Sometimes a purposeful act of kindness isn’t meant to be. Or at least not in the time and place it was planned for. Sometimes making the effort in one place prepares you for another – one where the kindness is both welcomed and appreciated.
This morning, while on our way to a family birthday celebration, my wife and I stopped at a local supermarket to pick up the last of the gift cards that we wanted to share. On my way into the store I couldn’t help but see an older woman hunched into a ball behind an outdoor display with the few bags that appeared to hold her only possessions. In the blink of an eye, without additional information, I judged her to be homeless, hungry, and in need of kind act.
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The best thank you
My wife and I celebrated Easter weekend by making a trip to our home on Lake Chelan. While there we enjoyed the spring sunshine and the time together. This morning we dined at one of the state's oldest and most popular resort hotels - Campbell's. The variety and presentation of their holiday brunch was awesome and, despite our focus on healthy choices, we both made three trips to the buffet line. (Which is why I made sure to insert a four mile walk into my afternoon activities).
During our drive home, Cindy and I stopped for coffee at our favorite coffee house in the small town of Cle Elum. As we pulled into the parking stall in front of Pioneer Coffee we saw an elderly woman at a table outside the shop. She was bundled in a heavy coat and wore a purple knit hat to break the chill. Her table displayed several loaves of home made banana bread and a hand made sign describing the variety of fruits that she added to the smallish five dollar loaves.
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Sometimes opportunity and action line up to create a special situation. That was the case for me on my recent trip to Pullman, Washington - home of the Washington State University Cougars. I was in town for the annual Murrow College of Communication Symposium
and Advisory Board Meeting. As luck would have it, those two events were taking place during the same week that my old fraternity - Alpha Gamma Rho - was holding the annual Barn Daze celebration.
But that's not all. You may recall that I also have two daughters, Abby and Amelia, who are sophomores at WSU. Amelia is studying to teach foreign language and Abby is a Communications major.
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Visitors to my blog are aware that I've been focused on at least a couple themes recently. Health and kindness have been on my mind. Both are habits I'm trying to build and reinforce in my daily life. For the most part it's been going pretty well too!
The recent Girl Scout cookie selling season gave me a great opportunity to practice both. As much as I love the sweet taste of Samoas and Thin Mints, I'm still not at the point in my journey where I can allow myself to indulge in the calories that come with them. So what's the kind and healthy thing to do and how could I best support my assistant's Girl Scout daughter when the order sheet came around?
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Several years ago my wife and I were driving home late in the evening and decided to stop by one of the local fast food chains to get a quick bite to eat. The experience was nothing more nor nothing less than was expected. Very routine and unremarkable. We shouted our order into a speaker box and strained to understand the broken replies from a teenager inside the building one hundred feet ahead. When we arrived along side the first window we offered our payment to the cashier and expected to receive our bag of quickly wrapped food items at the second window. Of course, we would examine the contents to make sure we actually received what we had requested.
But then the unexpected, and unfortunately unintended, happened. The restaurant made us smile!
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It was the evening of our company's annual sales recognition dinner and the theme of the event was "Movers and Shakers." The top sales producers for the year, their spouses, company executives and special guests filled Seattle's Palace Ballroom
to socialize, receive achievement awards, and hear from a handful of the leaders that were present. I was asked to share some thoughts about how the game is changing. This is an excerpt from my remarks. If you'd like to read the full text, please click here
"Built To Change"
"Few want to be sold to but everyone loves a great story. Movers and shakers know that we must converse before we convince. Consumers want inspiration and inclusion. We can no longer interrupt, but must instead interact. Brand advocates are listened to more than brand advertising. Asking exclusively about return on investment is the wrong question today. We need be asking about return on involvement, and return on relationship.
Successful brands will be defined and shaped by consumers more than companies. Winning businesses will be built to change in order to be built to last.
In this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, winners will need to do more than spin the wheel or roll the dice. Winners will be those who disrupt the foundations of conventional thinking by the strength of their imagination and vision. Winners will be people with positive, energetic demeanors who initiate change and influence events.
The winners will be the movers and shakers."
There’s a three-phased, seven-step model that I refer to as The Advocacy Engine. When I first considered it, I thought of it as a linear process that enabled brands to move consumers from awareness to advocacy. Today, I think of it more as a cycle of increasing momentum for brands that approach each phase and step with purpose and clarity.
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21 Days Of Kindness
When I began the commitment, on December first, to demonstrate and record three weeks of conscious and purposeful acts of kindness, I was trying to build a habit. I wanted to see if I could apply thoughtful consideration to deliver at least one planned (not random) act of kindness toward someone who wouldn’t be expecting it each and every day. I wasn’t looking for anything in return – certainly not any form of recognition for what I would be doing. Instead, I had a second goal in mind. I wanted to see if my actions and words could potentially inspire others to make the same commitment themselves. Imagine what our community, workplace and society would be like if we all just planned out one conscious act of unexpected kindness each day.
Day one involved the simple acknowledgement of a co-worker. Day three was a back rub for my wife. On day six I left a few dollars with the cashier in our cafeteria and asked her to surprise someone with a free lunch. What I was discovering, however, was that I was waking up each morning with the thought of planning a kind act at the front of my mind. It wasn’t that nervous, anxious feeling that we sometimes wake up with. Instead it was like a daily challenge that I knew would be rewarded with a smile.
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Alfonso Pompili was my father-in-law for eleven years. We had some good talks on his front porch and I am better off for having had the chance to know him. When he passed away last summer I wrote a tribute
to honor him. There wasn't time to create the video before his memorial service, but I was able to get one done before his wife and children gathered together at Christmas. I'm sharing it here for those who weren't able to go to Morgantown.
Alfonso Pompili, Sr. July 31, 1926 - August 25, 2012
He was a husband, father, grandpa and friend. The number of lives he touched and the love that he shared was huge yet unassuming. He will be missed by those that had the good fortune to know and love him.
This is a tribute to the man we knew as Alfonso, Fonsie, and Pap.
There's a business in Bellevue where I've shopped for many years – probably close to twenty by now. A specialty store, Crystallia features fine china, crystal and collectables as headliners in its inventory. Most of my purchases have been made during Christmas seasons and are primarily ornaments and figurines that I enjoy adding to the collections of my children. I'm not one of Crystallia's biggest customers as my purchases seldom total more than a few hundred dollars in any year. Frankly, I wouldn't expect the people at Crystallia to remember me from year to year - and yet they almost always do. I’m loyal to them as a result.
Over the years, Crystallia has relocated from one of the regions most long-standing upscale shopping environments to the intimate second floor of a Main Street office building. Nearly all of their business has converted to online shopping. Each year, shortly after Thanksgiving, I go online and look for the ornaments I’d like to purchase and generate the transaction. To that point the process really couldn’t be less personal. It’s the way they designed it and it works. No problem.
Until something doesn't go as planned. This year the unexpected happened when my order, which I would be shipping with other packages to my daughter’s family in New Mexico, was late to arrive. I called Crystallia and was greeted by a man on the phone whose first words were, “Hello Rod. This is Robert. I’ll bet you're looking for your ornament.”
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Plenty more in the Archives