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The Fairly Odd Reason I Gave Up M&Ms on My Birthday


by Glenn Shepard
October 18, 2016
Category: Personal



Decatur, AL Oct 25
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Birthday Cake from 2015
Last year's Pay It Forward
birthday cake.


Want to lose weight without eating less or exercising more? Eat dinner at least 4 hours before bedtime. The closer to bedtime you eat, the more likely you are to pack on pounds.


On 11/16/04, I was awakened in the middle of the night at the Holiday Inn in Holyoke, Massachusetts by 21 words.

I remembered that the tune for the Beatles’ "Yesterday" came to Paul McCartney while he was asleep, and figured I should write the words down.

I didn’t know what to do with them, but knew they were inspired by a young woman who attended my seminar that day. She had basically sacrificed her youth to raise her sister’s three kids after she went to prison.

On 6/6/05, those words appeared as the first quote in the first issue of this newsletter:

“Three words describe 90 percent of the people I meet - Selfish, Selfish, Selfish. I thank God for the other 10 percent.”

I later changed “Selfish, Selfish, Selfish” to “Selfish, Lazy and Ungrateful”.

I’m a Christian. (If it “offends” you that I mention my faith, click the Unsubscribe link at the bottom. Seriously. Click it. If you’re one of those people who preaches diversity and inclusion but then cries fowl the minute someone expresses values different than yours, you’re a big, fat hypocrite and I don’t want you as a subscriber).

As a Christian, I believe the purpose of my life is to serve God, and that He wants us to do that by serving others. While I’ve never sacrificed as much as the woman in Massachusetts, I serve a lot of people.

For example, I publish the world’s largest Job Board for chamber of commerce executives (, and people from California to New York have found jobs on it. The first one got a 78% pay increase. I do this as a way of giving back to an industry that has helped my business so much.

We charge nothing for it, but it costs me about $20,000 a year to provide. Yet it’s amazing how many people who find jobs on it never send a thank you note, or ask what they can do to give back. About half don’t even return my calls or respond to my emails after they get the new job. (Until they get fired and need another job. Then they want to be my best friend).

I’ve also coached over 300 speakers and authors. Several have made thousands of dollars as a direct result, and the only thing I’ve ever asked is that they pay it forward by helping someone else and sharing the story with me. All 300+ have promised to do so, but not one has ever kept their promise.

I’ve given away a GMC van, a Jaguar, and a Land Rover to people in need, but have never received a thank you note from any of the recipients.

All of this leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I have to try hard not to be bitter. A friend suggested that if doing for others leaves me feeling so bad, I should quit doing it.

But it feels good to help people – especially when you encounter the 10% who actually appreciate it.

And here’s why I gave up M&Ms on my birthday….

I believe birthdays are the one day of the year everyone is entitled to be self-centered (because it’s YOUR day). For years, we had subscribers send M&M’s on my birthday. It was a challenge to see how many I could get.

But on my 51st birthday in 2014, I began asking people to perform a random act of kindness for a stranger they’ll never see again.

I wasn’t trying to be altruistic. To the contrary, I was being a little self-serving.

I already have everything I need. (My beautiful bride tried to give me a 50th anniversary Corvette for my 50th birthday in 2013, but I wouldn’t accept it because I didn’t need another car.)

And I’ve done just about everything there is to do on birthdays, from cruises to racing a red Ferrari and a yellow Lamborghini though the dessert to sky-jumping off of the Las Vegas Stratosphere.

What I wanted – all I wanted – for my 51st birthday in 2014 was for people to Pay It Forward.

And it was the most awesome birthday ever. We received emails from people telling us how much fun they had doing it, and how good it made them feel. And how their kids picked up on it, and how it became an incredible teaching moment.

And THAT made me feel good – really, really good. So shoot me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to feel good on your birthday.

And that’s how the new tradition of Pay It Forward Birthdays was born in 2014, and will continue until the day I die.

I now begin each birthday by giving an envelope of cash in the amount of the birthday number to a McDonald’s manager to pay for the meals of people behind me.

Last year we took a birthday cake to the Nashville Fire Department with the words “Thank You!” on it. (That was also a little self-serving. I got to have a birthday cake, but didn’t gain all the weight I would have if a cake had stayed in our kitchen for the next week).

And it keeps growing.

If you love to help others but don’t love birthdays, I challenge you to adopt the Pay It Forward Birthday idea. I guarantee it’ll be the best birthday present you ever got, and you’ll actually look forward to birthdays again.

To Your Success,

In case you missed the memo, I turn 53 on October 20. If you’d like to participate in my Pay it Forward Birthday celebration, do something for a total stranger and tell us about it at 

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