Kevin Monroe

Kevin Monroe: How gratitude transforms you and your organization (#328)

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Kevin Monroe envisions our world touched and transformed by gratitude — by the power of gratitude, the experience and expression of gratitude.

He believes gratitude experienced is better than gratitude explained. And that gratitude is best experienced in community.

To that end, he creates environments, hosts encounters, and curates experiences allowing people to explore, express, and experience gratitude.

His most recent gratitude innovation is the I’M GRATEFUL FOR YOU Movement that is transforming workplaces, communities, and congregations around the world.

Watch our interview

Media links:

Learn more about Kevin Monroe
I’m Grateful For You
Grateful App
Grateful Lockscreens
The Gratitude Exchange

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Transcript

Fei Wu 0:00
I’m here with my new friend. Hello, Kevin Monroe and Kevin, you’re just saying something about your last name and how your dad reacted to the family name. Please continue.

Kevin Monroe 0:09
Well, well, you you asked Did I get asked about Maryland? And I said, Well, my dad always called her cousin Maryland. Right. And Monroe wasn’t her real last name, but he always loved referring to her is cousin, Maryland. So Fei, I’m just excited to be here. And for us to the fan, I met what the first day of this month is when we met. And this is our first time one on one in conversation we met as part of a small group, and I’m so excited to be here with you, and all of you, you that’s watching whenever you watch, thanks for tuning in.

Fei Wu 0:43
Thank you for tuning in guys, we won’t be able to see all of you know humans face to face, but our countdown you know, our you know, person count, it’s not always accurate. So please, do drop in, say hi, ask us any questions. You know, and, you know, we will love to answer questions related to what it’s like to be a creator to create a movement to create a challenge. So Kevin, before we jump right in for those those of my audience who are not as familiar with your work, I want to give you a quick shout out and quick intro. That’s okay. Fine. All right. So everybody meet Kevin Monroe, who created you know, really, this, this movement, I’m grateful for you. And you know, I have these cards, I’ll be showing you guys these envelopes that Kevin has sent to me, I’m really touched by it. Because Kevin envisions our world touched and transformed by gratitude, and by the power of gratitude, the experience and the expression of gratitude. And I know that we talk about this all the time, but how do you practice? How do you integrate it into your daily life is something we really want to share with you. And he believes gratitude experience is better than gratitude explained, and that gratitude is best experienced in the community. To that end, he creates environments, hosts encounters and curious experiences, allowing people to explore, express and experience gratitude. His most recent gratitude, innovation is the I’m grateful for you movement that is transforming workplaces, communities, congregations around the world. And I’ve listed his contact information, links in the description, wherever you’re watching this on LinkedIn, YouTube, social media, so please say hi, please go check out his work. And with that said, Well, it’s our today’s chat. Yeah, Kevin, I would like to jump right in to say like, what, what was your What was your origin story? Before? I am grateful for you? What did you do? Where you’re a banker, I’m just pretend I didn’t read any of your bio.

Kevin Monroe 2:45
That’s okay. Oh, wow. Okay. So fail. Without going through all of the 63 years that it’s been, and I don’t mind saying I’m 63. I don’t want to go all the way back. But I will go back 50 years and say, when I was 13 years old, there was something there was a desire I had then that I’ve had ever since then, I want to make the world a better place. I want it to matter that I’ve lived and I think it should matter that you’ve lived and who you watching, we want it, we want to make a difference in the world. Now, I jokingly say and people that are of that age, they remember the Coca Cola commercial, like on the heels of Switzerland, a whole bunch of young people, somebody playing an acoustic guitar, I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I don’t know if that’s what started it or what Fe but there was always this desire to make the world a better place. And so you know, for me, it was a zigzag path of the ways I tried to do that. But there’s a through line that runs through that it’s always this making the world a better place. So I worked in corporate America for over 15 years. Then I went and joined a high tech startup that wanted to make a difference in health care. Now, we didn’t know that the we didn’t know that there was this thing called the internet bubble. And we didn’t know that that bubble was about to bust. Right. But But we got on the end of the bubble, the bubble busted. And our company went down the tubes. And then I was trying to figure out what’s next. And I started working for a not for profit organization. You know, and if you think back to the early 2000s, it seems like the not for profit world pretty much had a lock on the make a different sector. And then things started changing. So 2005 I started a business, and the business is called X Factor consulting. And if that business were a software, we’d probably be on version 5.3 of the software because the company doesn’t look anything like it did back then. Except that we’re still trying to make the world a better place and make a difference.

