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Linda Cohen is known as the Kindness Catalyst. She has been a nationally recognized kindness expert and professional speaker for over a decade. Linda works with a wide variety of businesses and associations on the ROI of Kindness.

She is the author of two books. Her first book is called, “1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life.”

Her new book is called, “The Economy of Kindness: How Kindness Transforms Your Bottom Line,” and will be published in October 2021.

She lives in Oregon with her husband of 28 years. They have two spirited young adult children and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Ginger and Remy. She loves practicing yoga and meditation and will never pass up a good cup of Earl Grey tea!

Memorable Quotes:
  • “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that God has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.” – Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
  • “When you’re full you can give from your overflow and you’re not continually depleting yourself.”
  • “Let’s get back to putting our arms around each other, no matter who we are.”
What You’ll Learn:

How to create a culture of kindness in your organization and methods to give and receive kindness in your own life.

This Episode Includes:
  • Kindness is happening every day, everywhere.
  • People were reaching out and supporting each other during the first part of the pandemic. Let’s get back to that.
  • Focusing on kindness has amazing benefits physically.
  • When an organization can focus on kindness, they are helping their employees in more ways than one.
  • When a company has a culture of kindness it affects the reputation of the company.
  • Keeping and retaining good employees is another measure of a culture of kindness.
  • Managers are the leaders who can help create that culture of kindness.
  • Kindness is an inside and outside job. There are ways you can be kind to yourself, which then helps you be kind to others.
  • If you want to see more kindness in the world, make sure your media diet is limited.
  • The size of the kindness isn’t that important, it could be small.
  • There is a ripple effect when one person is kind to another.
  • Giving and receiving kindness are both important. Be open to receiving kindness and allow others to be the giver.
Three Takeaways from Today’s Episode:
  1. Add a gratitude practice by taking a moment to think about what you are grateful for each day and add it to your morning or evening routine.
  2. There’s a lot we can’t control, but we can always control how we react.
  3. You don’t have to have a certain job title to be a kindness catalyst.
Transcript:

Dr. Robin

Welcome back to small changes, big shifts. And it’s my favorite time of the year because we’re in the middle of our kindness campaign. I hope you’re following along. We’re on day six right now, and hopefully you’re being intentional about the acts of kindness you’re putting out.

Remember, this is the kindness campaign, not a kindness challenge. So we just want you to feel good about what you’re doing, and a lot of you reach out to me, saying, Michelle, the good news is I’m already doing a lot of this. Keep doing it. And I’d love to hear what ideas of kindness are inspiring you.

I want to give a shout out to our Kindness campaign sponsor, City Wide Maintenance. Thank you for jumping on this journey with us and helping us create a ripple from the heartland, East and West and North and South. And speaking of the West, I’ve got one of my friends who joined us last year, who also is a Kindness Queen joining me today.

I’ve got some fun facts about Linda Cohen. She is a kindness catalyst. She’s been a nationally recognized kindness expert and professional speaker for over a decade. Linda works with a wide variety of businesses and associations on the ROI of kindness. Yes, there is an ROI of kindness. She’s the author of two books and one just came out, “The Economy of Kindness, How Kindness Transforms Your Bottom Line,” and it just came out. I encourage you to get online and get it and maybe join us this afternoon, 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time for her virtual book launch, and I’ll let her tell you more about that.

She lives in Oregon, that’s where we got the West Coast ripple. With her husband of 28 years, she has two spirited adult children and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Ginger and Remmy.

She loves practicing yoga and meditation and never passes up a good chance to have a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Linda, I love kind of talking about kindness because people are very thoughtful and kind to me. I’m sure you’re seeing that as well. It’s awesome. I feel really blessed to be in this work because while I think people feel overwhelmed with everything that’s going on right now, I know that I’m able to share with them how much kindness is still happening in this world, so I feel really lucky to be able to do that.

Linda

Yeah. Thank you for introducing me. I’m so excited to be back with you a second time. It’s great. I love the work you’re doing, and I hope everybody is doing the kindness campaign. I love that you’re not calling it a challenge. It doesn’t need to be a challenge. It can be an opportunity to focus on how to do kindness every day. I love it and how to make a shift.

