One Tough Job Interview

The job was mine if I made it through a final interview. I had to pass muster with the supervisor I would report to. Her first question was completely unexpected:

"What is your philosophy of giving?"

This was not a skills test. The query transcended simple stereotypes about career, self-worth, or values. She wanted to know how I integrated a concern for others with the workplace; or if I had even thought of doing so. By asking it, my future boss (I was hired) made it clear that the priorities for the job would be measured against a bigger context than the work itself.

Some 20 years later, I still ask myself the same question. The best answers come from seeing how others structure giving in their lives.

Our cover story this week by Marilyn Gardner details how a new generation of financially successful women ask and answer the same question. Their clearly articulated approach to philanthropy, backed up by serious giving, is setting the bar higher for all of us.

One group I track is professional athletes, men and women. They compete where merit and money connect, be it golf, football, tennis, baseball, hockey, or basketball.

Because they are so highly visible, it is no small concern to hear young people measure the success of athletes more by salary or signing bonus, than talent on (and behavior off) the field.

Growing up, it never entered my mind to judge Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers by how much money he made.

The instant millionaires of today who compete in a sport with television appeal need to work out a philosophy of giving. And then they need to articulate it clearly to their many young fans.

* Comments or questions? Write to Ideas Editor, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or e-mail

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