In life, we learn different things from different people.
This is one of the values of having a diverse set of friends, a lot of people turned to my friend Annie because she's a successful retail executive for me. However, I learned what it means to be generous from Annie. I learned so much from her. And so I thought the generous thing to do would be to share Annie with you. This is a bit of optimism.
Any more today, do you know what I wanted to talk to you about?
I want to talk to you about generosity, and the reason I want to talk to you about generosity is because I think you're the most generous person I've ever met in my entire life.
Oh, my God.
And I've met some pretty generous people you give of yourself in a way that I've never seen. And I've seen you around your other friends. Everyone feels that about you.
I don't know how you have the time and energy to give that much of yourself to so many people.
Everyone I know who knows you loves you because you make us feel special. You make us feel like we're the only person that matters in the world, and the reason I wanted to talk to you about it is because I want to learn how to do that because I don't know how to do that.
Did you learn it?
Well,r first of all, I don't even know how to respond to that other than I think you're crazy. And I appreciate it very much. I think that, as with anything, it's a learned action. And I would say that, hokey as it might sound, it starts with my parents. So I have been given the example from the minute I was born until today of just how that can make you feel and how you can make somebody else feel no matter if it's something super small or something actually quite big.
Making an effort makes all the difference in the world, and I think that that affects anything and everything you have in your life, whether it be friends, a husband, boyfriend, whatever, or work colleagues or the guy in the gas station, I do believe it costs nothing. For me, it doesn't take an extra effort. I watched the selflessness of my parents. We grew up with not a ton of money and the church was our place to go and it didn't matter who needed help.
Everybody showed up. And I think showing up is a really big deal. I think showing up makes all the difference in the world and you can't buy that.
How did you learn to anticipate? Because you're good at that. Like, I'll say something in passing and you bring it up or it'll show up weeks later. Do you make a mental note or do you physically write these things down?
So if I go back to really early childhood, I was taught and I observed at a very early age that anything is possible and if you want something, you can go and get it. And I watched again my parents or those around my parents who, if they wanted a law changed or the price to pay attention. My mother went and slept in front of the church for whatever it took for the priest to come outside and finally talk to her. You always have time.
You're an incredibly busy person. You're up early, early morning and your work to late. And you're always on the phone. You're always on Zoome. You're always talking to all parts of the world.
And yet if I call you, you take the call like you always have time. And I'm not the only person who calls you and I'm not the only person who loves you. And I'm not the only person who you give to. There's only 24 hours in a day. You seem to get twenty eight out.
You know, it fills my soul as much as it does yours or anybody else. I have the absolute gift of having a large group of friends and people around me that are extraordinary people starting with you. And I could make a really strong list of these people, which I'm very fortunate to have. It would be very difficult not to take a call because it makes me feel better. It's not for you. It's it's a selfish thing to do to take a call from you or other friends.
And I do find in this last bit of time, especially at times, strong personalities like you and I and those that give more than, say, others, or it's more common or easier sometimes. Forget that we need something. And somebody like you and others in my life have really shown up in these last months when something's happened or, you know, that I'm working too hard or I'm tired or whatever. So I do think that I've established or I've received a very good give and take.
The bucket is more than half full. I'm not constantly giving out.
Do you know how to ask for help? You make me address that question because you're always in giving mode. Yeah, I think that's probably one of the negatives being available is your cup runs out, your gas runs out. You know, you are going to get tired. I have a pretty strong threshold, but that is probably one of the drawbacks for any of it for sure.
The thing that I find really interesting, there seems to be a precursor to generosity. And you touched upon it just a second ago, which is gratitude, which is a very interesting before you can be generous, you have to be grateful. The question is, is if somebody generous without gratitude, it's almost artificial, right? It's almost because they feel they have to be or it's it's because they want something or calculated.
It may not be calculated in a nefarious way, but just sort of like this is what I'm supposed to do.
I I classify myself as a as a good person.
And this is what good it's almost overly selfish. But what I find so interesting is your ability to be generous starts with the gratitude you have for the people around you. And generosity is not actually the thing you do. It's almost the result of being grateful. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does. It does. I can remember very, very early on, you know, as with anything, when you achieve something that's positive, it's an endorphin and you feel that much better and you go forward and you do things. It leaps you forward on a lot of ways. And I have had so many experiences where I have left forward. Obviously, I think you have to be the one to take advantage of what's being put in front of you or to also open the curtains and look outside.