Fei Wu 4:59
Wow. Coming from software, by the way, I also studied computer science and math. So I do relate to and have also worked in the software industry. And yeah, early 2000. That was interesting. That’s exactly, exactly when I came to the US. So I can’t believe that and yet more time now, at this age compared to the time I’ve spent in mainland China, very interesting. So, you know, I see that you now have multiple web properties. I don’t even like to call them that. But I love visiting your website and just see how soothing how clear the message is, you’re not trying to overcomplicate things. So you have a couple of Kevin monroe.com, you have, you know, I am grateful for you as a domain, and how, by the way, how did the the idea of the Kevin Monroe brand come into place? That’s your personal brand. And then the I am grateful for you?

Kevin Monroe 5:53
Yeah, so and then I do owe you an origin story of the gratitude work, I don’t want to come back to that in a moment. So we started this business, I started it as X Factor consulting, right. And we tried to build that brand, or we built that brand for a number of years. And, and then in 2015, I met a friend, and I guess this was in the early days of personal brands. And my friend, Mike Kim, tells me, you know, hey, you need to, you need to launch a personal brand. And so that’s when Kevin D. Monroe came around, because Kevin Monroe was already taken as a domain, basketball player or something. So I landed on Kevin demon row.com. And, you know, in even in that phase, it’s been several things. And I appreciate you saying that the, the website is clear. Now, if it’s clear now, and we’re working to clarify it even more, let me assure you 2015 2016 2017, it was a mess, right? Because I didn’t know what we were doing. And then to get back to the origin story real quickly, 2018. And I remember the date, and I can show you the date, in a journal, April 17 2018. I woke up in a really dark place. And I know what depression is like, and I knew I was on the slippery slope of going somewhere dark into despair. And that’s not really where I want to go. I’ve been there before. And so I have morning rhythms and routines, even though like this morning, I was up 430 This morning without an alarm clock. I’m usually up between 435 515 without an alarm clock that day, April 17 7:30am, still struggling to get out of bed, right. And I just finally get out of bed and there was no zeal for life. It was just darkness. And I’m a person of faith. And I cried out, I was in a prayer. Just a mentor had encouraged me invited me to join him praying daily. And when he asked me, he said, Would you join me in 15 minutes praying a day, I’m like, dawg, I haven’t prayed 15 minutes in the last two years. I’m not quite sure what you’re asking me to do. But that day, April 17, was day 744 of this journey of just sitting in silence a few minutes a morning. That’s what it means for me, opening myself up reading some inspirational words, you know, scriptures, praying, asking God to speak trying to if there’s something to say, and that morning, I just cried out. Spirit, you are the spark of creativity sparks, something in me sparks something in me. And 545 minutes later, what sparked in me was the idea for a program. And the program was like, 85%, fully formed. And we launched this program that we call the extra ordinary experiment. Because, you know, I don’t know you, you know, I look at failure. I mean, okay, I’m gonna put you on the spot. When you look in the mirror, do you see fake the extra ordinary superhuman? Or do you see fake? Just, you know, gosh, I’m just ordinary fe? I don’t know. I mean, maybe which do you see? Because I will tell you I see. Kevin, ordinary guy.

Fei Wu 9:09
You know, that’s such such an interesting question. Actually. It’s very deep. I think I think I have different visions for myself. There’s maybe a version, the two versions you described, maybe there’s somewhere in between that maybe sometimes less than ordinary. You know, and then I want to you know, this is this is reason why I want to pause on this because I think what do you see when you’re facing the mirror by yourself as opposed to someone else explaining to you we’re encouraging you should feel a certain way. Or do you tie your own identity to a recent event such as you’ve interviewed a really famous person, you’ve done something you’ve appeared on some magazine, like do you see yourself better greater than that version?

