December 22, 2010
In other words, without a gracious receiver, gift-giving can be awkward, disappointing or worse - escalating. Sometime during the last decade, a new type of giving-mentality has erupted: You can't outgive me, I'm the Big-Giver around here!
Whether personal or professional, we've come to realize that when we give to others, we build our relationships and trigger the law of reciprocity. Or, as I'd say as a Lovecat, "Nice Smart People Succeed." So now it's an arms race of gift giving, where we one-up people's <feeble> attempts to give, give-back or be generous with us. I call this 'Bully Giving' - where the intention of the giver is to own the receiver, if only for a minute. In a holiday season scenario, where gifts are usually exchanged, this creates a bad situation.
Here's my point: We need to be good receivers, so others can experience the "Joy Of Giving". This is not a competition to see who the best giver is, or whether we are Net Givers in an exchange situation. It's about the spirit of giving, gratitude and love. And that requires as many good receivers as it does good gift givers. When you are given to this season, here are three ways you can embrace the art of receiving gifts:
1 - Be Available. When someone gives to you, be in full-receive mode. Pay attention to the card, what he says as he hands it to you, the packaging and most of all - the thoughtfulness behind the gift. Don't change the subject. Don't apologize that your gift is or may be smaller. Don't hold back emotions, in fact, make yourself emotionally available to truly show some happiness!
2 - Be Authentically Grateful. Use receiving a gift as a platform to state your feelings for the giver. Let him/her know you are grateful for the gift, but even more, for the relationship or association. Let the moment of your expressed gratitude linger. As I talk about in my next book (Today We Are Rich), gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. We need to work it out to increase our spiritual strength. After the holidays (or your B-Day), sit down and write Thank You notes, and be very specific about what the gift means to you, and how you'll put it to use. You don't need to reserve Thank You cards for weddings, graduations, etc.
(Note: When you express your gratitude, you are giving your Giver positive feedback. That will motivate the giver to keep on giving, because it's working. I call this living in the Good Loop and it requires positive feedback.)
3 - Be Humble. In the moment of receiving, be a little in debt to your giver. Don't analyze the gift in terms of whether it's big enough, too big, a surprise or better than other gifts you are getting. It's not a competition or an acid-test of others' feelings for you. It is a gift, and you are the recipient. Don't immediately respond with a superior gift, so as to take the moment away from the other.
Over the next few days, you'll have many chances to put this into play. During your next birthday, you'll really have an opportunity to say Thanks! and help spread the joy of giving.
December 17, 2010
Many of you are maxed out these days, buying gifts and finishing up work for the year. Next week, the whole process will involve travel, making December even more complicated. It's easy, with all of this activity, to miss out on the holiday spirit. After all, for most of us, we just want to 'carry on the tradition' - and as a result, work instead celebrate. By the 24th, we are feeling bah-humbug!
Don't let that happen to you. Remember that Christmas or the Holiday Season is about family, friends and reflection. On the other side of it is a new year of opportunity, roles and goals. The holiday season isn't about travel or gift-giving. That's what marketers want you to think. You should be staying in contact and giving to others year-round.
When I was growing up, my grandmother Billye had a saying, "It's Christmas Day every day in this household, when it comes to things you need. I give them to you on the spot." Sure, we still had gifts under the tree, but opening gifts wasn't the focal point of Christmas Day. Saying that we loved each other, praying and eating food with family - that's what the day was about. OK, and watching Cowboys games.
If you still can, circle the wagons, and declare Holiday Season 2010 as a time to celebrate success, survival and our social/family circle. Appreciate the family and friends that you have, instead of grousing about what you have to do for/with them this time of year. Look at all the holiday season busy-work, as Billye does, as a "Get-To" in your life, not this thing you "Have-To" do every December.
December 08, 2010
After all, the season gives us an opportunity to give to others - and our business partners and co-workers deserve something under the tree from us! We might worry that the gift is too personal, too expensive or just too whimsical. So we look for clues, or even worse, guess. Sometimes, we grab some swag from the company closet or hit up Sam's Club for high calorie tokens of Biz Love.
But that's not the way to 'multiply the value' in this world. The best give you can give someone at work is a dollup of know-how. The best source of that is in books. When you hand pick a book for someone, based on their needs or dreams, you are prescribing a better life for them. When he reads it, he'll get inspired to do something with the insight. He might even share it with others. Who knows, he might become a book reader.
If you give books, encouraging knowledge sharing, you'll create a more innovative culture - prone to solving problems with ideas instead of worrying and fretting. At Yahoo!, I loved to find specific 'book solutions' for people in my life - and give those on holidays of all types (as well as birthdays). Several of my friends called me Dr. Tim because of this tendency.
NOTE: Giving current books reduces the risk that your recipient has already read it. You can also casually ask someone if they've read any of the three or so books (still not divulging your strategy).
Here are four great books to give this year:
1 - Mesh: Why The Future Of Business Is Sharing by Lisa Gansky
2 - Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
3 - Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsiesh
4 - Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wizeman
If you'd like to suggest some great books, do so in comments.
