A Little Kindness Changes Everything

A Little Kindness Changes Everything

When you think about the things that drive business profit, does kindness come to mind? Linda Cohen, author and the Kindness Catalyst, certainly hopes so. She joins us to discuss the Economy of Kindness and how it can transform bottom lines for all kinds of businesses. Listen in as she shares her experience with kindness, the lessons she’s learned and how you can use kindness to change your workplace culture for the better.

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Run Time: 30:45

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Brandon Laws: So today I have a very special guest in person with me. I usually don’t have the opportunity to have live guests with me. But Linda Cohen, she’s the Kindness Catalyst. Good to have you.

Linda Cohen: Thank you so much. I’m really happy to be here.

Brandon: Yes. So you speak to organizations on the economy of kindness. You also help leaders and organizations recognize how kindness transforms their bottom line. How did you become the Kindness Catalyst?

Linda: How did I become the kindness – yeah.

Brandon: Or, yeah, did you give yourself that name? How does that all work?

Linda Cohen and Brandon Laws in person on a podcast

Linda: I’ve been nicknamed that, I would say. My story starts probably a while ago as a personal story. When I lost my dad in 2006, I took on a project in his memory to do 1000 mitzvahs, which in Judaism is actually an act of kindness. So that was kind of what launched me into this kindness world and eventually my blog became a book and I realized that I could share this message with companies and organizations and other people around how acts of kindness really do make a difference.

Brandon: So you said you started as a blog and then you – I have the book right here 1000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life. So you started this as a blog and turned it into a book. How did the blog come about? You said your dad passed away and then it led to this. Tell me about that whole story.

Linda: The idea came to me in the middle of the night and my husband – you know, in the morning when I said I want to do 1000 mitzvahs in honor of my dad. He said, “How are you going to know you’ve done 1000 of anything?” and he helped me start a blog and that was in 2007 when blogs were still not so prevalent.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: And really it was just a way to track each day what happened. I never set out to do anything in particular. So after about a year and a half, I had a young rabbi come to me and at that point, it was only at 500. I thought the project would take less than a year. But it turned out to take almost 2.5 years. But I had this young rabbi come to me and he said, “I think you should write a book.” Just doing something active in honor of somebody who has passed away seems really like it has transformed how you live your life.

So I pitched it to a place down in the Bay Area, a writing, publishing house and they said, “Yeah, we want your book.”

Brandon: Incredible.

Linda: Yeah.

Brandon: So you weren’t even through the 1000 mitzvahs and you had a book deal already.

Linda: I did, yeah.

Brandon: So when you started that blog originally, did you have the 1000 mitzvahs in mind or were you just literally taking day by day and you were thinking, “I could do one. I could do five and I will document my process”?

Linda: Exactly, the latter. Yeah, I had no idea. It was totally organic. I had never – I didn’t even know I was going to become a speaker, honestly. It was really this relationship with my dad had been really difficult. And when he died, we had had some healing and it was just sort of like life-transforming “ah-ha” in the middle of the night.

But he put me on this path to work with kindness and to work in a place where there’s so much good in the world and unfortunately, I feel like we are saturated with the bad.

Brandon: Headline media.

Linda: Exactly. So I turned off the media a long time ago.

Brandon: Yeah, same here.

Linda: I don’t like to delve into that because I feel like then I would think everybody –

Brandon: Well, you get sucked into it and then there’s just constant negativity around you.

Linda: Exactly.

Brandon: That night that it came to you, did you have some ideas in mind as to what you wanted to do? Did you want to change the world? Did you want to change yourself?

Linda: I do remember waking up and thinking, my gosh, if – I mean this is going to sound silly. But my daughter was almost a bat mitzvah child. So she’s like 12 years old. I was like, “Gosh, if a group of teenagers could do this, how cool would that be if they could just be out there doing acts of kindness?”

Then I think somehow I had to do it first because I have now spoken to teenagers and high school students and elementary school students. So maybe it needed to be the project I took on before I could be a spokesperson about it and how incredibly amazing it is – it can change your life when you think about just looking for ways to give back.

