Harvey Weinstein on Altruism

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Jay Chandrasekhar, a member of the Broken Lizards comedy troupe and successful movie director, tells a story from early in his career where he’s at the Sundance Festival trying to sell his first big movie.  Harvey Weinstein, one of the biggest film producers in Hollywood, agrees to go to the screening.

When the film was over, Harvey walks up to Jay and says, “I’m going to do you a favor. Come meet me at the bar.” They grab a drink as the other studio executives are gawking that Jay is with Harvey. “When you hang out with me,” Harvey said, “you’ll sell your movie.” And Jay did.

Harvey had nothing to gain from this gesture. He had no financial investment or personal stake in the movie or in Jay’s success. They were not even close friends. Harvey merely saw someone talented and decided to help.

Altruism should be an attribute in every leader. For starters, according to research by UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs altruists are more likely to help those around them, are more committed to their work, and are less likely to quit.

Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system. — Donald Moynihan

Put simply, these findings show that helping others makes us happier. But, if you’re happiness is not a motivator, consider that helping others has a domino effect that encourages others to perform good deeds which, in turn, boosts their happiness.

Happy employees are more productive, have lower turnover, and work harder than their unhappy counterparts. As a leader, how much easier is your job if everyone is happily helping each other?

Your ability to display altruistic behaviors can make all the difference. You set the tone.

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