What is a Gift?

Have you ever been the recipient of an anonymous gift where you could not thank anyone for it? Many years ago I was given some gifts by someone I now call my angel. This individual went out of her way to know exactly what was going on in my life, and for several weeks gave me something that was perfect for that moment. I remember wondering: “who in the world went out of their way like this for me?” I was filled with joy and also mixed feelings as I couldn’t even say thank you.  She taught me what it is like to truly give, without expecting anything in return… not even a thank you.

Today I surround myself with people who get joy from giving away their gifts to people around them, and who do it unconditionally. One of the leadership qualities I look for when hiring someone, in addition to their values, experience and competence, is their willingness to give their gifts away without expecting anything in return… completely unconditionally. For the mere pleasure of making a significant difference in someone’s life or business.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Harris Simmons, the Chairman of our mother company Zions Bancorporation.  When I asked what his personal values were, one of the values he mentioned was “Selflessness.” He said it’s important for our employees to think about the whole, not just themselves. This creates a culture of trust, where people feel valued, trusted and builds a community of professionals who really strive to sincerely make a difference for each other, our customers and our community.

This week I have been holding individual conversations with many of my bankers who serve clients daily through our branch system. The most successful associates are those who seek for ways to give to their clients unconditionally. They have built relationships of trust, resulting in consistent success. They seek for ways to consistently add value, and built trust in relationships — for generations.

One of my employees makes it a point to pay for the meal of military officers when visiting a restaurant; he does this anonymously. “It’s my way of thanking them for their service to our country,” he says.

As we approach this new season of celebration, gratitude and Thanksgiving, I invite you to ponder upon ways you can surprise and delight those around you by giving away your gifts ­­–– what I call your “genius.” All of us are born with unique abilities and talents, let’s make a difference in people around us, one person at a time.