If you know me and you've sat down
with me for over a few hours, inevitably you'll hear about the Paradox of
Choice. The book, by author
Fast forward to April this year when
I got an email from Dina Kaplan. That,
in itself, isn’t big news ... Dina is a dear friend of mine who I talk to
regularly. But the content was
interesting ... Dina had gotten me a unique birthday present ... a lunch with
Before last week, I had never met Professor Schwartz but constantly talked about his work. I assumed Dina (who is the most connected person I know) knew Schwartz and called in a favor to have him go to lunch with me. What I only found out later is that she cold emailed him, told him I was a big fan, and convinced him to have lunch with me.
Well last week Schwartz and I sat down for a great lunch. I was like a kid in the candy store peppering him with questions, asking him about his theories (many of which had to do with hiring and motivating employees ... something I am very focused on right now), and hearing his thoughts about families.
It turns out that it was, by far, the best birthday present I have ever received. And it set a new standard for giving gifts.
Gifting can be really powerful if it is super personalized. And the best gift isn't a thing, it is an experience. And it isn’t the dollar amount you spend on someone (at least it shouldn't be), but the thought and effort.
Dina did a few things that earn her the gold medal in gift giving:
1. she thought a lot about the
recipient. 99.9% of people would not
appreciate a gift of lunch with a random professor from
2. she did her research. She dug up Schwartz's email address ... she thought of a clever pitch ... and she convinced him to go to lunch with me.
3. she was persistent. Who knows how many people she contacted. Maybe Schwartz was the first person she contacted but maybe he was the tenth.
If gifting is an art and a science, then Dina Kaplan wins its Nobel Prize. Thank you Dina!