Random Act of Kindness

I spend a lot of time meeting new people who are interested in becoming Techstars mentors.  Recently, at the end of one of those quick 30 min meetings, the guy I was meeting with, Ben, said to express his gratitude, he’d like to extend his personal Apple Employee Discount to me, giving me 25% off anything in the Apple store (for personal use of course).  Fabulous! I’d been wanting an iPad mini!  So I bought myself one on the spot, enjoying that discount.

Later that evening, I got an email from Apple telling me my order was cancelled because Ben was over his hardware discount quota.  I didn’t think this was a big deal AT ALL, it was overly generous of him to offer in the first place, but he was embarrassed when I told him and he spent too long profusely apologizing.

Two days later, when I got to my office, there was an iPad Mini (the expensive one!) sitting on my desk from Ben.  WTH???  There was no way I could accept a gift like that.  I don’t even buy my husband gifts like that!  When I tried to give it back, Ben basically said he wouldn’t take it back and that it was his ‘random act of kindness’ for the month.  So in an effort to make it right, I donated what is equivalent to a few iPad Minis worth to Impact on Education who provides tablets & training to at-risk youth who are struggling to read.  I can’t tell you how great that felt, just to keep Ben’s kindness going.  So I kept it going…

With friends that owe me money, I ask them to redirect their repayment to one of a few different charities instead (like KanguEFCO, Application Developers AllianceKiva or Impact on Education!)  Almost every time I buy coffee, I also buy a cup for the person behind me.  I’m constantly looking for opportunities for random acts of kindness.  In fact, you were one of the reasons I decided that my TEDx Brooklyn talk was going to be on Giving First.  Which led to discoveries of other generosities including this homeless guy who was rewarded nearly $200K for returning a diamond engagement ring, or this tragic story about the Gruners and their 18 month old son.

So thank you Ben.  The iPad was the smallest of the gifts.  You reminded me how much fun and rewarding it is to surprise and delight people on a regular basis.  Keeping that momentum going is one of my big goals for 2014.