December 28, 2008
Here's my next installment of "best of 2008" lists: Gadgets.
February 11, 2008
I have a fool-proof plan to WOW your business partners this Valentine's Day.
From your best customer to your favorite employee, you can get serious brownie points with a little time and money. When you were younger, you made mix-tapes for your friends and family. They reflected the music the two of you shared in common or gave you opportunity to introduce them to new music.
Here's how you bring this into the 21st century:
1. Pick a list of six people you do business with that you want to give a V-Day gift to.
2. Call or email them to find out which type of music they like.
3. Buy six IPOD 1Gig Shuffle players
4. When you get them, load them up with music based on your first step.
5. Wrap it up, with a handwritten card and deliver it to them.
I've done this dozens of times and it always thrills people. No one has too many IPODs, and the new shuffle is portable and has no moving parts (so you can take it to the beach). Your recipients can also delete what you put on there and load their own later.
If you have time, try this out. Otherwise, stock up on these shuffles and use them to say thank you to people that have done extraordinary things for you.
December 18, 2007
Are you really finished with your holiday shopping? Are you running out of time and can’t stand the thought of fighting traffic at the malls?
Here are six different gifts you can buy in a few clicks. Consider these my gift tips for this season.
Gadgets for those who have everything:
IPOD 1 Gig Shuffle
(Load it up with music and give it as a 21st Century mix-tape. Even if they already have an IPOD, no one has too many shuffles!)
(Amazon’s amazing new e-book reader. A must have for a gadget head)
Click through at least one of these suggestions and my blog will get credit from Amazon for your entire purchase. I’m donating 100% of my affiliate fees for December to my favorite charity, The National Urban Debate League. So start a last minute shopping spree through my blog and help me give back!
September 07, 2007
When I was growing up, the most thoughtful gift I would get from a family member was a savings bond.
Remember? If you waited ten years, it was worth $100.00. It also taught me how to save and think about investing.
Today, there is a new opportunity for you in thoughtful gift giving: The gift of a personal domain. In other words, buy your kids their name-dot-com as a gift.
My ownership of www.timsanders.com is an asset to me. It is a valuable piece of real estate that gives me tons of shortcuts in digital life. My son, Anthony, has his own name-dot-com. Years from now it will be one of his prized possessions.
(Fair disclosure: He bought it for himself.)
You should immediately go to NetSol and see if your children's names are available as a doman. Try to get .com or .net if possible. Buy them for ten years and then present them as a gift to your kids! You'll be surprised how much they appreciate it!
PS -- I bought my mom her own domain (she's in her early 90s, so I don't yet know what we'll do with it). So use your imagination.
May 25, 2007
Today I received a great gift from an executive at Accenture. He brought me in to speak to his leadership team a few weeks ago. His gift, a silver serving tray from Neiman Marcus, was special because it lacked one thing: his company's brand.
When you get a "gift" from a business aossiciate that has his company's logo on it, you have just entered a quid-pro-quo marketing execution. You get a piece of swag and by wearing it or using it publicly, you are a marketing agent. On a scale of 1-10, you might feel a 5 when you get a branded gift. Absent the brand, especially if its thoughtful, you will feel and 8 or a 9 most likely.
The birth of unbranded gift-giving in my life:
A few years ago I was visiting Italy on behalf of Yahoo. I brought some nice sweaters for my hosts, complete with the Yahoo logo emblazoned on the front. When I presented these as gifts, I was schooled in the church-and-state line that a true gift doesn't cross. My host kindly said, "is this a gift I give to you, this free advertising?" I got it. From that point forward, I offered Yahoo branded items as "swag" with the understanding that it was a win/win exchange -- not a gift. When I gave gifts, I bought things that I thought they would like and included a simple card.
In the end, the best marketing for your company is delivered when you create an emotionally engaging experience, using the platform of the holidays (their birthday, a milestone, etc.). When the cake, the shirt, the tray or the pen set has your company's brand on it, you decrease the chance of creating that surprise and delight that comes in receiving true gifts.
So be careful if you are about to raid the swag (stuff we all get) closet at your company for last minute gifts. You might be better advised to visit a chocolate shop or even Best Buy.
December 17, 2006
I got a Concord watch for my birthday from Jacqueline this year. I just love it. It makes me feel like I'm keeping time, in style. Over the last few years, I have developed an appreciation for watches as a form of expression -- and not just function.
If you are still trying to find a holiday gift solution, give a watch some thought. When you shop for watches, take their mutiple roles into account. No one ever has too many watches. There's a great watch for any occassion. You can drown in watch listings on Ebay. You never know, watches may someday be the new shoes.
Gene Stone, is one of the foremost experts on watches. You might say he wrote the book (The Watch) on the subject. Watches have a rich history in our culture, watch this YouTube video interview he gave on CBS. I found the piece to be really informative and well produced.
Recommended last minute gift idea: The Watch by Gene Stone
If someone on your list has a watch obsession, buy them Gene's book -- it is a great coffee table/history/fast read type gift that will keep on giving.