If you’re involved in Jen Waldman Studio, then you might know Carly Valancy, who turned a book called Reach Out (by Molly Beck) into an art form. If not, I’m going to tell you all about it.
I first read this book in 2018 as part of the JWS Book Discussion Group. To put it simply, this book is all about the daily practice of reaching out in generosity. It’s sort of like a gratitude journal, only in action—instead of keeping all the things you’re grateful for in your own private notebook, you tell the person who made those things happen. In writing.
If that sounds scary to you, you’re right. It absolutely is.
In the book, Molly makes a case for doing this every single day of the workweek. In addition to spreading gratitude and expanding her community, she knew that the more she did it, the less scary each individual message would be.
She was right.
Ever since I read it, I’ve tried like hell to incorporate it into my daily practice. And a lot of the time, I succeeded. But the more time that went between reach outs, the more nervous I was to send the messages.
Carly Valancy to the rescue!
After 100 days of her own consecutive reach outs, Carly threw a party at the acting studio we are both involved in to share with others what she’s learned. And now, over 200 reach-outs in, this queen has teamed up with the author of the book herself to create a 27-day long accountability group dedicated solely to the art of reaching out. (And you can join it too!)
I had the immense privilege of being in the first ever session of the Reach Out Party, and some of the most amazing things happened as a result, so I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned.
1.) People love getting gratitude emails.
Whether your reach out is to your favorite actor on a TV show or just to your own grandmother, people love hearing that their work has made an impact. Think of a time that someone reached out to you to tell you how amazing you are. Didn’t that feel incredible? And people rarely take the time to do it. Maybe the author of that amazing blog you read every week rarely gets feedback about the work she’s putting into the world. Be the one to tell her. It’s important.
2.) People want to help.
Gratitude isn’t the only thing that can go in a reach-out email. You can tell a story, send an article you think they’d like, and even ask for advice. Every time I’ve asked one of my heroes for advice, they’ve shown up tenfold. One person even sent me a 7-minute-long video response that turned into a 45-minute video call. You never know what’s going to happen when you hit send.
3.) “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”
I recently read this quote in Marie Forleo’s new book Everything is Figureoutable and it absolutely applies here. Engaging with others opens you to new opportunities and ideas, but also to yourself. By reaching out every day, I’ve strengthened my willingness to be vulnerable, I’ve paid a lot more attention to the things that I love and the content I consume, and my writing skills have improved. I’ve learned how to ask myself questions in order to get to the most specific “why”—why do I love this thing that this person made? And what does that tell me about myself? Ultimate clarity comes from shining a light on others.
Carly and Molly are running another session of their Reach Out Party, which starts on Sunday, May 17th @ 7pm EST, and ends on June 23rd. I highly recommend joining her and picking up a copy of this book—it just might change your life.