Generosity the Leadership Antidote

The pandemic wears on. People get more restless with the abiding uncertainty, wrankling repetition, and worry. True in homes. True in nursing homes. True in cities and colleges. True for countries and the world. Money and health? Is anything more foundational for our well-being, and more worrisome when it’s threatened?

Although we don’t have physical antidotes, we do have social and psychological ones. And our superpowers are kindness and generosity.

Stories abound:

  • My friend Ken walks to his lunch spot once a week to pick up a meal. His bill is something like $18. He pays with a Ben Franklin.
  • Ken also knows his trash and recycle guys; he leaves them donuts every week.
  • My nephew and a brother of my sister-in-law played a Zoom concert for my mom.
  • A student of mine from last Fall sent me 100 masks from her home in China. Wow!
  • I know many people who are paying cleaning ladies and gardeners.
  • I “carry out” my ritual Saturday breakfast with my bride – a small way to support Nari and Molly and Paula, the great women who run the Diggery Inn.
  • My friend Dave sent us Zingerman’s sandwich ingredients, and we feasted on the “#79: Sparky Get Your Zing On.”

    #79 Sparky Get Your Zing On


  1. How can we up our generosity game to show the positive power of networks?
  2. Don’t hide your generosity.  Ken has taught me that. I’m so grateful that he shared his Ben Franklin move, and I have emulated it. I haven’t put last names in here, because I haven’t asked permission, but these are all real people doing their real thing!
  3. Share what you or others have done that’s inspired you in the Comments area.  (And if it’s not working: email me directly and I’ll share them!)

Lead with your best self!


  • This is so lovely Dan…. I wanted to add one point about the donuts… as I mentioned to you, what inspired me wasn’t to just do something nice for my wonderful trash and recycling guys who I talk to almost every thursday… It was also to support Dream Fluff donuts, my favorite donut shop and the place from where i Bring my donuts when i speak to your class. By the way, I can’t wait to be able to do that again… hint.. hint… But to me this is a win / win / win… we support a local business, we let people who aren’t normally seen be seen (that’s something Oprah talks about, the need to know that people know you exist, as human) and selfishly, I simply feel good. And I NEED(!!!) that feel good. It makes a world of difference to me. You know, I received a call today from one of my teammates, Matt, from our class who had read your email. That’s the power for 155. Of connections. I hope you always know what an impact that class has made on so many people.

    • Ken, I was just sharing with someone yesterday your win-win-win philosophy! It reminds me of the research on widows and how those who received calls from others had far higher rates of depression compared to those who gave calls to others. Giving is a positive drug – for the givers as much (or more?) than the receivers. Thanks for the encouraging words. Will get you back in the (virtual) class this summer!

  • Loved hearing this from Denise Steagall from the University of Michigan (go blue!):
    Some actions taken during COVID:
    1. Six of my team and I have been in the office as essential workers – buying lunch on Fridays for everyone
    2. Any time we pick up food – tipping extra
    3. Working at a local food pantry
    4. Gave blood
    5. Buying gift certificates at local business to help fill the gap
    6. Supporting our church

    P.S. We had zingerman’s sandwiches a few weeks ago – so cool your friend sent you the fixings.
    Hope you and your family are safe and well.

  • [Another great contribution – this one from Marcia L from Adrian, Michigan (home of Adrian College and the awesome Adrian Dominicans who taught me some hundred or so years ago.]
    unable to post a comment..but i wanted to say we are in AZ until Wednesday when we return to Adrian, MI..I have been following your blog since you appeared years ago,at Siena Heights..
    One very helpful thing now is a donation to your local food bank/pantry. I have just sent checks to the Food Pantry here in Green Valley..and another to Our local pantry in Adrian.
    PS…we began donating cat and dog food ..dry..large the St. Mary’s pantry years ago…it is VERY popular..broken down into smaller bags..and the pantry can not spend its money on pet food

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