Dr. Robin

So I wanted to share with you Linda. I pulled off my bulletin board before we got on today about the ten ways to cultivate kindness sheet that she put out last year. We were talking about celebrating good news and maybe not dialing in so much to the not so good news. But I want to dive in with this question over the last year, what have you learned about kindness that you didn’t know?

Linda

Oh, man, you start with a stumper. What did I learn about kindness? I mean, really, I believe that it is out there. This is not something I really just learned this year, though. I did know this, that kindness is happening every day everywhere. But unfortunately, our media doesn’t really pick those stories up. They show bad news. And I’m sure your audience knows that. That 17 bad news stories for every one good news story that gets shown. So when you begin to focus on the good things that are happening, you know, if I post a story and somebody’s like, oh, that reminds me that there’s humanity in the world. I always feel like, yeah, there is humanity in the world right now, too. So I think it’s important to start to look for that. At the beginning of the pandemic, I would say there was sort of a kindness pandemic. I sort of felt like in the very beginning when we were socially distant, maybe March to May of 2020, it really felt like neighbors were helping each other and writing signs for each other. I don’t know about where you live, but just drawing on the sidewalks and all these different things. And it really felt like we had our arms around each other. I think we don’t have our arms around each other quite so much anymore right now, which is what I hope we can change. I hope we can put our arms around each other again no matter who we are, no matter who the other person is. Which is a big challenge for a lot of people.

Dr. Robin

Now you were talking about the news. I have a couple of friends in the local media in Kansas City. So I would encourage any of you when you see a kindness act, you’re able to feel free to share it with me. And I’ll be happy to share it with Rob and Cynthia. I know that they are also looking for good news to share.

Linda

So maybe mention to them in our area out here in Portland, Oregon, a local NBC affiliate did something called Some Good. Oh, no, the good stuff. And so for the last year, for half an hour every night, Monday through Thursday at 7:00, they are doing a half an hour focusing on the good news. And for most of the pandemic, I’ve had an alarm set at 6:55 so I could go watch it because the stories were just terrific and it was really uplifting. So, maybe you mentioned that to your friends and see if it might be something you want to start in your area. Maybe they can do something focused on that.

Dr. Robin

Well, thank you for sharing that! So that’s awesome. So, Linda, I’m curious, why do you think kindness in the workplace is so important right now?

Linda

I think that employees feel overwhelmed and stressed and ragged a little bit from the year and a half that we’ve had to adapt continuously. And I think there’s a divisiveness even within employee organizations. And I think focusing on kindness, I mean, you and I both know this, that it has amazing benefits physically. It can elevate your internal happiness, it can decrease your stress or your anxiety. And I know people say, oh, kindness can’t really do that. But yes, it can. It has physical benefits to be able to do that. So I think when an organization can really begin to focus on that, they will be helping their employees in a much bigger way. And I think since many people spend eight or 10 hours of their day at their company, it kind of behooves the company to be able to help elevate that culture so that they feel like they are being seen as a human, as a whole person, while they’re going through this pandemic, while we’re all going through the pandemic together.

Dr. Robin

So you know, you talk about the ROI of kindness. So tell me, how does the company measure that? What are some of your lessons? And maybe you want to share a page or two from the book or something that people will say, oh, my gosh, I got to get this book. And I would love to give one way today. If you don’t mind helping me give one away today as well.

Linda

I will be happy to help you give one away. I wish I had tabbed a page. Hello. This is one of my first interviews since the book’s release. So I haven’t done that yet. I believe the ROI of kindness really falls into the reputation that your organization has and when you have a culture of kindness. I just spoke for a wonderful organization last month in Oregon called Tillamook. It’s an ice cream and cheese and amazing dairy product group. And they really want to elevate their culture of kindness and the reputation for their business, at least in the Pacific Northwest. And I know they are starting to distribute in other parts of the country. It’s really fun. It’s fun. They really want to empower their employees.

So I think your reputation can be affected by the culture you’re creating. I think also once you recruit great talent and if you have a great culture, people are going to want to work in your organization and then being able to keep them and retain them. And I know there are a lot of organizations where those things struggle. When you lose employees, you lose knowledge and employee morale. And there’s a lot of things that can affect it, plus the actual dollars that it takes you to replace somebody who is leaving your organization. So I think if those organizations consider how the culture affects their employees, and I think managers are kind of the lynch pin.