Kevin Monroe 9:55
So some kind of external validation, right? There was something that says you’re You’ve arrived, you have this measure of stature and status because of these things. For people who feel ordinary, but want to live an extraordinary life, that’s what we set out for. We did this 13 week journey. And each week went a little deeper. And with a challenge and inviting people to do something week one was just the noticing challenge, just be aware of what’s around you. Because most people are totally absorbed, absorbed, right walking around with their head in their phones, not even seeing the other people around them going through lines, never even talking to other people because they’re just self absorbed in this little bubble. Well, Week Six on this 13 week journey was gratitude. In fact, it was the first time that and this is 29 2018. When we did this part, first time I’d ever thought our gratitude and being thankful the same thing. And when we tried to explain it in a video, I realized there was a difference. So then I was on the journey to discover that difference. Now, I’ll fast forward into June 2019. In early morning, seven o’clock in the morning, I hear these four words, host a gratitude challenge. And it was with a question mark, it wasn’t a command. It wasn’t, you know, go host a gratitude challenge. It’s just like host a gratitude challenge. Well, I had a guy coming on my podcast that I had at the time, who had written a book on gratitude. And he was going to join me for episode 101. Because I wanted to ground the second 100 episodes in the good soil of gratitude. So I call up Steve, I said, Hey, Steve, what do you think if we hosted a gratitude challenge? He goes, great idea. Count me. In fact, I was expecting him to ask all kinds of questions and push back and said, count me in. So then I called my friend Christy, and said, Hey, Chris, do you want to help us pilot gratitude challenge? Sure, count me. And so we jumped on zoom that afternoon. In an hour’s time, we develop the plan. And a week later, we’ve announced it a week or two weeks later, we’ve launched it. And that’s how I kind of got into doing gratitude focus activities. Now something amazing happened in the weekend before we were going to launch another friend who whose name is Steve, Steve Brown. If you’ve seen this, Steve, you got to know I’m still grateful for your extravagant generosity that you show to me all the time since that time in July 2019. Steve goes, Hey, Kevin. I have a Twitter group, a global Twitter group on Twitter. Can I share this with them? Like Thursday? Sunday morning, he calls me Hey, Kevin. I write a blog. Can I put this in my blog today? Sure, Steve. So we busted our Fannie’s Fe because we lost a week of July 4, we weren’t thinking how crazy that is. July 4 fell on Thursday that year, July 5, we got 100 people. And then Steve hears about this. So from two o’clock Saturday afternoon, to 12 noon on Monday when we close the doors because we ran it as a closed cohort. 190 additional people joined us because of Steve’s extravagant generosity. So we have 290 people joining us for this 10 day session. On Tuesday, I noticed something. There are 100 people on a waitlist, because Steve’s promotion efforts just didn’t stop, right. There’s people still like, oh my gosh, then there was this question. It was a bit rhetorical. What do you do? We’ll fight we ran it again. Weeks later, we started another 10 day challenge. We have 349 people join that second one. And I ended up hosting 22 sessions of that 10 Day gratitude challenge. And we ended up having 3000 people close to 3000 people from eight countries of the world. Join those gratitude challenges.

Fei Wu 14:00
Let me break that down. First of all, there are people there like five, six people watching us on LinkedIn. So thank you so much for watching. Send us your questions. And it is such a incredible Oh,

Kevin Monroe 14:14
Danny Daniels, a friend of mine. I haven’t seen her in years, but she’s one that’s popped in with a message. So hey, Danny.

Fei Wu 14:20
Fantastic. So Kevin, part of the people you know, who are watching this, you know, we have some shared, you know, common friends as well, like Chris Michelle, who introduced us. And you know, I think it’s incredible to say and to witness in the past few years, like a lot of people that I saw just came up with this idea. I want to start a challenge. I want to start a movement. Danny loves you, Kevin, and and what point did you realize like when you look back to say, Wow, I really want this thing to work or I have no idea what’s going to happen. We’re going to do it anyways. But for this challenge to become so successful, what are some of the tipping points? People, Steve, as you mentioned, but let’s just say what if Steven didn’t show up? What would the experience have been? Would it still be worth it to if if 3000 People didn’t show up? What was the decision?