Brandon: Yeah. When you started the blog, because it’s socially-driven and there’s – I assume you built a community and that’s why you got the book deal that you did.

Linda: Yeah.

Brandon: What sort of response have you had with some of those acts of kindness? How did you document some of those things?

Linda: You know, again, they were just organic things that happened every day and the blog tracked all the 1000. The book only has 90 mitzvahs in them. So when we went to write the book, we really honed in on the specific stories, yeah, and actually writing the book became the secondary project of healing in some ways because I was able to put into the book the learning that the reader might get out of this. I feel like my voice is in there because I do help share and teach to people about Judaism because there’s all these great tools and et cetera in there.

Brandon: What sort of people have reached out to you? Is it people from all walks of life, different levels in their either career or their personal life? What kind of response have you gotten?

Linda: It’s so crazy. I mean I’ve had 11-year-old kids reach out to me who wanted to start their own projects. I’ve had teenagers who wanted to do something at their high school level and were inspired by something they had read. I have had philanthropists or other people who were interested in this idea also reach out to me across the globe honestly. Australia and Israel and European countries. So it has been pretty crazy. I feel like it was totally…

Brandon: It’s a genius idea.

Linda: Serendipity.

Brandon: Yeah, and I’m really curious. The way you wrote – because I haven’t read the book yet. You just gave me the copy today. Is it about you? Is it about the people you’re touching? Is it maybe about both?

Linda: It’s both, it’s both. I mean I think the stories start with a personal story and then become, “OK. So what does this mean to the reader?”

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: What does the reader take away? Oh, and one of my favorite stories which I don’t know if it’s appropriate to tell it on a business podcast, but change the roll of toilet paper. That almost became my signature –

Brandon: That’s one where like you put it on top, right?

Linda: It’s almost like – not even that. Just make sure the roll is not empty for the next person. That became a signature story.

Brandon: Those are very relevant to a business podcast by the way [laughing]. I mean because these things happen in the workplace all the time.

Linda: OK, OK, good. All right. Well, if you’re in the workplace, change the roll of toilet paper. Don’t let somebody else come in without having done that. It’s an anonymous act of kindness. No one will know. But –

Brandon: Speaking of acts of kindness, what were some of the things that you started doing early on in the blogging? Not even when you wrote the book and you finished that book with the 90 in it. But what were some of your favorite acts of kindness that you did that maybe touched other people?

Linda: I mean giving books away. I would read a book and I know somebody who’s going on a trip. I think that was my very first act of kindness. You know, teaching the kids about throwing charity into the coin canister at the grocery store or something like that.

If you’re in the workplace, how about cleaning the refrigerator? That’s not the funnest one but clean the refrigerator and leave a little smiley note for someone. Let them know you did that.

In the workplace, acknowledge people and let them know that you see what they’re doing or – I mean I’m jumping into workplace examples.

Brandon: Yeah, sure. We will cover that.

Linda: We will cover that.

Brandon: So yeah.

Linda: Mine were – I mean I have a favorite – I have a very, very favorite act of kindness. It’s my 500th mitzvah and it had to do with an elderly rabbi that I had had in town. So we had this unique relationship. He had been part of my life for about 14 years and I had gone to visit him on – I don’t know if you know the book Tuesdays with Morrie.

Brandon: Yeah, I read it. Yeah, it’s a great book.

Linda: So I would visit him on the Wednesday mornings, have breakfast with him in the year after my father died and we just had this really special relationship and then about 11 months after my dad died, he fell and hit his head.

Brandon: Oh gosh.

Linda: And he ended up in the ICU and this email came out from our synagogue that said, “Please don’t come to the hospital. Only family.” But after all those mornings with him –

Brandon: You were basically family.

Linda: I felt like family. We had moved to Portland. He had been sort of my clergy for so many years. So I went to the hospital and the nurses thought I was family and the –

Brandon: You tricked them.

