Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Selfish Generosity


Receiving the Gift of MP3 Player

Joy: the Rewards of Giving

I wrestled with the title of this post because I wanted something more unique than “you get out what you put in.” I participate in  organizations and groups where people talk about “the value” they receive from XYZ just isn’t there. When you hear this, the first question to ask is, “How much are you putting in?”

This is so frustrating to me because it’s so obvious in so many areas of life, and I wish that the really smart people I know would just understand this very simple fact: give more, get more.  But only if you give without expecting to get!

Here are some areas where I wish I would see people giving more freely.  Maybe some of these areas you haven’t thought about.

Professional Relationships
You have a lot of connections. You may not think you do, but you do. Your neighbor: do you know what they do for a living? Your in-laws? The guy you were paired up with on the golf course last weekend?  We all have a network that holds tremendous value. All we have to do to unlock this value is offer it to others.  It’s painfully simple: connect the dots. Make a constant and vigilant effort to offer introductions. GIVE your network to others and it will come back to you tenfold.  For one example, if you think there is someone I would like to know, please introduce them to me today! I throw up a little in my mouth when someone says to me “I don’t really like networking.”  Dude, to network is to be human. To network is to have relationships. To network is to share relationships. It’s not selling, it’s not taking, it’s giving. Give, give, give.

Take Leadership Roles
The most valuable and beneficial organizations to me are the ones I have given the most time and energy to. I don’t give because I receive value. I receive value because I give. What’s the easiest way to give time and energy: volunteer for a leadership position. Especially if you are in a startup or growth company mode. The more you put yourself out there for others, the bigger, faster, and better the rewards will be for you, your team, and your vision.  Give, give, give. Give time, give ideas, give money, give connections.  Give and ye shall receive.

Friends are fun, but have you ever tried to make a regular effort to go out of your way to do nice things for your friends. Offer to babysit kids so friends can have a date night,  offer to sit down over a beer and work through a business challenge, offer to pay for dinner once in a while just because, offer to throw a party and make the goal a relaxing time for everyone.  Having friends is the most rewarding blessing for many of us, and it becomes even more rewarding when you embrace that a friend is an opportunity for you to give to someone in a meaningful way. Give, give, give.

Say what, JC?!  I paid a ton of money to attend that conference, it’s not my job to give anything… it’s the job of the organizers to give me a great experience.   Bzrrrzzzzzz! WRONGO!  Think about what a conference is: it’s a gathering of professionals who share something in common. It’s a gathering of people. The energy and value from the gathering is decided directly by the participants. Forget the organizers, they just got you all in the same place. I plan to write some full length posts on this, but quickly some ways to give at conferences: Sit in the front of the room at sessions to support the speakers. Ask questions in sessions.  Go to happy hours and receptions and don’t spend all your time in a huddle with your friends. Reach out to those traveling alone and make them feel welcome.  Offer yourself to the conference organizer. They always can use more volunteers. Simply participate. Show up! Give, give, give.. and ye conference value shall be returned!

This one is big to me. The more attention I give my body to keep it healthy, the more it rewards me with clear thinking, happy energy, and the ability to get out of bed every morning. I’m not just talking about being healthy to live longer, I’m talking about being healthy to LIVE ALL DAY LONG.  My best days are the ones after my hardest workouts.  The days when I skip are the days I get grumpy. Give it up for your body. Until my Human Clone Startup is funded enough to reach massive scale, it’s the only body you have.

Social Media
This was an epiphany for me courtesy of Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog at an ACLEA conference several years ago.   Kevin explained that the secret first-step to creating meaningful content for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc, is to just listen. Conversations are happening online all around us. If we listen to them, we will start to participate. We will share our opinions. We will share what we learn with others. The more we start sharing, the more listening we will do. The more we listen, the more we have to give. The more time and attention we give to these conversations, the more value we receive. We make ourselves better by listening and giving to these conversations every day.

Family Intensity
This one is a no-brainer. To those unavoidable rough patches in marriage, those stressful days with the kids… think about the root cause of almost every single problem in family: someone hasn’t given enough something. Usually that something is attentive, engaged time.  I’m sad to admit that I can tell a slight increase in the kids’ bad behavior when I’m pulled away mentally or physically to other things.  The same goes for my wife.  The same goes for me. The answer, as hard as it is to implement, is clear: give more. Don’t demand more. Don’t complain that you don’t get enough. Give more. Just give. Give, give, give.

Now take ye this post and find something you can give today.  Even if it’s just paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru, just do it.  You never know what will come back around to you… but I do know what will come around to you: good things. That’s my 100% Johnson Cook Guarantee.



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