Kevin Monroe 15:17
Okay, so let me I want to answer the question Fe and I’m going to answer it. I’ll come back. This one it just kind of unfolded, right? It unfolded. I wasn’t real sure. But let me I’ll answer it two ways. The one is, folks, six years ago, I remember hearing these four words on a Sunday morning. And it’s how I’ve tried to live my life and run my business since then, more lead less driven, more lead less driven, having good ideas, just pop. I hate Gordon. I’m so glad Gordon’s here we can have some fun with this within a few minutes. But this whole idea of I want to do inspired work. So when an inspired idea knocks at my door like that one did host a gratitude challenge. I over the last, I don’t know seven years. And I can give credit to a mentor and friend of mine, rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo innovations, author of joy Inc. and chief Joy officer, been a friend of mine for 12 years. Now, when I first met him, I remember him saying, Kevin around here, we don’t burn the ships, and we don’t boil the ocean. We just run the experiment. Now fate for me, who is still a recovering perfectionist, and I think the longest I’ve ever gone without a complete relapse is two days. You just get wigged out over trying to perfect something. But this idea of running an experiment is so liberating to me. Because it’s like, hey, we don’t have to get it. Right. Right. Know, when an inspired idea shows up. I believe I have two initial responses and responsibilities. Number one is to say yes to the idea. Open the door, let it in, right. Number two is do something, take some kind of action. So if you notice when I told this, talking about this with June 17 2019. The moment the idea came, I picked up my phone and I called Steve. Hey, Steve, do you want to do this with me? Here’s an idea. Right? So that’s throwing it out there in the world and it’s creating some accountability. Now I’ve invited somebody right to to join I’ve voiced the idea. So an idea shows up say Yes, take action, then I invite Christiane. Now, I’ll fast forward a little bit. In for January, 2020, before the world went crazy, before the world went crazy. A friend of mine Tracy Fenton, oh, man, Nick Bullis. Oh, we’re gonna have some fun. We got some we’ve got some. We’ve got gratitude advocates here. Some of whom started as skeptics fe, they didn’t believe when they joined. We can talk about that in a moment. But my friend Tracy Fenton, who leads world blue asked me what I do a webinar for her leadership cohort. I’m like, Sure, Tracy, what would you want me to do it on? She’s like, da, gratitude. Now, I will tell you that the first time I realized I had become the gratitude guy. Gratitude was just one of these things. I had been dabbling in before them. But at that moment, it was like, Oh, this is my work. So we set out to do a gratitude encounter that was supposed to happen in April of 2020. Like three weeks after the world went crazy, so we don’t end up getting to do that until August of 2020. Then, and one thing that I called a gratitude encounter, my friend Tracy said, Will you host a webinar? I’m like, oh, no, no, no, I’d love to do something on gratitude. But I don’t think you need a talking head for 45 minutes, you should be grateful, you know, blah, blah, blah, you know, and then you ask, are there any questions? And of course not because everybody faded off, you know, 40 minutes ago when they just realized you’re talking and she said, Well, what will you do? I said, I’m gonna let me think about it. So a couple of weeks later passed, I’m on my morning walk and I get this idea. And I stopped without my phone, open Evernote, in outline what became a gratitude encounter in seven minutes. The whole thing was just there, like, Oh, here’s what I want to do. And then September 10 2020 rolls around And I’m on my morning walk again, I walk every morning. And this question entered my mind first of all of the things that energize and excite you, Kevin, what is the one thing that has the broadest appeal and greatest impact? Now, if you’re familiar with the book, the one thing that’s kind of where that, you know, maybe the one thing thinking came about what’s the one thing instantly I knew my answer was gratitude. So then that day to answer your question, I, I thought, what can I do to go into the gratitude business full time? And how do I get started? I didn’t know. But I just knew this is what I wanted to do. While I had hosted a gratitude encounter one time. So say that day, I put on the calendar, seven sessions of the gratitude encounter starting October, the first Tuesday in October 2020. And I booked them through April 2021, first Tuesday of every month still do these to this day. But that moment, I committed to do seven. To see does this concept work? Because I know me if I committed to do one or two, and not enough people showed up on the first or second time. Yeah, this isn’t gonna work. There’s not a market for this. I didn’t even know there was a market. Right? I just did this. The first one that we do. A friend of mine Tobin shows up, he’s like, Oh, my gosh, Kevin, this is amazing. Did you know this is a commercially viable service? I got no, I didn’t. Will you help me? market it as a commercially viable service? So I mean, there’s a lot we can unpack here.

