What’s in it for me? A commonly used, but mostly useless question. Everyone is looking out for themselves, and we all do it sometimes; ask, “what’s in it for me”. Individuals have complicated motives. When we’re doing good for someone else, sometimes its our own good. Sometimes it’s mostly others. But, regardless of how hard we try to think up “what’s in it for me”, opportunity and success comes from unexpected places. While the answer to the question isn’t completely unimportant, asking the question usually is.

The “what’s in it for me” mentality is exacerbated by a little trick our mind plays on us. See, much of what our mind does is pattern matching. With enough experiences to draw from, what has happened predicts what will happen. We use pattern matching so much in retrospect that we come to trust it to tell us the future. You might see nothing in it for you until hindsight, when the things you did for no clear reason, are the obvious benefactors in some positive experience. If someone wants a popsicle from you today, but you deny them because there is no benefit to you, you may never get to appreciate their guest bedroom while passing through their hometown next year.

There is always something in it for you–the invisible doors to opportunity.

The point of a business is to make money, right?

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses think that’s their only point. While businesses do have to figure out how to keep their doors open in a practical and strategic sense, what’s true for the individual is also true for the company.

No one can foresee the future. No, not even business gurus. A business that tries to predict with too much accuracy how the good they do will come back to them, somehow doesn’t do so much good. Because the way that good-will comes back around is often invisible and even harder to trace when there are dozens and hundreds of individuals involved.

It’s a pattern that can’t be matched, and so the business who thinks too hard about their ‘primary goal’, to “make money”, doesn’t take those opportunities to simply make the world a little better for everyone. They really should. We all want to work with people and businesses we feel are doing good, for good’s sake.

“Pay it foreword”

We’ve all grown accustomed to this phrase. If you’ve forgotten, or are too young to remember, it was popularized in 2000 by a movie with the same name. And before that it was coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her book In the Garden of Delight in 1916. The idea has been around a long time. If you’ve been busy, or haven’t been able to get out from under the old rock in the last 99 years, paying it forward means to take some good that was done for you, and “pay it forward” to someone else, in hopes that they will do the same for someone else, and so on.

It’s a phrase and ideology which has hung around for a long time because it makes sense, brings about good, and feels good to do. When it’s practiced with a personal zeal, it also tends to work its way back around to you. The problem is, a lot of businesses start to treat “paying it forward” like “quid pro quo”. This for that. They start to try and trace how exactly the good-will will come back to them. It’s why businesses still give to “non-profits” whose spending on their cause is in the single digit percentiles. It’s why outrageously wealthy for-profit education institutions still rake in massive donations from businesses and alumni.

But paying it forward means to disconnect what you do from what you expect in return. And instead, return the good you’ve received in any place you can.

Action & Expectation

For a business, what they do for their clients is in exchange for the money they charge. Or, this is the mindset adopted by many. When these concepts are paired too tightly, you find businesses that nickel and dime their customers. And you find customers that are hesitant to reach out, hesitant to get the best experience from you they can. At Petruzzo Photography, we try to make this disconnection at the root.

When someone reaches out and engages with us, we try to care for them, with whatever capacity we have available. And when someone engages with us in business, we charge enough that we can disconnect them from the direct price of their “sale” and instead treat them with the care we would friends or family.

We try to make other’s concerns our concerns, without wondering if its “worth it”–And we think other businesses should too.

Making the world a better place is more people being good to more people.

As a business, and as individuals, the people who understand this are the ones we want to business with, the ones we want to support, the ones we want to see succeed. We want to encourage, inspire and work for those who want to make the world a better place. In fact, we think deep down, that’s what everyone wants.

So, in some light, one might consider that a kind of tit-for-tat. “I’ll be good to people if you are”. But you know what, I’ll allow it: Quid pro quo for goodness to humanity.