Buy a good startup lunch

This is another one of those posts about how to spend some money in an awesome way.  You’ve been warned.

I’ve written before about why I love AdventFinancial and their awesome founder, but I’ve never really told the story of what I do about it.  Because I like the Advent product, there is all the normal startup stuff I tend to do: introducing, recruiting, BD, etc.  But because I like Advent people, I do something a little different: I buy them lunch.

The nature of the tax business is that during the season, your entire life stops.  It is easy to talk to folks in August, when they’re really just thinking about the financial backend, some light selling in for next year, counting coup from last year.  But try to reach out in January, as all the tax preparers are coming online, and you might as well be on mute, unless you have an actual problem that needs solving.

Fortunately, Advent is in Kansas City, almost across the street from a noted BBQ place called Jack Stack.  So a few years ago, I started sending them lunch once in awhile during their toughest season.  For about $250 bucks, I can feed the 30ish employees a delicious buffet of three kinds of meats, bread, slaw, sauce, beans, potato salad, and all the plates and napkins and such.  All from the comfort of my NYC apartment.

There are lots of things you can do with $250; though the buffet is cheap in that it feeds a large team, you could make a credible argument that it should go to charity.  But in a world of double bottom line businesses and startups that are actually trying to make things better for folks, there is more than one way to give.  In the same way that supporting a parent that you are connected to, a neighbor or parent or relative, helps raise better children, spending time or money to help a prosocial startup can be a way of making the world better.  Looking out for those who look out for others, as it were.

One of the great lessons of social psychology has been that small gestures often have disproportionately large results.  In truth, I could probably just stop by each Advent employee’s desk with a cookie and a smile and not have to pay for lunch, but I’m not close and so that isn’t possible.  And $250 worth of food really can have a large effect; in every study that has looked at what motivates quality in the workplace, “feeling appreciated” tends to top it out.  Food from a non-affiliated person who thinks what you are doing is great?  Now that’s a feeling of appreciation.

Something to think about when you’re figuring out how you want to encourage and enable companies who are doing good things.  If you’re in the startup community, you’re likely connected to many people who are working on positive projects – it is worthwhile to keep them motivated to do so.

NOTE: Please do not send me lunch.  I’m still eating the jelly beans.

Also published on Medium.