Give or take?
Instead of entering encounters with a “What is in it for me?” mindset, why not ask “What can I do for you?”. The impact might surprise you.
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At a glance
The first day of PIRATE Summit (27 June) is Exhibition Day, and we have three startups booth left for the Crazy Bird price.
Through participating in a Mastermind group last week, I have observed yet again that entrepreneurs take comfort in learning from each other. This is because they know that to lead others, you first have to learn to lead yourself. Generosity drives those self-help groups. With the “Give Give Give Ask” house rule, generosity is at the core of PIRATE Summit as well.
Generosity isn’t only an idealistic virtue. It feels meaningful for the giver and the receiver and can have a positive impact beyond that, as plenty of studies have shown.
Kindness begets kindness! Kindness is contagious. The more we do it, the more it spreads.
Spread kindness and the world can change, little by little, step by step. Put a stone in the big wall of humanity.
Just a quick note before I start:
The first day of PIRATE Summit (27 June) is Exhibition Day. 💪
We offer a Crazy Bird deal on startup booths (just €700 incl. 2+1 tickets). That’s a steal. 😱
Three booths are still available at the Crazy Bird price. Once they are gone, the price will go up. Better be quick. 🏃♀️
If you are not a startup but still want to exhibit, just reply to this email and I’ll make the intro.
To lead others, learn to lead yourself
Last week, I had the opportunity to be part of an event of Mastermind Movement.
For those not familiar with Masterminds: They are basically P2P mentoring groups around certain topics or challenges. Self-help groups, if you will. This one was for entrepreneurs. The concept is fairly similar to what I have in mind for the third day of PIRATE Summit (more on that in the next weeks).
The event I attended had two elements: One session in a small group and a display of the process to a larger - yet trusted - group.
It was super helpful for me to hear not only about the challenges people face, but also to observe the group dynamic throughout the process. It wasn't just that people opened up. The willingness of participants to fully engage and genuinely help was fascinating to observe.
At the same time, it was another confirmation that entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. It’s a constant rollercoaster, on which one can easily feel overwhelmed. Something that I know from years of being an entrepreneur myself and being a companion for founders.
Topics we discussed included the struggle to motivate employees in a crisis, taking significant life decisions, coping with overwhelm, or managing one’s own emotions.
For me, it once again confirmed that to lead others, you have to learn to lead yourself. One of the main reasons why I started PIRATE.coach.
It also confirmed - yet again - the power of generosity.
People helped each other out, with a very similar attitude that we also cultivate at PIRATE Summit. A mindset that is encapsulated in the first question asked right after the opening:
“What can I do for you?”.
Give Give Give Ask
Everybody that has been to PIRATE Summit knows that generosity and kindness is one of its main pillars.
It’s enshrined in our third house rule: “Give Give Give Ask”.
Our aim is to encourage participants to approach encounters with a giver's mindset rather than a taker's mindset. That way, we create a space of openness and abundance, not lack.
Rather than asking: "What is in it for me?" we encourage people to ask: "What can I do for you?".
We not only believe this makes the whole event experience more pleasant for everyone, but we also believe that generosity is needed to build lasting relationships and community.
Instead of optimizing for a business transaction today, we want to optimize for the start of a relationship. Once that is established, business transactions might follow. If it does, it is usually much stronger and will last longer.
Generosity as a guiding principle for an organization
Generosity is also a vital value for PIRATE as an organization.
Here is from the PIRATE Culture Book:
“We built PIRATE to create an impact in the world. Purpose over profit. That doesn’t mean we don’t like profit. We do. We just believe that profit isn’t a goal in itself. It’s a necessary prerequisite for us that allows us to “stay in the game” and pursue our purpose.
Generosity is not only a wonderful virtue, the act of giving feels wonderful to the giver.
To understand why we value it so highly, it is worthwhile to look at our roots. We were born out of the startup ecosystem, which has a strong pay-it-forward culture. That’s one of the main reasons why we love it so much.
If you work at PIRATE, we expect you to respect that culture and actively promote it. The first intent when meeting someone should always be: “What can I do for you?” That same standard applies when interacting with colleagues, customers, partners, and about anybody.
Being generous is surprising someone with goodwill and requesting nothing in return. It may be time, attention, or fortune. We give what we’re expected to, and then some. We might make an introduction even if we don’t benefit directly. We might say ‘yes’ even if the customer expected a ‘no’. If the request is reasonable, grant it. Sometimes saying no is the right thing. That’s okay too. Don’t feel bad about it.
