Acts of Kindness, Paid Forward: Random and Planned Randomness
Recently, Anastasia and I were having dinner at one of the restaurants that is described in the travel books as $$. When we asked for our check at the end of the meal, we were informed that someone who we did not know had already paid part of our tab. It felt great to be singled out and be given a gift in a random act of kindness. As it turns out, the person who gifted us does this every week at the same restaurant. She does it because it makes her feel good.
This started a conversation about what we have given, not so much randomly, yet as in a planned way. We reminisced about 3 outings last summer in which we had offered free PetMassages for dogs: one at the Toledo Wildwood Metropark, another at the Glass City Dog Park next to the Toledo Zoo, and the third at the Toledo Museum of Art. We tallied the number of dogs who got free sessions. There were 30+ dogs at the Metropark, 25 at the dog park, and a whopping 75 dogs at the May 9-K9 event at the museum. We did it because it made us feel good. We did it because it helped the dogs feel good. We did it because it helped the dogs’ people feel good.
We also did it because it was a good way to market PetMassage to the community.
Have these marketing investments been worth our time, effort and expenses? Did we get immediate returns on them? Yes we did, in all ways, on so many levels.
In these three occasions last summer, we were able to directly impact the lives of over 125 dogs and upwards of 500 people. Most of these dogs had two or three people with them (couples, families, groups of friends). If we count the crowds of curious and supportive onlookers watching us, that’s several hundred more. That’s a lot of dogs and people that we reached. Many of them had never heard of PetMassageTM for dogs.
All these people have friends; friends with dogs. We translate that as friends with benefits! Just recently we got a call from a friend of one of the people who saw us at the art museum. Word of mouth referrals are great! It means our marketing efforts are working. They brought their dog in for a PetMassageTM, who derived so much benefit that she is now a regular, returning client.
In addition to marketing to the local dog owner demographic, our name and face recognition is spreading. At recent functions we attended just in the last month, we were greeted and treated with the regard of comfortable trusted friends by staff people from the Toledo Musuem of Art, the Metropark, the SBA, the Toledo Chamber, and a business networking organization.
We’ve been promoting PetMassageTM in this area for a long time. We have had to learn that we need to be patient. Our efforts seldom bring observable immediate success. We have found that what we are experiencing in our business has little connection to the work we are doing right now. The effects are cumulative. We have a name for our marketing timelines. When we are doing everything we can think of to promote our growth, and it feels like we’re spinning our wheels, we employ the Bamboo Plan.
The Bamboo Plan
In the Bamboo Plan, we use the bamboo as a metaphor for our business. We market, plant a bamboo seed, and then for the next several years, we water and nurture it. Then all at once, it springs up and abundaza : it grows three feet a day. We know that if we were to give up and stop at any time while it is developing it will never get a chance to succeed. It’s like leaving a putt too short; never up, never in.
From the article, Personal Resilience: The Wisdom of Bamboo http://www.boxofcrayons.biz/2010/04/personal-resilience-the-wisdom-of-bamboo/, “Bamboo takes two to three years to establish its root system, during which time very little bamboo growth happens ‘up top’. But once the root system is in place, the growth is extraordinary – it can shoot up more than 20 meters in less than four months.
The metaphor is obvious but no less powerful for being so. We can be driving so hard to get things done that we can miss the importance of investing fully in our root system. The cost for that is that our foundation is fragile, less solid, and not as well grounded. The challenge is that our root system is often the less sexy part of what we do. It is systems, relationships, processes. It’s also clarity about who we are, what we’re good at, what we’re focusing upon, what matters.
Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots. – Rumi
In some cultures, bamboo is used as infrastructure. That’s because it has the flexibility to bend and move with the trauma, rather than being rigid, unyielding and ultimately vulnerable to an unexpected jolt and sideways shift.
“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” -Japanese Proverb
Resilience is one of the three essential character traits you need to be successful. The road along which you walk to have a successful and profitable business is not always smooth and easy. It’s confusing, uncertain and at times a little dangerous (and of course, exhilarating, exciting and full of adventure.)
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Confucius
That ability to yield gracefully, move non-linearly, give way rather than resist can be essential to you flourishing in the work that you do.
“Write your goals in concrete, and your plans in sand.” –Anonymous
“Be infinitely flexible and constantly amazed.” -Jason Kravitz
The Bamboo Plan takes patience and trust. For years and years we’ve kept keeping on. There have been long periods when it seemed as if nothing were happening. Our dedication is challenged by the myth of the expectation of immediate returns.
The destination often appears to be just around the next bend. “It’s only a dream away,” sings Annie.
If we stopped tending the bamboo, we would never even have a chance to experience the success we envision.
We are in this for the long haul. PetMassageTM is in its nineteenth year as a canine massage school and an animal care resource.
Our Bamboo Plan is working! We are seeing results from our efforts. We are getting more vet referrals. In our region, we are a household name. Often, people who we introduce ourselves to, already know who we are, where our clinic is, and know people whose dogs have benefited from our services.
Thanks to the internet, the reputation of PetMassageTM spreads beyond our local region. The skills, dedication and reputations of our graduates, have turned PetMassageTM into a well respected brand all over the world.
In our marketing, when we describe what we want people to know about PetMassageTM, we stick with the fundamentals:
The concept of canine massage exists.
1. Because of the specific techniques and skills developed through the experience of having helped thousands of dogs, it has processes, procedures, and scopes of practice.
2. PetMassageTM is a profession with its own regimen of training.
3. It is therefore more effective than the petting and “massage” that people give their dogs at home.
4. It integrates well with every other form of animal care and training.
5. It is beneficial to dogs and their people.
6. It is affordable.
7. And it is available: here.
PetMassageTM acts of kindness, randomly paid forward
Our random acts of kindness are planned. Their randomness lies in who shows up to receive and who is present to witness. To the dogs and pet parents, PetMassageTM services are always deeply and profoundly appreciated. To the witnesses, it is often emotionally moving; often bringing tears.
We do it because it makes us feel good. We also do it because it helps the dogs feel good. We also do it because it helps the dogs’ people feel good.
Let’s extrapolate on that. The dogs’ people make up our community. When they are better, healthier and happier, the community is better, healthier and happier. The community is part of the state, which is part of the region, which is part of the United States, which is part of, well, you know.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
Here is the take away: Every PetMassageTM makes the Universe better, healthier, and happier.