Game Changers 2020 Essay Series: Reciprocity as My Guide

Reciprocity as My Guide

Alex Lofton, Co-founder, Landed

Co-founding and helping to build Landed has brought into focus just how much I’m guided by a commitment to reciprocity: mutually corresponding exchanges of give and take. This penchant for mutual exchange is the basis for how I figure out how to do right by our team, first and foremost. In turn, I believe our team is empowered to do right by every stakeholder touched by our work.

This notion of reciprocity crystallized for me at a young age. I grew up going to the local Congregationalist church, where I spent many a Sunday sermon sitting in the wooden pews made tolerable only by little foam pads wrapped in green cloth. I followed along with the many songs, hymns, and words recited, and I watched – somewhat perplexed – as metal bowls were passed palm to palm to collect greenbacks and checks from dutiful church members.

Later, during the social hours after services, downstairs in the Fellowship Hall over quiche and pie galore, the personal value of my belonging to the church was made abundantly clear. As a “chubster” who “definitely marched to the beat of his own drum,” having people of all ages and stripes (many of whom I barely knew) willingly and eagerly enter into meaningful, heartfelt conversation with me, to learn what and how I thought – as a lowly 10, 11, or  12-year-old – was soul- filling! It gave me so much joy, and I took freely.

By the time I aged into earning my first paycheck at 15 and a half, and I aged into being eligible for leadership positions at the church, giving back of time and treasure were no-brainers. What once seemed an abstract, random ask for currency in metal bowls was now a clear opportunity to recognize the value I had been afforded through all the individualized attention. By giving my time on school nights and weekends to help the church run smoothly, I could uphold the very community that had upheld me for all those years.

Too often the systems of value exchange we design and buy into abandon this symbiotic, balanced, sustainable reciprocal nature. We can’t afford to do this! The more we can lean into our interdependent reality, the more joy we can spark for ourselves, those with whom we work, and all communities we touch.

It was this belief that led me to co-create Landed. Despite their critical role in making our local communities thrive, our essential professionals cannot afford to live in their communities. That’s why Landed is on a mission to help essential professionals build financial wellness near the communities they serve.

September 13, 2019