Harvey MacKay’s note on reciprocity in March offers an interesting perspective. In it he suggests that we should “practice reciprocity without keeping score”:

My Golden Rule of Networking is this:  Reciprocity without keeping score.  Simply stated, it means what can I do for you without expecting anything in return?

My definition of reciprocity is quite different.  You must give without keeping score.  No quid pro quo.  It’s the one fundamental concept that is the most misunderstood in business today.  Few people truly understand this.  You are either all in or all out.

In Linchpin, Seth Godin has a similar view:

They don’t spend a lot of time teaching you about the power of unreciprocated gifts, about the long (fifty thousand years) tradition of tribal economies being built around the idea of mutual support and generosity. In fact, I don’t think the concept is even mentioned once. We’ve been so brainwashed, it doesn’t even occur to us that there might be an alternative to “How much should I charge, how much can I make?”

Without keeping score. So counter cultural.

When I was just out of school and in my first real sales role, I had one of the best salespeople I have ever known give me many gifts with absolutely nothing in it for him. Paul was the best sales person in the company and after I got through the ‘Five No’s to Make a Yes’ test, he took me under his wing, he gave me the gift of his knowledge.

One day I showed up at his house for another session. He pulled out a box and gave me a HP 12C calculator. To Paul, the calculator was key to success in the copier business. The ability to deep dive on the financials of a deal without the help of the gate keeping internal accountants was key. It was the key to creativity in a deal, a facilitator in the quest to think differently. To frame up the time, I was new out of school. I was not making a lot of money yet (My base salary was $1500 per month plus commission). This was a very expensive gift. He had done so much for me already by teaching me, how could I accept it? I could not. I said I would repay him.

He insisted. He demanded no repayment. It was his gift to me. I remember that moment all of these years later.

Reading Seth and Harvey’s note, it made me realize how profound an impact that act had on my last 20 years. It helped me become someone who is always trying to share. If I build a great presentation, I share it. If I build a process that works, I share it. I cannot tell  you how many people I have given my 90 Day Plan template to over the years. But it isn’t always natural.

A funny thing happened to me after the Sales 2.0 conference. At the conference I presented on ‘Leading a Sales Transformation’ and during the presentation I made an offer to the hundreds of people in the room. If you send me an email after the event, I will send you the templates that I use to build a plan for a sales transformation. Now, this template might appear simple, but it is something that I have built over the last 6 years, evolving slowly but surely as I learn and grow as a leader. After the conference, my inbox was hit with forty requests for the templates. A number of those requests came from consultants and I wondered if I had made a mistake. As consultants, wouldn’t they just take my work and try to incorporate it into the services that they sell to other companies? A twinge of selfishness hit.

And then it was gone. I hit send and shared. If it helps them, great.

Thanks Paul. I will always remember the 12C.

1 thought on “RECIPROCITY

  1. Pingback: HP 12C ANNIVERSARY EDITION | Michael Weening

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