It may be counterintuitive to think of kindness as it relates to business because we tend to think of it as a vague, amorphous concept. The economics of kindness philosophy, however, shows us that kindness can and does mean more revenue for businesses. Randy McNeely, best-selling author and founder of Kindness Hunters International, LLC, joins Ben Baker in this episode to talk about how kindness creates prosperity for businesses. By sharing the concepts laid down in his best-selling book, Randy stresses the need to create organizational cultures built on respecting and valuing every member. He explains how this can translate to better employee engagement, increased productivity, increased customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and better market opportunities.
I appreciate my audience. You are amazing. Every single week my audience grows and it's because of people like you. You are sharing my information, liking my stuff, and subscribing. Go to YourLivingBrand.Live Show, there's a subscribe button. It will take you to your favorite audio file. You can go on SoundCloud, Spotify, or iTunes if you're a Mac person. Subscribe where it's best for you. We're everywhere and I'm taking my RSS feed. If there's somewhere that you are that we're not, let me know. Send me an email at Ben@YourLivingBrand.com and we'll set it up. I want to be where you are and be able to let you listen in the way that's good for you. In this episode, I've got an amazing person, Randy McNeely, The Kindness Giver. What we are going to get into this because kindness is not something that is a nice-to-have. It's something that business makes sense. I want to talk to Randy about it. Randy, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Ben. I sure appreciate the opportunity to be here. I'm excited to have a chance to talk with you.
You and I met through mutual friends, online, and through a Zoom chat. You're one of the few people I haven't met through LinkedIn. The people that introduced me to you, we met through LinkedIn, but you and I met on a Zoom chat. We connected and had a conversation afterward. I hit it off with you. I figured that we’ve got to get your story on tape. We’ve got to get you on the air and tell your story to the world.
I look forward to sharing whatever you'd like me to share. You can fire away. Ask whatever questions you want and hopefully, I can have a good answer for you.
If you don't have a good answer, there's always the answer, my favorite answer is, “I'm not sure. Let me figure this out and let me get back to you.” Those answers work for me too because none of us can know everything. None of us are experts on everything but it’s an expert of where we're an expert in and we say, “These are my people. These are the people that I can truly help. These are the people whose lives I can change and focus on them.” That's what this story and show are about. I want to start with what's your story. Where did you come from? What led you to become The Kindness Giver? Take me along that journey.
For years, I've been working in the information security and cybersecurity world. I worked in the DOD for a long time. I didn't work for the DOD. I was a contractor for various companies. I've been doing HIPAA security and privacy for the last several years doing consulting and traveling across the country. I've been to every state in the country in the lower 48, that is.Now is a time when kindness is needed more than ever. Click To Tweet
Is HIPAA for healthcare?
Yes. I should know what it stands for. It's been years and I can't even remember what the acronym stands for, but HIPAA is healthcare for security and privacy. I've been doing that for a long time. We talked a little bit previously. You’re the information security guy. People know who you are and they know that you're the guy that writes the policies, processes, and procedures for information security. You're the guy that does risk assessment and risk analysis. Also, you're the guy that has the authority to enforce the policies and procedures related to security. You can be the nicest guy on the planet but nobody wants to talk to you.
Everyone looks at you as the guy who says no. You're the guy that says, “You can't do that.”
I always tried to find ways to be able to say yes. The challenge was when people didn't take the time to bother to talk to me before they started doing a project and implementing a project. We found out about it back door and I'd have to put the brakes on, “You're talking about doing what? Are you kidding me?” It has interesting challenges. I'll be honest, Ben. I'm a people person. I love people, working, interacting with people, and being around people. I'm a social animal. It's interesting now, the most social I can get is these kinds of conversations during this crisis. Because I'm such an extrovert and like interacting, this has been an interesting challenge for me.
