It’s Earth Day…Every Day!!!

It’s Earth Day tomorrow! Well, at least the ‘official’ day that’s been designated on the calendar for celebrating. The reason I’m posting this today is to remind everyone (including myself!), that really, when you get right down to it, every day is Earth Day. That’s because, every single one of us, no matter who we are, where we live, or what we believe in, share – and are connected together by – our wonderful Earth. And we’re not just connected with people, we’re connected with the myriad plants and animals, mountains, deserts, sky and water too! We all share this Beautiful home of Earth together.

And although this might sound simplistic, it’s up to all of us to take care of our home in the best ways that each of us can. For me personally, and for KRC, “Helping people improve the world”, means actively finding ways to care for and improve our Earth. I drive a hybrid car, am in the midst of having solar panels installed on my house (they’ll be here on Tuesday!) and I’m vegan. People often comment that being vegan must be difficult. For me, it really isn’t. It’s simply a deliberate choice I’ve made to help “improve the world”. Sometimes we think that making the change to do things in different ways – like being vegan – will be too hard for us, or that our small effort won’t count. But it will! Even just eating one less meal that has meat in it, walking somewhere instead of driving or bringing your own reusable bag to the grocery store. Because every single act of kindness and compassion, every single effort to “Help people improve the world” counts, to people, to animals, and to our Earth!

So, from KRC to all of you, Happy Earth Day! Today, tomorrow and every day!

(And thanks to my daughter, Serena, for painting this beautiful painting for me for my birthday!)

Every Little Bit (Button) Counts!

Did you know that over the past year and a half I’ve given out over 3,000 KRC Love and Kindness Buttons?

Many have been left anonymously. In airports, restaurants, stores, art galleries…any place I’ve been, I’ve left a button, along with a small slip of paper: “Plant Kindness. Grow Love”… “Practice Kindness” … “Choose Love”… “Help People. Improve the World”. I never know what happens to those buttons. Maybe people smile when they find them. Maybe they keep them or give them away to a friend or loved one. Maybe some are never found. Or maybe they’re thrown away. I’ll never know.

Sometimes I give a button as a “thank you” to someone I see treating another person kindly. Or to someone who’s treated me kindly! I know what happens with those. I’ve been treated to gate attendants at airports hopping over the counter to hug me in thanks! I’ve had people cry as they tell me their life story – or the current difficulty they’re facing – and thank me for the opportunity for connection that receiving the small button has given them. And I’ve had people who’ve connected with me later on to tell me how meaningful their small button is to them – for many, many reasons.

Sometimes I give buttons to people I see arguing or treating other people in a not so kind manner. I hope the surprise of silently being handed the button – and then reading the words on the slip of paper – will be enough of an interruption (and disruption) to end the dispute. Because really, when it comes right down to it, there is nothing (and yes, I really do mean nothing) worth treating anyone unkindly about.

And even though that seems like such a small and simple thing – like my buttons – or giving out one button at a time – for me, it’s unbelievably important. The basis of my personal and professional purpose and practice.

So, I keep giving out buttons. Because with each small button I give out, I’m deliberately creating the world that I want to live in. And the world that I want my children…and their children…and their children’s children to live in. A world in which each of us treats others with love and kindness – and is treated with love and kindness.

Often, I’ve found that many people feel that they’re passive acceptors of the world around them. And that even if they’re not happy with what they’re seeing, they think that who they are, and whatever they can do is – and will be – too small. That in today’s “bigger is always better” world, small can’t – and won’t – do anything. If it’s not ‘scalable’ (or a big money-maker), it’s not worth doing.

But that’s just simply wrong thinking. Every act of love and kindness counts. Every single effort to help someone, no matter what it is, counts. Everything you do to care for a customer or a team-member, to treat people, animals and the earth kindly, no matter how small it seems, counts. Both to the person receiving and the person giving the kindness. Because every single act of love and kindness, at work or at home, is never too small.

