Chris Schembra is the founder of the 7:47 Gratitude Experience. The 7:47 Club helps leaders create more meaningful connection through the evidence-based gratitude experience, WSJ Best Selling Author, founding member of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Culture Council, Fast Company Magazine Executive Board member, and USA Today‘s “Gratitude Guru”. His two books, Gratitude Through Hard Times, and Gratitude and Pasta are globally recognized as guide books full of inspiration, thought provoking questions that leave you full of gratitude and ways to grow your resilience and optimism.
We talked to Chris about his background, his ideas behind growing gratitude, his personal stance on gratitude, and the mission behind his club and life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Chris was the person who looked perfect on paper. He was thriving in the theater business, producing plays on Broadway and beyond. But, something was missing. Chris had struggled with depression, self-harm, had spent time in rehab centers, as well as jail.
In July 2015, he returned to his city of New York City after producing a play in Italy. After enjoying countless pasta dinners, laughs, love, and community in Italy, New York felt empty and depressing. Chris’ life in New York felt unfulfilling. He wanted to feel the same airiness and excitement for life that he felt when he was spending time in Italy. What was it about Italy that changed his perspective?
Maybe it was Pasta? Trying to recreate the delicious foods that he had enjoyed so much, he accidentally created a pasta sauce. Of course, he needed outside opinions to make sure the sauce was as good as he thought it was, so he had 15 friends over to see what they thought about his creation. Thus, the 7:47 Club was born.
What is the 7:47 Club, how did you start it, and what is the intention behind it?
The 7:47 Club is an organization aimed to “help YOU stop doing surface level team building and client engagements; and start investing in real experiences that change lives for the better”. It all began in his kitchen in the summer of 2015 and the word has spread from there.
The first dinner was a humble event with 15 friends, all delegated tasks to serve, eat, drink, and make the pasta together. The epitome of community. This meal was so successful and so meaningful to everyone who attended, that they continued on for every single week of the year. 54 dinners in 52 weeks.
The rules of the club were simple:
- Bring a bottle of wine
- Be ready to open up and share
- The first time you come, you have to come alone
- The second time you come, you can bring a friend
- The third time you are invited you do not have to come at all and can nominate someone to come instead
The 7:47 Club became a very coveted dinner ritual and the word started spreading around New York City. For such a big city, word can spread fast. People would come up to Chris in the streets to ask to come to the dinner. His phone started ringing, starting with the CEO of a company who wanted Chris help to put on dinner parties for his clients.
7:47 grew so quickly and became so known, that it ended up becoming super expensive due to the high demand of the dinner parties. So, they started producing bigger events, which clients would need to bring a lot of people to, in order to make it financially feasible. For example, a pasta dinner for eighteen people costs $20,000.
The Gratitude Question
Alright, pasta dinners for $20,000? What does that have to do with gratitude? One simple question that was asked of all of the attendees: Who have you not shown or told you’re grateful for in your life?
This is a question that causes people to reflect.
Some people’s stories are positive, such as people never thinking to thank their teachers, wives, children, or dogs.
Some people’s stories were negative, such as people never thinking to thank an old boss who was disrespectful, an ex-girlfriend who cheated on them, or a mom who died without telling them they loved them.
Ultimately, thinking about how you got to where you are, what people influenced that in positive, and sometimes negative ways, and connecting on shared experiences with other people can accumulate gratitude in ways that you may not expect.
“Chris is smart, passionate and through his guidance helps organizations build community and strengthen relationships.” Donna Letier. “We are all rushed, when we work, when we play, and when we listen. Watching Chris connect employees to each other and to their companies culture has been like watching a master at work.” We are excited to be partnering with Chris, we know that when gratitude grows so does your businesses bottom line. We have recently introduced a Gratitude Garden and have been reminded that “getting a little dirty” grows gratitude.