Linda: The son-in-law, he reached, he leaned out and he said, “Linda, do you want to come in?” He knew we had had this close relationship. So I did get five minutes with him and got to just tell him like, “You just meant so much to our family and you were there when my kids were born. Thank you for everything.” That night he passed away.

Brandon: Oh, my gosh.

Linda: So I wrote about it on my blog, my 500th mitzvah, and his son read that and was so touched by that. At the memorial, he had shared what I had written on the blog. So that just – it was kind of all – and I said if I could be half as much as I do or as my rabbi had been in this amazing way in all these years.

Brandon: Because imagine if you didn’t get a chance to say that. He probably let go that night. It’s kind of what it sounded like. That he needed to hear something like that. He basically touched somebody’s life and your return of the favor basically.

Linda: Exactly.

Brandon: That’s a beautiful story.

Linda: It’s boomerang, that boomerang feeling that we all have when we – you know, don’t forget to say it to the loved ones that you have, what’s important to you.

Brandon: Yeah. What are some of the biggest lessons that you learned from going through the process of documenting it through your blog, writing the book, the people you’ve talked to?

Linda: Right. I came up with basically three major lessons that I learned. The first is keep it simple.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: It really doesn’t matter the size of the act of kindness. You may think that listening to someone or offering a smile to someone who’s having a bad day is nothing. But for someone who’s having a bad day, that could change everything for them. So the size of the mitzvah does not matter or the good deed, I’m going to call it.

Brandon: I have a story. So you just said the small – I think most people would think a small act. It’s nothing, right? I remember years ago, it’s something that totally caught me off-guard. We were in an all-team meeting doing some sort of exercise and one of my colleagues at the time was pregnant. She was towards the end of her pregnancy and I remember grabbing a chair for her because we were out of chairs or something. I grabbed her a chair because she was standing at the time. I remember she just totally melted down. She’s like, “Thank you so much for grabbing me a chair,” and I’m like, “I’m just getting you a chair.” It’s the right thing to do, right?

Linda: Right.

Brandon: And I just had no idea that something so simple and –

Linda: Well, you acknowledged her. You noticed that she was there and maybe she would like that. You saw her and I think everybody wants to be seen and acknowledged.

Brandon: But it’s like with the small stuff. I wish that people were more cognizant of just the small little things. Holding open a door.

Linda: Exactly.

Brandon: What are some other ones that are small or big?

Linda: Yeah, hold the elevator. I don’t know. This past weekend, I saw some bumper stickers. This is kind of a two-part story. Somebody left me on my car last week a note that said, “You suck,” which I thought –

Brandon: Why? Why?

Linda: I have no idea but just out of the blue and it just felt horrible.

Brandon: Why would they go out of their way to do that? It makes no sense.

Linda: Exactly. I have no idea but I came home and I like showed the note to my husband. It just made me feel terrible. Like maybe I do suck and just that horrible little action that somebody randomly did. So this past week, we were at a park and we saw a bumper sticker that said, “Be kind to your mother,” and the other one said, “Make a difference.” So I left the lady a note. I assume it was a lady. The car was very feminine-looking. But I left a note on her car that said, “Your bumper stickers are awesome. Have a great day!” Those are just the littlest things but you can ruin someone’s day and you can make someone’s day with whatever your actions are.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: So keep it simple. The second thing I learned was the ripple effect, which really none of us know what our actions will mean to someone else. So we – and I have some stories about being out in the world and other people have told me stories that have had ripple effect. So you just don’t know where things are going to go. My third one is about giving and receiving. I found it to be actually pretty easy to be the giver.

Brandon: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It fills you up. It fills up your bucket.

Linda: Yeah. You’re out. You’re doing good and it feels really great and it’s sometimes harder to be the recipient.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: When you are going through a difficult time and I’ve had a couple of those since the book came out. My own personal family had some health issues and my mom’s mental health – and I got to be the recipient and there was discomfort in that and as I sat in that discomfort, I realized I’m allowing someone else to be the giver and I’m giving them that gift.

Brandon: It is a gift because people do love – it fills them up to give.

Linda: Of course.