Getting back to it, all those things I've wanted for a long time to be doing something where I can have a more personal impact on people and their lives than being a security guy. I've helped a lot of organizations to be able to meet their HIPAA requirements, both from a security and a privacy standpoint. I met some amazing people and had some impact. When you interact directly with people, I was traveling to their offices and spending time with them. If you're treating them with respect and doing the things that you should be doing, you're going to have some impact even personally on them because otherwise, they won't have you come back.
I want to have a more personal impact on people's lives. For the longest time, I've been trying to come up with ideas and ways that I could do that. In 2019, I broke away and formed my own consultancy as a cybersecurity guy. In the middle of that, I came across the profile of a friend of mine, a guy that I've known for a long time, but we hadn't connected for years. I saw and I was reminded that he was an executive producer for a reality TV show. I'd have this idea in the back of my head for a kindness-driven TV show for a while, “I'll reach out to him and see what he thinks,” so I did. I reached out to him and I shared the premise of my TV show called Kindness Hunters. We wanted to share the stories of individuals and showcase organizations that they've created that are blessing other people's lives and individuals who have overcome some tremendous challenges and use those challenges as stepping stones.
I shared that with him and he's like, “I love it. I love the idea. Let me talk to my director and see what he thinks.” His director loved it and thought that we could do something with it. We formed a partnership and formed a company called Kindness Hunters International. This is while I was still working on being a cybersecurity consultant. All those shootings that happened in 2019 came to pass. We had the shooting in California, Texas, and El Paso. I cannot sit back anymore and not try to do something, not try to make a difference in impact for good. It was shortly after that, that I started writing my book The Kindness Givers’ Formula.
We hear all the time about climate change. We talk about physical climate change. It's constantly on the news. It's an important thing. We are stewards of this planet. We should be doing what we can to take care of it because we're all part of humanity. We need to take care of each other and take care of the place we live in. One of the things that we don't hear about that is happening before our eyes and it's even more vital now is what I call Societal Climate Change. We have many avenues of entry into our lives now via the news, social media, internet, and all these different tools that are out there. There are ways for messages to reach us.
Light, love, hope, unity, and peace in many ways are being eroded at an exponential rate by darkness, hate, doubt, contention, and divisiveness. It's been readily displayed on the news on a 24-hour buffet of downer fodder. You get that all the time. Interestingly, that was the message I shared before this Coronavirus started to happen. While that is still there, it's been an interesting thing with the Coronavirus situation. We're seeing more people turn to think about kindness. We're seeing more people start to think about what matters most and we see a little bit of restoration of the light, love, hope, unity, and peace.
If there is a silver lining, not treating this situation lightly because it's serious. I can't say how my heart goes out to all the people who have suffered, not only suffered loss of loved ones, but who have been ill themselves and recovered, but still have these challenges. All the people who are isolated people who had mental health challenges and other things before and this isolation has got to be challenging for them. My heart feels for parents, who are now working from home, both sets who may not have ever worked from home before, plus they have their kids home.
They're becoming educators on their own.
They're trying to figure out how to do all this stuff. Now is a time when kindness is needed more than ever. I'm grateful that I'm seeing and hearing about so many wonderful people who are being kind. That's a $5,000 answer to your question.
I'll take the $5,000 because I got a $10,000 question for you behind that.Kindness equals prosperity. Click To Tweet
Let’s go with that.
It's funny because I take the advocacy of some of my readers and they're going to say, “I know kindness. We need to be kinder, gentler, and nicer to each other,” but this is business. If you take a look at kindness, from an ROI point of view. Never mind that it’s the right thing to do. Never mind that the leaders that are kind become better leaders and become more empathetic of this. There are true benefits to our society as a whole in the companies within it from being kinder and better individuals. I want you to dive into that because I want people to think of this. This is not a nice-to-have. Being kind is not a nice-to-have. It's imperative for business and personal reasons. That's something we need to dive into.