When I came up with the idea to create the buttons, a small voice inside my head said, “That’s a crazy idea. How could something so small possibly help?” But I said to myself, “Self, until you try it, you’ll never know.” And here I am, one and a half years and 3,000 buttons, 3,000 small acts of love and kindness, later. And every single one of them has counted.

So, here’s this week’s challenge. And, as you can imagine, it’s a ‘small’ one!

I give out buttons. That’s me. What “small” thing can you do to deliberately create a better world? No matter how ‘crazy’ the voice inside your head says it is! Because, I’ll remind you again, you don’t have to be a passive acceptor of the world as it is today. With each small choice you make, with each small act of love and kindness you choose to do, whatever form it takes, you can be an active creator of a better world, now and for the future.

So, what one small thing will you choose to do today?

Because every little bit (button) counts.

And, so do you.

(And, if you post a response of what you choose to do, I’ll be happy to send you a KRC Love and Kindness Button in return!)

Email? Or the joy of personal, human connection!?

Good morning! Happy Monday! I have a question for you! What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get into to work this morning? If you’re like many, I bet the answer is, “Check my email!” For many of us, arriving at work and logging into the computer to send and answer emails is such a common way to start our day that we don’t think about it anymore. We just do it. What I wonder though, is how much joy does it give you? How excited do you get thinking about facing the email inventory that built up over the weekend…or…to searching your inbox for that one email a client said they sent but you just can’t find? Chances are, if you answer truthfully, what you’re really feeling is probably something closer to…dread. Honestly, I think that’s the way many of us feel. And not just because although, somehow, email was supposed to make us more efficient…it really doesn’t. (Think about all that waiting for answers, and then the other questions that arrive…or the time wasted scrolling down seventeen emails in one strand searching for the one piece of information that YOU need.) But, because, in the end, email doesn’t create the kind of real, personal connection that we, as human beings, want. Reading an email is just not the same as talking to someone on the phone…or even better…spending time with someone face to face. And often, instead of creating a connection, email actually separates us. Think about the times that you’ve tried to figure out whether the underlying tone of an email is one that you should be worried about.

So, this lovely Monday morning, I have a challenge for you! Take a look at your email, and then, instead of responding with an email of your own, either pick up the phone or go and talk to the person who sent you the message. And, if you have a question or need help, instead of sending an email, give them a call! You never know, you might even be able to meet and have coffee while getting your question answered. Works great to improve team work and employee engagement, and…if it’s a customer you’re responding to…even better! You’ll be able to ask them directly how your service is and skip the survey…all while creating the personal, human connection that each of us craves. The personal, human connection that gives us the joy that we’re looking for in whatever work we do!

CSAT scores…or happy customers?

I went out for dinner last night. At the end of the meal, after processing our payment, the server handed my husband the table-top computer and somewhat sheepishly pointed out the short, 5-question survey, including where the place for ‘good’ scores was – on the right. Nervously, she asked my husband to please fill out the survey and said she hoped she’d been attentive enough and that we were satisfied with the service. Having worked in customer service myself for many years and having been in the same position – basically forced to ask customers to fill out surveys – and give me positive results – I felt sorry for the server. “Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll give you a good survey. And the service was very nice!” As the server looked on, my husband filled out the form. After she left, I turned to him and said, “Disrespectful. Disrespectful. Disrespectful. Disrespectful to the server, and disrespectful to us, the customers!” Here’s why I think that:

  • Before servers are servers, they are human beings! Asking them to basically beg for a good survey, so that they can keep their job, get a raise, or help their particular location meet its CSAT (customer satisfaction) goals is demeaning and degrading. Servers aren’t numbers…a 3 or a 5 on a survey…they’re human beings!
  • As a customer, being asked to fill out a survey while the person who created the experience I’m commenting on is standing beside me is very unpleasant. In fact, it’s downright awkward. Feeling forced to fill out a survey positively doesn’t respect my right to fill out the survey or not in the first place, and, if I do want to fill it out, to comment honestly.

