Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson recently signed a four-year contract with the team for a cool $140 million. Wilson, who helped get the team to the playoffs 6 of his 7 seasons with them, is the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. But with this new contract, he also did something most highly paid football pros wouldn't. He gifted each of his 13 offensive linemen with $12,000 of Amazon stock.
To explain why, his gift was accompanied by a letter that sets an example for every leader in America. Here's how it begins:
"Every Sunday we go to battle together.
You sacrifice your physical and mental well-being to protect me, which in turn allows me to provide and care for my family. This does not go unnoticed and it is never forgotten.
Now it is my turn to return the favor, I would not be where I am today without you working to be great day in and day out."
Wilson is, famously, a thoughtful, classy guy. When the Seahawks suffered a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss in 2015, after what should have been a winning pass from the New England Patriots 1-yard line was intercepted in the last moments of the game, Wilson claimed responsibility for the loss even though head coach Pete Carroll had said it was his own fault. Two days later, Wilson was out for his usual round of visits to patients at Seattle Children's Hospital, just as he does on Tuesday every football season.
His gift was very thoughtful as well, both in the sense that it was considerate and in the sense that it was well thought out. If you're wondering about the amount, 12 is a significant number to Seahawks fans (which is basically everyone in the Pacific Northwest). Seahawks fans are called "12s," with the idea that their enthusiasm acts like a 12th player on the field, boosting the Hawks and rattling their opponents.
But consider what Wilson did here. He could have gifted his offensive linemen with expensive jewelry. He could have simply given them cash. His gift of Amazon shares was meant to convey a message about the future.
His letter explains:
"One important lesson I have learned thus far in my career: The memories on the field will last forever, but we have to constantly prepare for life after football.
One of the ways I prepare is by investing in companies and ideas that I believe will grow and change the world. One of these companies is Amazon.
I am gifting you and your family, $12,000 worth of Amazon stock to help you achieve your dreams.
You have invested in my life...this is my investment into yours."
Chances are, those linemen and their families will remember and appreciate Wilson's gesture and his gift for many, many years to come.
What can you give your own employees--the people who come to work every day to help you and your company succeed--that would make them feel the same way?