In mid-December I had a chance meeting with the owner of an icon business here in Portland, a brand that everyone knows, not just in greater Portland. In fact, his business has been featured on the Travel Channel as one of the top 10 truck plazas in the world. He was sitting in the restaurant he owns, one of their many businesses, along with his college-age son. As we talked he said, “I’m here because we’re having an employee Christmas party later today and I wanted to be a part of that.” He told me he spends most of the winter in Palm Desert these days. Then he said, “You know, Larry, we’re pretty visible with our various philanthropic gifts here in the greater Portland community. I felt like it was important for us to be as generous with our own employees. What we’ve done this year is secured the names of all the children of all our 250 employees. We asked them if they would come to our Christmas gathering and to bring their children. We told them we would like to buy a gift for each of their children.” He went on to tell me that his wife had shopped for all these children, over 100 of them, bought an individual gift for each child and she had gift wrapped each one individually, and put each child’s name on their special gift. I was so inspired by this personalized giving and I hope that you will be too.
This incident brought me up short, made me think about my giving practices. I hope that it will stimulate you to think about what it is that you can do to show even greater
appreciation to everyone in your life. Extend beyond whatever is normal past practices as we move into the new year, 2008. It is true that in continuous giving we receive.
There is a good chance that when this man, his wife and children gathered around their Christmas tree and table, opening their gifts for their own personal Christmas celebration, they reflected upon this act of unselfish, personal giving as the most meaningful part of their Christmas. Ten years from now when this family looks back on their many Christmas’s, this still may will be one Christmas that will stand out in their mind. So the action I call you to take is to perform some dramatic gesture of giving of yourself in an unselfish way. The benefit you will gain is the creation of a “stand out” experience in your mind as we go into the year 2008. Let some of those dramatic things you do in the year ahead be philanthropic acts to team members and perhaps to your expanded community.