"Don't part with your dreams - when they are gone you may still exist but you will have ceased to live" - Mark Twain

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Friday, 17 July 2009

How to Be a Mensch - by Guy Kawasaki

And since yesterday's mention of being a Mensch by Dov Heller, here's the definition:

"A person of integrity and honor. Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous."
Here's how to be one yourself - courtesy of Guy Kawasaki, tweeter extraordinaire.


P.S. Watch out for wenches, they're not the same!!


Here is my humble attempt to help you achieve menschdom.

  1. Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favor. He doesn't care if the recipient is rich, famous, or powerful. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't help rich, famous, or powerful people (indeed, they may need the most help), but you shouldn't help only rich, famous, and powerful people.
  2. Help without the expectation of return. A mensch helps people without the expectation of return--at least in this life. What's the payoff? Not that there has to be a payoff, but the payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. Nothing more, nothing less.
  3. Help many people. Menschdom is a numbers game: you should help many people, so you don't hide your generosity under a bushel. (Of course, not even a mensch can help everyone. To try to do so would mean failing to help anyone.)
  4. Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always does the right thing the right way. She would never cop an attitude like, “We're not as bad as Enron.” There is a bright, clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
  5. Pay back society. A mensch realizes that he's blessed. For example, entrepreneurs are blessed with vision and passion plus the ability to recruit, raise money, and change the world. These blessings come with the obligation to pay back society. The baseline is that we owe something to society--we're not a doing a favor by paying back society.

Exercise: It's the end of your life. What three things do you want people to remember you for?

If you'd like to read more about this subject, I suggest Joshua Halberstam's book called Everyday Ethics: Inspired Solutions to Real-Life Dilemmas.

I hope this helps you become a mensch. No need to thank me if it does--helping you is reward enough--ie, “Don't menschion it.”