And there is a chapter. There’s a section of my book. I think the managers are the lynch pin in when they feel empowered and acknowledged and recognized and treated with kindness. I think that that’s what they begin to share with their teams. So I think if you’re going to focus on anything as a leader, really, really work hard to focus on, what are you making sure to elevate in your culture with your managers?

Dr. Robin

So I heard you say it’s an inside and outside job, so it affects your outside, your reputation out in your community, which will help you attract the customers that want that value. That is where I think we’re going to see through this kind of great divide we’re having that people are going to spend their money with companies that have similar values. And so that’s fascinating. Plus, this what they call the great resignation. And running a wellness business, knock on wood, we have been pretty fortunate. It’s like the universe, maybe somebody shifts and then somebody shifts back in and I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel really, really lucky about the team I got to surround myself with. So I’m curious about you and last year. And I’m going to tell our listeners there’s a special card at the very end of our special kindness act. And it’s one of my favorites. And I learned this through my own experience of having drama and trauma in my life. And I don’t think anybody gets out of life without having some of it. What is the medicine or what is the kindness magic that you like to share? That brings you the greatest joy. I know there’s probably many things, but is there one thing that’s kind of your go to?

Linda

I mean, it depends. Music is definitely a big one. If I’m having a rough morning. And I remember during the pandemic, I was supposed to keynote at about 11:00, and I had a huge fight with my daughter that morning, and I was like, how am I going to keynote about kindness? And I could feel the tears coming. And I put on some really great 80’s music and put on my sneakers and went for a pretty hefty walk, kind of listening to the music, and that shifted my attention, and I was able to put my head back in the game and do a great keynote. So I think music is a big one.

I think making sure your media diet is limited. I think I tuned out listening to daily media like an evening news broadcast probably about five years ago. I just knew that that was no longer serving me, and you can still hear the news. You can read headlines, but you don’t necessarily have to be spending an hour every day, morning and evening, starting your day and ending your day with the news. That is not necessary. And it’s probably not beneficial for your mind or mental health. In fact, I know it’s not beneficial for your mental health. So I would say those are kind of my go to’s. Getting into nature. I take a walk pretty much every day with or without the dogs, but take a walk. And my husband and I love to hike. And we live in Oregon, which just has incredible outdoor nature everywhere. The state is so beautiful. So I think that those are some of my go to’s for taking care of it.

And then I would say also, breath. I’ve been a yoga practitioner for about 20 years and have learned about breath, and I think each one of us carries that with us every single day. And so that’s when we can work to practice, practice, how am I making sure I’m breathing? And, you know, I get to the part of my keynotes often even in the virtual setting. And I’ll do a loving kindness meditation at the end. And I take a big deep breath. I ask the group to take a big deep breath, and sometimes that is the first deep breath I have taken in that hour. Like noticing it. I practice what I preach.

Dr. Robin

Well, I love that you took that question because you took it towards self, and it’s really hard to give when you’re totally empty. And so for our listeners, I want you to really hear what Linda just said when I asked her and she went to self, which the question was broad and in full disclosure, we gave her a prep question about self.

But I’m curious what’s your outward facing act of kindness that really lights your fire? But I love that you took care of yourself first. Beautiful.

Linda

You can get it from your overflow and you’re not continually depleting yourself as people are depleted. Right now, we are depleted. People are 100% depleted, and I think they don’t realize that putting that oxygen mask on first has to be how you do it. I think of outward facing kindnesses just on a regular basis. If I think about someone or if I find out it’s somebody’s birthday or if I want to connect a couple of people that I think I should meet, I am very proactive about those things. I want to tell someone what they meant to me or how they influenced me.

And it’s so amazing to be able to write a book and be able to acknowledge the people who stood by me in my ten years building my speaking business. It was exciting. And a few of them, a few of them have gotten the book, and they’re like, in tears, they’re like, oh, my God, I cried when I saw what you wrote about me, and what I wrote was completely true. But you can do that in a thank you note. You can do that in a phone call and a text. You can think about someone and reach out to them, and often, especially during this pandemic.

