Photo by Paweł L.

The power of kindness and generosity are so powerful that it can make the recipient continue the act and pay it forward to others. A video by Simon Sinek on a stormy Saturday on this topic reminded me of an incident that I experienced six years ago and how it has made such an impact in my life. 

An important day.

On the afternoon of 15 Feb 2014, I was on my way to a job interview when it suddenly rained cats and dogs. As I stood at the exit of the train station, I glanced at my wristwatch. I had 20 mins before the planned interview. The skies were in the shades of grey, and as the winds picked up, fat droplets of rain swayed in rhythm as it crashed on the hard tarmac. Office workers in their suits and women in heels were running to the nearest shelter covering their heads with their bare hands, lunch bags, and even newspapers. 

I did a quick calculation and figured that it was about 200 meters to get across to the interview building. On a typical day, it doesn’t look too distant, and it would have been a perfect day to stroll. I even had the intention to drop by Starbucks for a breather before the interview. However, on a stormy afternoon, a short distance seems like miles away. Undeniably, I started to panic, and I had butterflies in my stomach. I was toying with calling in to cancel the interview or go drenched in rain. 

However, the interview was too important. It was the first time that I was head-hunted by a recruitment agency, and the opportunity to work in a global education institute was too good to slip by. Obviously, I took the second option, and told myself that no storm was going to dash my chance of being selected for the job. Despite the gloomy day, my spirits were up.

As I grabbed my bag under my arm, I took big but careful steps and as I approached the traffic light junction, prayed for the green man lights to turn green. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side. The lights turned red just when I got there. So, I stood there patiently and willingly allowed Mother Nature to do her work.

A kind gesture

As I was waiting at the traffic junction, half drenched, suddenly a voice behind me said, “Miss, let me shelter you. Where are you going?” As I turned to look, there stood a gentleman, probably in his thirties, with a yellow umbrella sheltering me from the rain. I know what you are probably thinking. This sounds too good to be true and seems like a scene from a movie. Hey, this happens in real life also. Well, ok, so he was not Richard Gere or Tom Cruise, but he was a true gentleman. There were so many people with umbrellas at the traffic junction, but this one man decided to show his kindness to me, and I was filled with gratitude.

I told him I was going for an important interview as we both walked across to the building sheltered side walk. He then offered a pack of tissues and while closing his umbrella, he said, “This must be so important for you to walk in the rain and be willing to get drenched.” I said it was and I would not miss it for the world. He ensured I was ok before he gestured a handshake and said, “Good luck for your interview. I know you are going to do just fine.” I thanked him, and he soon disappeared into the crowd of people. I never did find out his name, but his kindness that afternoon became a chain reaction to me that day.

A chain reaction

My interview went very well, and I was scheduled to meet the Director of the institute the following week. As I stepped out of the building, the rain had stopped. I decided that making that trip to Starbucks was going to make the day perfect and took out $10 from my wallet as I walked towards the café. As I was walking, a young lady stopped me on my tracks and asked how she could get to a particular location. After looking at the address, I noticed that it was quite a distance and she would have to take two buses or a taxi to get there. I told her how to get to the location but she claimed that she was not a local and she needed to get to the location fast. She then showed me her wallet where she only had foreign currencies and no coins for the bus fare. She seemed desperate and while one part of me wanted to walk away, the other made me stay. 

The earlier incident with Mr Yellow Umbrella pulled my heartstrings, and I felt a tinge of sympathy for this lady. Without much thinking, I handed her my $10 which was in my palm and told her to cross over to the taxi stand and show the address to the driver to get her there. I figured it would be sufficient for the fare. She took the money with both her hands and bowed as she thanked me. I watched her cross the road and got into a taxi before I left. 

Kindness is free

On my way home on the train, I thought about the incidents that took place earlier in the day. In a world where we are constantly rushing and can sometimes be too self-centred, a small gesture does go a long way. On that stormy afternoon, the kindness shown to me gave a warm feeling that somebody cared. In our lives, we sometimes forget that showing compassion, not only in actions but in words, can make such a big difference. Best part is, it is free!

As Simon said, kindness connects us with each other and creates long-lasting relationships. With kindness, comes respect and self-worth. In an agency-client relationship, kindness is shown not only by respecting each other’s roles but also in how we communicate. Even if we have differing views, it is so important to be rational and lean towards a solution that will be beneficial for both parties. We have to remember that kindness always begets kindness. Nobody owes anyone a living. We all need each other in this ecosystem to thrive.

As a client, your openness to communication, your patience in understanding and working towards a common goal with your agency will bring about positive outcomes. As an agency, your excellent work, and your generosity and positive attitude towards your clients will definitely help your business grow. It is always a win-win situation.

Remember that kindness is contagious, and when you have a habit of serving with kindness, patience, and respect, you become a happier person. So make it a point to make someone’s day every single day. 

By the way, I didn’t get the global public relations role, but it was a day that shaped me further to be a better person and to always be grateful, be kind and be humble. 

(This article was first published on Marketing in Asia)