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Five Minute Favor!

Stashed in: #lifehacks, Founders, Networking, Startups, 106 Miles, Silicon Valley!, Economics!, #greatness, Time, Gratitude, #success, @reidhoffman, #kindness, @ifindkarma, @bakadesuyo, Awesome, Compassion, HBR, Favors!, Favors, Gratitude, High Five!, Life Hacks, @aaker, Give and Take, Relationship Building, Cognitive Bias

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Silicon Valley is a Favor Economy, for we believe:

Favors are the currency of success.

Since we all work so much, short favors are best in Silicon Valley. 5 minutes, tops.

The five minute favor is the foundation of successful founders I've known.

In 5 minutes a person can:

  1. Use a product and offer short, crisp feedback.

  2. Introduce two people with a well-written email.

  3. Read a plan and offer short, crisp feedback.

  4. Serve as a reference for a person, product, or service.

  5. Share or retweet something on Facebook or Twitter.

  6. (and so on)

I believe it was Reid Hoffman who once told me that

The essence of the Favor Economy is that a small gift from a person could make a big difference to the recipient.

An introduction, reference, or feedback is a #fiveminutefavor as that gift.

Note to self: buy a clown nose...


In researching about 5-minute favors, I found this elegant article on Lifehacker about the right way to ask for a favor:

When you ask for a favor you should be direct, succinct, charming, and—whenever possible—entertaining.

Obviously this is easier said than done and you won't always get it right. You also can't win over everybody, so don't expect that you will. Next time you need to ask someone for a favor, just remember to set aside some time beforehand and think of a way you can make them smile. If you can do that and get right to the point, you'll be in good shape.


I searched for #5minutefavor but found no other mention of it online.

We've discussed it at 106 Miles for 7 years, so perhaps 106 Miles is the originator.

It's certainly a fundamental value of 106 Miles: we do our best help each other with small gifts of time.

adam - you've made a big difference

Thank you, Christine.

Every day provides new opportunities to do five minute favors. :)

yes it's important to pay support forward...the kindness of strangers can be as impactful as help from a friend and make all the difference in someone's life.

I found this great HBR article on how to ask for a favor:

  1. Set the Stage: "I have a favor to ask you"

  2. Give a Reason

  3. Provide an Escape Clause

[Read more...]

and say thank you...and mean it :O)

@bakadesuyo gave us the greatest way to say thank you:

I put that in my gratitude stash.

love that. it makes me think of so many people i would love to do that with. reading it made me think of how - in this age of social media madness - we have so little real time for each other...

Right, and that's why time is the most valuable gift you can give.

This has always been true, but in our busy lives we sometimes forget it.

or we take time for granted. i catch myself doing this with my kids sometimes when the logistics of the m-f grind are going in high gear. everything becomes about go go go... so, a couple of times a week, i make a point at their bath time of lighting candles while they are in the tub and shower and bringing in my iphone and playing their favorite songs on the playlist i have for them and singing with them. some weeks, its the most important 20 minutes i spend with them. and it can be the most bittersweet because i know in a few more years the last thing they will want is their mom hanging out in the bathroom with them singing bruno mars' count on me :O)

You can always sing Bruno Mars with me, Christine.

But yeah, I love the idea of the most special 20 minutes of the week.

Savor those.

you just made me LOL! which is awesome! adam rifkin, i am going to get out to CA and sing bruno mars with you, mark my words :O)

I look forward to that, Christine. :)

"cool concept! i actually have a gmail label where i file favors i've done and received under "good karma" :)", @ShuqiaoS tweeted in response to this.

Yup, and none of these cost anything besides your time and a little bit of effort.

Time + Effort = Success!

Referenced by Wharton Professor Adam Grant in his book Give and Take:

One of my personal favorites is probably Adam Rifkin’s idea of the “Five Minute Favor” (if you can do something for someone that will take less than five minutes, just do it), that a lot of people look at the idea of helping others and say, “Gosh, that’s going to be time consuming, or exhausting, or put me at risk of being exploited.” I think what Adam’s idea sort of enables us to a sense of, “What if I just took a couple minutes every day to try to help someone in a way that it’s sort of a small commitment to me, but could be of large benefit to them?”

Giving is the Secret to Getting Ahead: A New Strategy for Business Success by Wharton professor Adam Grant - PandaWhale

Buy it now:

Makes a fine gift!

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