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Small Gestures Matter

Sometimes life can surprise you.


story

Sometimes life can surprise you. I had a moment this week that caught me off guard. I thought I’d share the story. I hope you don’t mind.

In the early 2000’s when we were starting out as a company, we were hired by a fascinating entrepreneur who started with a few hundred dollars and leveraged it to build a multi-million dollar company within a very short period of time. I was happy to work with her and contribute in a small way to her success. She was so successful in fact that she was able to sell her company.

Then at the height of her success, her life was affected by personal tragedy. She found herself financially destitute after her accounts were fraudulently emptied at the same time she was diagnosed with cancer. She was alone, struggling and I still recall the heartbreaking phone call she made to me to tell me what had happened. She was calling to apologetically tell me that she could not pay her last outstanding invoice.

For a long time I worried about her and wondered if she was OK. The invoice I voided that day was quickly forgotten, but the worry for her well-being remained. I didn’t hear from her again so I’ve had no idea what happened or even if she survived her illness. That was ten years ago.

Then yesterday she walked into my office.

I was a little shell-shocked. I hope she forgives whatever stupid look I had on my face while we spoke. I was especially confused because the first thing she said was “do you have a pen?”. And then she took my pen and wrote a check.

We’ve been doing for this a long time and we have some truly amazing clients. Clients who are fun to work with, honest, kind and sometimes even spoil us with presents. Like lots and lots of cake!

But there have been times when we’ve had unpleasant experiences with dishonest or rude people. There have been instances where we’ve gone well above and beyond the call of duty only to be treated poorly in the end. Not often mind you… I should make that clear. But as group of idealists who believe in justice, fairness and karma, it can be tough to be optimistic about the world when you have those experiences.

And then yesterday this client from years ago showed up to pay her bill. I told her it was not important and she did not need to do it. She insisted and I accepted because she said it really was important to her.

Granted I don’t have any intention of depositing the check into our account. I’d rather deposit it into the bank of renewed faith in humanity. I’m keeping it as a reminder that even small gestures matter. All those years ago when I voided her outstanding invoice and wished her a speedy recovery it meant more to her than I’d realized.

So this post has nothing to do with design trends or awards or fonts. This is just a way of commemorating a special experience. Because we created this company to help people. It’s not rocket surgery but we do our jobs hoping that we’re magically making the world a better place by the way we treat others.

So cheers to hope realized!

She and I will be chatting again very soon. I’m looking forward to it.

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Susan Isaacs

Susan’s a multitask-er who prides herself on the vast number of things (read: loose papers and coffee cups) on her desk at any one time, and yet she still manages to keep an eye on all the moving parts at Paragon.

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