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                              A Kind Word

- by Scott Adams - Creator of *Dilbert*
   In January 1986,  I was flipping through the channels on TV and saw
the closing credits for a PBS broadcast called "Funny Business," a show
about cartooning. I had always wanted to be a cartoonist, but never knew
how to go about it. I wrote the host of the show, cartoonist Jack
Cassady, and asked him advice on entering the profession.
   A few weeks later, I got an encouraging handwritten letter from Jack,
answering all my specific questions about materials and processes. He went
on to warn me about the likelihood of being rejected at first, advising me
not to get discouraged. He said the cartoon samples I had sent him were
good and worthy of publication.
   I got excited, finally understanding how the whole process worked. I
submitted cartoons to two national magazines. They quickly rejected me
with form letters. Discouraged, I put my art supplies in the closet and
decided to forget about cartooning.
   In June 1987 - out of the blue - I got a second letter from Jack
Cassady. This was surprising, since I hadn't even thanked him for the
original advice.
                     Dear Scott,

                     I was reviewing my file when I ran across
                     your letter and copies of your cartoons. I  
                     remember answering your letter.
                     I'm dropping you this note to again encourage
                     you to submit your ideas to various publications.
                     I hope you have already done so and are making
                     a few bucks and having fun too.
                     Sometimes encouragement in the funny
                     business of graphic humor is hard to
                     come by. That's why I am encouraging you to
                     hang in there and keep drawing.

    I was profoundly touched by his letter, largely, I think, because
Jack had nothing to gain. I acted on his encouragement, dragged my art
supplies out of storage and inked the sample strips that eventually became
"Dilbert." Now, 700 newspapers and six books later, things are going
pretty well in Dilbertville.

    I wouldn't have tried cartooning again if Jack hadn't sent the
second letter. With a kind word and postage stamp, he started a chain of
events that reaches all the way to you right now. As "Dilbert" became
more successful, I came to appreciate the enormity of Jack's simple act
of kindness. I did eventually thank him, but I have never been able to
shake the feeling that I had been given a gift that defied reciprocation.
Somehow, thanks didn't seem good enough.
   Over time, I have come to understand that some gifts are meant to
be passed on, not repaid. All of us know somebody who could benefit from
a kind word. I'm encouraging you to act on it. For the biggest impact, do
it in writing. And do it for somebody who knows you have nothing to gain.
  It's important to give encouragement to family and friends, but their
happiness and yours are inseparable. For the maximum velocity, encourage
someone who can't return the favor - it's a distinction that won't be lost
on the recipient.
 And remember , there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every
act creates a ripple with no logical end.