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Random Acts of Kindness … in Business?

October 6, 2011

     In mid August, I was dashing home to my children after a long and tiring day in the office.  It was 8 p.m. ish.  I was parked on the 8th floor of a parking garage.  I turn the key to my red Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Sputter, sputter, sputter.  Nothing.  Battery dead.

     I open up the car door and see a young woman.  Katie Daley, age 22,  walking to her car after her long shift waitressing at Atria’s.  Before I could even ask for a battery jump, she asked me.  Although we both tried to jump the car, we could not get it to work.  She said, “Do you have Triple AAA?” I said, “No.”  She said, “I will call for you on my card.”  The one AAA stipulation was that she had to stay with me until the tow truck arrived,  which she did, patiently for at least 30 min or more. 

I was stunned.  I could not believe she would give of her time so unselfishly.   While we waited, her boyfriend called a few times to make sure we were not getting mugged.  Again, all I could think of was Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)

    I wanted to write about this incident on this business blog and start a discussion about  the extent to which kindness has a place, if any (some may argue) ….  in business.   

      Not wanting to reinvent the wheel here, I found a great blog post “Random Acts of Kindness: Why Kind, Human Brands Will Thrive in a Connected Economy”  written by Miss Jane Muse.  Her main tips for RAK for business owners are:

  • Be Genuine.
  • Be Personal.
  • Be Compassionate.
  • Make it Shareable.
  • Be Generous.
  • Have Meaning and Purpose.

BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS: What does this mean for your business? 

  • PERSONAL:  How can you make your business service more personal?  How well do you know your customers/clients on a personal basis?  Does our newly “connected” economy/society demand that we become more personal with our business contacts?  First it was the new notion of “business casual” dressing in the workplace and now the social media firehouse.  Is your business responding to all of this change?
  •  MEANING AND PURPOSE.  What is the meaning and purpose behind your business?  How can you evidence in your marketing or via the products or services themselves how genuinely passionate you are about the meaning and purpose behind your business?  See blog post just from today titled “What Business Are You In? Take a Lesson from Steve Jobs“, written by Cordell Parvin about the fundamental purposes of a business.   What is your purpose behind your work? [my purpose-to empower people I like to have a career/business doing what they love to do, and at the same time reinvigorate our regional ecomony one business at a time]
  • GENEROSITY.  Are you ever randomly generous with your customer base?  Do you ever take a loss on an item just to be nice and generous to a customer?

         Shortly after I was the beneficiary of Katie’s good samaritan efforts, I experienced another RAK recently when I was shopping at a retail store.  The store owner helped me put together an outfit for a firm function.  She used a very expensive belt to accessorize the dress.  I told her I didn’t need the belt; she could probably pick up on the fact that I didn’t want to spend the money on the item, although I loved it.  She thought the accessory, however, was key to the outfit that I did buy from her and insisted that I keep the belt (for free).  She shoved it in my purse. 

      I will never ever forget this random act of kindness for as long as I live.  This busines owner ate the profit on the belt (and it was not a cheap belt) just because she genuinely wanted me to look as good as I could.   In a mouth-dropping fashion, she was remarkably generous.  Her mission and purpose of running the retail store is not solely to make money, clearly.  Her mission and purpose is to dress women beautifully in quality clothing that makes a woman really feel good when wearing an outfit  from her store, clothes and accessories that she handpicks and buys from all over the country.   Incidentally, I returned to the store two weeks later to stock up on jeans.

    When was the last time you performed a RAK or were the beneficiary thereof?  Give the rest of us some ideas.  What random acts of kindness can you commit today in your home or workplace for your friends, customers, colleagues, and employees?

    Now that I have twice been the beneficiary of RAK in the last few weeks, I will now have to pay if forward.  I will keep you posted on what I decide to do.

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