You Reap What You Sow.
It’s true in most aspects of your life and it’s especially true in your career.

The other day, I got a call from a former colleague. He hadn’t been in touch for years (almost 10 years) but he just lost his job and was hoping I could give him some contacts in IT marketing. Although it was great to hear from him after all these years, it felt weird that the only reason he was back in contact was to ask for some help. The particular individual could best be described as a fair weather friend - always there and available when things were going well, but conspicuously absent during more challenging times. I gave him some contacts, but must admit, I was reticent to do so. My guess is that others whom he contacted may not have been as generous. He may have a long and bumpy road to his next position.

Contrast that situation with my experience when I started my company. I told a good friend and award winning designer, Vartus, that I was starting a personal branding company and thinking of calling it Reach. The next day in my inbox I saw the Reach logo for the first time. I didn’t ask her to design a logo, she just did it. Days later, I experienced similar generosity from a friend Hans in Stockholm who built the first prototype of Countless other friends and colleagues appeared from nowhere to support my burgeoning business. None of these people did this with the promise that someday when I sell Reach for hundreds of millions of dollars (it’s important to have goals!) I would give them some of the proceeds from the sale. They did this pro-actively, selflessly, without expectation. They understand the role of generosity in business and in life.

I absolutely believe in the power of giving back. My own experience about all the blessings I've had in my life is that the more I give away, the more that comes back. That is the way life works, and that is the way energy works. Ken Blanchard

It’s Not Quid Pro Quo
You need to have faith that giving will come back to you without the expectation that it will come in any specific form. It’s a strategic way of managing your career rather than a tactical plan with specific outcomes. The outcomes will be positive but you can not - nor should you try to - predict exactly what they will be.

When Bob Geldof founded Band Aid to help reduce poverty and starvation in Africa, I doubt he was thinking “Hummm, if I start this organization, then I will be knighted by the Queen and nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.” He started it with the intention of giving wholeheartedly to a cause about which he is passionate.

The deed is everything, the glory naught. Goethe

Giving is a Key Skill in the New World of Work
Never has this concept of career karma been more valuable. No longer do we work for the same company or have a long-term contract with the same client. We aren’t part of a patriarchal structure where our companies manage our careers and send us off with a pension to lounge in the sun during our golden years. In the new world of work, we are left to our own resources, independent and untethered. We must fend for ourselves making it more essential and valuable to support those around us.

It’s grounding to be connected to others through positive actions. We are much more effective and fulfilled. To succeed today, we need to stay connected to those with whom we work. We must reach out to others. Our career success is inextricably linked to the advice, contacts and wisdom of those around us. And as an executive, you need to remember what it was like moving up the ranks. Supporting those who come behind you is a great way to give back.

When I was working in the corporate environment, I received incredible generosity from the CEO of our company. I did not report directly to him, but he gave me time and guidance and wisdom. Most importantly, he gave me a chance. He said to me once “when you get to a certain level, you need to seek out those with potential and give them everything it took you years to learn. Your job as CEO is to build strong leaders at all levels in the company.”

In our professional lives, we have all experienced ‘takers.’ Those who are always willing to ask for things but are quite stingy on the giving end. These people can only go so far in their careers and in life. They live in a world of lack. Limitation. Scarcity.

If you live in a world of abundance rather than limitation, you will find it easier to give and much more likely that you will receive. Successful executives live in this world of limitless possibilities and unending resources. They see the opportunities and find ways to work without constraints.

Be generous! Give to those you love; give to those who love you; give to the fortunate; give to the unfortunate - yes, give especially to those you don't want to give. You will receive abundance for your giving. The more you give, the more you will have! W. Clement Stone

Don’t Wait to Be Asked
Pro-activity is essential. You need to have perspective and be aware of those around you so you can give even when there is no asking. It’s about being able to recognize when someone has a need you can fill and doing so without expectation. For some, it’s hard to ask. Being aware of those around you is the first step. Sensing needs and proactively responding to those needs is at the highest level of the karma kingdom.

