Chapter 6: I am proud of you
Don’t stop until you’re proud.
Be proud of your choices,
not your gifts. — Jeff Bezos
We all need the encouraging gestures of “I’m proud of you”
– whether in words,
or actions –
when we’re new to life, starting a business,
trying our best to build self-confidence,
or even reach the pinnacle of your career.
I believe that each of us is born
with some latent ability.
You can help those you love realize their potential
by expressing how proud you are of them.
Like other grandparents,
I always want to see my grandchildren play.
Just the other day they were
still taking their first steps,
but time passed quickly,
now they are able to run,
dive and perform on stage.
When I watch them play,
I understand they are trying
to get my attention and approval.
A few years ago,
at the swimming pool,
I was impressed
when they called out,
“Look at me, Grandpa!”
then dive underwater
or jump into the water.
Since each one was trying to outdo the other,
they looked over at me to make sure
I was still watching them perform.
“Look at this one!”,
children always expect loved ones to look
and send them a smile of encouragement
or confirmation of their abilities.
Then when they grow up,
they expect their grandparents,
parents to see them get good grades, play sports,
play the piano,
act in plays, etc.
and step foot on the threshold of university.
You will definitely notice this in your children and grandchildren.
Besides the words “I love you”,
surely a word that has a much stronger influence
than we can say is “I am proud of you”.
However, “Watch this one!”
Not just children’s words.
The desire contained in the phrase “Watch this child!”
When we are young, we will follow us for the rest of our lives,
because everyone needs to be noticed
and acknowledged by those who mean the most to them.
So we rush to study,
work hard to achieve high achievements
because of that paramount desire.
In 2007, my wife Helen received the “Lifetime Achievement” award
from the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra
(the Grand Rapids Symphony) for her years of volunteering
to help develop a world-class orchestra
and giving the musical gift
to the community copper.
My children and I posted an advertisement
about the awards program
with the words “We are proud of you!”.
Helen herself doesn’t need any compensation for
i do. She volunteered to contribute just
because of her love for music
and affection for the community.
But I understand that a few words
of love showing recognition
from the family will be an invaluable gift for her.
Behind the spirit of hard work is often
the desire to be praised by people,
to be attached to many impressive positions,
to receive awards or to see your name in the newspaper.
All of us understand the value of saying ”
Good job, boy!” or “Come on, girl!”
with an encouraging pat on the back.
In business, I quickly understood the power
of recognizing other people’s accomplishments,
and how quickly unrecognized achievements can drown out human effort.
Only sages work hard
without anyone knowing.
As you learn to see the good in people,
you’ll find it easy to tell them you’re proud of them.
Each person is inherently special
and unique individuals,
possessing certain talents,
living with purpose and having their own dreams.
That awareness has also been a great spiritual encouragement
for us to reach our full potential.
The business I started with Jay Van Andel in 1959 was very simple.
Anyone can start a business with Amway
and earn income by selling products to people they know,
plus a commission from the sales of people
they refer to join the business network.
Business participants will receive a product kit
with the necessary instructions to proceed with the work.
Amway is everyone’s business,
and everyone needs recognition to succeed.
As such, we offer varying degrees of success
and opportunities to achievers
who will be recognized on stage at business conferences,
in front of their peers.
It is also a way for people doing business
with Amway to say to others,
“Look at me”;
at the same time
let the people they respect
and admire in the company admit:
“I’m proud of you”.
Seeing thousands of people achieve success beyond their dreams,
I’ve found that saying
“I’m proud of you” can change a person’s life.
“I’m proud of you” isn’t just about recognizing someone’s accomplishments,
it’s also motivating,
encouraging people to do more than they thought they would.
That’s why Jay and I put recognition into this business.
We base Amway’s attitude of appreciation
for achievement and reward,
because if there were only tangible rewards,
Objects alone are not strong enough
to motivate people to realize their potential
and strive to achieve their dreams.
We offer two solid foundations: levels
and achievement levels identified by names
such as Emerald and Diamond.
Now, it’s common for many people to think
that a rank named with a gem isn’t as important
and doesn’t motivate
as strongly as monetary rewards
because money can be used to buy houses, cars,
Does anyone else want to work hard
to earn an Emerald or Diamond badge?
But we find that the Diamond rank is very important
– if not extremely important
– in motivating people.
Diamond-level achievers in Amway’s product business
will be featured in the company’s magazine
and celebrated in front of thousands of colleagues.
