I was traveling with my family on Spring Break. We stopped for lunch at the Toro Loco in Jackson, Ohio. The food was delicious and inexpensive, and the staff was focused and attentive.

After our meal, I tried to catch our waiter’s eye, but he was elusive. I was starting to feel anxious and frustrated, wanting to pay my bill and get back on the road. Just as I was about to get up and track him down, a patron from a nearby table walked over and said, “Pardon me. We’re a pretty tight-knit community around here. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but I overheard you stating that you were traveling. You have a beautiful family. My wife and I have 3 kids of our own– a girl and two boys. It’s so nice to see well-behaved kids. I hope you’re not offended, but I’ve taken care of your meal. Thanks, and have a great day.”

I looked at my wife. She looked at me. We were shocked. The idea flashed in my mind that he was being sarcastic about my children, so I quickly reviewed the past half-hour in my mind, remembering their behavior. We had been talking together as a family, and all 3 of the kids had indeed been well-behaved. We hadn’t even used any electronic devices (think Angry Birds) to pacify the middle one. My eyes got a little misty. All I could manage was, “Thank you; I really appreciate it.” My wife and I continued to look at each other, feeling both blessed and dumbfounded.

After I recovered my senses, I stopped at my benefactor’s table, and said, “You humble me with your generosity. And I think you caught us on a good day.” We both laughed, and he said, “Have a safe trip.” Then I gathered my family and we left.

Over the next several days, that incident kept popping into my mind. This man’s action was sacrificial, generous, and bold. I felt like somehow I had to live up to the standard he expected. What could I do that would contribute to building my kids’ character? How could I influence them to continue growing in self-awareness and self-control?

Which was strange, because I likely would never see this man again. And he would likely never see me or my kids again.

I was struck by a couple of ideas:

  • Influence requires relationship. If we don’t have a relationship with a person, we won’t allow that person to be influential in our lives. But I had just met this man; how could he become so influential with me so quickly? Since I trusted his intent, I listened. Selfless intent generates trust, accelerates relationships, and creates influence.
  • He effectively said, “Whatever you’re doing to get this result, keep doing it, because it makes a difference to those around you.” How often do we (or our kids) hear stop doing that instead of keep doing that? Keep doing that is much more powerful in effecting long-lasting change.

I’m grateful that a stranger had the courage to influence me. We need more of that in our workplaces, our friendships, and our homes.


Leave a Reply to Chip Neidigh Cancel Reply


  1. Chip, you’re a rock star. I love what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

    Keep doing it.

    (I have no idea what or how well you’re doing with the munchkins, but I’ll trust this stranger’s opinion that you must be doing that right, as well. Or you made the whole thing up to make a point and satisfy your ego. Either way, I’m on board. Keep doing that, too.)


  2. Chip,

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great story and one worth remembering. It’s amazing how God gets our attention when we overlook the little (and profound) blessings!!

    God bless,


  3. Chip: Great story. Reminds me of the joy my wife and I shared when our middle son, now grown and a business manager supervising dozens of people for a multi-million dollar organization, got married. So many of his employees approached us at the reception to compliment our son for the way he coaches, guides and uplifts those he is responsible for. It was a wonderful moment.

  4. Christopher Elliott

    Great post Chip!

    Yes, relationship is our best filter!


  5. WOW! What a God moment… Keep doing that.

  6. Deno Rousopoulos

    I think that God intervened and did two things (I speak from personal experience here)…
    1) Spared that waiter the wrath of (Deno) Chip – Ha!
    2) Tried to teach (Deno) you patience and empathy, sparing you from really being humbled

    BONUS THOUGHT…Knowing that you married way above yourself…it was probably because the kids behaved and that man was really impressed.

    I bet if we compare notes that we’ll discover that we are related and seperated at birth…two guys saved by grace!

  7. Chip, I will remember this when I go back to school after spring break. I will also relay the message to my boys, keep doing what you are doing to please me and God. The other things will be taken care of eventually.

  8. Ondrea McAulay

    This is a wonderful story, Chip and a great reminder of how random acts of kindness make impact on our lives. A simple, positive, and uplifting message to “keep doing that” can make a difference to how we interact with those we love and care about. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Chip, good bottom line. Focus on the positives is important and not always easy. Thanks for the pinter.

  10. Keep writing posts like that!

  11. Wow! What an amazing story.

    Keep sharing ’em!

  12. You are great at your profession because you take what might be a simple incident and you drill deeper for life lessons, business insights, relationship dynamics….and you extrapolate the relavent and share it freely (pun intended). Thanks.

  13. Chip,
    Thanks for the insight. Good stuff, and a great reminder about how people change and the importance of affirmation.

  14. Kevin D. Russell

    Chip–it comes as no surprise to me. You were a great leader of men as an Tank Commander/Officer and you are a great leader of your family. Modeling loving your wide as Christ loves the church, & bringing your kids up i nthe knowledge of the Lord and leading Catalyst OC & your clients.

    I appreciate your sharing, and your friendship even more. Keep up the good work my brotha hooaahhh! BTW we are way overdue for a cup of joe :o)

  15. Chip,

    What a great post! I think it is so important for us to model the behavior that we want our children to portray. I think someone else mentioned as well, but complimenting them and focusing on the positive will help them to keep doing those “good” things versus the alternative.

    I know sometimes we focus too much on the negative and what our kids do wrong versus building them up for what they do right.

    What a kind gesture on your spring break as well…

    Take care,


  16. As always very insightful and very useful reminders for interactions within a work team and outside of work as well. The dilemma I face, and I face the same dilemma when reading about consensus-building techniques, is trying to take the very good point that “Selfless intent generates trust, accelerates relationships, and creates influence,” into relationships that have objective competition built into them, such as customer-supplier. How can I as a supplier really be seen as having “selfless intent” with a customer when the relationship cannot be sustained on selflessness?

    • Keith, I love your question.

      My mind turns to Adam Smith (paraphrasing from memory, but I think I’m close enough): “All transactions are mutually beneficial, otherwise they wouldn’t occur.” Business relationships that are built on a foundation of selfless intent result in win-win solutions. But selfless intent doesn’t necessarily mean being a doormat. In my experience, if one side is sucking the other dry, over time, the relationship (professional or personal) withers.

      I’m also reminded of something a mentor of mine, Eldon Kibbey, once told me, “Don’t think of yourself as a Seller, think of yourself as an Assistant Buyer.” That mindset has helped me ensure I am engaging in ethical persuasion in negotiations, and not trying to take advantage of clients.

  17. Sherron Rogers

    This is a great story and a great write-up. I am sharing this, your site and the “keep doing that” technique with my leadership team. Thanks!

  18. Chip,
    Thanks for inspiring me today. Keep doing that!

  19. Chip,

    Great story with fantastic takeaways. Keep up the great work and let’s make plans to get together again soon. It would be great to catch up.


    P.S. – Don’t let Jim bust your chops too much. ;-)

  20. Too often we criticize our employees, children, family and friends for doing something that bothers us in some way. Nowhere near often enough do we praise them for doing something correctly by requesting they continue to perform in that manner. Not only does doing the right thing positively influence those around us, it keeps us on the positive track as well. Let’s Keep Doing It! And let’s acknowledge those who are striving for excellence and ask them to continue. Sometimes a simple word or phrase of encouragement can change someone’s life for the better.