Kindness as a business model

1 + 1 = 3

If you are good at something, never do it for free! Never do a favor for somebody unless you get one back (preferably 2). This has been the business credo for a lot of people for a long time now.

But does it have to be like this? Not at all! In his book “Give and Take” Adam Grant suggests that helping someone without ulterior motives, just as an act of kindness, will pay back tenfold for anyone that wants to build a lasting career.

What is said in this book reminds me a lot of the philosophy behind The Social Coin. The resonating idea that in a caring society or environment everybody is better off.

Both in the book and at The Social Coin (TSC) there is the idea of the ripple effect of kindness. Where one good deed will lead to another. The focus of TSC is more on the effect it has on communities while the book focusses more on the effect on your career.

So it is really interesting to see how they add to each other’s philosophy! This book was an eye opener for me when I read it at the beginning of my bachelors in psychology and I like to think that maybe it has paved the way for me to end up here, doing my internship in a company who shares this idea of kindness as a business model.

Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for five straight years.

He has been recognized as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and the world’s 40 best business professors under 40.

He earned his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, completing it in less than three years, and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Takers, Matchers and Givers


In his book, Adam Grant explains there are 3 types of people: Takers, Matchers and Givers.

  • Takers only take, they do not give back, they do not pay forward. On the short term this will profit them, because they can take advantage of other people.
  • They are very good in kissing up and kicking down, which means that they will come across as very kind, very helpful people when they talk to their bosses, but to somebody who cannot do anything for them, they will act a lot less nice and helpful.Takers are very good fakers. But if you do business like this, after a while there are no bridges left to burn.
  • Matchers take a more careful approach, they want to give, but they are careful that they will get a favor in return. They like to keep the balance.
  • Givers will give to people without keeping score or expecting something back.In a study done with 160 engineers they see that the engineers with the lowest productivity are Givers…But if they look at the engineers with highest productivity they see that they also are Givers. Givers make up both the bottom and top.How do we explain this? The ones at the top differ from the ones at the bottom because they ask themselves 3 questions. Why, who and when.

Why, who and when

As a Giver you run the risk to give more then you have to offer. You give all your time to help a coworker and you end up not having enough time to meet your own deadlines.

You’ll fall to the bottom to the success ladder if you fail to never say ‘no’. Givers who never say ‘no’ are taken advantage of and eventually burnout. Therefore, a successful Giver routinely asks himself/herself three core questions before giving freely.

Why?

The reason why you give is very important. Studies show that people who give “because it is their job” will have higher levels of burnout.

Giving with this motivation drains the battery. This is what you see happening in a lot of healthcare industries. Giving for an important cause however, charges the battery.

If there is a sense of meaning to what you are doing, then that will be the fuel on which you will be working. A nurse who helps patients because she is convinced this is a valuable thing and she is doing her part in making the world a better place will have significantly less chance on a burnout than a nurse who helps patients because it is her job and it earns a paycheck.

So here are a few pointers for giving:

  • Give freely if giving impacts a cause or a greater good that is important to you
  • Give freely if giving benefits someone you care about
  • Don’t give freely out of obligation. Instead, search for a cause or gracefully decline the request

When?

In the book they talk about taking dedicated times during the day to give to yourself and others. Giving to yourself involves saying no to all external requests for a set period of time and making progress on your most important project(s).

This is something that is a very important cornerstone at The Social Coin, taking a bit of time out of your day to do something for somebody else, helping others where possible. We strive to empower people to make a change through small acts of kindness. To symbolize this “chain of kindness” we use a social coin that people can pass along. Each person who possesses a coin can do something nice for another person and pass the coin to them. All of these deeds you can track trough the website of The Social Coin.

Here you can see the actual ripple effect that comes from one good deed! Helping others can have amazing effect for other people as well as yourself but it is all about finding a balance helping others while still reserving the time to help yourself.

It is about finding a balance to help others while still reserving the time to help yourself. If you cannot do this, you will give more time to others than you have to spare and end up at the bottom of the ladder.

In the book they talk about Adam Rifkin. Now, most of you haven’t heard the name yet… But what if I told you that Rifkin is the person who is connected to the most fortune 500 people on LinkedIn? That is pretty amazing, no? And what is even more amazing is that everybody who worked with him said that he is a tremendous Giver.

Rifkin likes to do what he calls 5 minute favors. If you can help somebody with only 5 minutes of your time, you should do it. His favorite way of giving is making introductions. This is how he has built this vast network over the years.

For Whom?

As a giver you have to be careful not to surround yourself with takers. Giving to a taker usually is a waste of time. The time you spend giving to a Taker does not have a ripple effect. It does not multiply, nor influence your surroundings positively.

Giving to Matchers and other Givers often results in favors being paid forward, which creates a ripple effect and benefits the greater good.

A bit about me

My name is Lode Devloo. I come from the little country known as Belgium.

Yes, indeed, the country of beer, fries, chocolate and waffles!

And although these are very good reasons to stay in Belgium, I decided to try my luck in the land of tapas and wine (For those who are wondering, yes, most of my important life decisions are food based).

I’m a master student Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a focus on organizational innovation.

Over the span of 6 months I will be doing my internship at The Social Coin. Here I’ll spend my days focusing on the internal as well as the external.

On the external part I will try to be a key piece in the product definition, design innovation and cultural transformation programs, I’ll assist the communication team with content creation about corporate culture and work innovation and together we will look for potential partners.

On the internal front I will define the career paths for the team, lead the recruitment processes and follow up on the team’s wellbeing. I strongly believe in a way of doing business that enriches everybody I work with, not just myself.

This philosophy I share with Social Coin. The power of kindness in doing business!

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