What Do You Give to the Man Who Has Everything?
I had a meeting recently with the former chairman of Goldman Sachs. You would imagine him as the type of person who has everything that he wants and there's nothing he can’t easily get, right? This is a man who’s all about New York. He knows everybody.
At the very end of the meeting, I said, “This has been extraordinary valuable to me. Thank you so much for this discussion.” We had been talking about my foundation, Greenlight Giving. I said, “How long is your to-do list right now?” And he said, “Well, it’s interesting that you asked that, because I was just working on that list last week, and there are about 28 big things I need to be working on right now.”
I said, “Would you do me the biggest favor in the world and take one thing on that list that you think I could add any value to and please give me an assignment? Because I would love the ability to come back here again, and I frankly don’t feel like I have earned that right until I’m able to be of greater service to you. You’ve given me so much time.”
And he said, “Well, how about this. Stick around for the next hour. I’ve got a foundation meeting that’s happening, stick with me and I’ll give you a ton of things to do.” Be careful what you ask for! I’m glad that I did because it was an extraordinary opportunity to help, and he and I have spoken five times since.
The lesson: No matter who somebody is, you can find a way to contribute.
What has been your most unique, audacious, and generous offer of help, and how was it received?
PS: I told this story on last week’s Social Capitalist call with Reid Hoffman. If you haven’t already, download the MP3 and transcript here!