We hear it a lot and it’s generally a good thing – “Paying it forward.” It’s a common mantra in BNI networking meetings: “Givers gain.” Both of those ideas are fundamentally flawed because there is a built in quid pro quo. Paying it forward means prepayment for something your expect to receive in the future. Givers gain. Nuff said. Neither of these sayings assume any magnanimity on the part of the giver.
Business people who attempt to gain favor with gifts of their time or providing niceties to prospects in order to get their attention and oblige them are missing the boat entirely on the real “pay it forward” concept. I have often heard “I tried doing that and all I got were a few thank yous.”
Now this concept is actually very powerful in business and all walks of life when it is one-sided. That is, the givers are sincerely generous, whether they have surpluses or shortages. They don’t seem to be ingratiating themselves or concerned with the clock. Generosity and magnanimity are easy to recognize in a person by their actions, tone, body language and so on. On the other hand, manipulation by favor, when recognized, is very off-putting and really doesn’t work. Genuinely paying it (forward, backward, up or down) is indeed a wonderful thing and can win hearts over as well as new business.
Listen to one of the best radio ads I’ve ever heard and be the judge. What do you think of this ad? Is it sincere? Would you patronize BOTH establishments? For me the answers are yes and I think it’s a very effective advertisement from a company that demonstrates real generosity in their community. And, they happen to be wildly successful – generation after generation.
Incidentally, I just tried The Sandwich Depot for lunch. Talk about truth in advertising… Deeeeelicious, and great people! Thanks for the tip, Amanda. By the way, our 2004 Honda Odyssey is getting tired and we may need to visit the dealership soon.