Writing end-of-year charitable giving checks the other day got me thinking about generosity. In particular, I was reminded of some people who have been generous in the years since I started my business. By generosity, I mean generosity experienced as encouragement or giving of time. As any small business owner knows, there are days that never seem to end, when nothing gets done and where everything that can go wrong does. People who offer a well-timed ‘atta boy’ or send an out-of-the-blue referral to your inbox can make an entrepreneurs’ day.
My friend and early mentor Sean Branagan, Director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University, is a generous type through and through. Not only is Sean a talented serial entrepreneur, but he was generous taking me under his virtual wing in the early days of my marketing career.
Though our paths don’t cross often these days, Sean is the kind of person who always has a good lead or connection to share. Once, he sent me a complimentary membership to the Red House, a nonprofit theater center in the trendy Armory Square district of Syracuse where we live. Sean has introduced me to countless individuals who have more often than not been helpful as I grew my business.
Susan Beebe, of Lighthouse Marketing, is another example of someone who gives naturally of her time and gifts. Susan, technically a competitor, gave valuable advice during a time when I desperately needed direction to keep my company growing. She didn’t have to engage with me.Yet, her innate sense of generosity gave her the freedom to help when the need was there, not because it necessarily benefited her.
Susan operates by the principal of "to get you have to first give". That type of generosity is truly servant leadership.
Finally, I have been privileged to work with a few talented strategic partners who exude generosity of the selfless kind, while growing their businesses at the same time as I grow mine. Becky Bayne, of Becky’s Graphic Design, Larry Wilcox, of CNY Web Design, and Chris Belna, of A La Carte Business Services, have shared volumes of website, design and systems knowledge, have successfully bailed me out of sticky situations, and have shown the patience of saints more times than I can count. These three partners are among my greatest assets as a business owner.
There are others in my sphere who "live to give", if you will. Gwen Webber-McLeod and Tracy Higginbotham immediately come to mind. They stand out as shining examples of business owners who operate with a philosophy of generosity that influences the world for good. I am happy to acknowledge them all, and to use this post to encourage generosity.
You just can’t overstate the good that genuinely generous people do in the world each day. Personal generosity is a valuable trait for entrepreneurs to develop and exercise. How about you? Are you as generous as possible? I’m working on my GQ (Generosity Quotient) this year, that's for sure. By the end of 2012, I hope to have a few stories of my own to share. Maybe you'll have a few too.