I admit to having some superstitions, especially when I was a competitive athlete, and now, as a high school basketball coach. One of my pre-game rituals is that I always stop at Starbucks on the way to that afternoon’s game and get a cup of tea.

In years past, beginning right after Thanksgiving, Starbucks had a special Christmas tea, called Joy. Over the years, my players have caught on to my pre-game tradition, and they’ll always ask me what flavor tea I’m enjoying that afternoon.

A couple years ago, Starbucks over-thought their business strategy and stopped doing business with TAZO tea, the producer of Joy tea, and went all in on another tea company…which they then sold and ruined their tea business. But that’s another story.

Young people have better memories than we realize, and when I walked into the gym in early December for our first game, one of my players asked me, “Do you have your Joy tea today?” I told her the abbreviated version of the above story, and I also said that I was sad because of how much I looked forward to Joy. I also told her that I was doubly sad because I could not find it anywhere.

Less than a week later, she walked into the gym with an early Christmas gift bag, and in the bag was three canisters of Joy tea. My player and her Mom made it their mission to find it for me, and while many people will dismiss it as a cup of tea, the gift truly brought me joy. And not just because I could enjoy one of my favorite Christmas/basketball traditions.

When I reflect on the time I was able to spend talking with John Lee and his dad, Mark from John’s Crazy Socks, I think the nugget in their story that stands out the most to me is that they’ve made it part of their business mission to spread happiness to others – Joy.

Not many businesses will include that as part of their mission statement. John and Mark accomplish this in many ways. One is they pledged, from Day 1, to donate 5% of all earnings to the Special Olympics. Seeing that the company is going to gross approximately $5 million in sales this year, that’s a hefty number. But they’ve extended their generosity to other “Charity Partners.” They developed Awareness Socks for Autism, Down Syndrome, Breast Cancer and others. A portion of the proceeds from the specialty socks is donated to those charity partners.

“We believe it’s not enough simply to sell things,” Mark said. “We think it’s important to have a mission and to give back.”

Don’t Say, “I Can’t.”

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