In my view, having the server point-blank ask us to fill out the survey with the highest score possible, shows that the restaurant doesn’t actually care about whether we, as customers, were happy or not! What is shows me is that they are really concerned about how their CSAT scores look on a corporate dashboard!

So, what could the restaurant have done differently? Well, to start with, the manager could have spent time watching the server do their job! Then, based on those observations, the manager could have come and asked my husband and I how the service was…what we enjoyed…and what would have made the experience better for us! We could have had an actual dialogue, and a real, personal human connection! If the service hadn’t been good, the manager would have the opportunity, right there and then, to fix any problems and make sure that we left the restaurant feeling happy and satisfied.  Which brings me to the point of this podcast.

Managing CSAT scores isn’t the same thing as making sure that you have happy customers.

And in this day and age, with so much choice in service options, it’s essential to have happy customers! Because unhappy customers are likely to switch service providers after even just one bad service experience.

I’m not a big fan of customer satisfaction surveys in general. Not just because they reduce our customers and service reps to numbers, but because they present ‘data’ versus actual facts that we can learn for ourselves, from our customers, simply by connecting with them personally and observing and asking.

Taiichi Ohno said, “I much prefer facts over data”, and especially when it comes to finding out how our customers really feel about our service, so do I!

‘Check in’ with people…to show you respect them!

‘Respect for people’ is one of the foundational practices of Lean. As well, the topic of ‘respect’ is one I hear discussed often in all types of organizations. But what does ‘respect’ and ‘respect for people’ really mean? In many of the organizations I’ve worked with (and for) and in many business-related articles I read, respect for people at work seems to be defined as ‘hire great people and get out of their way and let them do their job’. I’ve also heard a version of this from employees working in a variety of organizations: “I know my boss respects and trusts me because they leave me alone to do my work.”

Although this might sound good on the outside (and a lot less work for managers and leaders!), I find it quite problematic. And here’s why:

Because, in most of the organizations I’ve worked with, the other most-often discussed topic is ‘accountability’. How do we make sure that things are getting done, and that people are doing what they need to do? If there’s no ‘accountability’ then leaders are frustrated because work doesn’t get done and goals are unmet, and employees are equally frustrated because new initiatives seem to come along, get going and then fizzle out, often without success.

And why do they fizzle out unsuccessfully? Often because leadership has simply failed to ‘check-in with’ people. Not check on them, to point a finger or blame them if they’re not ‘hitting the target’ or getting results, but to ‘check-in with’ them, to help them learn to work in new ways, put new concepts into practice and remove obstacles and barriers success.

‘Checking in with’ people shows them that you care about them. Not just as employees, but as human beings! Because the people who work for us aren’t ‘resources’ or FTE’s (full-time-equivalents) or ‘heads’…they’re human beings who come to work each day eager to satisfy customers and to contribute their particular and unique strengths, skills and perspectives to help their organization reach its goals and fulfill its purpose.

So, if you’re a leader, here’s your challenge! How can you ‘check-in’ frequently (yes – even every day!) with each of your team members? ‘Check in with’ them to show them that you care about them and value their work (as I so often say: what we spend our time on is what we value)? ‘Check-in with’ them to show them that you are accountable for making sure they have what they need to be successful? ‘Check-in with’ them to help them develop their critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities so they can continuously learn and grow – as employees and human beings?

‘Checking in’ frequently is one of the best ways that I know to show your people that you truly respect them!

And special thanks to Doug Wotherspoon at Algonquin College for inspiring this post! You’re doing a great job ‘checking in’!

Go Kindly! And Give…of Yourself!

Day 5 of the KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Today’s Reflection – and Challenge – is about giving. And I don’t mean giving money…I mean giving of yourself!

