Today's blog in the #BeTheRippleBlogs series is a co-authored piece from Scott Leiper and Joanna Suvarna, entitled 'Our Kindfests - Virtual Celebrations and Educations of Workplace Kindness'.
Scott is the genius who had the initial idea for Kindfest, it was what we lovingly term "his brainchild". He is a UK based, global training and consultancy professional who is the creative genius behind Cognitize by Imaginocity, The Learning Lab and also Virtual Punks in partnership with Kirsty Mac. Jo is the first one who listened and believed in his idea!
You can find Scott on LinkedIn: Here and on Twitter: @ScottLeiper, @Cognitize and @virtualpunks1
You can find Jo on LinkedIn: Here and on Twitter: @JoannaSuvarna and @BeTheRipple2020
Over to Scott and Jo:
Our Kindfests - Virtual Celebrations and Educations of Workplace Kindness
Kindness is not always seen as a priority in the workplace. Traditional workplace cultures can often be competitive and performance-driven spaces - often focusing on fixing what is broken, rather than celebrating the abundance of the great. Often prioritising profit over people rather than understanding that prioritising people is the way to bringing more profit.
If Coronavirus and political wrangling has taught us anything, it's that kindness counts in large amounts. When we are present with others and recognise and value people for their contributions, we can see the visible difference it makes - as Robert Ingersol said, "We rise by lifting others".
We ran something called #Kindfest2020 in September this year, it started as a conversation between two friends (Scott and Jo) and as soon as Scott had the spark of the idea for Kindfest, what we lovingly term his "brainchild", we knew that it was an amazing concept and we started getting to work on organising it. Within a week of us having the conversation, we already had main speakers and activity facilitators lined up and had created our first event flyer:
The flyer shows the first people we spoke to and the list of people grew from there, with most people we spoke to showing kindness in wanting to be involved in the event in some way, as speakers, facilitators or as attendees.
Everyone involved had the same wish: the wish to make a difference in the world and to bring more kindness into workplaces and wider society.
We wanted Kindfest to be a virtual sandpit featuring stories, conversation, activities, tools and live music. The ethos behind the event was to inspire a ripple effect of kindness, bringing positive practices and individuals together, raising the kindness conversation higher with a hope that the experience would be taken back to workplaces and bring about positive change - essentially for attendees to #BeTheRipple.
The event was a real success in terms of people feeling uplifted, more positive and wanting to make a difference in their workplaces and the world. It raised thousands of pounds for our two chosen charities, BulliesOut and Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and we had some really wonderful feedback:
One attendee, Lucy Howard, picks up our story with her own experience both of the festival and the power of the platform we used for the event, Remo…….
"I was invited to Kindfest in my role as Digital Communications Officer for BulliesOut and had no idea what to expect from the two hour event. However, my attendance there left me on a high for the whole day. I spent the morning listening to, and chatting with, people who feel that kindness is the best quality that we can bring to all our interactions. A great frame to put you in a positive mood. The speakers were inspiring and the hosts made me feel as though I had known them for years. I immediately felt welcome and warm inside - a bit like I was experiencing the equivalent of a virtual hug. My assessment at the end of the day was that my mood had been noticeably uplifted post event and actually if every day could begin with that feeling what a great way to start the day.
Working in the cyber world I have read a lot about how our virtual interactions miss the personal touch but I have to say my experience at Kindfest felt the complete opposite. I, along with the rest of the attendees, listened with interest whilst one guest speaker in particular brought the room to tears. No mean feat to achieve to a large audience of people watching online. But it led me to think about it all long after the event had finished and reassess my opinions on our virtual networks.
There is a common illustration that often circulates on social media – where a teacher blows up thirty balloons and writes each child’s name on one of the balloons. The teacher then asks each pupil to find their name. When they can’t she then suggests they all pick up the balloon nearest to them instead and give it to the person whose name is on it. In doing so they all find the correct balloon in record time. My thoughts on virtual networking after Kindfest very much centred around this illustration. If we all attend a virtual networking event for no other reason than to promote ourselves, our companies and what we can sell to another then arguably people are right and the positives to virtual networking are slim. But, if we apply the balloon logic to it and instead use it as an opportunity to promote kindness and see what we can learn from, and offer to, another then what a successful environment it can be.
Perhaps instead of looking at it as ’virtual networking’ what we should instead be doing is looking at it as ‘getting to know new people’ because when we go into a room with that mindset we don’t immediately try and sell everyone present our business idea or our product. We get to know them, we ask about them and find what we have in common. Perhaps if we start taking that approach to online networking events we would leave having created some genuine, tangible relationships.
Kindfest showed me what can be achieved in our online interactions when kindness is at the forefront. It highlighted what an impact being kind can have on our mood for the rest of the day. And we can all make that change. We can all make the effort to start our day with just one act of virtual kindness. I have been left uplifted and inspired as to what can be achieved. I’m excited for what the future holds. The future is online… and that future is kind."
The wonderful feedback, coupled with our own uplifting experience meant that we wanted to continue our journey around the globe and so, thanks to Perry Timms for connecting us with Becca Smith and then Becca bringing Dom Hever into the mix, we have partnered to bring you #KindfestUSA on December 11th 2020:
#KindfestUSA will bring together our HR, L&D and Leadership communities to explore the topic of kindness, care and love, focusing on bringing you inspiring stories, tips, conversations and activities - an interactive mix of learning, inspiration and fun and an event that will leave you feeling more positive and wanting to take that positivity back to your workplace.
Our motto for #KindfestUSA and future Kindfests that we will run in different parts of the globe is simple, to:
Make Every Day a Kindness Day!
We would love you to join us on December 11th to experience Kindfest USA for yourself, it is a donation 'pay what you can' event and every cent of donations and sponsorship money will go to charity.
There are two parts, each at different times of the day with different lineups, so you can get the maximum kindness in one day! Please note that to attend both, you should purchase a donation ticket for each.
If you'd like to purchase tickets, you can do so: Here
Since we ran our version of #Kindfest2020 in September, there has been another version that was run by someone else too - kindness is something that there can never be enough of so seeing others holding similar events and creating similar movements is heartwarming and gives us more hope for the future of the world - together we are stronger and can #BeTheRipple that creates a huge wave of positive change.
#BeTheRipple was born in May 2020 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, created to bring people together and to encourage positive change to our working worlds and wider society. As with our Kindfests, it is not about making money for ourselves, it is about making a difference and raising money that can help charities ripple out into their communities, making more of an impact and creating ripples that have no logical end.
I (Jo) often wonder 'What if?' (which fittingly is the theme of the blog series that Gary Cookson is currently running):
- What if money wasn't a priority for people? Would everyone be kinder, more collaborative and more concerned about others?
We hope to see you on Friday for #KindfestUSA, in the meantime, we would like to leave you with the thank you video that we ended our UK Kindfest with in September, a video from the incredible Sophie Ellis Bextor:
We hope that you will join us for #KindfestUSA and help us to make every day a kindness day!
If you are not yet a member of the #BeTheRipple community, we would love you to join us. You can find us on Twitter: @BeTheRipple2020 and/or in our LinkedIn community: Here
Thank you so much to everyone who has been involved in our #Kindfest2020 and who is involved with our upcoming #KindfestUSA this week, whether as a facilitator, a speaker, a sponsor or an attendee, we appreciate you all hugely.
If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send to me via LinkedIn.
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: