'Give a little bit'

In the movie, “Jerry Maguire”, Tom Cruise plays a sports agent who writes a position paper advocating a radical approach to the dog-eat-dog business of being a sports agent. Jerry’s radically different approach endorses a kinder, more empathetic and certainly more caring treatment of the athletes. This concept is so different from the way the sports agent business is conducted that he’s ridiculed and ostracized to the point that he teeters on financial and personal ruin.

The rental business is not the sports agent business, and I’m certainly not Tom Cruise, but the movie’s message of the importance of showing you care about others should play well to all of us regardless of occupation.

It’s important to show coworkers, customers and other business partners that you really care about them in little ways that are not common in business. Here are a few examples:

One of my clients picked me up at the airport with a piece of homemade cherry pie, wrapped in plastic on a paper plate. He remembered from my previous visit that I had ordered a piece of pie and remarked that I like fruit and berry pies. How thoughtful of him to remember this and give me this gift.

I also remember a client who sent me a few live lobsters. (He called first and asked if I’d be able to cook them right away.) He said it was just a little friendship gift, but it meant a lot. I remember watching two of my young sons chasing the lobsters around the kitchen floor. (I was wise enough to put the lobsters into the boiling water before anyone thought about giving them names, otherwise, the crustaceans would have become pets.) What vivid, wonderful memories because of that thoughtful client.

The point is that little things do mean a lot. Sometimes these small “random acts of kindness” are far more important to the recipient than larger, contrived rewards.

Sadly, there are some supervisors who really don’t care about what makes people happy and seek nothing more than gimmicks to trick employees into better performance or more loyalty. Rarely do these supervisors achieve their goals. Employees and others can sense when caring is not genuine.

It’s fun to give friendship gifts to those who are not expecting it. One of the keys to the fun and enjoyment of random, unexpected gifting is to not expect anything in return. Try not to even expect a “thank you,” because then it becomes a pleasant surprise to have the recipient even acknowledge the gift.

It certainly is easy to be cynical and stingy as we come into daily contact with those who care only about themselves and those in their own household. Sometimes it seems like doing nice things for some people brings the giver extra anguish. In fact, I have been known to lament “no good deed ever goes unpunished.” I don’t know who to credit for using these negative words first, but I do know that the joy of giving unexpected surprises will warm your heart and soul.

You would think from my comments that I’m an aging flower child. Well, I did graduate from high school in the late 1960s — and believe it or not, I once had hair that touched my shoulders. (Now the only hair that touches my shoulders are the ones that have fallen out.)

In addition to helping you grow your businesses and make more profits, I feel it’s my responsibility to help reduce your hassles and find ways to increase your enjoyment of your chosen career. Just remember that it’s fun to give surprises and that these gifts mean far more than you’d ever imagine. Show you genuinely care. Be like the enlightened Jerry Maguire — go ahead, “give a little bit.”