colorful skittlesDo you think the most successful people stepped on others to get where they are?

I’ve met a lot of wedding pros who believe that those who cheat get ahead in business. Sadly, some believe that’s the only way to be successful. And while selfish cheaters may get ahead in the short term, it just doesn’t usually work out for them in the long run. (Now more than ever, thanks to the internet and the power of online reviews.)

According to the NY Times bestseller, Give and Take, people fall into three categories when it comes to generosity: givers, matchers and takers.

Givers are the most generous, matchers adopt a tit-for-tat mentality and takers are more focused on getting what they want without concern for others. Who do you think is the most successful?

It turns out that givers tend to be the most AND least successful people in business and everywhere else.

So matchers and takers end up in the middle, but nice guys finish last… and first? That’s right. And it confirms what I’ve been seeing in the wedding industry (and lots of other places) for years.

If you’re the generous type (and you can find out your reciprocity style here), I want to make sure you become one of the givers on top and not a part of the doormat club. And the best way I can think of to do that is to talk about Skittles®.

The Skittles® Phenomenon

I love Skittles®, the fruit-flavored candy. So much so that I named my dog Skittle when I was ten years old.  Let me tell you the best flavors, in order: Red, Purple, Yellow, Orange, Green. (Don’t even get me started on the colossal misstep of switching green from lime to green apple recently. Gag.)

One of the best parts about Skittles® is that they’re so easy to share. I consider myself a generous person, so when we get to the end of the bag, I’ve been known to give away the reds and the purples and, like a martyr, taking the lowly oranges and greens.

Then one day, after sharing a bag of Skittles®, I asked the question, “What are your favorite flavors?” And to my horror, I found out other people (are clearly insane and) enjoy different flavors than I do. Not only do they love orange, but they think red is gross. That meant that not only did we both end up with our least favorite flavors, but they probably thought I was being selfish by keeping “the best” flavors to myself!

The Point

When it comes to being generous, have you been assuming that everybody wants the same thing?

It seems like a lot of wedding business owners think the only ways to be generous are to offer discounts, give away freebies or spend extra time with a client.

The danger is that if you think of yourself as a generous person, you might be over-discounting and working yourself to death. If that’s you, it’s okay. There’s a better way.

Instead, Be Creatively Generous

Instead of limiting your generosity, start experimenting. Get really curious. Ask your clients how you can be generous with them or just ask them what they want.

You might find that your busiest clients actually want to spend LESS time with you. That’s a nice, guilt-free timesaver.

You could uncover the fact that your clients appreciate you more and give you better reviews (not to mention more referrals) when you stop or reduce your discounting. You might start paying more attention to little things your clients say and do so you can make the experience more meaningful and enjoyable for them, instead of doing the same thing you’ve always done.

For example, if the groom is a huge Star Wars fan (even if you’re not) your photo booth company could send along some custom props, from a Chewbacca cutout to a replica Stormtrooper helmet. You get to be generous and they get a personalized experience they can’t shut up about. The kind of thing they’ll both be talking about years from now (and so will their guests).

Back to Skittles®

Not everyone likes the same flavors of Skittles®. Some people don’t eat sugar. It’s time to stop blindly giving away your red Skittles®.

When you start asking and paying attention, you might find out that the flavors you don’t like are someone else’s favorites. Or they might prefer that you eat the whole bag because they’re trying to lose weight. And if it turns out you both like the red ones best, you’ve made a connection with them. They may just let you have the last red Skittle® in the bag. If they’re feeling generous, that is.

Tell us in the comments: What’s one creative way you can start being generous in your business?

By Jeff Hellenbrand

Learn to Be Creatively Generous and Attract Top-Tier Brides

jeff-hellenbrandkathy-dalpra-200Jeff Hellenbrand of Cake Coaching and Kathy DalPra of Bride Appeal are co-hosting a free teleclass on October 23rd called “Give Better: How the NEW Generosity Can Make You a Magnet for Top-Tier Brides.” You can register to listen in live (or to get the recording after the event) at

photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc