Why Category Leaders Bake Radical Generosity Into Their Businesses

Nicolas Cole
The Startup
Published in
3 min readDec 29, 2022


Radical generosity is a core characteristic of mission-driven category creators.

They understand that in order to grow, they must have a strategy to win consumers, employees, and investors.

Here’s why radical generosity is a legendary place to start.

What Is Radical Generosity In Category Design?

Radical generosity is abundance.

  • It’s Netflix dropping episodes of an entire season all at once so customers can binge them.
  • It’s Lil Wayne in the early 2000s, releasing dozens of mixtapes and hundreds of songs online for free.
  • It’s Keurig welcoming competing brands into their ecosystem so customers can drink the coffee they want, even “frenemies” like Starbucks.

Radical generosity is a core characteristic of mission-driven category creators. Their mission lets them unlock new levels of problem-solving and creativity that most never imagine. And their pursuit has more to do with the presence of a positive than the absence of a negative (competition).

So they always tilt in the direction of radical generosity toward customers, employees, value-chain partners, investors, and of course, the community and society overall.

The Best Category Designers Make Radical Generosity A Part Of Their Business Plans

They bring new things into the world, create new demand for new “solutions” to new or reimagined problems, and make it a priority to be generous in the process.

For example, See’s Candies accounts for radical generosity on their P&L, giving away one million pounds of chocolates per year for free (aka, 1/26th of their revenue). This isn’t just an arbitrary decision. It’s a core part of the company, the product, and the customer experience.

Southwest Airlines does the same thing.

It built the cost of no-hidden fees into its business model. It made the decision to not “surprise attack the customer” with baggage $60 fees at the airport. Instead, the airline accounted for the cost from the very beginning — which is one…



Nicolas Cole
The Startup

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