That recognition, cheers from colleagues,
from the leadership convey the message that:
“I am proud of you”.
After writing my third book Hope From My Heart:
Ten Lessons For Life (roughly translated:
Hope from the heart:
10 life lessons),
I came up with the idea to use this book to recognize
those who endeavor to take action to give hope to others.
So every time the local newspaper publishes
a story about an inspiring example,
or a volunteer making a difference in the community,
I send that person a book with a note.
In the letter,
I congratulated them
and said that we have one thing in common:
trying to give hope to others.
I received a lot of replies
from them thanking them for the book,
they said they would keep the letter in the most respectful place.
For all the propositions in this book,
you should not only increase their use in everyday spoken language,
but apply them to written language as well.
It only takes a few minutes
to jot down a few small notes,
but it’s a great act of inspiration.
I’ve seen my notes posted in places they frequent
and they even framed it.
I grew up with dial-up phones,
letters delivered by land,
water and air,
I appreciate the speed and convenience of email,
but nothing Can convey the full meaning of a thank you
or express interest in a handwritten letter.
Remember how you felt
when you received a small envelope
with an address on the outside, opened it,
and inside was a thank you or congratulation card?
I believe that even the busiest senior managers,
who are daily inundated with a mountain of e-mails of all kinds,
will have to pause for a moment to open a card like that.
Since I have to travel a lot,
I find it more practical to use a private jet.
Besides, I can also lend it to my friends if needed.
Barbara Bush never used my plane
without sending me a handwritten thank you note.
Barbara is a handwritten letter writer.
I appreciate that and appreciate the letters you have written.
Her son, George W. Bush, was one like that.
Years ago, Amway’s way of doing business was
still misunderstood. Once,
I was invited for an interview on the Phil Donahue Show. Mr. Donahue
and some in the audience criticized me
and my business.
I did the best I could to defend myself
against a well-prepared professional interviewer
and an opposition group hurling tough questions
at me on national television.
After the show, I received a small note from Barbara Bush
that simply said: “DeVos 10, Donahue 0”.
Can you imagine how that lifted my spirits! Now,
the phrase “I am proud of you” has the same power.
The power of these simple propositions increases as they are written down.
A simple note template doesn’t take too long either.
You should prepare a stack of white cards
or thank you cards with stamps.
No need to write long letters,
just a few short lines,
but send all the love from the heart.
The next time you think of thanking someone special,
you can quickly and easily turn that thought into action.
That way, you’ll make sure you don’t leave anyone out
those who have done a great job,
those who need encouragement,
or those who just need to know someone is thinking about you.
I am sure that while this is only a small investment,
it can produce huge results.
We all need the encouraging gestures of “I’m proud of you”
whether in words, messages,
when we’re new to life,
starting a business,
trying our best build self-confidence,
or even reach the pinnacle of your career.
I have given hundreds of lectures.
I came to speak to motivate people,
and I am honored for that privilege.
In the past, when I was new to speaking engagements,
I asked Helen to observe and tell me
what she thought of my talk.
I want to get approval
from the most meaningful person in my life.
Helen gave me the validation I needed.
I remember in the early days,
I asked her many times about my performance on stage because
Helen’s compliments and sense of pride in me meant more
than the applause in the audience.
“I’m proud of you” is also a special support for
those who have never received
reward in life,
for those who often doubt their own abilities and for
those who are struggling to find the things
that make them proud.
I myself am the real proof of this.
When I was in school,
I was not an excellent student.
In fact, my father once refused to continue paying for my school fees
because I was lazy and didn’t focus on my studies.
My Latin teacher gave me a D
and I could never attend her class again.
In the end, I decided to study hard to improve my grades,
but I couldn’t get an A in all subjects.
I confessed this in my graduation speech in front of my classmates.
Many of them have earned honorary degrees
or received national awards.
At the ceremony, more than half of classmates graduated
because of good academic performance.
They must have heard their parents
and teachers say to them a few times,
“I’m proud of you”.
Therefore, I feel the need to pay attention to students
who do not receive honorary degrees.
They certainly feel like they are just “leftovers”,
attending the graduation ceremony just
to join the crowd
when they see outstanding students receive their awards.
So I encouraged that each of you can do great things.
I hope this encouragement will help them
to confidently go into life,
thinking that the world will be full of opportunities
and everyone has the ability to make their dreams come true.
Words of encouragement like
that can be a source of inspiration for those young people
for the rest of their lives.
