The Insights Blog

The Easiest Skill to Learn with the Highest Return

The Easiest Skill to Learn with the Highest Return

thank you note

What one skill can everyone master that has high returns, is easy to implement and can require zero investment other than a little bit of your time?

We recently held another Mercer Island Group strategic insight training workshop. Strategists and agency execs from all over attended. They worked on some real world, real client challenges on their way to enhancing their skills to use data, interpretation and evaluation skills to develop compelling insights for their businesses and clients. The workshop was a big success, with dozens of executives adding to their strategic toolkits. But – that is a story for another day.

Today, I’d like to share an easier skill to develop that has far reaching returns.

A Simple Card in My Mailbox

I returned from the strategic insight workshop and found this card in my mailbox:

The card was from Cliff Callis of Callis Integrated Marketing. Cliff runs a fine agency focused on the brands and consumers of rural America. I’ve known Cliff for a few years and always found him to be gracious, thoughtful and a pleasure to work with. At the session we worked on an important case that Cliff’s agency was addressing and the insights developed could help his agency and his client achieve even greater success. It was lovely to open the envelope and find his agency’s logo.

A Lovely Note

But that was just the beginning of the surprise!

Making it a little easier to read, here’s what Cliff wrote by hand:

Dear Robin, Lindsay & Steve –

Thank you for sharing your expertise with us in Orlando. I thought the workshop was excellent and a real game-changer. I’m looking forward to making it more foundational to our agency. Have a great 2022 and I hope to see you again soon.


With that simple, lovely note, Cliff reminded me of a simple lesson.

It Pays to be Gracious. And it’s Free.

Everyone wins when you are gracious. What an amazing value proposition!

What can a CMO, a senior marketer or agency executive do with this fundamental truth?

Pay It Forward

It is so easy to be gracious and thankful and there are so many ways to do it! This doesn’t require a handwritten note – although that old-school approach is so thoughtful. Send an email. Send a text. Tell them directly. We have a wonderful client right now that expresses their heartfelt and genuine thankfulness for Mercer Island Group support at the end of every phone call or zoom session. Every. Single. One.

Cliff Callis runs Callis Marketing, a full-service advertising agency that specializes in marketing to rural America. Callis is headquartered in Missouri, surrounded by thousands of acres of America’s heartland. Through the team’s life and business experiences, they have a deep understanding of rural America, and know how to communicate with this important and growing market. You can find them here. Or listen to Cliff’s wonderful podcast on marketing to rural America here.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.