I’m thinking that when you think about someone else that synergy, you will be surprised if they say, oh, my gosh, I was just thinking about you or this is exactly what I needed today. And so I think, don’t hold yourself back when that is the thought you have. Live in that place where you thought of someone, and it’s probably a perfect time to reach out to them.

Dr. Robin

Yeah, I hear from people. I know you’re busy. I don’t want to bug you like, I know I’m not too busy to hear somebody say, I’m thinking of you, a quick text, a thoughtful note, or that I have a full life. And there’s times that I didn’t have a full life. And I also love that you talked about community.

We just came off of a series. We’ve launched season eight in September, and we are doing series now. So we did a series called Building Your Tribe. And we have people that have lifted us up. And so this is a good time during this campaign. And maybe today is a day where you reach out to somebody. I’m not sure what today’s act is yet, so I’ll need to pull it out. But I think when you reach out to people, I think that’s a great way to just let them know they matter. We all matter. So I want to go back to your book. Any takeaways that you would kind of sneak out that you want to share with us that you learned writing this book the last year or two?

Linda

I was so overwhelmed thinking about writing a second book because I wrote a first book ten years ago, and then when I sat down to actually write it, it flowed, there were so many stories to share. I have been so lucky to speak to audiences now for a decade to hear how somebody’s kindness affected them. And so I get to sometimes pull those out of an audience.

I think my big lessons were really that the size of the kindness isn’t necessarily that important. It could be small. And I think sometimes as humans, we think, oh, well, if it’s not a large kindness, well, then it doesn’t count. Well, that is not true for sure. I think the second thing that I really learned was that there’s a ripple effect. And I saw those ripple effects, and I heard them in the audience.

Someone who’s boss did something twelve years ago, and then the boss happened to be in the audience when she shared this story and we were just all in tears. It was fabulous to be able to kind of publicly thank him. And that was not planned. It was just so in the moment and then giving and receiving kindness. And I think a lot of people, especially when I speak to a lot of healthcare organizations, long term care, credit unions, a lot of them are givers.

My audiences often are kind of giving types of professionals. But when we talk about receiving kindness, most people have a harder time with that. And I think I’ve learned the lesson personally about being open and receiving kindness allows someone else to be the giver. And really, I think most people want to be the giver. And so you sit in your discomfort and let someone else give to you. I’m talking about maybe if you’ve gone through a health crisis or you’ve had a divorce or a job loss or something overwhelming is happening for you right now, and people try to reach out to you. And a lot of times people struggle with that. So be open to that.

Dr. Robin

Well, that was my next question. Actually, we talked about giving and receiving. And you don’t always. I heard a lesson years ago from my friend Cindy Curry, and she actually had a priest that told her, when you don’t let people give to you, you give away the way you feel when you give, it needs to be a two way street. So any magic tricks that you’ve learned to be a better receiver?

Linda

I would just maybe look the person in the eye and say thank you. I just keep it simple. And yet the same secret we talk about when you’re speaking to an audience. It’s not about me. When I get up and speak to an audience, I always make a sort of blessing or prayer in the morning. Let this message resonate with whoever hears my message today because I’m just the messenger. I’m not the only person who talked about kindness. I’m not the only person who knows about kindness, but I am today the person who’s going to remind my audience what we can achieve.

So I just hope that when you receive kindness from another person, you realize, let them do what they want to do, let them channel what they need to do to help you and just be receiving it with love and grace and ease the way that it’s being given to you. So hopefully that’s one way people can receive kindness. And I will say, Michelle, that I have seen during the pandemic, I think we’re getting better at it. I think people are being more vulnerable with their needs. Not everybody. But, I think, I think a lot of people really are stepping into the fact that none of us have walked through a global pandemic before. Nobody.

Dr. Robin

There’s been a lot. There’s been a lot of ups and downs and an emotional roller coaster. I would say during these last many months, pardon me, but to fast forward about five years and think about all the good we’re going to take away from this time. But then that means I would be 60. I’m not ready to be that yet. I’ll just stay present. I’m going to surrender to the moment. And right now I’ve got a few questions for you.

First of all, Congratulations. I know what it’s like to birth a book. It’s like a baby. And I see for you this book, the Economy of Kindness, not only transforming people’s bottom lines but transforming their hearts and transforming our world. And so once again, Congratulations. And I got a few more questions. What are three key takeaways you want to share with our listeners today?