Fei Wu 21:44
Mm hmm. For sure. For sure, I think,

Kevin Monroe 21:47
right, the value of asking for help.

Fei Wu 21:49
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you clearly have a lot of passion for this. And, and you’ve already you know, people are raving about your brand they’ve joined in, I would love to unpack and show my audience. And people are watching this say exactly like you said, you have to do these things more than once. I think about my YouTube journey, which remains to be an experiment since 2019. I have to pivot. You know, I have to make change happen. So that’s absolutely the right attitude. One question from Gordon, Kevin, how do you sustain a level of enthusiasm and energy every day? Because that’s what you constantly project? Ah,

Kevin Monroe 22:29
that’s a great question, Gordon. I’m not sure. I mean, I’m really not sure. I can tell you things I do daily. Right. So when I wake up in the morning, my wife and I were parents of two children. We are empty nesters. I am an early riser. My wife clan is not right. So I have a couple of hours every morning to myself. And in those early morning hours, I have things I do. Every day I journal. I sit in silence. I listen to a meditation. I pray I read, I just this year, I started wanting to sit in silence five to 10 minutes a day doing nothing, just trying to be still. I have a dear friend, mentor, Oscar Trimboli wrote this beautiful little book, deep listening. And I love doing this fight because this shows you how little the book is right? There’s the palm of my hand, deep listening. Oscar and I were doing a listening program together two years ago. And he asked me, What’s the difference between silence and stillness? And I’m like, I don’t know, let me think about it took me a moment to answer. And then I realized silence for me. silence for me is the external environment. Right? We I can make things quiet in my environment. not have any noise, right? It’s quiet at 435 o’clock in the morning. But stillness is something totally different. Stillness is what happens in my mind. Right? And then when I was trying to answer Oscar, this question, I’m like, you know, I can think back to the zoo. Oscar. I love going to the zoo. When I go to the zoo. I love watching the monkeys. And Oscar said, well, stillness. How do you define us it? You know, I saw it because I talked about having monkey mind having monkey my right thoughts. I mean, there’s so many mornings I wake up, my wife will say you woke up two o’clock. While something was on my mind. I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. So I start working. I start writing. That’s monkey mind. Oscar said, Well, what do you do in monkey mind? I said, Well, you know, stillness is when it’s that time in the monkey pin. And have you ever been to the zoo when it’s nap time? And the monkeys are just, you know, usually there’s just you know, swinging everywhere you go in at night. I’ve time and they’re just all spread out and there’s zonked out. Well, that’s what it’s like to have stillness for me. It’s when all of those crazy thoughts, oh my gosh, New Zealand is in the house. Fantastic New Zealand a Dallas didn’t New Zealand is in the house. But that’s what stillness is. So silence is stilling the outside stillness is silencing the inside, and just sitting with my thoughts. And back to your point, realizing I am enough, and what I have is enough, right? And life is enough. And just being at peace with that, but that gives me energy, I don’t know. And then people give me energy and seeing the difference that you and I all of us have the opportunity to make. Those things