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Kindness in business sounds weak and weird. It’s not like there is a weekly reality show following the lives of kind business leaders changing the world. No, the role models are the icon leaders who appear charismatic in public, but in reality are tyrannical narcissists. They may look good on the cover of Forbes, but they’re a nightmare to their subordinates cleaning up the broken glass and shrapnel they leave behind.

However, social media is actually forcing a change toward authenticity and vulnerability. Websites like are rating the CEO and everything else about the company. Leaders are not getting away with poor behavior like they used to.

So I’m curious. What would the rating of your character and your leadership presence be?

Why Kindness?

If you don’t rank a 9 or 10, then my suggestion is to begin the journey into true authentic kindness. Here is why I am challenging you in this area.

Most of us who are out front leading are strong willed, driven, and focused; we get results. It is a necessary trait. In no way do we want to change it. However, the back side of that greatness is an impatient side that is harsh, critical, and down right mean when you are not getting the outcomes you are driving forth. Do you get criticized all the time for being impatient?

I don’t know about you but I’ve been working on being “patient” since my third grade report card, and I constantly feel I’m failing in this area.

Patience Is Defense, Kindness Offense

What’s the relationship between patience and kinds? Here is my take. Patience is a defense move. It is not doing or saying the things I know will be destructive and controlling and waiting. Hard and necessary. Kindness is an offense play. It is proactive. It takes initiative. It is intentional. It is something I can practice and get good at.

Do you think people respect a leader who is disrespectful of them? They may work when you are around and they may do the minimum required to keep their job (aka just enough to fly under your wrath radar.) Until a better job comes along.

It is kindness, not harshness, that gets people to follow and respect you. People work hard and long for a leader who truly cares for them and who demonstrates it by kindness and respect with dignity. It doesn’t mean that kind leaders do not require their people to stretch themselves nor does it mean kind leaders are slow to discipline, speak truth and hold staff accountable. In reality, they do it more because they want their people to grow in skills and abilities.

Think about it: kind parents don’t give in to their children; they train and discipline them daily because of the love and vision they have for them. Speaking truth with love and compassion is one of the greatest forms of kindness.

How to Be Kind

You already know how to be kind. But here are some reminders.

* Think before you speak. Be gentle with your words.

* Be considerate of others. Open doors, look people in the eye, be polite.

* See people as humans not objects. Once we make someone an object we treat them as such. Each person has their own story of hurt, pain, and need. Get to know their story.

* Be friendly. Seriously, just walk down the hall and smile at someone as you say hello. Speak to someone in the elevator and genuinely care.

* Positively reframe situations and see what is right in the situation first. It’s natural for quick problem-solvers to go after the thing that’s wrong and fix it. I promise, you can get to that, but discipline yourself to see what is right in something before attacking the problem. You will get better results.

* Offer encouragement and words that add value to life vs. harsh words that strip value from others.

* Remember that communication is 93% nonverbal. People know if you care, so don’t be fake. Look for something you can genuinely say and mean.

* It starts with you. If you are having a visceral response to a discussion of kindness, you are probably too hard on yourself. It sounds sappy, but practice being kind to yourself. Truthfully, driving yourself with negative self-talk and an “it’s never good enough” attitude is draining the life out of everyone around you. Stop it!

Long-term Results

Kindness will lead to long-term profit, and if practiced in tandem with true leadership and accountability skills, you will see the results on the bottom line. I have found that kindness is a key character trait in every strong leader who last for many years and leaves a legacy that inspires through the generations.

True Life Coaching will be offering more thoughts on kindness this month at our blog. We would love to hear your success stories about trying one of the helpful hints. And please, leave more hints on how we can grow in kindness, or shout outs to any leader you know that practices true kindness. Nothing weak or weird about that!

 Your Coach,

Quotes on Kindness

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
 - Albert Schweitzer

Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.  - Unknown

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. - Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. - Lao Tzu 

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. - Aesop

Kindness and faithfulness keep a king safe, through kindness his throne is made secure. - King Solomon

MVP: People Living Intentional Lives - Mark Rossi

Mark Rossi CEO of Avanti Restaurant Solutions is an ideal True Life Coaching client: A young, driven entrepreneur who wants to truly lead a great company that gets results. He and his team have achieved that, and have continued in their pursuit of excellence.

For five years I have had the joy of doing quarterly meetings with Avanti, and I am ever impressed with the culture they have created and the success they have achieved by living their values and relentlessly pursuing their vision.

