Pay it forward. Kindness as a value in life and at work.

Watch these two videos and then reflect for a moment what they share in common.

Easy to spot the differences, but reach for the connections, not the differences:

We are at a cross roads. The world is shifting to a higher level of consciousness and social media is the conduit by which we can access this shift in ways that are subtle, constant and authentic.

I just wrapped up a fantastic project with SilverBirch Hotels and Resorts. For the past several years, SilverBirch and its 22 hotels, 3000+ employees have celebrated International Kindness Week by connecting with each other, their guests and communities in genuine and thoughtful ways.

This year we created a Facebook page among other things where employees could share with each other some of the random acts of kindness they were inspired to perform. The stories were incredible.

At one property the staff went out and put coins in people’s expired parking meters with a little note.

At another one the housekeeping team put together gift boxes stuffed with goodies for children in need.

At another they put a crib in the lobby and challenged people to fill it with teddy bears to donate to a local hospital.

In every property, 7 ft tall decals of the SilverBirch tree adorned a wall in the hotel and employees wrote kindness and recognition messages to each other on the leaves. On Nov 11th they showed reverance and kindness to veterans. On another day they creatively raised funds for a local charity of their choice, with the highest total being matched by corporate office.

It was inspiring to witness this year’s Kindness Week close up and it quickly became apparent to me that Kindness is not something that happens once a year at SilverBirch.  Now let’s call a spade a spade… What  Narayanan in the first video is accomplishing is moving MOUNTAINS. SilverBirch employees are not feeding hundreds of starving homeless individuals in India, or bathing the forgotten and downtrodden to give them hope and dignity.

They ARE however exhibiting day to day behavior that supports, solidifies and encourages a culture of being thoughtful to others, of being creative in how to improve the day or life of someone around them, of doing it together.  Kindness to our communities, to our customers, starts with kindness to each other.

Too often in the corporate world  the “values” you hear about in Orientation or see posted in nice frames on the hallways of the company headquarters- are just words. I experienced firsthand the power of an organization walking the talk and allowing their employees to take this concept of Kindness and make it their own.

Just as Narayanan Krishnan in the first video understood the importance of nourishing the physical and emotional needs of the forgotten, so I would challenge that the opportunity for organizations wanting a vibrant employee culture is to nourish not only the typical needs we have from work (a paycheque, benefits etc..) but the intangible needs we have of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, of feeling connected, excited and proud to be part of something that brings out the best in us.

The cross roads is here before us and we have a choice as to how we will conduct ourselves from here on, in life and at work. Which will be the road by which you will travel? The choice is yours.


  1. Ray Hiltz on December 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Christine, I am so moved by this post. I’m a big fan of yours and love how you are taking the “social” element of social media and integrating it into the business culture.

    What you and the team at Silver Birch have done is inspiring. The Facebook page is one of my favourites. I often use it as an example of what a welcome tab should be.

    This post is timely, of course, given the season. It demonstrates the power of giving through the act of kindness.
    Thank you.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ray Hiltz, Ray Hiltz. Ray Hiltz said: Kindness as a Value in Life & Work: (Truly inspirational and timely) […]

  3. Christine McLeod on December 9, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks Ray! I must say it seems everywhere around me there are signs that it’s time for something BIGGER in business and life. People want to be connected to something meaningful in all aspects of their lives- it’s not always about charity work or even pay it forward- it could just be working with people you admire and think are capable, thoughtful and great individuals, or doing work that engages you. Cool stuff.

  4. Housekeeping on December 10, 2010 at 1:25 am

    It’s possible to feel “flow” and focus in every aspect of your personal and professional life. Housekeeping

  5. Gayle on December 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I wish there were more Mr. Krishnans in the world – thanks for posting this video of one person’s love for humanity who clearly knows how to give unconditionally.