inspire me when somebody has a breakthrough. And, you know, I’ll just say that one of the people in the thread here, way and he is allowed me, I just said it was a guy, he’s allowed me to say this, because he’s self identified. When he joined one of 2021, we started hosting these 30 Day journeys, 30 days in the power of gratitude. And this friend was in the very first one. And it’s like, on day 28, when he says, You know, I started as a skeptic. I didn’t believe this gratitude stuff. But now I do. And I can say this to you fight. And because we’ve had this conversation in the last month, he’s still a believer, almost two years later, still a believer in the power of gratitude. Now, that energizes me, that excites me, another person joined us. So I use this tool called Mentimeter. Do you know Mentimeter? So it’s a tool that uses text messaging to allow interaction of people in the audience, right, whether you’re a live audience, virtual audience, so you put up a question and people can type in their responses. And Gordon, Gordon Gordon is my friend that said he was a skeptic. So we ask these questions. What word or phrase would you use to describe your your experience of these 30 days and the power of gratitude? The very first time I asked that question, Fe, these two words appear on the word cloud, and it’s anonymous, so I don’t know who’s saying it, right. But all of a sudden, I see resurrection, and rebirth. And I’m like, what? And I asked, hey, the person that wrote resurrection and rebirth, would you talk about this? And my friend, Portia Watkins. Now Portia is one of these three people? Right now we are we are in day 22 of our 10th session of 30 days in the power of gratitude. Portia Watkins is one of three people that’s been in all 10 sessions by all 10 sessions every one hour. But she was there the first one she because that was me. She was the first year of COVID, I lost six friends and family to COVID. In her job required her to be on site every day during COVID. So she’s dealing with all of the the fears and the frustration, and life had just become a challenge. And through gratitude, she reconnected to purpose to zeal for living. Now, as the guide that excites me, that energizes me, a couple of sessions later, a young lady, mother of three is with us. And as we’re going through these 30 days, she sharing that anxiety is so overwhelming in her life, that she has panic attacks, panic attacks regularly. And there are times she’s even pulled off the side of the road on the interstate, and a first responder will stop to see if she’s okay. And she would say, Yeah, I’m fine. I just need a few minutes, you know, my car is fine. I’m just processing something. That’s the kind of panic so the end of 30 days, we’re having a celebration session, we ask this question on the word cloud with Mentimeter of all you know, what, what word or phrase would you use to describe these experiences? And all of a sudden, the word tranquillity shows up on the screen. And I’ve never seen that before. tranquillity. Well, this, this woman said, Oh, that was me. You all know my story, and of the anxiety, the level of panic. I went through these 30 days in the power of gratitude, without one panic attack. In fact, I felt that nudge to gently ask, how often does that happen? Her response, never. Never do I go 30 days without a panic attack. So those kinds of things energize and excite me because it and people frequently dish Why’d these encounters these experiences as transformational life changing? Inspiring, uplifting? So fake the opportunity to do that kind of work that matters? That excites me? Every single day?