I appreciate that and it's interesting. I talked to our mutual friend Damon Pistulka and he pointed out, and you pointed out this to me when in our previous conversation. When you hear the word kindness, you think of this fluffy, nebulous, squishy thing. It's a cloud. It's cottony and soft and everything.
It has no edges and you can't define it. It’s all that wonderful stuff.
If you think of that and you think business. How do those two go together? How do they work together? The thing is I can sum it up in a simple sentence. Kindness equals prosperity. Not only individually but professionally and organizationally. How? If you think about it, when you establish a culture in your organization with kindness at the top of the agenda, what does that mean? That means your employees feel like they're important, valued, heard, have a voice, and they feel that management cares. Part of feeling management cares is the management being able to articulate a cause. You read the Gallup report that came out. It's talking about how only 33% of employees are engaged at work now. 33% in the US.
In the most successful companies, they're about 70% engaged but only 33% in general, on average. Here's the key thing, the big part of the workforce now are Millennials. We know that. They don't want what's been the norm in the past. They have specific expectations. They want to work for a company that has a cause. If leaders can articulate and say, “This is our company's cause, how we are making society better, how we're improving humanity, and why our products are important. Here's your role in that cause.” If they can articulate that and employees feel like, “I have an opportunity to be part of this cause. I can use the talents and abilities that I have to make this better.” Think about what that's going to do for the employees? When they have that combination of things, “I'm heard, important, and able to use my talents and abilities to make things better,” their productivity is going to go up.
They understand the purpose. Not only the purpose of the organization, but they understand their purpose within the organization.
Exactly. When they have the autonomy to try some things, come into work and feel like they're part of a team, their productivity, loyalty, and their ability and desire to do the best they can for any clients that the organization has with people that they're working with go up. We're not only talking about employee satisfaction. We're talking about employee engagement. We're talking about employees wanting to be there, to make a difference, and looking forward to coming to work. Here's another key thing to go along with that, what I'm talking about is what I call The Economics of Kindness Cycle. You establish the culture, the employees are happier and more productive. When that happens, the customers are more pleased. Before I get into the next one, I want to go back a step. One key thing to remember is if I asked the question, how many of you are human? We all are.
Hopefully, everybody's raising their hands.
We don’t have the Martians here. We’re human and because we’re human, we have human needs. We have emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs. We all do, every human being. Whether you're religious or not, spiritual doesn't necessarily mean religion. We have those needs and we have them all the time. Something that organizations don't remember is, when you walk in their doors, you don't dump your human needs at the threshold.
You don't dump your personal life at the threshold of the door of the business either.
You try hard not to let your personal life come in with you but those things are still there. That's all impacting you. Don't dump those needs and here's the key important thing to remember. Everybody that's in that organization from the janitor, the cleaning people up to the CEO, have exactly the same needs. Part of working with your employees is treating everybody like colleagues. It's not like, “I'm your boss.” “You're my employer.” “You're my drudge,” or whatever. It's treating everybody like colleagues. When that happens, customer feedback and satisfaction goes way up.
When you’re giving and listening to what your employees need, they're going to treat the clients the same way they're treated. Clients want to know that they're heard, valued, and important. Otherwise, they're not going to come to you. If they know, like and trust you, their satisfaction is going to go up. If they know the work that your product you're going to give them is good, their satisfaction is going to go up. What's going to happen to your opportunities? They're going to go up. You're going to have returned business and they're going to talk. You're going to have other people and other organizations that hear about you via word of mouth. Your opportunities are going to increase. The final step in that cycle is your prosperity is going to go up.Treat your employees like your colleagues, and they will do the same with your clients. Click To Tweet
It’s Seth Godin, “It’s the people like us that do things like this.” If your customers are satisfied and provide them with amazing customer experience, because your employees feel listened to, understood, and valued, they're going to turn around and tell their friends who need the same things that they do and the cycle is going to perpetuate itself.
