Five Minute Favors

5 minute favors

"Generosity is luck going in the opposite direction, away from you. If you're generous to someone, if you do something to help him out, you are in effect making him lucky. This is important. It's like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune." - Twyla Tharp

Leaders who are "all in" when it comes to being generous and filled with love towards those they lead will receive benefits of this leadership style through stronger relationships, more engaged employees, and better results. But even the most committed leader has to guard against burnout and distraction. That's where "five minute favors" come in. Adam Grant, author of Give and Taketells us about uber-networker, Adam Rifkin, a master of paying it forward. He redefines giving by providing micro-loans of time, skills, and connections - the true currency of business.

Just as long term improvement needn't be about grand milestones but rather small increments, giving needn't be about grand gestures. So for example, if someone I've met is interested in learning more about an industry, and I know a captain of that industry, in five minutes I can dash off a quick introductory e-mail and get on with my day. Or if a family is coming to visit my city for the first time, it will take five minutes for me to make a list of family friendly restaurants to help with their planning.

Here's some other "five minute favors" that will increase your professional relationships, encourage those you lead, and in the long run make you more successful:

  • a congratulatory, encouraging, or sympathetic note to a colleague
  • send an article about an issue a colleague is struggling with or interested in
  • bring someone who is overwhelmed with work a smoothie, cup of coffee, or other treat
  • if you're a whiz at Excel or PowerPoint, spend five minutes helping a colleague with a formatting issue
  • Use a product and offer feedback
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Share a blog entry on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other relevant social media platform (ahem...)

In the hospitality industry we are taught to end our conversations with guests with the phrase, "is there anything (else) I can do for you?" Imagine a world in which all of our conversations ended in this manner.


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