The Importance of the Baker’s Dozen

I bought a dozen donut holes last night. I could swear I ate five, then my roommate told me she ate one, but the next day there were seven in the bag. This reminded me of when I was very young and my dad explained the concept of a baker’s dozen: it’s about doing that little extra beyond what you promised to ensure no one gets mad at you and to ensure that next time they have an urge for a donut they think of you. This concept works metaphorically in so many areas of life.

The trick is to get past the idea that you’re giving something away for free, that you’re getting taken advantage of or that you deserve some kind of immediate appreciation. People rarely thank you for this, but the benefits will appear in subtle, intangible but powerful and long-term ways, like customers recommending you over and over or thieves skipping your establishment.

Software developers talk about a similar concept, calling it “under-promise and over-deliver” and those who employ this tend to have happier bosses, even if we technically are not as productive. Knowing they can trust your word is often more valuable to your boss than your actual list of accomplishments.

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