My son, Doug, still remembers my words of encouragement,
the “secret” that has helped Doug a lot since elementary school.
That day, while driving his children to school,
Doug confessed that he was having trouble making friends.
I encourage her to be happier
because “Everyone likes to play with happy people”.
To this day, Doug still vividly remembers saying it
as soon as he got out of the car and heard me call after him:
“Go and grab them, Mr. Fun!”.
Doug is now an adult,
a husband and a father of four,
but Doug still remembers that beautiful memory
and my words of encouragement.
In fact, the good tradition continues.
One of Doug’s daughters founded her high school freshman’s team
and played as a downline player
she’s one of the few girls to ever play with her son’s team in school.
I enjoy going to the games and cheering for her.
For a girl, trying out on a boy’s soccer team definitely
requires a lot of courage and confidence
– it’s most likely built on positive words of encouragement
from her parents during adulthood.
Meanwhile, Helen had a completely opposite childhood.
Her mother is always afraid of the worst,
so she does not allow her to ride a bike or swim.
Helen’s family has vacationed
by the ocean a few times,
and they live near Lake Michigan
plenty of opportunities for her to splash in the water
but her mother keeps her close to shore.
With my encouragement,
although she did not know how to swim,
Helen learned to swim
with a life jacket and snorkel.
Knowing what her childhood was like,
I feel great watching her enjoy swimming with a snorkel
in all the rivers, lakes and seas of the world.
Motivating our loved ones
by expressing pride in them
can help them boldly step off the shallow “sea of perception”
to explore other depths of life.
Can just a few simple words have the power
to make a positive impact?
Find a reason to tell your kids that you’re proud of them
and you’ll be able to answer that question on your own.
“I am proud of you” has a stronger effect when it is said
In public places,
or in front of people they respect
and admire such as parents,
Once, I was fortunate to have a conversation at dinner with a friend.
World-renowned brain surgeon from New York on the occasion
of his lecture at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
He complimented me on the hospital:
“In a few years,
you will be able to attract the best
and most talented doctors across the country.”
I told him: “Look around.
There are already a lot of the best
and most talented doctors here!”
A few years later,
The head of pediatric oncology
and hematology told me he had overheard the conversation
while sitting at the next table.
He said my proud words were like an encouraging “pat” on his back.
He is proud to be a member of the hospital’s talented team of doctors.
Just hearing me express my pride in my medical team
in front of a respected doctor
with a long history in the profession makes him feel grateful
from the bottom of his heart.
I want to be a “life cheerleader”
who brings joy to life, motivates people,
because unfortunately there are some people
who go in the opposite direction
destroy instead of build.
We must believe in limitless potential
and encourage others to do the same.
If you don’t try it,
how do you know if you can paint,
run a business,
lecture in front of people,
earn that degree,
take on that position,
or win? that match?
Saying “I’m proud of you” freely to those
who give their best effort is a way of showing respect
for human dignity.
Everyone says I’m easy to talk to,
from presidents to parking attendants.
I’m proud of it.
My father is an electrician
who has been unemployed all his life
the Great Depression.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of him.
He worked hard to raise my children
and encouraged me to become a business owner.
Many years ago,
I attended a vocational training symposium
with some highly educated people
with many years of experience.
All the while I sat listening to their comments
about unemployed workers,
“Maybe we can at least train him to be a carpenter,”
or “Well, he is.” will still be just a plumber,
but…” I was also the speaker that night.
So I have the opportunity to remind these snobs
that they are looking down from their “ivory tower”
and are trying to arrange a place in society
for those “poor” people – the people,
in their opinion,
are not smart enough to go to college.
As for me,
I don’t believe that humans are merely mechanical workers,
sanitation workers, etc.
We all have our own dignity,
being the holy crystallization of the Universe
and using our natural talents innate
to contribute to society in their own way.
Here, respect is key.
Out of respect,
one can say “I’m proud of you” to anyone who does a good job.
As a parent,
you have the opportunity
to have a powerful influence on the future success of these preschoolers.
As a manager,
include “I am proud of you” in your daily vocabulary.
I believe each of us is born with some hidden potential.
You can help those you love realize
their potential by expressing how proud you are of them.
There is still a little bit of childhood in each person,
that is the expectation of approval
and saying “Look at me!”.
Are you observing life?
Are you mindful of the accomplishments
small or large of your family members,
co-workers or employees?
You can help them thrive by saying
“I’m proud of you!”.