Brandon: Receiving is hard. It’s so hard.

Linda: Yeah. So I tell people. You know, let people give to you and you will – it’s a reciprocal experience.

Brandon: It’s funny. When we walked in, before we started recording, you gave me this book and I’m like, “Oh, I need to give you something.” It’s hard to receive something as a gift sometimes. I want to deflect that automatically, whether it’s feedback or gifts.

Linda: Or a compliment.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: How often does somebody give you a compliment? You’re like, oh, this old thing. Oh, nothing. It’s like thank you. Just say thank you, they’re acknowledging you. They’re seeing you. Thank you so much for noticing.

Brandon: Yeah. It’s funny sometimes. Like you walk in the hall, even around the office. People would be like, “How are you doing?” and immediately, “I’m good. How are you?” Like you’ve deflected. Sometimes I will actually pay attention to how I’m responding. I will just say, “I’m doing awesome. Thank you for asking,” and I won’t even ask again. I will just like just leave it at that. But just to acknowledge like hey, thanks for asking, and, yeah, be authentic about it.

Linda: Yeah.

Brandon: Anything else you learned from –?

Linda: Those are my three big lessons.

Brandon: Yeah. The ripple effect I think is a huge one because you may do an act of kindness and then it just may be done. But you don’t know what that other person is going to do at the end of the day. Maybe they will pay it forward.

Linda: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean the whole – I don’t know if you know about Starbucks. There was one time where people – somebody paid for somebody’s Starbucks and it went on to like 2000 people did it. So anyway, the ripple effect, it’s a pretty major concept and we just don’t know.

Brandon: So I think the big question is at the end of the day, the ripple effect, obviously you don’t know what the overall impact is going to be. But what about you like internally? Does that have an impact on your mental health, your happiness?

Linda: Absolutely, both of them. I mean there’s definitely science that – in fact, there’s a researcher out of California, Sonja Lyubomirsky, who wrote the book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. She did research on happiness and discovered that our internal happiness is affected by our DNA, by our living circumstances and by our intentional actions.

Brandon: Wow.

Linda: And the intentional actions are 40 percent of your happiness. So you have a lot of control over how you can change your own –

Brandon: It makes you wonder why people intentionally choose to be an a-hole or just like go out of their way to write a note and put it on your car about how you suck. That doesn’t make any sense.

Linda: Well, I think that they’re maybe hurting. I mean, I chalk it up to the fact that this is somebody who’s hurting and this is how they’re acting out. For me that even means more than let’s do more kindness. Let’s be out there sharing love. Let’s open our arms and feed your mind with good, good stories.

I mean I think that’s the coolest thing about being in this work is that when I’m in the workplace and I’m speaking to an audience and I say, you know, “Share an act of kindness you’ve received this month.” Then I have people talk about it and then when they share it with all of us, we all get to hear that.

They’re remembering something that happened a couple of weeks ago because it stands out for them. They’re like this was so cool and then maybe give somebody else an idea of something they could do for another person.

Brandon: So this podcast, our listeners, a bunch of HR people, business leaders. So of course we’re going to talk about the workplace and how this makes an impact. How do you bring kindness into the workplace? Because you have people, a very diverse group of people in every organization, women, men.

Linda: All ages.

Brandon: All ages, different ethnicities. I mean all different backgrounds, different home lives. The workplace, you’re supposed to come together for a common purpose. But everybody is so vastly different in the way they behave. How do you get – how do you bring that kindness into the workplace?

Linda: I think you start with the premise that everybody probably does want to be recognized.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: Everybody does want to be acknowledged. And people who are working in a workplace for 40 plus hours a week would like that place to be a place they enjoy being. So if we take that as the basic premise, then let’s have some fun around talking about kindness. So I’m a very interactive speaker and when I’m in groups and working with companies, I try to make it – it’s all about them. It’s about what job are you doing. So I’ve worked with different audiences who have different job titles and let’s make it around what jobs do you do. I facilitate around kindness. What’s happening already? What’s happening currently in your place of work? How could we make it stronger? What role could you play in making it a stronger organization of kindness? So we do it with some games. We do some interactive games.

