Are-You-GenerousBack in March, I spotted this email subject line among dozens in my inbox:

“Free Beer!”

I quickly opened the email, which was from Matt Harris of, to find this:

With a catch!

Hey Joanna,

Brad and I are knee deep in some important sales documents, and would love your opinion.

If you’re free tomorrow and enjoy complimentary beverages, let’s meetup!


(I later learned from Matt that this particular subject line has about a 100% response rate. Is it any surprise? I don’t even drink beer and I opened it!)

Not only did Lance and I meet Matt and Brad the next day, but we soon used a very similar subject line to introduce Matt and Brad to a friend of ours, Mark Fischer of InspireCommerce. Our subject line to Mark:

“Free beer? A request”

Not only did Mark agree to meet with Matt and Brad to talk startups, but he’s also interested in using their service for his app, InspirePay

Generosity, it seems, pays. Matt and Brad didn’t just get some copywriting advice when they took us for drinks; they also made a connection that led to another connection and will hopefully lead to more. And we didn’t just get a couple of tasty pale ales; the sendwithus founders have been awesome about helping us hone our Kyvio idea. In agreeing to give his time to meet with the guys, Mark will surely get something fantastic out of the experience.

Giving brings abundance.

You don’t have to be “New Age”-y to believe that.

LLLYou just have to look around.

Lululemon Athletica credited their rise from a $1M to $1B company in just 10 years to a culture of generosity. Check out the TEDx talk here >

And The New York Times recently wrote about Adam Grant, the youngest tenured and highest rated prof at Wharton, author of “Give and Take” and massive giver in his community. Check out his very cool story and this snippet of how Office Hours work for the unusually generous Dr. Grant:

Give and Take“A second student came in. Then a third. Someone dropped off a bottle of wine to say thank you; another asked for a contact (Grant pledges to introduce his students to anyone he knows or has met, and they shop his LinkedIn profile for just that purpose).

For every one of them, Grant seemed to have not only relevant but also scientifically tested, peer-reviewed advice: Studies show you shouldn’t move for location, since what you do is more important than where you do it. Studies show that people who take jobs with too rosy a picture get dissatisfied and quit. If you truly can’t make a decision, consider delegating it to someone who knows you well and cares about you. Is there anything else I can help you with? How else can I help? He was like some kind of robo-rabbi.” (5 ways to give here)

For examples that are likely to hit closer to home, I was at Microconf last week, and I saw countless examples of startups generously – without flinching, without expectations of reciprocity – giving to one another: 

Hiten Shah of KISSmetrics sat down with tons of micropreneurs and gave specific advice on customer development + more… for free.

I overheard Patrick McKenzie (patio11) end at least 1 convo with a handshake and this swipable line: “If I can do anything to help you, email me.” And he was 100% sincere about it. I know how sincere he is because he has been insanely generous with Copy Hackers, recommending us repeatedly. Amaaaaazeballs!

At least a dozen people came up to me and said others in the room had recommended Copy Hackers ebooks. No one had to recommend me. They didn’t earn affiliate income for it. Yet recommend they did, oh so generously.

Christoph Engelhardt live-blogged the entire event, which he then discussed here – and I quote: “I can not just go to a conference, lurk around and not give something back to my fellow attendees or the hosts.”

That’s just scratching the surface of acts of open, selfless generosity I witnessed at Microconf.

But this sort of thing doesn’t just happen at startup conferences…

I’m surrounded by givers. Copy Hackers was born after Shereef Bishay publicly and generously thanked me for a tiny bit of work I’d done for him. As mentioned above, Patrick McKenzie has been an uber-giver for this li’l co. And every single reader who fires me an email, shares my shizzle on Twitter and leaves a comment here is totally giving…

Question is: am I a giver? Are you a giver? You can evaluate yourself here, get others to evaluate you, and quickly share your thoughts right now: