LESSONS FROM THE PAST 34: Little Acts of Kindness- Changing Lives
It was the first day of work for me as a medical representative (MR) and I began with the first doctor on the list given to me. For me, it was a tense interview—my first. When I was going to my second, I met another MR on the road. 
He said hello. He introduced himself as Joe and told me he worked for Dumex Pfizer (our biggest competitor in antibiotics at that time). He said he had not seen me before in Jabalpur. 
I told him that it was my first day in that territory and in any case, I was new in the profession. 
We had a little chat. Then he said, “Come with me.” 
He took me to see five of the top doctors in town and introduced me as a new entrant in the territory and also new in the job. 
He had been in the territory for 14 years and was very well known to all the doctors and chemists. They also greatly respected him. Joe told the doctors that I was new to the profession and could they help me by prescribing my products and give me a good start. 
This was in spite of having directly competitive products. He pushed my products the full day, at these interviews. 
Later in the evening, after we had finished, he asked me whether I feel more comfortable and confident now. 
If you have any problems, do let me know. But, from tomorrow, we will be fighting in the marketplace! – As we must, since we must do our job! 
Joe was so kind, that I have not forgotten him for 60 years. He taught me that “you never stoop too low, when you stoop to help a child.” KINDNESS!
Sometime later, I was covering the territory of Saugar in Madhya Pradesh. One of the leading doctors in the town was always abrupt with me, to the extent of being a little short of rude. No smile. No pleasantries. 
Please tell me what you need to tell me – and make it short – was the attitude. 
After about four months, I met him by chance at a chemist shop where he had come to buy some medicines, and it was about 10 in the night. 
I was making a business call. It began raining very heavily. He recognised me. Where do you stay, he asked. I told him. 
“Come, I will drop you in my car. You can’t wait till it stops raining. It may take a long time.” 
He was so pleasant and we had a nice chat in the car. My earlier picture of Dr Vyas changed completely. We had become friends. His act of KINDNESS.
There is the story of a young man driving on a US highway early evening, when he stopped at a car parked on the side with a black woman at the wheel. Any problem?  
“I don’t know what to do. The car just stopped. I can’t get it started. Where are you going?”  
“I am not going that far, but I can drop you at the next town and you can then take a cab from there and make arrangements to have your car picked up.” 
“Thank you so much. You know – no one would stop for the last one hour and I was getting anxious about it getting too late into the night. It is so kind of you. God bless you.” 
At the next town, she got a cab and went her way. 
Two weeks later, the young man got a parcel delivered at this home. It was a large TV set. There was a note. “Because of your concern and kindness, I reached in time to spend the last three hours with my husband, before he died.
But for you, I would not have been able to have that gift. This is a token to say, ‘Thank you for your KINDNESS’.”  
I was invited to address a half-day seminar in Thailand—of a large multinational conglomerate. They told me that they had a new country head, and all chief executives (CEOs) reported to him. 
“Could I come a little earlier to the conference site and spend some time with him, so we get to know each other before the scheduled programme?” I asked. 
We had a half hour chat. He had come from India to take up this assignment. He spoke about the session to be conducted, rather than any personal details. At the beginning of the session, he was to say a few words. 
And he said, “Mr Vieira thinks this is the first time I am meeting him. It is not so. I had met him before. He had interviewed me for a position of CEO of a large textile conglomerate, many years ago in Chennai in India. He spent time convincing me that I should not take up this assignment, when I was a chemical engineer, and not a textile engineer. It is better that I wait for a more appropriate opportunity which is better suited to my qualifications. He could select me, but I would be the loser, finally, and in the long run. I waited. The reason why I am here today in this job, is because he spent 20 minutes to convince me, not to offer myself for that job.” 
It was bold of him to make such a declaration in public. I was so touched. It was KINDNESS- AND REPAID WITH A PUBLIC DECLARATION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. 
Inspirational Quotes writes about the Buddha, who was once abused by a passerby and he responded by staying quiet. 
One of the disciples was horrified and asked the Buddha for his permission to retaliate. 
Buddha said, “You can only give back something you may have taken. It is this man’s right to give, but its acceptance depends on you. People give both poison and nectar. You are at liberty to accept the nectar and refuse the poison.” 
How right! 
The choice is yours. Will you be kind? Or indifferent? Or even worse, abusive?
(Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe and Asia. His latest books are "5 Gs of family Business" with Dr Mita Dixit and "Marketing in a Digital/ Data World" with Brian Almeida. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)
11 months ago
Very touching stories! A lot to learn.
11 months ago
Dear Mr. Vieira,

Simply a great and touching post. The greatness is not only in narrating what happened but also in remembering it by heart and with names, which many of us don’t do. Someone’s kindness is the first thing people forget in today’s world. This reminded me a number of persons who could taught me similar and I owe my personal and professional life to them by remembering them often. Very inspiring. I believe every human shall read it. Thanks to you and Moneylife for bringing such kindness in front.
Replied to PeeyushAg comment 11 months ago
I’ll have to take time to read other posts.
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