This is a story about a man in 1994 had become a big fan of an unknown band and wanted to help them become popular. So he built them a website.
Hundreds of thousands of fans visited it when this unknown band suddenly became a huge deal. That band was Green Day.
The website became so popular that Green Day’s manager contacted the fan who built it and asked if they could make it the band’s official page. The response was ‘Great; it’s all yours’. He just gave it to them. A year earlier, one of the visitors to the website had written an email to him to suggest that Green Day was just pop music. And they should be able to find more than just Green Day if you were a real punk fan. So, a series of links were added to the website, so fans of real punk had more choice.
The name of the fan who built Green Day’s website was Adam Rifkin. Some five years later, Adam emailed the fan of who had sought to educate him on what real punk was, and had a meeting with him.
The name of the person who had emailed him was Graham Spencer. He started Excite which went on to become one of the early web portals and search engine. So when Adam asked him for advice on his internet start-up, he agreed to meet him because he had helped him. Graham introduced Adam to a venture capitalist, who ended up funding his startup.
Adam helped Graham without expecting anything in return. He thought Graham was a mohawk-donning punk fan but took the time to help him. He gave Green Day the website because he was a fan.
As a side note, when Adam Rifkin was asked how a random set of emails back in 1999 had led to his company getting founded in 2,000 he recalls ’Givers get lucky.’
This story and much more is from a book called Give and Take by Adam Grant. It’s a great book. And, it may change how we think about how you run your companies.