On Giving

by Luis Martinez

What are you giving away – with no expectation of return?  What part of your value or of your services are you rendering to others as your gift for the greater good?  And, you may be asking, why this topic today?   Well, if you suspect that this topic was chosen in December to set the reader up to make a philanthropic donation to a worthy cause, you’re right!  Your cause.  This is a business topic – about your business. 

We establish our businesses to earn an income, to be economically self sufficient, to be productive for ourselves and others.  That is understood.  But there is room in that profit motive equation for charity, not just the traditional type of charity of benevolent donations to worthy causes, but charity with an intent of benefiting the greater good, of which we are also a part.  Sounds circuitous, doesn’t it?  Let me use two specific examples to illustrate, one of a local entrepreneur, the second one of a national magazine.

My friend Scott owns a neighborhood bicycle shop.  I’m an avid cyclist, and needed some new cycling shoes a few years ago. I went through several catalogues and found exactly what I wanted.  The shoes were identically priced at $179.99 in three catalogs. I took all three catalogs to Scott and said to him: “These are the shoes I want.  Please order them from your sources and I’ll pay you the catalog price, so you can have the profit.”  He ordered the shoes and a few days later he called me to come pick them up.  When I came to get the shoes he charged me $120.  I said, “Scott, you’re giving me a big break here, sixty dollars…”  He said, “No problem, I made my money.”  Well, can you guess what I’ve been doing ever since?  He gave me a $60 savings that I wasn’t expecting so I’ve been buying every article for bicycling from him, and singing his praises!  Wouldn’t you? How many customers have I sent his way who have bought his high end bikes?  He gave of himself, expecting nothing – we didn’t have an agreement, not even implicitly, for a price break.  But in doing so he gained a great deal more. (Visit Scott Likly, Towpath Bicycles, Pittsford, NY)

The second example is the magazine, Fast Company.   When it launched, the publishers held to a principle of sharing and giving their information, the content of their articles, freely and openly.  Now, more than a decade later I still look forward to receiving Fast Company in the mail for its contemporary and timely content.  But wait, there’s more.  I love to go on their website and search their archives for topics of interest: on leadership, entrepreneurship, branding (personal and corporate), social media–the list is long. Fast Company archives are easy to find–and are free.  Many other publications, including our city newspaper, charge at least ten bucks for an archived article.  At Fast Company they have adhered to a spirit of giving – a spirit that others need to emulate. 

Look at the evidence: in this article I’ve just told you about two enterprises that keep on giving.

Is your brand known for giving?

Luis Martinez is the owner of Gran Altura’s, Getting There. He has many years experience coaching and advising employees, peers, and executives and has held senior level assignments at Fortune 500 Companies. Join the ranks of highly accomplished individuals. Get the job and attain the status you deserve. Learn more about Getting There.

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