Invest in Karma for Above Market Returns

Yesterday, I took my 96 year old Nana to Atlantic City.  

As you can see from the photo, she didn't win, but I did.  Almost $200.  Still, she had an awesome time and was thrilled to go.  Protip: Don't bother with the valet at the Taj Mahal.  By the time they get to you, you could have walked over, gotten your car yourself and come back to the front.  

Just this morning, someone on a rec sports team that I play on just told me that they lost their job and couldn't pay for softball anymore.  This season costs about $100.  House money, as far as I'm concerned.  I told him to consider himself covered by Donald Trump.  I didn't hesitate because a) Eh, money comes, money goes, b) I like this person and want to play with them, and c) karma always comes back to you.

It made me think of something I heard on a podcast the other day--about how leaders get help.  I've gotten a lot of help from a lot of people over the years, but I realize that's because of the investments I've made in helping others.  What I've seen is that if I make it a regular part of my investments in time to help others, when I do really need something, I've got a huge store of willing effort to tap.  That's extremely valuable.  It's not why I do it, but I'm also not oblivious either.  Like a good Pavlovian dog, I continue to give my time and help to others when that happens.  

On the other hand, if I never do anything for others, I'm creating a lonely island for myself where I'll need to rely on just myself to get anywhere.  That would not only suck, it would hurt the trajectory of my career and my firm's efforts.  

You cannot do it all alone.

So, while it feels good to help others, it should also be a part of any leadership strategy.  It's a bit like insurance.  Squirrell away a little bit of karma each week by doing something for someone else, because one day you're definitely going to need help to get pushed over the top.  

Still, I see selfish founders who don't treat others well.  It's a hard thing to do when you have a lot of your own pressing priorities, but it's going to catch up with you for sure.  I really do believe that the people who make it are the ones who are able to get help from others--and that well runs dry if you don't ever return the favor.

Do well by others because it's the right thing to do, but don't ignore the fact that it also has the nice effect of helping your career.