappears forever when you take your finger off the screen. When we looked at all of the trends in communication, we found ourselves thinking each new app is reinforcing loneliness because (indirectly or directly) they give us permission to be selfish with our time.

We founded Gramr because we believe time is the most valuable currency these days, and that the most rewarding thing you can do is spend it on others. When you send someone an encouraging email, that is certainly a nice thing to do, and we believe it should be done more often. But when you write someone an encouraging letter and express your gratitude for them — there is no mistaking the amount of thought and intentionality that went into it. The receiver feels loved in a way that is rare nowadays, because someone spent their precious time on them; and the sender is reminded of how much they have to be grateful for. It isn’t as efficient as a text, but it’s so, so much more meaningful — and at Gramr we believe it is okay to stop filling our schedules with all kinds of obligations and stress-bombs and to really start focusing and sacrificing quality time on the things that matter: the people we have in our lives. Gramr is about intentionality as much as it is about gratitude — but the two seem so inextricable to us.

How did you start Gramr?

We launched Gramr as a Kickstarter campaign about a year ago, because we wanted to see if others agreed with our core philosophy: that a posture of gratitude really changes everything; and that it was time to start setting time aside for meaningful correspondence again. The Kickstarter campaign went really well,and we were off to the races.

How important is it to model gratitude to kids at an early age?

I believe it is more important now than it has ever been — and I also think that there are some really great ways to start modeling it, which takes out the guesswork. It is more important than ever because of how distracted and “me-oriented” our culture is becoming. Technology is a double-edged sword — lately it has emphasized how convenient life can be made by the phone in our pockets — there are laundry services, personal chauffeurs, cooking services, anything you can think of can be brought to your door with two swipes of the thumb. Sometimes this is really wonderful, but if our children grow up in a world where life is managed at a thumb’s distance, and they never pause and reflect gratefully on the hands preparing the meals, I’m afraid they will take fundamental parts of the human experience for granted.

I’m an old soul, so I believe in doing things a bit more slowly sometimes — I think children should be allowed to grow up a bit more slowly. I’m certainly grateful my childhood was not rushed. I feel like I watch children who have busier schedules than I do, who aren’t being taught to really appreciate and savor the small and big things. And when they are conditioned to appreciate the small and big things they are cultivating habits of thought that will teach them perspective, make them happier, and make them more aware as they grow up.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to develop gratitude in children is to spend a lot of time outside with them, where they can wonder at things. At the tallness of trees, the blue-ness of skies, at streams, at jungle gyms, tanbark, lady bugs, jump ropes. The more that they wonder, the easier it is to remind them that life is such a great and beautiful gift — and the more this is impressed upon them, the more conscious they become of their blessings.Having children write thank-you notes is a beautiful and underrated thing. It helps them see that the gifts theyreceive are just that: gifts. It is so much easier and more natural to take things for granted if you are never taught to pause and reflect on who made sacrifices to provide things for you.

What is the best ‘thank you’ you have ever received?

Hmm. It’s funny, I very recently received a Gramr from my youngest sister, and I remember thinking after I finished reading it that it was the nicest and most encouraging note I’d everreceived. She used one of her crazy super-fine pens with the tiny nibs, and she was able to fit about 3 times as many compliments onto the card by writing so small that I almost needed to find a magnifying glass to read it all.
Even though it was not an occasion-specific thank-you note, it really just changed my whole week. I think there is something to that — sending a thank-you note, not necessarily to follow up with a good host, or to thank someone for a favor, but simply to thank someone for all that they mean to you … that is what makes living and relationships so, so beautiful. We have a profound ability to affect each others’ lives by just affirming one another, and I try to remember that as often as I can.

What is the best way to start thinking gratefully as a habit?

The more time I spend studying gratitude the more I am able to see that it is a choice. We get to wake up every day and make our coffee and tea and look out the window — and we get to decide how we want to see things. Are we able to recognize that we could have just as easily not woken up at all? Or that the coffee we are drinking had to be carefully grown in the dry mountain heat of Ethiopia, before being pruned, harvested, shipped, roasted, packaged and distributed … just so that we could get our daily dose of java? It’s not natural to think like this, but when you start to do it, you realize every single thing inside of your house, an doutside of your house, has a story like that.

Gratitude must be expressed as an action for it to really mature and develop — that is a foundational reason for starting Gramr. One of my favorite quotes of all time goes like this: “Silent gratitude is no use to anyone.” It’s true. If someone doesn’t know that you are grateful for them, then your gratitude is only very partially realized. Writing thank-you notes, for reasons described above, is the best way that I have found to make my gratitude action-oriented. Gramr has built a program that encourages you to write one thank-you note each week —which is really not very much, but it is certainly more than I was doing before starting Gramr. Our subscribers really find value and genuine happiness in reaching out and thanking a new person every week who has added value to their lives — everyone from an old teacher to the barista at their local Starbucks. Our subscriptions come with postage, envelopes, new cards, and thoughts about gratitude each month to help you grow alongside of us.


We love GRAMR and know you will too! Find all sorts of goodness and products to spark your journey of gratitude at https://gramr.us/.

How do you practice gratitude?