Thursday, 28 April 2016

State of Kind

Everyone loves a random act of kindness. A stranger holding the door open for you. A young man helping an old woman cross the street. Extra marshmallows in our hot chocolate. But how often do we consider performing these random acts of kindness for our customers?
This morning I went to a favourite coffee shop of mine. Let’s call it the “Co-feel Good” for privacy reasons. I go twice a week (I’d go more, but I’m watching my caffeine intake). The “Co-feel Good” sells a new but serious chai made from Soy milk. Not this commercial super-sweet, slightly-spicy stuff. This chai has kick. It burns a little bit. Not only did we come to “Co-feel Good” for liquid inspiration but to participate in their “G-D given gift” of internet speed.

The folks at this place are always nice, despite the fact that they’re up at the weirdest time of hours at a time. Today, the owner behind the counter said to me and my colleague: here try this, its delicious.”  We looked at each other and reached out and took the cup. Had a sip and slipped into heaven. It was absolutely DELICIOUS! It was really good. But as good as it tasted I was sure that it wasn’t going to be as delicious in cash. 

After we had finished our tasks, we went to the till to pay for that awesome cuppa Chai. “And how much do I owe you” I asked the owner. “Oh nothing, its free today” he replied with a smile.
Now I’m sure you’ve been in these situations too where the person behind the counter says a product is for free, but you have to do something to qualify this. So, I waited a moment for the pitch. “…if you buy two.” “…if you refer a friend.” “…share the news on Facebook!”
But it never came, so I asked: “Why’s that?” He responded: “Oh, it’s just customer appreciation day here at the “Co-feel Good.” Thinking they were latching on to a specific holiday, I asked if it was customer appreciation day everywhere. “Oh, no,” he answered. We just like to do it from time to time.”

No strings. No “deals” where you end up spending more money than you intended. No “you only get this discount if you like us on Facebook and specifically ask for it”. Simply, an act of kindness. I love The “Co-feel Good”, but now I love them even more.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Practice Makes Perfect...Sense

In life there is not a perfect anything, but other than something completely dependent upon statistics, perfection simply does not exist. Why then do we insist upon striving for something that isn’t real?
In our world today, the phrase “keeping up with Joneses” does not only seem superfluous, but is replaced by the term “exceeding the Joneses”. Everything that we aspire for, everything that wish to bequeath is all based on fantastical image of something that exists within the quadrants of our minds. Perfection in society rears its ugly head and wreaks havoc far too often in our lives. Perfect grades. Perfect shoes. Perfect hair. Perfect colour coded notes. Perfect skin. Perfect attendance. Perfect life.
This ideal world we design in our minds stops us from being REAL.
And if we can’t be REAL then can we truly be happy?
According Jonah Berger in his book “Contagious”, Berger describes that Brands cannot buy their customers. Sure it can get the word of mouth to spread like a virus, but then the fever starts to simmer down and people return to their original status quo. How then do some Brands manage to create such a loyalty and retain the following .
“It’s about tapping into the human truth. The human insight. The humanity of the brand. The good, the bad, the flaws”.
 That according Berger is where the sweet spot of value lies. How many times will we have to watch a mattress commercial on television that depicts a family gathered in a room on a bed watching the same T.V. show all laughing and smiling at each other with a voice over saying how this mattress is more than a bed, it’s a factor that brings our family together.
A misguided snapshot of reality
But this shouldn’t be viewed as “The end of civil society as we know it”. That’s not the purpose of this blog. The purpose is to reposition ourselves and see the value of being real. Don’t strive for the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect body. No perfection, just practice. Imagine we could live in a world where you put down “good community member” on your CV and your future employee hired you for it. How awesome if our children practiced skills needed to be life-long learners? How spectacular if we practiced being the best parents we can be?
So what is the way we can show our “realness”. Kindness. Kindness is the act where even if you are not doing it for the intended purposes, the action for it makes a difference to the person receiving the notion. Don’t think that one little act of random kindness goes unnoticed, it doesn’t.
Let us not be perfect. Let us not be distracted by the unattainable. Let us show the next generation not only do they see the unattainable perfection, they now live in a world where they have to also show their perfect selves. Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Facebook... What if we changed their conversation in their heads . No more perfect anything.
Just a life in practice.