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Smile card shenanigans at work

Go here to get your own smile cards and find out what it’s all about:

Back in February I asked my colleague, Andrew, if he’d like to go meet some cool people and do a one hour mediation at Nipun’s house while we were in Santa Clara for a convention. He said, “sure”. I told them about all the kooky yet cool good natured people he’ll meet there. I think the thought of the week centered on how to balance dependence on others with independence. Anyways… while we were there we snagged a bunch of Smile Cards to bring back. He said he liked the meditation, the discussion, and the dinner that we we had with the Charity Focusizers, but that sitting for an hour without moving did start to hurt after awhile. I agreed.

One of my heroes told me of how she likes to secretly leave little treats for people at work with a smile card. So, I started doing that too. I found these really great snacks made by Larabar called “cashew cookies.” that was usually my go-to. Sometimes, I’d leave a book or a DVD that I liked for my co-workers on my way out. It was kind of cool, because everybody got it! Nobody tried very hard to find out who or how. They just kept doing it again and again. I got 3 of the smile cards given back my way.

One of my best friends at work had her birthday a couple weeks ago. If you meet her, you would know that she’s an exceptional human being. She’s one of the most thoughtful people I know. On top of that, she’s very smart and always has good advice on anything for anyone. I do believe all people are beautiful in their own way like flowers. But she’s beautiful like the sun rise (I mean inside and out). She treats everyone the same and she treats each person specially. At the office, she’s everybody’s best friend.

A tangent: My birthday was the week before. The year before I had bought her one book, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. And she bought me 2 books, Life of Pi and Wicked. The arms race was on. This year I ran across some book recommendations and decided on 3 books that would be cool for her: A Thousand Splendid Suns, Seizure, and Notes from My Travels. I hadn’t read any of these before. The first one was about an afghan woman’s life. The second one I had no idea about except that I was very impressed with the author’s interview on the Charlie Rose Show where she talked about the creativity in how works talk to each other: inspiration brings inspiration. The 3rd one was about what Angelina Jolie saw on her UNHCR missions. But to my suprise when my birthday came around, she really got me good. She donated enough money to the LA Mission in my name to feed 30 people. Like I said, she’s super thoughtful. She knows I hate the idea of birthday gifts. I don’t even know why I got in the habit of the book giving. I think it was more about the fact that her gift got me to read again. And that should touch on the idea about how gifts come with some baggage of obligation. That’s why I’m a big fan of the anonymous gift smile-card-style. No expectation, no obligation.

Anyways… getting back to the smile cards… On her birthday, someone had left an envelope full of movie tickets on my desk. There was a cryptic message about how I should secretly get those to my friend(specifically the lady mentioned above) and get her to give 5 pairs of tickets to people (one for themselves and another for them to give to another person secretly). That was a pretty cool thoughtful gesture. I still don’t know who it was and that’s not important. What’s cool is that there is some notion that people are thinking and giving. And all of that may or may not have started with the introduction of the smile cards. It definitely made it more fun!

Next year’s escalation of the gift giving will involve smile cards.


  • gianna

    yes! This is exactly how a workplace should be…so awesome!

  • Madhavi

    That is pretty cool Spoon. I wish I had an office now! Maybe I should start it up at the clients I visit =)

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