You noticed not once did I have to say anything about the bottom line there. I didn’t say anything about the bottom line because that’s an automatic result that's out here that comes. The company named Weave and the CEO is Brandon Rodman. I love reading his stuff on LinkedIn like his posts and things. They are a company that is among that 70%. He treats his people colleagues. His tagline is, “People before profits.” His company has grown exponentially because of the way that he treats people. They even went so far as to give everybody in the company a coach and there are 500 people. That's another key component. Gallup came out with this report on employee engagement stuff. I can't remember if it’s January or February of 2020. One of the things they talk about is going along with treating everybody as a colleague. You’re moving away from the performance management to coaching and all training your managers to be coaches and mentors.
You’re training them to be leaders. It is getting people away from the managerial mindset and getting them to be leaders of people.
Also, knowing how to treat them so people will want to work with them, engage with them and do the things that we all need to do inside an organization in order for the organization to be successful. One of the things to think about is, for example, if you do a cultural kindness assessment or corporate culture kindness assessment or something like that. If you have any toxicity in your organizational culture, it's going to be exposed. When I go in to talk to people about doing a risk assessment from a security perspective, you go in if you do a proper risk assessment, those areas where you're vulnerable are going to be exposed and you want that exposure.
Why? Because the only way you can take care of it and address it is if it's exposed. If it's not exposed or brought into the light, it's not addressed. It's the same thing in a culture where there's toxicity. If you're striving to establish a culture where kindness is at the top of the agenda where people are valued, heard and things like that, that toxicity that we hear about far too often still in many organizations is going to be brought to the light and people will be able to deal with it. They’ll be able to address it. You're not losing people through attrition because of toxic situations.
It's interesting because I look at it and I agree with every word you said. The work that we do on leadership is along those lines. It's taking a look at it from a CEO's point of view. They're sitting there going, “What is all this going to cost to have coaches for everybody and this other thing?” Gallup says it costs the US economy $500 billion every year in lost productivity due to disengagement. Every employee that you lose is to cost you $100,000 to replace. Your toxic employees within your organization cost you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. If you can find and fix those gaps, you're saving money by spending money. For every dollar you spend, you're probably saving $5 or $10 if you do it right.
One of the things that came out of that report is that Gallup said that 16% of employees are actively disengaged and here's what they're doing. They're miserable, miserable in the workplace, and they end up destroying the work that most engaged employees are doing. They kill the culture. I worked for an organization a few years ago and I'm not going to say the name. I came into that organization and it was great. When I first came in, it was almost like a family-like culture. We had great meetings and those feelings of camaraderie and that culture came across in the meetings in everything we did. There was an overarching thought that if we treat our customers right, yada-yada. They got bought by an equity firm. That culture went down the tubes and out the door went.
I know there are some great equity firms with good people and I'm not trying to dump them all into the same bucket but in this particular case, all that came across was, “What are your hours? What are we going to do to increase the bottom line?” It’s HARP on the bottom line all the time. The customer service went out the window and started charging higher prices. In an equity firm, why do they buy a company in the first place? Within 3 to 5 years, they want to take it and turn it around. They want to sell it at a profit. In that process, a whole bunch of good people ended up leaving that company.
All that knowledge, process, value, and relationships, walked out the door with those people.
I've worked in another company where we would go to management meetings with the CIO. The CIO had a reputation for not being the nicest man on the planet. It was interesting, the first thing we did when we got into those monthly meetings and most people showed up 5 or 10 minutes early before the CIO ever came in. Everybody's like, “We wonder who’s so and so going to chew out or eat for lunch today.” The same thing happened. A lot of people left because it was a toxic environment. When you're talking about losing $500 billion in a year because of attrition and other situations, that's a big deal. Think about the opposite.
If you have leaders, who are people, “We're going to do this meeting and I get to sit with so and so. I know I'm going to be heard. I know my ideas are going to be considered. Even if they're not used, at least I'll be heard and things will be considered. I'm excited to have a chance to be part of this.” Think about that. There's a huge difference. It’s night and day. I'm not naive. I know nothing's going to be perfect inside any organization because none of us are perfect. We're a bunch of imperfect people but we can be doing everything we can to make it. The idealistic side of me is coming out. We should be working to do everything we can to make it as ideal as possible. When we have challenges, we work through them and improve.