You say, hold on, what else is out there? I try to lead with gratitude. I can also be somewhat critical because I also find that I'm generous, but I also am careful with that. As you say, there's twenty four hours in a day and I like to believe that what I have in my life is a huge rippling pond. And as you show up for something, you're going to get ten fold out of it because it ripples out.
And I do think that you can also show up for people that don't expect it, not always do people realize it or are grateful for it. But a lot of times you can change somebody by the investment that you make to make a difference.
A lot of people are very cynical about generosity. You know, it's kind of like some people who are very guarded with their emotions because they fear being hurt. Why would I put myself out there? Why would I be vulnerable? I'm just going to get hurt. All right. And so they walk around with this with a wallop. And I think some people are very cynical about generosity as well. Well, what if I'm generous? You know what?
Somebody just takes advantage of me could happen. I'm sure it's happened to you. You know, where they just take and take and take because they know you'll give.
I can't be calculated about it. I don't want to think about it long enough. Then I will do it if I have to, then put it in perspective and weigh it out to see whether or not I prefer to leave with the gratitude for it and assume my gut instincts are probably better than not. And so if I make a mistake, you know what? I'll move on.
This is what I like about friendship, right. Or any relationship in business relationship as well, which is good relationships are egalitarian, not equal.
Equal means. I cook, you cook. I do the dishes. You do the dishes. I take out the garbage. You take out the garbage. That's equal. Egalitarian is I'll cook. You do the dishes, I'll take out the garbage. You empty the dishwasher. That's egalitarian where it feels balance that we're not doing the same thing. And I think healthy relationships are like that where, you know, I don't walk around notebook with all the things I've done for you and all the things you've done for me.
Annie, I did ten things for you this week, and you've only done one.
Come on. What kind of friendship do we have here? Right. That's not what happens. And for me, if I did a hundred things for you and you did nothing for me, but I had the absolute confidence that the one time I'm going to need you, no matter what day or what time, I know without a shadow of a doubt, you will be there.
The whole thing feels completely balanced.
Agree. And I've made this mistake. I've made this mistake in my own life, in my own friendships. I give and give and give.
And it is very unbalanced where it's not balanced equally or egalitarian.
Yeah. Where I came to the realization with some friends that if I'd never picked up the phone, I don't think I'd ever hear from them again. For the rest of my life, all the energy was one sided.
Yeah, I hear you. And I sort of like thought to myself, I enjoy their company, but do I have absolute confidence that they'll be there for me when I need them?
No, it's not even in doubt. A million percent.
I agree. And so then the question I have to ask myself is, is it still appropriate for me to be very generous to those people all the time?
The conclusion I came up with was no, which sounds a little harsh, but my argument was I've got limited energy and limited time and I love giving and I don't need to get back, but I need to have the confidence that a friend is actually a friend.
It's not something transactional. Yeah.
Yeah. Did you have a mentor growing up? Oh, yeah, there was a woman by the name of Marie Lambeck. So Marie was one of my mother's best friends and she was a little bit on the nutty side. She was somebody who always treated me like an adult, no matter if I was six, seven, 10 or whatever. And at about 15, we were a church one day. And she said I was really mad with the world and wanting to get out of here and go and run things somewhere else.
And she asked me to come over to her house, gave me a gin and tonic, sat in the backyard and talked about life. And she she really got me. She really understood that. I was going to run and that I needed to wait a few minutes. I couldn't leave yet, but she listened to me. She she heard me. She saw me. You didn't get that at home. I know I'm the oldest of five. I was washing dishes, putting people in vans, taking them to ballet class, you know, you name it.
My dad was a salesman. They were very involved with everything. All of us were in various activities is very difficult to juggle. Five kids that are pretty much one after the other. And I'm also not an easy character. As a kid, I was a real pain in the butt.
My mother would use a different word.
But tell me something you've done in your career that you absolutely love doing. It doesn't matter if it was a commercial success or not, but if like, if everything you did professionally were like this one thing, you'd be the happiest person alive. Well, I would say. Opening the outlet shopping center that we opened in Italy after I'd been with the company for about seven or eight years, I asked to be responsible to open an actual village from the construction all the way through, etc.
and they threw me in there. I had no idea what I was doing, which I've always done. I've always been in situations where I've been thrown into something I don't know how to do, and I love the challenge of it. But this was amazing, a huge challenge. And I mean, I'll tell you just one story. It was forty two outside, which is about one hundred and four every day. And these guys were working twenty four hours a day, bricklayers, you name it, and I could see how hot it was.
