Don’t we hope to turn our customers and those we lead into “raving fans,” as Berny calls them? Is it possible to go a step beyond and demonstrate our kindness by being vocal fans andcheerleaders of the people in our network in a way that lifts them up? Marci Shimoff, New YorkTimes best-selling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, believes she wouldn’t have experienced her level of success if it weren’t for the power of those who supported her. As Marci’s friend who also happens to be a huge fan, I cantell you that when you hear Marci’s name thrown around in conversation, it is always in thecontext of her un- wavering kindness. Marci says:
I was very fortunate because I learned about kind- ness from two of the kindest people—my parents— who were kind for no reason. I was fortunate to have that in me. I enjoy beingkind in business. The fringe benefit is that being kind has brought me an enor- mousamount of work. When I believe in a book, I offer endorsements and write forewords. Ioffer con- nections and advice whenever I possibly can, and it has paid me back in somany ways. There is no way my books would’ve been on the best-seller list with- out thehelp of the colleagues and friends who have supported me throughout the years.
Marci credits her tremendous publishing success to her fandom of her mentor Jack Canfield. Before he and Mark Victor Hansen conceived Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack was her mentor. “I loved his work and did everything I could to help bring him business,” she remembered. “Ibrought him to my town to do workshops, sent him corporate clients, and just talked him upevery chance I could. Four years later, in 1993, Chicken Soup for the Soul had become ablockbuster, and I suggested the idea of coauthoring a book titled Chicken Soup for the Woman’sSoul. Not only did Jack agree, he and Mark invited me to partner with them, resulting in morethan 15 million copies sold. I believe my kindness and authentic belief in what Jack was doingwas returned to me in this way.”
When we are fans of someone or something, we can’t wait to share our “find” with people. It’s like that with a great trainer, a delicious restaurant, or an understanding veterinar- ian. When weare treated well, and receive generous care, we tend to rave. Word of mouth is the single-mostcrucial aspect of growing and sustaining a business, and what Marci did was grow Jack’s businessand network because she believed he was bettering the world and told everyone who would listen.
Showing support for your customers and those in your network will result in so much goodwill; it will spill over into more prospects and profits. For instance, Marci told me about the yearher mother spent her birthday in the hospital and the chef in the hospital baked a cake just for herand presented it, singing “Happy Birthday.” Marci and her entire family were gathered, and asMarci recalled, “It was the last birthday we as a family had with my mom. It is so memorable, andall be- cause of one chef. I refer that hospital every time.” The chef had single-handedly turnedMarci into a loyal fan of the hospital, and now Marci generously supports that hospital with referrals and good word-of-mouth public relations.
“Kindness generates gratitude and loyalty,” says Marci. “We trust people who are kind. When showing our support, always, when possible, answer yes.”
I felt so supported by holistic veterinarian Gary Richter when my cat was diagnosed with nosecancer. Anyone who has ever had a pet knows the emotional blow that comes with the threat oflosing an animal companion. We were devastated and looking for the best medical care. I wasreferred to Gary by a friend who couldn’t say enough about the experience and care her petsreceived through Gary’s veterinary practice, Montclair Veterinary Hospital. Gary was so generous with his kindness, his time, and his emotional support, that I traveled 45 minutes each way to have my cat treated by him and his exceptional team of 40 professionals. Now, I tell everyone about Dr. Gary and the hospital. Henot only worked with me to care for my cat, he extended my cat’s life for three years! I could neverrepay Gary for giving me that precious time with my beloved feline friend, so I just keep talkinghim up (and writing about him).
The support that I felt was so generously given to me, on both a personal level and aprofessional one, was an extension of the culture that Lee Richter instills as CEO of Montclair Veterinary Hospital. She generously does things for her team that shows them they matter to her. The littlest thing like filling a giant Easter basket with candy and surprises, and then refilling the basket the next day, is not only an illus- tration of how taking time out impactsothers, it gave adults the reminder of the wonders of being children again. “It had been decadessince we all relished in the simple joy of peeking through an Easter basket,” Lee told me. “What this did for each member of my team is connect them through the shared joy of the basket. I saw them, in turn, really show up to take care of their client, because they felt taken care of.”
Support like this naturally fuels that pay-it-forward men- tality, again, because we are allinstinctually pulled to bond and connect with one another—in business and beyond. In the 65 years the hospital has been operating, Lee says it is currently growing faster than ever. She atteststhis success to the commitment of being generous with her support and hav- ing others feel theintention of that. “The thank you’s, repeat business, referrals, are all results of the little seeds of kindness,” she said.
Lee doesn’t stop there. She takes the success that is gener- ated through her support of others,and pays it forward with more support, generously offering her time as a mentor. A true global citizen, Lee mentors people in San Francisco who are seeking their dream jobs. In what she calls a “speed dating” environment, 50 community volunteers, including Lee, meet for seven minutes with people in need of advice.
Acts of service is how I give back. It gives me so much joy to share what I have learnedand shorten others’ learning curve. I’ve learned through kind- ness that invitations and connections deepen to a level that is more advantageous and rewarding in my lifebecause I pay attention to kindness. Being kind is so much more fun. To be loving andpositive feels good. Because you inspire others to connect with you on that same level,deeper and more meaningful relationships become possible.
As someone who teaches influence, Teresa de Grosbois, international best-seller of Mass Influence and chair of Evolutionary Business Council (EBC), a community of thought leaders and emerging thought leaders, focuses on the impor- tance of such relationship capital. “We oftenthink of intel- lectual or physical capital, but now we are noticing the im- portance ofrelationship in building businesses, and kindness is the capital that builds those relationships,”Teresa said.20 Teresa told me the story of someone reaching out to thank her for a kind act she hadperformed years earlier. She had sup- ported this person’s book within her network. She admitted, it’s funny. I had completely forgotten I did that, but here I have a half-page email tellingme what a pro- found difference I had made. It’s those little mo- ments of investing inother people all the time, and we don’t know how or when it will come back to us, and not even from the same person, but they really create a difference for your business inhow you are perceived in the world and how much support you get from other people.
As an example of that type of support, Teresa told me about one of EBC’s foundingmembers, Charmaine Hammond, and her “big ask.” “Charmaine is always willing tohelp people, give advice, and is one of the kindest people, and she connects people,” explained Teresa. She continues:
At one of our earlier retreats, Charmaine stood up and very vulnerably said, “I have a book coming out, and I need help, andI need people to shout out and support the campaign.” Well, the entire room stood up as if to say she could count on them.It brought tears to my eyes. In just 20 seconds, Charmaine now had a campaign in the millions. The investment she hadmade in these people by being kind to them made all these members love her. We were all so excited about her impending book launch, so we went on Facebook and spread the word. Charmaine’s book hit the best-seller list two weeks before itlaunched! All these people loved her so deeply, they wouldn’t let her fail.