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The Power of Small Invisible Gestures

It's the small things you do for others that seem insignificant to most people but not to the people that matter.

When I was a kid I loved going to the grocery store with my mom. She would order cheese and they would slice it and offer me a slice and it was the best thing ever. It’s a great example of how a big brand forms a personal connection. I only wanted to go to that grocery store chain. I would beg to go to that specific store. I would seek out that one deli slicer that would give me a slice of cheese. I often think about how small, kind, sometimes invisible gestures like this are crucial in building loyalty in competitive industries. I would force my Mom to go to that same store every time.

Costco’s $1.50 hot dog deal is perhaps one of the most recognized and cherished food bargains in America. For just a buck and a half, you get a quarter-pound all-beef hot dog or Polish sausage and a 20-ounce soda. Since the introduction of this combo meal in 1985, the price has remained the same, bucking inflation trends and showcasing Costco’s commitment to providing value to its members. In 2022, Costco’s CFO suggested the wholesaler will keep its famous hot dog and soda combo at $1.50 “forever.” In 2019, Costco sold 150 million hot dog and soda combos. Costco says they don’t lose money from the combo but they don’t make much either. They save on costs because they literally have two hot-dog production factories in the US. Few people would blame Costco for raising the price to $2.00 or $3.00. This would still be half the price of what a hot dog and soda sell for at an average restaurant in the United States. But they choose to keep it $1.50. It’s fascinating how these small gestures can produce loyalty in a brand – you ultimately end up trusting Costco more because they could easily “take more” but choose not to.

In June I traveled to New York City to record the The Compound with Downtown Josh Brown and Michael Batnick. It was an honor to be invited on the program to talk about microcap investing. I honestly think it might be the first time microcap was presented in a favorable light on a more mainstream media outlet in a decade. A month prior to the recording the show’s creative team, Josh Brown and Michael Batnick circulated an email and we started going back and forth as they filled in the show schedule and talking points. At the end of every email Josh would say, “Ian if you need anything, just call my cell [cell number]”. I didn’t know Josh. This small gesture struck me. Who does that? It immediately formed trust. It’s similar to when I talk to Morgan Housel and he ends every conversation with, “How can I help you?”, and my immediate reaction is, “Morgan, you’re one of the most successful authors on the planet, why on Earth would you waste your time helping me.” But it’s these small invisible gestures that matter – that form real connection.

In every small company the CEO/founder is trying to execute on their vision. In microcap these small companies just happen to be public and have a trading symbol. I view every small public company as a living embodiment of its leader – their values, principles, mission flow down and through the organization. The thing I love to find is personal sacrifice. This can manifest itself in a bunch of different ways. For example, a low salary (taking less even though they could take more), personally guaranteeing a business loan, giving the business additional resources at no cost (leveraging personnel, talent, technology from another business the CEO owns), free/lowered rent (if they own the building), etc. These small, sometimes invisible gestures can be the difference maker. It shows the long-term mission is more important than any short-term personal gain.

Legendary author Michael Lewis lost his 19 year old daughter Dixie in a car accident and less than a year later he talked about grief, love, friendship on the Smartless podcast [clip below]. Lewis said, “The most emotional moments came when people insisted on being there.” Lewis talks about his friend Dave Eggers. An hour after Dixie died Dave was on Michael’s doorstep crying with him and telling him he’s not going to leave. Lewis said, “I never thought that would be something I wanted but in retrospect it was such a gift. Someone knowing they can’t help you but insisting on being there anyway… It was such an heroic act [Dave being there]. It isn’t easy to sit with someone that just found out they lost a child in a car crash. It still moves me.”

Ten years ago my Mother died in a freak pedestrian car accident. At her funeral my father, sister, and I greeted people that came to give their condolences. The people I remember most from the funeral weren’t the people I expected to see but the people I wasn’t expecting to see. As an example, a childhood friend came who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in twenty years. They lived down the street and we played on the same soccer teams while growing up. The fact he made the effort struck me. He had all the excuses in the world not to come. He chose me over all those excuses. I saw him and immediately lost it and broke down.

It’s these small invisible gestures and acts of kindness that matter. The things you do for others that don’t make their way onto twitter (X) or instagram on anyones highlight reels. They may seem insignificant to most people but not to the people that matter.

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MicroCapClub is an exclusive forum for experienced microcap investors focused on microcap companies (sub $500m market cap) trading on United States, Canadian, European, and Australian markets. MicroCapClub was created to be a platform for experienced microcap investors to share and discuss stock ideas. Since 2011, our members have profiled 900+ microcap companies. Investors can join our community by applying to become a member or subscribing to gain instant view only access. MicroCapClub’s mission is to foster the highest quality microcap investor Community, produce Educational content for investors, and promote better Leadership in the microcap arena. For more information, visit and

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