Please allow me to introduce you to a kindness strategy I recently learned from my friend Vasi, one of the most generous, but also strategic, financial award/tippers/kindness dollar awarders I have ever met.
Vasi, a three degree earner, kick ass Realtor and immigrant from Romania, ensures she has three things in her arsenal of kindness- $5 and $10 bills and $20 Starbucks cards.
Vasi, who most people have disregarded due to her Romanian accent and dimunitive stature, is a literal powder keg of good karma and aloha spirit. She knows how hard service people work and she also knows how many connections service people have in a community.
Vasi buys Starbucks gift cards mainly from one store in her neighbhorhood of Redmond, Washington, a hotbed of millennials and Gen Xers living the good life from local companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Boeing.
The Starbuck baristas are the front line for people moving into the area and Vasi has invested in good will among this army of referral providers. When a potential new resident tells one of Vasi’s many admirers that they are considering a home purchase in the area, they are quick to refer Vasi as a local expert on the area and one of the nicest, most generous people they know. Yes, Vasi funds her giving spirit from many of the referrals born from her exuberant generosity.
I had the benefit of Vasi’s good will this week. She wanted to support a woman’s conference being spearheaded by a fellow Washingtonian in California where the entire conference was created to support women in real estate become leaders. Her friend, Debra, was one of the masterminds behind the group. Debra had been instrumental in providing a job opportunity for Vasi when she was going through a painful divorce and Vasi never forgets who has supported her in the past.
Vasi contacted me on a Monday for the Thursday conference. She wanted to see if I could fly from Hawaii to San Diego to attend. I was hemming and hawing over the cost of the flights and hotel and such and she said, ‘I think this would benefit you personally and your career. I am taking care of your airfare, conference pass and trip costs so you can go.” I nearly fell out of my chair, taking the computer with me on my journey to the floor.
What!? Who does that?
Vasi assured me that I had given her enough insight, ideas, and friendship in the past to warrant this gift. I am still amazed at the generosity she gave to me to support another friend accomplish HER goal of selling out the conference.
I arrived in San Diego and started learning. Not just from the conference, but by watching Vasi spread kindness over the course of three days.
Whenever she had the chance to show appreciation to the hotel staff including bar tenders and food servers, she would tip them generously. She said that all service personnelle in tourist destinations were never making enough for the high price of housing in the area. Living in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, I know this to be acutely true. She said that not only do her 25-30% tips make the service provider happy, it also helps their families.
She got this idea from a book she read by Gary Vaynerchuck, “The Thank You Economy” where he writes that the roll down of money through generosity into the economy benefits us all.
Did you know that the concept of the word “tips” originated from TIPS – ‘To insure prompt service”? Do you have a personal acumen of when to reward a tip, how often and in what circumstances? Think about the roll down the next time.
The Lyft Driver
We took a Lyft ride to a shopping mall 30 minutes away from the Coronado Resort we were staying at to buy some clothes that Vasi wanted to get for my daughter as we do not have shopping malls within 200 miles of us. The Lyft driver was a great guy telling us why he drove for Lyft. He was going to leave us in the shopping mall when Vasi asked how much he would need to stay and wait for us, as we were basically turning around and driving back to the same area we had come from. He gave us a fair price for his time and we ran into the shopping mall.
After purchasing coveted items for my daughter, which I know she is going to be gleefully receiving, Vasi asked, “What about your son?” I assured her that she had already done enough for my family and that my son was a pretty basic teenager who just liked shoes and sweatshirts. So she insisted in going into the Vans store to purchase a few things to make him feel special. I can tell you that both of my children will forever by calling Vasi, “Aunty”!
We went back out into the parking lot where our driver was more than happy to gather our things and put them into the trunk. He had used the extra time and money he received to buy himself dinner at the mall! He then drove us to dinner at a nice hotel and gave us his personal card and he received a very nice tip for his work, which I know made his evening.
The True Joy of Tipping
Watching this ebullient flow of generosity was fun! The heartfelt smiles, the big hug Vasi received from the driver, the joy I was feeling for the gifts to myself and my children-it was a swirling feeling of abundance.
I asked Vasi about all of this soulful generosity she was sharing. She said, ‘It always comes back around’ and she said it made her feel good, too. She said that she has gotten all kinds of referrals and business from a simple sharing of a Starbucks gift card to someone who is in a position to accept the kindness and then do something later to elevate the kindness back to her. She has sent me a few online gift cards and you can bet as I am enjoying a ‘coffee on Vasi’ I am sending her good juju.
5’s and 10s
A helpful suggestion Vasi shared was, ‘Always have 5s and 10s in your pocket book to reward the people who do good things and deserve a little extra financial happiness. You never know how it will come back.”
As I was preparing to go to the airport, Vasi insisted on ordering the Lyft so she could take care of it. She also handed me ten dollars and said, “Don’t forget the driver” and we laughed when we knew the extra five dollars was because she was a woman. I told the story to my driver about the generosity of kindness from Vasi and she was touched by the story and when I handed her double what Vasi had given to me, she was exceptionally touched..a mother of four children putting herself through school.
I was positively beaming giving her that extra tip, expecting nothing in return, just the happiness of giving her an extra boost of “wow” before she went on to her next ride.
Spending time with someone who was so generous to me and others was transformative. To be in the light cast by Vasi is to feel blessed. I am going home now with the anticipation of watching my children open their gifts and knowing I had an amazing three days to watch happiness being dispensed with joy and abundance.
Tip your service people, friends. You never know the ripple effect. It might not only touch your heart, but your business, as well.