For millions of let-down kids on Christmas morning, nothing says ‘disappointment’ more than ripping open the wrapping paper to discover the glorious gift of…socks. But for pinksocks.com co-founder Nick Adkins, the gift of socks is a step toward a kinder, more empathetic, and more connected world. Although, the idea is to gift the socks to a stranger, or a person in need, or even a random child on the other side of the country, rather than your 9-year old nephew.
For Nick Adkins, the simple act of randomly giving someone a gift, even something as plebeian as socks (though it works best if the socks are hot pink) is enough to cause a ripple effect, as the recipient is more likely to “pay it forward” and seek the same interaction they just had with you.
Listen to “Kindness: Nick Adkins' PinkSocks – Episode 13” on Spreaker.
The ultimate goal of gifting is not to make one feel better about oneself, or something as cliche as “it’s better to give rather than to receive”. The ultimate benefit of gifting, especially to strangers, is the connection that is formed. This realization came to Nick after he had a drastic change in his perspective, and just as importantly, his wardrobe. Nick Adkins was a typical business-suit healthcare executive until a trip to Burning Man enticed him to migrate from Tennessee (the self-proclaimed “Buckle of the Bible Belt”) to the counter-culture Mecca of Portland, Oregon, and swap the three-piece suit and tie for a…kilt. And the thing about wearing a kilt to work is, you simply cannot pair it with black business socks. It’s like drinking a Blue Bermuda Boom-Boom out of a Burgundy glass; much as such a cocktail requires to be drunk out of a coconut with a silly straw and a half-dozen paper umbrellas, a kilt necessitates tacky socks. And so Nick complemented his newfound ”pants alternative” with a Spencer’s Gifts’-worth of novelty socks, but he found that the pair that garnered the most attention were his pair of neon-pink knee-highs accentuated with a handlebar mustache at the top.
If you wear a pair of bright bubblegum-hued socks, people are going to notice, and people are going to comment. And when people comment, it forces you to comment back, and suddenly, you’re connecting with someone. You’re having a conversation with a stranger on the bus rather than just scrolling through your phone. You’re disconnecting from your own bubble and honoring this other person you would have otherwise just ignored.
You’re disconnecting from your own bubble and honoring this other person you would have otherwise just ignored.
So Nick tries to not go anywhere without his flamingo-inflected footwear. You never know when the opportunity to spontaneously gift someone might arise. Maybe that person will treasure and wear those socks, or even consider them their “lucky socks” and only break them out on special occasions, maybe they’ll be rebundled and re-gifted at an office white elephant X-Mas party, or maybe they’ll be torn to salmon-colored shreds by a not-yet-quite-house-trained puppy. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you made a connection with someone. And made the person feel good. And maybe they’ll be inspired to connect with someone they wouldn’t normally connect with. And so on.
Nick’s charity, pinksocks.com is trying to infect as many people as possible with these feelings of kindness and togetherness. One success story involves an El Paso 2nd grade classroom gifting pink socks to the incoming 1st graders each year. The website details how you can donate to the cause and even get a pair of pink socks for you to gift to someone, just preferably not on Christmas morning.
While bright pink socks might not be on brand for your company, any business can benefit from the connection bonding that forms from gifting. A simple gift or complimentary service will not only make someone else’s day, it will help establish a company culture that values empathy and honoring others. Forming connections within your company, as well as with customers, is a great way to ensure loyalty, company satisfaction, and a strong supply of fresh footwear.
“Giving to others will not take away from what you have but will in fact add to your life”
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