Brandon: Games are great.

Linda: Yeah, we talk about it. We get a little silly. You know, sometimes we – I have a game that I play that shows what it’s not like to be kind.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: And that’s a real visual around sort of a – alienating a specific group in the audience when we –

Brandon: All you have to do is see somebody’s body recoil from like being horrified by some negativity thrown their way or whatever. It’s like it just doesn’t feel good. So seeing that probably helps, right?

Linda: Exactly, yeah. It’s fun to do it as a visual because then everybody is witnessing what just happened where you exclude a whole group of people.

Brandon: When you’re doing your training for organizations, are you usually talking to leadership groups first, HR people, the entire company, all in one?

Linda: Yeah, I’ve done everything. I’ve done everything. I’ve done leadership. I’ve done HR and I’ve done 200 people at one time.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: Which can be really, really fun because if you’ve got everybody, then you have ideas bouncing off. Like oh, we don’t do that in our department.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: Oh, that’s not something that we do. So you can see that their light bulbs are going off. Like oh, we should be doing that in our department.

Brandon: Yeah. I imagine part of your training and facilitation around those things, or around kindness, probably involves empathy and compassion at some level. How do you get people to see the world the way somebody else sees it or be compassionate about their point of view? How do you do that?

Linda: Right. Well, I mean I can’t change anybody particularly.

Brandon: No, you cannot.

Linda: But I think – you know, again, I come in with that premise that everybody probably does want this and there are going to be naysayers. There are going to be people who like grumbling. But sometimes they come around too because I think at the end of the day, they may also like to be acknowledged. They may also like to be recognized for what they’re doing. That’s making a difference.

So – and I definitely have case studies. You can talk about case studies of national companies that have made a difference and even in the Portland metro area. You know, companies that have chosen to have a platform of kindness as part of their mission statement and why that has worked and why their companies are doing so well because of that. So it’s something to consider.

Brandon: Oh, I mean I see that a lot, definitely around the Portland area. There are so many companies that are so mission-driven. A lot of non-profits around the area but a lot of just business owners and entrepreneurs are just really smart about being purpose-driven. So having a statement on – you know, the mission statement or values or whatever, you know, a lot of people are doing that. But putting it into practice is vastly different.

Linda: Right.

Brandon: How do you do that?

Linda: I think you have to – I mean that’s a good place to start. I mean you can start with leadership or you can also empower the employees to feel like they can make a difference. They can have a say. They can have something they want to do and bring it to the upper management and be able to bring that out. So I think, you know, it’s coming kind of on that two-pronged level, both talking to the leadership about what’s valuable and also talking to the employees about “you can be a kindness catalyst too” and I actually say that in the audience. This is not something I want to hold on to – that name. I want to like gift you with that name, so that people think that that’s what you’re doing in the company too. So we talk a little bit about what you can do policy-wise or practice-wise at the company level.

Brandon: Yeah. How do you – so if you have a champion of kindness in the workplace, a lot of HR people are listening to this podcast for the most part. Maybe some business owners. How do –as a single person, how do you like really rally around this kindness? Like, hey, we’ve got a bunch of people who are just grouchy. They don’t treat each other as kind as they should. How do you start this?

Linda: I mean you can have – maybe you have a kindness month. Maybe you have – and this is what they do in schools. I mean elementary schools have this. They have a kindness worksheet and they’re getting the kids to try to do every one of these kindness examples on this list. You could do the same thing. I don’t feel like there are that many companies that started that so badly.

I would say that they maybe have waned away from it. Maybe they feel that – I mean even when I’ve worked with – I’ve worked with some government agencies who say, “Well, yeah. Maybe we don’t have such a culture of kindness.” But in preparing for me to come, they ask their employees to come up with times that they were – there were kindnesses that happened in the office and there are a lot of them.

So it’s not like it doesn’t exist. So then they shared that at the all-staff meeting and we all get to hear what and who is out in the employee group making a difference.