We refuse to believe in a win-lose world. When negotiating a partnership or any other deal, we strive for the 49:51 rule. It means that we always strive to give a little more than the other side. Negotiation is not a duel to win. It’s a puzzle to solve together. We care about both results and relationships. It makes for great partnership hygiene. On top of that, it feels good.
Being a giver doesn't mean refusing to seek or accept help. You don't have to be on the giving end of every interaction. Instead, you can receive with a spirit of generosity: Be thoughtful when you ask, grateful for what you receive, and happy to pay-it-forward.”
The glue that holds the community together
Generosity isn’t only a cornerstone of the PIRATE Summit itself and a value for PIRATE as an organization. It is ingrained in the PIRATE community as well.
That’s not an accident. Community doesn't just happen. It needs a purpose that people feel is worth supporting. And it needs individuals that are willing to invest their time and energy to hold the community together.
For PIRATE Summit, we are extremely fortunate that we have Ambassadors from around the world that help us make it happen. It is anchored by PIRATE Summit Ambassadors, who spread the PIRATE spirit across their regions.
This wouldn’t be possible without the power of generosity.
Ambassadors aren’t paid. They generously invest their time and energy to help make PIRATE Summit a success.
Many have been doing this for years. Wow! 😱🙏
But why are people generous? 🤔
And why is generosity so essential not only for PIRATE Summit to work, but for the community and society to function?
The power of generosity
Quite obviously, being on the receiving end of generosity will often lead to joy and happiness.
The fascinating thing about generosity is that it can have a positive impact on both the giver and the recipient, as numerous research has shown.
When we give to others, we activate the reward centers in our brain, which can lead to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
It can also reduce stress and anxiety, and is linked to better physical and mental health and an increased lifespan.
That’s the impact on an individual level.
There’s a good chance it can have a positive business impact as well. Certainly, if you take a long term perspective.
In the end, all business is about relationships and people. Generosity will build trust and strengthen relationships, eventually leading to more business.
Kindness begets kindness
Generosity is closely related to kindness. And kindness can be contagious.
Intuitively, we know that when we are kind to others, we are more likely to receive kindness in return. It’s based on the "norm of reciprocity":
When we do something thoughtful for someone, they are more likely to feel a sense of obligation to return the favor.
From more than 12 years of PIRATE Summit, we know that the impact of kindness extends beyond individual interactions. There seems to be a “contagious” effect.
We have repeatedly received feedback from people that felt inspired by the Give Give Give Ask house rule. These people had the desire to bring it to their own communities and organizations. Consequently, I have heard various accounts of the positive impact it had on interactions and the overall atmosphere. It certainly impacts the culture.
That’s why it matters whether we are kind. That’s why I write “be kind” at the end of each edition.
I have the hope that tiny steps can over time create a small impact. And that this small impact can have a bigger impact, and yet a bigger one…
That’s also why I believe that we need role models. Entrepreneurs that show that you don’t have to be a jerk to succeed.
Kindness can be cool. And if enough people participate, others will follow.
In the end, the startup community - and maybe even the business world - will be more pleasant for everyone.
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Spread kindness 🙏
The biggest freedom we have is how we respond to things around us.
When something uncomfortable happens, we can be triggered, but we don’t have to. That makes kindness a possibility in every situation.
Being kind is like a muscle. It takes practice. And like all practice, consistency matters.
Since 2020, I have been practicing kindness more consciously. I have noticed an increase in my joy and equanimity.
At some point, kindness becomes not an act but an inner state. Something you are rather than what you do.
I want to invite you to practice kindness today (and tomorrow).
It can start very small: Holding the door open for someone, complimenting a stranger, offering a ride to someone that needs transportation, or just sharing a smile.
It will bring a moment of joy and gratitude to someone else. And you will feel better as well.
Try it and let me know how it turns out.
Let me know
I would love to include some more perspectives in one of my next editions. Just reply to this mail with your thoughts on generosity and kindness. Or just say hello.
Here are some helpful questions to start with:
Do you agree or disagree with what I wrote? Any interesting memories that came up while reading about generosity? What was a moment of generosity and kindness in which you were on the receiving end? How did it make you feel?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Be safe, be healthy, and be kind. 🙏🏽