So I said, we're going to need to get this done. There's only one way we're going to get it done is if these guys are happy and healthy and moving fast. So we started with one pallet of water. By the third day, we were up to about forty seven hundred bottles of cold water every day. So they said they have to be cold. That can't be warm. Then I decided we needed to find popsicles for these guys.
So I went around to some of the bars. All I could find was about 14 popsicles and that wasn't going to work. So this woman overheard me and she ended up, long story short, giving me four thousand popsicles a day, three times a day. She delivered them. We went into business with four different pizza makers. We made all the pizzas in their off hours so that the pizza makers could do the work without interrupting their normal business.
So the lady with the popsicles came and brought me a plant at Christmas and said, I just want to thank you. My family's never been on vacation. And because we were able to bring you all these popsicles, we're going on vacation. And the pizza guys, they were able to open two more stores. And at the end of the day, though, for me, the thing that was great about it is all the teams that were there and there were, you know, one hundred and some odd people helping me open this place.
Everybody could feel that it was a popsicle, it was a bottle of water. It was a pizza, which is any single person can can afford or have. Right. And you could feel that momentum and that infectiousness that goes with the guy who's building the wall over in the back. When you walk up with a bottle of water and he looks at you and says. You mean that's for me, you're going to give me a bottle of water, it's a bottle of water, but it's freaking hot outside.
It was quite the commotion and it was probably the most exhilarating experience I've ever had. What specifically made it exhilarating?
You've done a lot of exhilarating things in your spectacular career. What specifically about this one thing? Did you consider exhilarating?
Every single person and there were hundreds of construction guys. There were over a hundred on the retail team. There were. I don't know how many suppliers involved we had, people that were coming to work with us at the end, that I had no idea who they worked for and they didn't care who they worked for, they were running around. And if they saw somebody that needed some help, they just said, I got a hammer. Hold on.
I'll be right back. The energy was. Palatable, it was infectious and I don't know how you would feel if you were an actor and you won an Oscar or you climbed Mount Everest, I don't know that I've ever had that feeling before because it was an energy that was tangible and it affected a lot of people. And by the way, we opened on time. Tell me an early specific happy childhood memory. I was a cheerleader that'll make you laugh, and my father was the football coach for the grade school and we won state championship and our team won the cheerleader championship for best cheerleaders in Texas, and we won the best football team in Texas.
And if you've ever watched Friday Night Lights double it by five hundred, it's unbelievable. And of all the things you did as a kid, what is it specifically about this one that stands out to you? You know, it's kind of similar to the one I just said about the shopping center, it was about a really large group of people being super happy, having worked really hard and everybody showed up to do their jobs. And it was a united happy.
Because I was on a team of cheerleaders, my dad was coaching a team know, and it was everybody was just this combustion of happy was unbelievable. But the combustion of happy, you had combustion of happy, I'm sure, before what what produced the combustion of happy that you again, that you that you're talking about it with such fondness now?
Well, we achieved the impossible, because if you know, me being a cheerleader isn't exactly the first place you put me as that description. And that was quite the achievement that I was able to do it. And then to win something on top of that was pretty extraordinary. But it was really hard work. It was one of those things where, you know, you had to practice and practice and practice and at the end you could see the payoff.
And so the investment was well worth it. It was different than other things. It was a longer period of time, too, which is very similar to the shopping center. You know, some things if you get a good math test, great. It's a little bit more of a shorter period of time. This was something that was a big investment, was a big anticipation. And we got there and we absolutely made it.
What I love about these two stories, it goes back to generosity again. There's a lot of giving that was happening.
You made this fantastic distinction of working hard over a long period of time to do something big versus the feeling you get when just, you know, get a good grade on your math test.
And I think that there's a correlation to the kind of generosity that you embody, which is there's short term generosity, saying good morning, saying thank you, and then there's this more invested generosity where you don't just do something spontaneously for someone which is very generous, but rather as an investor, generosity like I have to solve a problem in order to be generous, like how am I going to get these folks not just water, but cold water in the high 90s and low hundreds every day?
How am I going to figure out to get that many pizzas when the pizza stores can't make that many pieces because they have other business to run? Anybody else would have said popsicles. We couldn't find them. Oh, well, we'll just stick with the water.
