By Brinkley Warren
Today I want to talk about a key metric that I will call the Generosity Quotient. I hope to develop some key resources around this idea if you all find it valuable. I think it can be useful for business, and for our own daily lives.
If you see an unmet need, what is your first response? If a friend of a friend asks you to dog-sit for 3 days, how does your psyche respond? Do you embrace it as an opportunity to be generous and see the positive aspects of dog-sitting or is your first reaction to think about all of the extra work it will take, the inconveniences, and other negative emotions?
This post is about generosity, and why it’s important to engender, embrace, and channel it in your personal and professional life.
Professionally we can view generosity from the standpoint of customer-needs. All of us have customers, whether they are using or buying a product from you, or whether they are “internal customers” that you must collaborate with to get things done. Not only that, but we’re all customers in one way or another, and we can all remember two different kinds of customer experiences:
1. Bad Customer Experience
2. Great Customer Experience
The difference between these two experiences comes down to one thing — generosity. It’s not just about giving something of value, but it’s also the attitude of the participants involved. Is the attitude centered on congeniality, pleasantness, and kindness? If so, despite the value of any objects that may or may not exchange hands, the customer experience is likely a great one. Generosity is as much about attitude as it is about value.
Think of the past week or month…what was the most pleasurable customer experience you had? If you are mindful of these interactions, you will begin to realize the difference between people and companies with a spirit of generosity versus those without one.
Generosity Creates Value
My observation is that people and companies that have a spirit of generosity have an incredible competitive advantage, not only because they might do something extra for their customers (as they often do) but also because they tend to leave people feeling good after an interaction, and this feeling is actually exponentially attracts and engenders MORE generosity, not only from the company which feels good about giving and helping and the positive feeedback from customers, but also in the mind of the customer — YOU! Is it not so that after someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you that you feel better, and you are more likely to go out of YOUR way for someone else?
Feelings Are Magnetic
Each feeling is like a beacon of light rotating around the top of a lighthouse, and this rotating light attracts your reality. It is the law of attraction. Love attracts love. Gratitude attracts more reasons to be grateful. Generosity creates a generous response and inspires more and more generosity from all parties involved. What we focus on expands and deepends. So choosing to focus on feelings that feel good is a sure way to create the experience you want, and to exponentially increase similar feelings
Generosity is About Intent
A spirit of generosity can also be explained as a willingness to give, help, support and/or share good wishes with another person. It is about one’s attitude, one’s genuine intent.
In business, this relates to the advice to always seek to under-promise and over-deliver…this helps to increase the Generosity Quotient. Giving something that is a surprise subconsciously activates the principle of reciprocity.
Examples of Companies with a High Generosity Quotient
Panera Bread and Netflix.
The etymological root of generosity is the same as genesis, genius, and generate. Generous companies by and large tend to be proud companies with a strong company culture, and this makes a lot of sense. Panera is a great example of a generous company. Panera knows that by giving food to customers, those customers will spread the good words, and thus generosity is actually a key to growth hacking. Panera opened up a cafe last year which accepts ONLY donations from customers, and the growth marketing aspects of generosity is why Panera’s donations-only café has been breaking even on average. Panera estimates ~60% of customers pay the suggested donation, 20% pay less (or nothing) and 20% pay more. And Panera knows that generosity is highly empowering for employees, and leads to great press coverage and word of mouth, such as this post in Harvard Business Review.
Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, has expressed his evolving attitude towards generosity in the New York Times, he said, “I realized, if our business is about making people happy, which it is, then I had made a mistake. The public shame didn’t bother me. It was the private shame of having made a big mistake and hurt people’s real love for Netflix that felt awful.” This is a key reason why the hit show “House of Cards” is released all at once instead of releasing one episode each week — by giving Netflix customers the entire season at once, they engender a feeling of generosity.
By feeding their Generosity Quotient, Panera and Netflix and other companies are creating an effective way to grow.