I used to work with an executive assistant, Mary, who was the glue of our organization. Her personal brand attributes are: empathy, compassion, collaboration, confidence and intuition. She could immediately tell when someone was not themselves and she would always offer her support. She would get others involved as well. Once I heard her whispering to a colleague outside my office “Steven seems stressed and overworked today, if you have some time to share kinds words or a joke with him, I am sure he will appreciate it.”

Mary’s compassion and team spirit kept the organization functioning. Her endless generosity and empathy enabled the whole team to perform at high levels and with greater satisfaction. And she was loved by all around her. When her position was eliminated because of a re-organization, managers from throughout the company reached out to offer her positions on their teams.

I don't think you ever stop giving. I really don't. I think it's an on-going process. And it's not just about being able to write a check. It's being able to touch somebody's life. Oprah Winfrey


Your Choice: React or Resolve
Not long ago, we had an email snafoo at Reach that gave me an opportunity to see this in action. I sent a mail out to a group list of about 50 people. It included a large attachment. The purpose of the mail was to organize a get-together with a group in London. Unfortunately, the mail bounced from one of the servers to which it was sent (because that server was configured improperly). This bouncing resent the mail to everyone on the list. When it reached the improperly functioning server again, it bounced again. This recursive process resulted in all 50 recipients receiving hundreds of copies of the same very large email (new copies of the email every few minutes).

It’s obvious this was incredibly frustrating to the recipients; and it is equally obvious this was not intentional. But it created a whole range of reactions. There were some who sent venomous emails threatening to demand payment for the cost of buying extra memory for their inboxes (to accommodate the large files). While others sent notes of support expressing empathy and shared frustration. And there were a few who sent emails to the entire list asking people to be understanding and urging them to support fixing the problem rather than complaining and being victimized by it.

The difference in the reactions has to do with perspective. Those who were complaining and blaming were thinking about themselves. Those who offered empathy and even proactively sought to solve the problem had a larger perspective. They could see beyond their own personal frustration and understood how their contributions could help resolve the problem rather than exacerbate it.

The greatest amount of karma can happen during challenging times when it is hardest to be generous because of stress, fear or uncertainty.

A friend of mine has been telling me about an ongoing work drama. His client is demanding retribution of the hundreds of thousands of dollars because a new technology was not completed on time in accordance with the terms of their contract. Instead of focusing on solving the problem, all the different organizations in his company are focusing their energies on covering their backs, blaming others and complaining about the client. All of this negative energy is being expended without an ounce of it being directed at the actual problem at hand. Meanwhile, the client is demanding more money daily.

My friend says it’s common practice where he works because of the culture of individualism, competition and fear. If someone were to stand up and say this is my department’s fault and here is what we propose to fix it, they would be fired rather than supported.

If you have the opportunity to impact culture and values of your organization, build one that rewards generosity, honesty and pro-activity. It will be positive for the organization and those who work in it.

You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar

Remember, the total effect of all of all your professional actions impacts your career destiny. Thinking about this will direct your behavior in a way that will positively support those around you and enable you to reach your career goals.

Impacting Your Career Karma
There are endless ways to be generous in your career. I am sure you can think of hundreds. Here are just a few to get you on your way. I challenge you to put at least one of these into action today:
1. When a job opportunity comes to you and you are not interested, rather casting it aside, think about whom you know who could benefit. The same is true if you are searching a job board.
2. Send copies a relevant articles to friends and colleagues when you think their careers could benefit from the wisdom contained therein.
3. When you meet someone new, go through your mental rolodex to determine who else in your network they should meet. Connecting your contacts is a great way to increase your career karma.
4. Be empathetic. When someone in your work environment is not themselves, pro-actively offer support. Ask how you can help.
5. Give to your boss. Not only what he or she asks of you, but anything you think will make him look good. Making your boss look good makes a giant deposit in your career karma account.

Remember, it’s not all about you. You get what you give.

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Author's Bio: 

William Arruda is the personal branding guru and the founder of Reach and the Reach Branding Club. A sought-after public speaker, William travels the globe with his message of branding for career success. You can learn more about him at and at