But you were determined to solve these problems. You had a harebrained idea.
I'm going to get a popsicle and you would stop at nothing until you figure out the problem and the solution you found created more generosity. Because you helped these this other person build an entire business out of this one project. There's an invested generosity that I find fascinating that you actually spend time and energy away from the generous act to source and find and ask and research and dig.
And now I'm sort of understanding the intensity of what it's like to be on the receiving end of your generosity, which is when it happens, it's overwhelming because it's not actually the thing that you did in that moment. It's not the little gift that you've given me. I know in that moment the reason it's emotional is because I know how much work you had to do or pay attention or take notes for that little box to arrive that day. That may or may not be anything, you know, might be something small.
I know everything that had to happen to get me to that point.
Yeah. Know it makes sense. I hear what you're saying. I guess I don't conceivably think of it that way, but when you asked me to relay the story, then I do think about I could give you, you know, many, many other examples like that, because my mind is a time and energy calendar. Then it sounds calculated, but it's not.
No, I understand it. What I find so impressive is just your ability. And you're a very good listener. You know, I've been in group things with you and you're very quiet. You know, you're in a room of big personalities and you have a big personality and yet you take in the room. And I'll give you one stupid example, during the pandemic, we were both at a dinner party and one of the people at our dinner party was eating luminosities pizza and everybody on the call, everybody on the zoo meeting went, oh, my God, it's the best.
And I went, I've never tried it. And that was it. We moved on to the next thing. And three weeks later, six Illuminati's pizzas show up at my house from, you know, no, no, nothing. They just show up and talk about the generosity that, you know, the way it flows for you.
I have since gifted Lou Malnati's pizza to multiple people, but it's that kind of little thing. Anybody else would say, oh, my God, I mean, you should try them and that would be it. We move on. But you at the end of that dinner party, you got them for me. I mean, it seems silly that one's not, you know, heavily researched per say, but that's it's just the paying attention and wanting to fill these little gaps in someone's life experience.
It's kind of what you do, and I love the gratitude and love that it seeps with gratitude, and this is where I started. I said to you, I don't have the energy that you have to be generous. And what I'm learning is I need to start each day with gratitude. Yeah, yeah.
And then I will you know, there's an analogy there's a connection I'm making here. So I've always my whole life been very bad with remembering people's names. Terrible at it. I mean, I'll meet them and like five minutes later, I can't remember their name. And I've just believed it was some failing of my own brain. And I would say that, like, I'm really sorry. I'm just really bad with names and faces, you know? And somebody pointed out to me that we can do things that matter to us and they challenge me.
They said maybe you don't remember people's names because they don't matter to you. And I thought that was like a dagger through my heart, you know?
And I know how special it makes people feel when you remember their name.
And so I sort of made this decision that, of course, I want to make people feel seen and heard and special, and if if I only have to remember a name, I'll do that. And now when I meet someone, a stranger, someone comes up to me and say that they're they admire my work. For example, I immediately ask them their name. We can have a nice, lovely, long conversation. And at the end I'll thank them and say their name again.
And the number of times they're surprised that I remember their name, acknowledge them. Yeah.
And I have become pretty good at remembering people's names because now I know it matters to them.
It's no longer about me or I'm not remembering names, blah blah, blah, blah, blah.
As soon as I was able to make it something generous, as soon as I was able to make the remembering of a name a generous act, it actually became a lot easier. So to what you do, I was confounded how you find all the time and energy. But because it's born out of generosity, the time and energy shows up.
Yes, I do believe it's very infectious when you make people happy. Yeah.
So I've learned something today that you can only be truly generous to others if you are first grateful for the things that they do for you or that life has given you, that you have to start your day with gratitude and then the rest of the day you will have the energy to be generous.
But I think that we also have to feel that gratitude. I did something nice for somebody recently and they showed no gratitude to me.
And I remember thinking to myself, well, I won't do that again. So I yeah. So I actually think that gratitude is important all the time. Like, the more gratitude we feel from people, the more generous we want to become and the more grateful we are, the more people will be generous to us.
Yeah, I think the moral of the story is if we could all learn to just be a little more grateful for the things we have for the people around us, and everyone can find something to be grateful for every single day, without a doubt.
And the world would become a much more generous place.
Completely agree. You're the best. Well, I'm just grateful for you, but you would, uh, Annie, were you.
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