Brandon: A couple of different examples. You just talked about elementary school. It reminded me of what my kid – my son Parker, he came to me about a week ago and he says, “I got a positive paw.” I’m like, “What is a positive paw? I have no idea what that is.” It’s where – basically the principal catches you doing something great, whether it’s like you – somebody is sitting by themselves at lunch or something like that. They give them some sort of paw sticker or something that basically says “I caught you doing something great and awesome job!”

Linda: Right. I would say that’s the same thing. I’m sorry. I should have said that but that’s exactly what you want to do in the workplace is reward the behavior that you want to have more of.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: We’re all grown-up kids. So if you’re doing that in the elementary school, let’s do it at the – so maybe you have a reward system and actually you just reminded me of another idea, which is “Gotchas.” A lot of companies will have these and maybe it’s something where a client can catch you doing something that they would like to report. I don’t know if you know any of the health systems. A lot of the health systems in Portland have a little – a rose on their name badge or something when –

Brandon: I didn’t know that.

Linda: Yeah, when somebody has sent in good feedback. You know, all those surveys that we get where somebody has done something. You want to share what they’ve done with their manager. That’s a huge one. But also sometimes you want to catch your co-workers doing things that are really valuable. I know some companies do – every week at their weekly meeting, they have a video maybe that they record when somebody shares, “this is what I saw so and so doing this week.”

Brandon: Wow! How powerful.

Linda: Really cool and then next week, that person gets to find and report about somebody else. That’s a very millennial way to do this.

Brandon: Yeah. Well, I think the social like visibility to all this is probably huge. It reminds me of – I don’t know if you’re a football fan but Ohio State University, they have – when you see them on the field, they have these helmets and they have a bunch of stars on them. I think it’s in practice where if they do something great, like they make a great tackle, they pick up another player, they do something that’s great, the coach gives them a star. They put it on their helmets. So that you could see visually on the TV like somebody has got their entire helmet filled up with stars and there’s a couple of other people that maybe don’t.

Linda: Right. You can see all the –

Brandon: You could see like people are doing some good work and others maybe not so much.

Linda: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean so now you look at healthcare employees and see if you can see the roses and the stars that are on their name badges for the same purpose.

Brandon: Yeah. What are some really neat acts of kindness that you’ve seen in the workplace that have really just transformed cultures?

Linda: Yeah. I mean I think it can start again simply with sticky notes. You know, put them on people’s computers and say you did a great job. You know, noticing when someone stretches out of their comfort zone or offers to do something or is encouraged to do something. I mean overall, encouraging people to be able to stretch a little bit in their job, in their workplace.

Brandon: How much of this should be public versus private? Not everybody loves the public recognition and –

Linda: I think it’s up to the manager to find out what their employees like.

Brandon: That’s a good question.

Linda: I think there are definitely people who love the public recognition and if somebody doesn’t love the public recognition, maybe it can be something that’s done in private, but still they get recognized.

Brandon: It sounds like the sticky note idea. Like hey, I saw you do this. That’s an awesome job. That would be pretty fulfilling.

Linda: It would be powerful. Birthdays, acknowledging people’s birthdays. Somebody is going through a rough time. Somebody loses a spouse or a child, God forbid, or even an animal. You know, acknowledging that that could feel really rough for somebody and maybe the coworkers or the manager organized something to acknowledge that. Because at the end of the day, we are people who have a whole other life outside of our work, our workplace.

Brandon: That’s true.

Linda: And noting that that’s also something that’s happening for us or something really stressful is going on in my life and let me help you by unburdening some of your responsibilities for the next couple of weeks while you’re doing this.

Brandon: I love that. Yeah, I love that. If we’re all really kind to each other in the workplace, what kind of workplace – what would it feel like?

Linda: It’s a great place to work. I mean if you talk to somebody about a great workplace, they may even be willing to take less pay, honestly, because they love coming to work and they would work at that company because it just – it feels so good. It makes them happy. They’re going to be more productive. They’re going to – we know that when somebody leaves a company, you have to replace them. That costs money. I think it’s like 21 percent of their salary to replace somebody who leaves. But that’s just the – that’s like one-level cost.

