I’ll soon be in the market to buy a car. Making an expense of this magnitude requires a great deal of research. I need to compare car models for cost, quality, and cuteness (hey, don’t judge). I need to consider financing options. I need to think about environmental impact. I need to think about the cost of ongoing maintenance.
Beyond all of these more practical considerations, there is also one more thing I research in nearly every expenditure I make both big and small. I think about this when I am spending money on a dinner out with my husband. I thought about this when I bought my condo. I even thought about this while selecting the business school I would attend. That thing I research is “kindness” and, before I make a purchase, I like to ensure that I am creating value for those people in this world that exhibit kindness out of habit. There is nothing in this world that impresses me more than those that are kind when there is nothing in it for them. I want to reward that behavior as much as possible.
Investing in Kindness
What does it mean to invest in kindness? To me it means that I try to only give my money to kind people that have a strong sense of values. It also means not hiring or working with people that are mean spirited or unethical. In fact, there was one instance where I left a job because something unethical occurred. I did not want to put effort into an endeavor that caused others harm. Instead, I want there to be more kindness in the world. So, I feel like if I only give my money to those people, and companies, that are kind, then kindness will prosper when they do. Let me give you some examples of how I invest in kindness:
Out for dinner. One of our favorite places to dine out is called Swad. It is a little Indian restaurant up the hill. They have delicious food. They are also one of the few Indian places that understand what being “vegan” means. Beyond that, though, we are loyal to Swad because the proprietors are some of the kindest people we know. I’m overwhelmed with joy when we arrive at Swad because the family that owns the restaurant have the most beautiful spirit. Back when we first started dating we would frequent a local Applebee’s for the same reason. We would ask for a particular waitress, and tip her very well, because we were investing in her kindness.
Business School. When someone thinks of business school I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is not kindness, but for me kindness factors into everything. When I was researching business schools, among the factors I was considering was the strength of the school’s business ethics program. This was important to me because I am a big fan of conscious capitalism. I wholeheartedly believe that businesses and people are members of a larger eco system and both are disadvantaged when they neglect kindness. My beloved business school, Xavier University, has the motto “Men and Women for Others” at the heart of their culture. When I walked around on campus for the first time I immediately felt at home, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that culture. There is magic in those walls. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life. The community of Xavier has been a part of my extended family over the two and a half years that I went to the school, and the four years since when I have been volunteering in their mentoring and start-up programs.
Mr. Hardware: There was an eccentric hardware store owner in town. If you walked into the store, then you would be in sight of absolute chaos. Floor to ceiling was a balancing act of questionably engineered stacks of hardware supplies from HVAC filters to wood glue to mineral spirits to toilet valves. You could find anything there. Correction. You couldn’t find it because the place was an active tornado of home maintenance bits, but Mr. Hardware, or Mr. Bill as I called him, knew exactly where everything was and could find it for you. Mr. Bill didn’t accept credit cards. Cash only. So, what happened the first time I went there, opened up my wallet, and had absolutely no cash? He said, “Oh, don’t worry about it, honey. Here you go. You come back and pay me later.” What? Really? Yes. I soon learned that he did this often. When asked about this bizarre payment-in-trust method he responded, “They always come back and pay me.” He was an incredible man, and our neighborhood definitely feels different since his passing. I wasn’t the only one to invest in Mr. Bill’s kindness. George Clooney even filmed scenes at Mr. Bill’s store for the Ides of March. It was an honor that, after his passing, he ended up being memorialized on the Facebook page I created for my neighborhood called, “…only in Northside.” Hear more about him in this news article.
Will you join me?
Now it is time for me to buy a car. This is a big purchase, and I want to make sure that these dollars don’t fund jerks that do jerk-like things. I feel like all of my dollars are votes that I use to build the world around me. I want the Mr. Bill’s in the world to prosper so that they can continue to spread the kind of joy that makes all of our lives better. You can do this by:
- Treating each dollar like a vote for the kind of world you want to live in
- Buying things from companies large and small that display a genuine sense of corporate social responsibility
- Make sure your investment dollars are ethically conscious and not going to fund people and companies that: 1) destroy the environment, 2) make questionable ethical decisions, and 3) are mean to puppies
- Get to know the people you buy things from through lifting up your face, looking them in the eyes, and having a conversation
- Don’t give money to jerks doing jerk-like things
- Be generous by rewarding the talent of genuine kindness
So, if you know of any ultra kind car dealers in the Greater Cincinnati area, then definitely let me know! I’d also love to hear how you invest in kindness in the comments section below.