On our last monthly coaching call, Mark humbly started telling me about the wins which included four huge industry awards, his newly opened office in Orange County, and his family's move to Laguna Beach to grow the business there while leaving the completely capable Sacramento team in place to carry on their incredible progress. I am so proud of this group of people and of Mark Rossi's leadership and dedication to what matters most to him. (All you Southern California peeps, welcome the man to your hood!)

Here's Mark...

It’s been several years now since Shandel helped us discover what our true core values are and how they could become a rudder for our company through thick and thin. We have done our best to live up to these values over the years, and even if we fall short from time to time, having them there is enough to recognize when we have gotten off track, and what we need to do to course-correct. From performance appraisals to vendor selection to customer alignment, our values have not let us down. We are growing at a rapid pace—two consecutive 60% plus growth years—and I shudder to think where we would be without the vision, mission, and values that we spent all that time working on.

People and Culture

Our people and culture continue to be the most important component for our business. Adding four new people in the last six months has definitely been a challenge to keeping our culture intact. Avanti is very team-oriented and friendly, and trust is paramount. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight, though, and having Shandel come in to refresh/introduce everyone on what I like to call “Vintage Shandel stuff” is key. It is difficult to place a value on how much everyone appreciates and feels refreshed once Shandel is done with one of her sessions. I love the buzz around whose “D” was acting up, or whose “S” was in the way, and who cried this time (it wasn’t me! J ). These sessions have been a key to our success during a very tumultuous time in the economy.

The Values Rewarded

Avanti also has been rewarded externally as well as internally. We are once again on the region’s fastest growing companies list at number 28. We recently were named to our industry’s Distribution Giants Top 100 list at number 100—a humble spot, but this was a major goal of ours since my wife, Lisa, and I started Avanti in 2003. Most importantly, we were named Vendor of the Year for Noodles & Company just two years after taking over the account. That means more to me than anything, because it means that we have become a true partner for our customer and they appreciate us as much as we appreciate them. It goes without saying that this has very little to do with me and everything to do with an awesome staff who live out our vision: To be the industry’s answer to chain restaurant development.

Desire To Grow

Another significant challenge ahead will be to integrate a new office in Southern California which we just opened on August 1st. To smooth this transition and to show the industry how serious we are about this location, Lisa and my three children, Maximo, Genoa, and Santino, have relocated to Laguna Beach, where we will live over the next year to help champion the new office.

We are definitely taking on major risks to, pardon the pun, “forward Avanti” (Avanti means forward in Italian) but they are not without potentially significant rewards. We can’t become the industry’s answer to chain restaurant development without branching out into areas rich in chain restaurant development. Who knows, maybe there is another Avanti office somewhere else in the nation three years from now? (Don’t worry, honey, I don’t expect us to uproot again….)

-Mark Rossi 



We are launching the "Ask Shandel" podcast next week so please follow us on twitter, like us on facebook, and subscribe to our blog  to catch the first episode.  I look forward to your questions!


Are you following the weekly readings of Clarity on the blog?  If not you are missing out on weekly coaching sessions! This week we are on week #14 of Shandel's new book Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.  It's easy to jump in at anytime and if you want to catch up simply match the corresponding post to each week. Find the week # you are interested in learning more about by using this formula in your web browser in w/ week #).   For example, last week #13 is here, check it out .


Do you know the difference between emotional needs and core values?  Many times your needs will blind you to your values thus stealing  your joy and the vitality of  life.  If you need to take a fresh look at your core values and learn what might be holding you back from getting to the next level, Life 301 is for you!

Some things to ponder.  Are you living a fulfilled life or simply satisfied?  Do you make clear, fast decisions because you know your values and your personal definition of success?  Are you at a plateau or perhaps coming off one and ready for a season of personal growth?  It may be time for you to invest in your next level and the Life 301 workshop.

  • Life 301 Workshop is a team workshop guided by Master Certified Coach, Shandel Slaten via teleconference.
  • The group meets 6 times, every other week for one hour over a 90-day period.
  • You will grow via small group accountability,  goal achievement, personal growth assignments, and challenging weekly encouragements.

During the workshop you will:

  • Accomplish one important goal and set the stage to accomplish more
  • Discover the chargers & drainers of your personal Life Battery
  • Gain personal insight utilizing left brain tools to ignite right brain clarity
  • Create lifetime habits that will improve your life, your career, and your relationships

Check out our brochure and register here. Our next workshop begins January 19. We have a great group shaping up and there is a spot just for you!

"It's worth the time and effort!" - Life 301 graduate


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