I think that there are unrelated costs in there that also are – you know, hiring somebody else, the time it takes to teach them. So it’s really great if you can keep your workforce happy. The bottom line of that is, that your company will be more productive.

So Zappos is a company that I tend to talk about as one of my case studies because they just do unbelievable work and they have an incredible culture to work for. I don’t know if you know anything about how they’re now teaching other workforces their wow – I think it’s called “wow customer service”.

Brandon: Yeah. They’re doing some incredible work.

Linda: Yeah.

Brandon: I imagine with just kindness in general, you have to be very self-aware of how you’re feeling at any given moment and to really be paying attention to what’s going on around you. If you’re in this funk and giving – like you said – giving feels so good. But how do you get out of those funks to just be able to pay attention to other people and recognize them for doing good work or open the door? Just whatever it may be. How do you get out of that little self-funk that you’re in?

Linda: Well, first of all, I think you put your phone down because I think we all have our phones on way too much and then we don’t –

Brandon: Glued to our phones, staring at Instagram, Facebook.

Linda: Yeah, then we don’t notice what’s happening.

Brandon: That’s true.

Linda: I mean even when you’re at – like waiting in line somewhere at a supermarket or something and you are in your phone. You have no idea. You’re not going to say hello to the people next to you or notice that they have only one thing in their basket and they could go before you while you have this full basket.

That was one of the mitzvahs that I wrote in the book. But I think it’s – I think that some days, you’re not going to be attuned to what’s happening and that’s OK too because I think if your general idea is that I want to be looking around and kind of be open and giving in the world, then you’re going to have enough days of that. Some days, maybe you aren’t feeling up to it. But I have to say that there is a little – there’s a little adrenaline high when you do something good.

Brandon: Yes, the dopamine –

Linda: It is. The dopamine hits. So I mean if you aren’t having a good day, maybe say, “I want to find one or two acts of kindness to do today because you will feel better when you do.

Brandon: Yeah. So if you were having a bad day which is – it looks like you’re having a great day. You’re smiling non-stop and it has been a pleasure talking with you.

Say you’re having a bad day and you walk out of this office. What would you do within 10 minutes of leaving here that would probably give you that hit of dopamine and make you feel a little bit better?

Linda: I would probably compliment somebody. You know, stop at the Starbucks and compliment somebody. Maybe right away I would buy a drink for someone else although I think I’ve only done that like once.

Brandon: Yeah.

Linda: I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I think I would look for ways. You know, I had a situation just last week where we were at a restaurant and we had a really nice waitress and she was doing a great job and the table next to us called the manager over and complained about her.

Brandon: Wow.

Linda: And I was like, “Gosh, what did she –?” They were like, “Oh, we need another waiter. She was just terrible.” So I actually went up to the manager afterwards and said, “You know, she did a great job for us. I don’t know what was going on with that other table. But I think she was excellent.” I waitressed before. So I guess I might tell a manager if I got great customer service right away, just so somebody would be aware of that and hopefully that helps the employee.

Brandon: I love that. I love that. Well, you’re doing such great work and I really appreciate this conversation. I hope – I don’t know when you will release your book. But I hope you have great success with it. Where can people find you? You’re in the Portland area but you probably speak all over the place.

Linda: I do. I speak all over the place.

Brandon: Hopefully you’re not flying around too much.

Linda: Well, my kids are older now. It’s OK to go flying around. I know you have little ones.

Brandon: I have little ones. It’s hard for me.

Linda: You don’t want to fly around. www.LindaCohenConsulting.com is my website and if people want to find me there and I do fly to different states to work with companies or associations. I love doing work with associations to empower them to go back to their own companies and be the kindness catalyst.

Brandon: Linda, I really appreciate you stopping by. This has been a lot of fun.

Linda: Thank you so much.

Brandon: You’re welcome.

Linda: Thanks for inviting me. Take care.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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