Last night I was on a very crowded bus. Definitely standing room only! There was a homeless man sitting across from me. When a woman got on the bus juggling a lot of packages, the homeless man immediately got up and offered her his seat. She gladly accepted! Although we often think about ‘giving’, or ‘paying it forward’ as something that has to do with money, it reminded me that ‘giving’ means much more than that.

So, for today’s KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge…

Find a way to ‘give of yourself.’ Lend an ear, help carry a package, spend time with your children. We are all unique and special and always have something to give others!

Go Kindly! And Listen…With Open Ears, Open Eyes, Open Mind and an Open Heart!

Day 3 of the KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Today’s Reflection – and Challenge – is about listening! With Open ears, open eyes, open mind and an open heart!

Although our sense of hearing might be the first that comes to mind when we think about listening, I’ve come to realize that listening doesn’t only involve our ears! To really listen compassionately and empathetically, we also need to open our eyes to ‘see’ how someone is feeling, open our minds to understand what’s going on behind the words they’re saying (and we’re hearing) and open our hearts so that we ‘listen’ in a kind, caring and helpful way.

So, today, for the KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge…

Listen! With open ears, open eyes, open mind and an open heart! Kindly. The way you’d like others to listen to you!


Go Kindly…And Smile!

It’s Day 2 of the KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge!

Today’s Reflection – and Challenge – is about smiling – one of the simplest and easiest-to-accomplish Random Acts of Kindness that I know!

First, my reflection. I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to smile at each other very often. Whether waiting for a flight in one of the many airports I pass through, or walking out on the street, it seems to me that most people are going about their business heads down, absorbed in their own thoughts or whatever’s happening on their phone! We pass by without even noticing or acknowledging each other – even in the hallways of our own organizations! And to me, that’s a shame, because although it seems like each of us is separate and independent, we’re really all interconnected and dependent on each other! Although you might not know the person you’re passing, you can be sure that, just like you, they have hopes and dreams to fulfill, joy to share and things in their life that they’re struggling with! And just like a simple smile from someone brightens your day – a simple smile from you will brighten theirs!

So, today’s KRC Random Acts of Kindness Challenge (which you’ve probably figured it out already)…is…

Smile! At every person you meet in passing! Wherever you are! It’s an easy way to insure that you’ll feel great – and so will they!


People are never a waste!

Although this may seem like a given, in today’s cost-conscious and ever-more competitive environment, reducing costs by reducing the number of people who are doing the work is common. And while this might sometimes be a necessity, unless an organization has really focused on finding creative ways to remove real waste (transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over-processing, over production and defects, our traditional lean wastes) cutting people isn’t a good idea. And here’s why. Because people, unlike machinery, or technology or buildings don’t depreciate over time. In fact, when we teach, coach and support them, people actually appreciate. With increased experience, people gain knowledge, wisdom and confidence. Then they’re better able to serve customers and find creative ways to improve services and products. And because each person is a unique individual, they bring their own special strengths and perspective. People aren’t numbers – costs to be reduced – and people are never, ever, ever a waste!

More Frequent Contact…not Less!

Last week, near the end of a wonderful lean coaching session, the person I was working with said, “It’s so much easier to learn how to do this with someone to help and support me”. I responded with, “I think that’s true about everything.” And I really do. Whether it’s learning how to work in a different way, or trying a new hobby at home, having someone to help support and nurture us is unbelievably important. Much more important than we usually acknowledge, especially in the business world, where it’s common to hear things like, “Hire people you trust and then leave them alone to get their work done”. Problem is, that means people who are learning are often left to struggle alone. And that’s not fun, kind or caring. So, if you’re a coach – or a leader – and you see that someone is struggling, my suggestion is to increase the frequency of contact you have with them and the help you give them. As I always, say, “We’re put here on earth to help each other. It’s why there are seven billion of us. If we were meant to do everything on our own, there would just be one!”

Karyn Ross Consulting

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