WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver.
-Zappos Core Value #1
I’ve had this topic on my mind for a few weeks already and people are constantly asking me why I’m I so nice and generous. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking to myself why do I do this; and why I am the such generous and helpful person I am. It’s really hard to express it in words why, and how I feel, but I’ll do my best.
The core of it is in my DNA. It’s a family thing that goes back to my grandfather. He is the most kind and generous person I know and he always wants to see people happy, always. He’s also extremely hard-working which allows him to be able to be so generous and create these fantastic experiences for others to experience. There’s a very recent anecdote I want to share that was the spark to all this thought process I’ve had this past few weeks. Recently, one of his best friends was being treated at Cleveland Clinic where his friend was near to losing his sight and my grandfather wanted him to relax and don’t worry about his health state much. So my grandfather called the hotel where his friend was staying and asked to speak to the manager; he then told the manager the story and asked if he could pay for access to the Executive Floor for his friend for the length of his stay, but at the same time telling his friend that the hotel had granted him a free upgrade. The manager of course helped him and then proceeded to tell his friend that he had spoken to the hotel and that they had given him a free upgrade to the executive floor. My grandfather’s friend was of course delighted and extremely thankful with my grandpa. It’s a story that made me realize that I inherited all my passion for helping people and just being the kind of human he is from him. That generosity was also passed along to my father. My father, like my grandfather, enjoys being with people; treating them to dinner, hosting occasional dinners and BBQ’s at home as well as being an extremely generous soul. He will most of the times pick up the check when dining out with people because to him, like to my grandfather, is not about showing off but actually caring about the experience his friends had that night with him and crafting a moment around it. My dad always says “It’s all about the moment and the people you are with”, so it’s about the moment it creates. Both my grandpa and my father want people that are with them to have a great experience and a great time; and that is something I’ve experienced myself and I’ve grown up with. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always enjoyed helping out with anything that could be done; whether it was in the kitchen helping prep dinner or helping grandpa cook and craft the after-lunch espressos at our farm in the outskirts of the city, or with practically anything I could get my hands on and give a hand. It goes beyond helping at home too; for example when I see some visitors having trouble buying tickets for the T, I’ll stop and give them a hand, or if they need directions I’ll show them or walk them or miss my station and go a station or two further to direct them. It’s a feeling I can’t really explain when I help out people. Now that I’m old enough to take my own path, I’ve been following my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and also inheriting that passion for being nice, helpful, generous, courteous and give others experiences I want them to experience that people or my friends wouldn’t otherwise experience. It’s a great feeling seeing people smile and enjoy these experiences and gifts. That’s actually what I like the most; seeing my friends enjoy those experiences and enjoy the gifts. That’s just a priceless feeling that can’t be easily described.
That Zappos quote at the beginning of the article pretty much summarizes it all.
Hugh MacLeod (also known as @gapingvoid), who is Rackspace’s cartoonist, drew a piece for them that said “Want to change the world? Be helpful” and I think it’s a really great quote and it really hits home with all I do. It’s all about the moment and the experience.
This article was revised and updated on November 4, 2014.