It's creating something that's ideal for that organization. Cultures are like fingerprints. No two are the same. They are absolute snowflakes. A culture that works for IBM doesn't work for Apple and it certainly won't work for Netflix or Google. They're all unicorn billion-dollar corporations but their culture is completely different and those cultures work well within that organization and have allowed them to be successful or it can be perceived from the outside. It's up to organizations to, first of all, understand what the things that matter to them are and live it.
That's defining your value proposition. It’s defining what you value within your organization. You're right. Every organization is different. Some have 10, 50, 1,000 or 100,000 employees. You expect that the culture is going to be a little bit different. They're producing different products and doing different things but at the same time, there's a bit of foundational layer that's the same. It doesn't matter what company you work for. Everybody within that organization has the same needs.Think of and plan ways to be kind, act on them, and encourage other people to do the same thing. Click To Tweet
They all want to be listened to, understood, and valued.
You build your story. I like what it says behind you, “What's your story?” Every organization has the opportunity to write their own culture story. They have the opportunity to create their own culture and if they can build it around with those basic human needs in mind, keeping those things in mind and aligning it with, “Here's what we're doing as an organization, why we're doing it, and what your part is.” They're going to be successful. The key is having that have the courage to stand up and champion that. I talk about kindness from a kindness giver perspective. All I'm talking about there, and this is a foundation for any organization, every day determines that you're going to be kind. Every organization out there can put kindness at the top of their agenda every day.
They can determine that they're going to treat their people with respect, which is a component of kindness. They're going to promote emotional intelligence, which is a component of kindness. It’s being aware, alerted, and watching for the things that are going on and aware of the things that need to happen in order to make things run successfully. There's a foundational step to determine every day, that it’s going to be on the agenda. The second thing, foundational individual easy steps, think of and plan ways to be kind. Every organization has different things that they're doing. I can make sure I give recognition to my employees. I can make sure that if Joe so and so did a great job on his presentation. I can let him know. Every organization can come up with ways to give recognition.
A boss or colleagues can come up with ways to recognize each other. You can think of unplanned ways to be kind. The third way is to look for an act in those ways. Not only the things that you plan but look for an act. There are opportunities that come up every day. I'm talking as if we're going into the office still but in this situation, what are leaders doing to reach out to their people that are at home? How often are they contacting them with a voice, not only a text message or an email but with a voice and letting them hear and know that there's somebody thinking about them and care about them? There are multiple ways you can still get in touch with people. The final thing is inviting and encouraging other people to do the same thing. That's the basic foundation for The Kindness Givers’ Formula. That's it right there. Those are four steps.
It truly is simple stuff in that. In the end, it's thinking about people first. How do you wake up in the morning and how are you going to make other people's lives better? I don't care whether you call it kindness or leadership. It’s putting other people's needs first. It's all about sitting there going, “How do I support my people to make them better?” How do we make people's lives better? How do you help other people achieve their goals and meet their aspirations? Kindness is embedded in that but it can't be a word and that's my biggest pet peeve. People create these mission, vision, and values statements. They put these wonderful pithy words into these statements and nobody lives by them. If you're not going to live by them, don't create the purpose because all you're doing is you're putting yourself in a position where people are going to sit there and say, “They're talking about it. They say all these things, but they don't do it.”