Linda

I think one is if you don’t have a gratitude practice, it’s really easy, and it might be something that could be helpful to you. I know a lot of people, a lot of audiences I’ve talked to, people have added gratitude to their daily practice, whether that’s having something at your nightstand or putting a big post it note up. And I have one outside of my office that I put up a big, large Post It note and wrote, what am I grateful for today and just tried to fill that up so that would be one takeaway that I think can help us.

And I know people maybe think what can I possibly be grateful for? But if you start thinking about it, I think the bigger takeaway is, there’s a lot of things we can’t control in our lives. There will always be things we can’t control in our lives. But we can always control how we react or we behave or we take action in some way. So I hope that that’s a takeaway that people will have, whether you’re a leader at an organization or whether you’re an employee and you don’t have to have a certain job title to be the Kindness catalyst.

I have had the most exciting fun doing my work and hearing what the ripple effect was as some employee did something really fun for their team or one guy did slices of Kindness Key lime pie. He was a great baker, and he wrote a little note to all of his coworkers, and he enjoyed the process so much that he ended up doing it. He’s a credit Union professional. He’s now doing it at every branch in their credit Union. So that was pretty fun to watch that kind of happen after he got inspired by my talk. I love it. I love this time of year. I love this kind of campaign. I love what you’re doing.

Dr. Robin

So a couple of final questions. Hey, is there a favorite song?

Linda

Yeah. I hope you’re going to ask me my favorite song. My favorite. Ok. Unwritten by Natasha Benningfield. She did Pocketful of Sunshine many years ago. And then this unwritten song is just really soulful, really speaks to me. So I listen to that. Sometimes when I’m queuing up for a keynote, it’s usually a Justin Timberlake dance song just so I can get rested up. And a book that has been on my nightstand and I have re-pulled out this year, “Simple Abundance”. It’s really an old book, but you guys it’s got so much wisdom in it, and it’s been good for this time. It’s been a good reminder for this time. So I have that on my nightstand. This other really sweet little book that I also have been reading is Pocket of Miracles, like a Pocketful of Miracles.

Dr. Robin

And that’s what you do when you spread kindness. You are a miracle for somebody else. So you have this pocket that you’re able to give with your hand and your heart, with your soul to people. So essentially, I’m not a big music person. I have three older brothers. One happens to be 21 minutes older, but he’s older, and I grew up with ACDC in the house, so I really didn’t get control of music, but I do have unwritten on my plate.

You know, I love quotes.

Linda

It’s from a very famous Rabbi, “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that God has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.”

Dr. Robin

Wow. I’ve never heard that quote.

Linda

Yeah, I’ll send it to you. That one has really moved me because I think it’s really about attitude. And when we shift that and we look at what can I control? What can I still do in my mind? And I think when we think about it on a global scale, it’s overwhelming. So just think about it for yourself, for your family, for your workplace, for your community. Start there. Start there with where you can spend some kindness.

Dr. Robin

Well, you mentioned a credit union a few times, one of the sponsors of the show’s Community America Credit Union. So I want to give them a shout out for all the ways we’re impacting our community. I also want to give a shout out to Advent Health, who is one of our sponsors. And if you’re wondering where to start, start right now, maybe write a note to your doctor or a nurse or your massage therapist or your yoga person or your chiropractor and let them know how they are impacting you. And of course, thank you to City Wde for making this a national campaign. International campaign. Invite your friends. It’s never too late to start and I invite you to follow me if you’re not on social media and listening to my morning kindness act of the day, I invite you to join us or send me a note, Michelle@SmallChangesBigShifts.com and we’ll put you in the drawing sequence for some of the fun prizes we’re given away.

All right, Linda. Hey, keep shining. I’m so proud of you. And hey, I’ll see you tonight at 2:00 p.m.. 3:00 Pacific Time. So I think it’s five for you in Central Time.

Linda

Yeah. My book launch today. My official virtual book launch will be taking place and we’ll put in the show notes what the link is so people can hop on, I would love that. So thank you.

Dr. Robin

Yeah. Alright, everybody go out. Be kind, you’re awesome.

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