Sally Alspaugh, CAP®

Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®

building family legacy

Book Review by Sally Alspaugh

book coverThe Generosity Factor

Authored by: Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy

Until recently, the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A was well-known for its conservative heritage and savory chicken, but in 2012 became the center of controversy following a series of public comments opposing same-sex marriage. In the Generosity Factor, S. Truett Cathy (the father of now Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy) tells a story, cloaked in the literary genre of an allegory, of a young self-absorbed, successful investment broker and his interactions with a mature, altruistic entrepreneur.

After reading a column about the successful entrepreneur, the young broker felt a pang of insignificance – a rather unlikely feeling given the circumstances of his successful lifestyle. Unable to forget the story he read about the successful executive who claimed his greatest joy in life was his ability to give to others, the broker picked up the phone and called the executive in order to reassure himself that the man from Denver was a fraud. Fortunately, for him he was invited to Denver and he went.

The broker found himself face to face with the Generosity Factor. For the next several days, the young man learned about not being an owner but a steward or manager of God’s resources. As that attitude began to sink in, the broker saw firsthand the principle of meeting the needs of others – of holding one’s assets in an open hand not in a clenched fist. Homes for orphans, scholarships for employees, camps for character building for inner city kids were among the ways that the executive chose to meet the needs of others with the resources of his own success and wealth.

Asked to inventory his blessings, the broker’s list was all about things. The executive’s list was all about the gifts he had been given. Attending church, after observing an 8th grade Sunday school class, was unusual for the broker, yet poignant enough to make an important impression.

Upon returning to New York City, the broker was met by the reality that all was not well with the families of the servants he had hired to insulate his life. Moved by his sudden-gained compassion, the broker attended the funeral of his chauffeur’s wife only to be followed by a confrontation with the annoying bag lady who appeared outside his uptown condo everyday. Through this, the broker learned that the bag lady actually owned the penthouse of his building but that her ‘success to significance’ story involved being in the streets with the people who needed her compassion and generosity.

Blown away by all this, changes began to take place within the broker’s life. Generosity, joy, service, significance, legacy became words with meaning to the broker.

Read this short but poignant book and you won’t regret the warmth and inspiration that will begin to infect your own lifestyle.

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