In other words, you're saying if you're going to talk the talk, walk the walk. That's why I say The Kindness Givers’ Formula is a foundation for any organization with kindness in their culture. It's looking for acting. Kindness is an action verb. It’s an implied action verb. If you're going to get to talk about having that culture, then you have to be engaged. We see all this stuff about social responsibility. We hear about that all the time. Corporate social responsibility is a great thing. The biggest concern I sometimes have when I hear that I don't think it's this way, the majority of organizations that are trying to do good things in the community have a fairly good culture inside. The other side of the coin is hearing people and putting up the front that we're doing all these good things out in the community. I was talking to a guy who says, “My company does that but if you work inside, it's the most toxic culture I've ever worked in.”
I’ve heard enough of those stories.
It needs to come from the inside out.
That's a great place to leave things because people need to realize that you need to walk the walk and talk the talk inside the organization, outside the organization, with vendors, employees, and customers. You're one organization. If we take a look and sit there and say, “How can we make people's lives better? How can we add value? How can we treat people with respect, listen, understand, and value each other?” We're all going to be better off. Am I summing up well with what you’ve said?
You nailed it.
Randy, what's the best way people can get in touch with you?
They can go to www.RandyMcNeely.com and fill in the contact information there. They can get a copy of my book. On the front page, there are links to the eBook and to the paperback or I put a link out there, you can get a free audio version of The Kindness Givers Formula. I'm giving that away for free. For anybody who wants to download, it can do that.
That's all available through your website?
Also, I noticed that access to your podcast is there as well.
I do need to put a plug for that. I do have a wonderful partner Dr. Elia Gourgouris. He's my partner for Kindness Hunters and he's also my partner in the podcast. We do a podcast called The Kindness and Happiness Connection. He's the happiness doctor. He's the driver behind an organization called The Happiness Center, a super good guy. The whole purpose of that podcast, The Kindness & Happiness Connection, is to inspire people to carry on and remember that if you want to be happy, be kind. You can't have one without the other. Every day we provide various topics on physical health, mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, humor, determination, staying centered, and various coping mechanisms. This whole situation is what inspired me to jump on the bandwagon for podcasts. It's a simple ten-minute show that we do every day. We’re talking about simple topics and things people can do to take care of themselves now and to thrive and prosper in the future.Kindness is a verb. You need to act on it. Click To Tweet
I’ve got one last question and asked you that may lead you out the door. When you get off the stage or you get out of the meeting and you get in your car and drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?
He's kind and cares. If people come away thinking that of me, I succeeded because I have a religious drive behind what I do. I’m not trying to promote my religion or anything like that but I strive to be like Christ. He's my model. If anybody comes away thinking, “He's kind and good,” that means I'm being him for me. That's for me. I'm not trying to convert anybody but that's my personal driver. That'll make me feel like I'm doing something right.
Randy, keep living your mission. Thank you for everything you do. You've been a wonderful guest and thanks for contributing some great insights.
Thank you, Ben. I sure appreciate you. Thank you for having me on. You're a kindness giver and I appreciate you.
I appreciate that.
Randall D. McNeely, "Randy”, is passionate about and driven to share kindness as a way of giving back for life changing kindness shown to him throughout his life.
To that end, Randy recently Founded Kindness Hunters International (KHI) in partnership with world renowned happiness guru, Dr. Elia Gourgouris, and the extraordinary director and producer Elgin Cahill.
KHI is dedicated to inspiring audiences to engage in kindness giving by sharing heart-warming stories of triumph, showcasing amazing organizations helping others in need and showing how service and kindness can be a lot of fun.
Randy is the author of The Kindness Givers' Formula - Four Steps for Making a Transformational Difference for Good, a simple four-step formula for ingraining the habit of daily intentional kindness that will, when implemented, change lives and transform the world.
Randy is committed, heart and soul, to the cause of spreading a message of kindness throughout the world to help restore light, love, unity and peace and to inviting and encouraging others to do the same.
In addition to being an author, Randy is also a singer/songwriter. He and his daughters recorded and released Everybody Speaks Smile to remind everyone that a smile is a simple act of kindness that knows no language barriers.
Randy is married to a lovely "Angel" as he calls her. They are blessed to be the parents of five children—four daughters and one son.
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