Fei Wu 30:14
Hmm. Yeah. I mean, that’s a very complete answer to what Gordon was asking about for sure. And I think I’ve worked on including my own project Feisworld, and the ability to work on a number of projects really taught me over the years of how grateful I am, first of all, to have my friends near me having these creators to be part of my universe, my world. And they do inspire me every day. And I think it’s also important to break down the barriers to think you know, this is your maybe it was your passion project, you I don’t think it sounded, you know, the word money has not even come into the ether. And you are doing this because you love it, and we can all feel it. So my question is, what’s your advice to people who are doing something that they’re really, they feel powerful? They feel like they really should do even they must do? And is taking maybe time away from their own projects, you know, family, friends, their free time, but they really want to do this, how do you help people understand that see, clearly, and then understanding whether there is a monetary outcome? Or not, you know, how do they balance that? You know, the thought there, a lot of people are too embarrassed to even talk about what feel like it’s just not right to talk about money. So what’s your what’s your take on that? You’re You’ve committed a lot of your time and energy into this project.

Kevin Monroe 31:46
Yeah, I have in so I want to fully disclose here Fe asked me, could she ask me this question? I said, Yeah, I might not like my answer, Fe, but let’s talk. And you know. So I’ll just be honest here. I don’t have the revenue nut cracked fully yet. Right. We’ve had some amazing I’m looking at my optimism is fueled by Magri. I saw that quote. Some on my optic, Michael J. Fox says my optimism is fueled by my gratitude and with gratitude, optimism is sustainable. I love that. Maybe we’ll come back and talk about that a little more. from a revenue standpoint, right? The thing that’s interesting, and so many of us have these roller coaster right? happens, I mean, fight a year ago on the same day, right? So two years ago, my friend Obon sees this and says, you know, this is this is this is a commercially viable service. So we did smaller companies, even in 2019. I mean, in 2020 2021, on the same day, I received contracts from two of the leading companies in the world on the same day, I’m like, How does this happen? Right, then, Weiser signed me up for work. And now the interesting with both of those. One was a one time event one was a limited term project, there’s still opportunity to do more, we haven’t cracked the nut for doing more yet. Right. So those are things and then I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest companies in the world, the most recent one was Amazon, do a project with one group inside Amazon. Well, now I want to figure out how to do work with all of Amazon, right? One division of Amazon Web Services, why can’t we help all of them? So that’s it, to me, that’s where it’s a relationship quest. Because all of these things, I mean, they found me, I would not know what door to knock on inside organization as big as Amazon or as big as Pfizer, or as big as PepsiCo. But people had seen the gratitude encounters we were doing, people had joined a gratitude encounter, which is absolutely a free thing I do on the first Tuesday of every month. And then people come and then they ask, Hey, do you do this for companies? Yes, I do. Would you do it for our company? Of course I will. Right? And then you start building that. But it’s just this again, it’s experimenting. And I have a friend right now in the corporate world that wants to jump out and do something else. But it’s kind of, you know, wins the time, right? I don’t know. There’s no one set answer for everyone.

Fei Wu 34:41
So one thing I this is me jumping in and hearing some opportunities, and I like to kind of present and just share those ideas. Because you approach a lot of people and I can see that some of the folks who are very close and dear to your heart who are part of the group most likely have a lot of Connect shins, you know, their own companies, for instance, the companies they work for, or maybe they’re entrepreneurs, literally, it’s their company. There’s more leverage there. And even just helping, like spread the word of how something is done. Because I think what I have noticed with content creation, and you know, part, there’s something I’m really passionate about, which are like, I don’t like the word brand deals, sometimes called sponsorships, you know, or like collaboration with brands, is I noticed that brands do want to understand how to break down, they yes, they want to know the impact, and people have positive feedback in general. But a lot of the times, they want to kind of see how the, you know how it’s made, you know, what happens behind the scenes, how you’re able to wrangle and engage with an audience of any size, like you said, sometimes a small group, I love small group exercises, four to five people, a dozen or so people. There may be wondering like Kevin, is there a version where you can do a town hall size? Experience? And the answer most likely is yes. So I think if there’s more opportunities to show how it’s done, plus people’s experience, and connecting the dots of you have 300 people, 300 soldiers, and each one of them, probably at a minimum will have a few 100 connections on LinkedIn. I can imagine when these soldiers are telling like field stories, there’s definitely going to be a ripple effect. What do you think of that?

Kevin Monroe 36:21
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Fate. So the first Friday of this year, I had this idea of inviting people to be a gratitude ambassador. Now, and I want to make a distinction. This wasn’t to be a Kevin Monroe ambassador, this wasn’t to be my brand ambassador. It’s just like to be a gratitude ambassador. But now for some of those people, they want to do both. They want to grow gratitude in the world. So the only qualification to be a gratitude ambassador, at least at this point is to one believe in gratitude, and to believe the world needs more of it. Right. And if you want to do this, we started a group on LinkedIn called gratitude ambassadors. Now, some of those ambassadors have opened doors into their companies. That’s how I got into the big pharmaceutical company, right? Somebody opened the door and said, hey, you need to talk to somebody here. Right? So this idea, I heard a gentleman say this, you don’t focus on building your resume, you focus on building relationships, right? Because it’s somebody that says, hey, I experienced this. This was amazing. I want to introduce you to somebody. I’m going to read this.

Fei Wu 37:36
I love this question, Simone. If I type anything, you will be able to see it. Because LinkedIn doesn’t allow me to reply to comments. This is a great question. And after what Kevin has to say, I have something to add to this as well. The question is, the question is for people who are listening to this as a podcast later on it Simone, Joe Moore said, is the belonging to tribes within a company, debilitating OS in large, complex? You know, again, I’ve seen this happen in consulting and advertising. What a great question, Kevin, what do you think?

Kevin Monroe 38:10
Is the belonging to the tribes within a company debilitating us?

Fei Wu 38:16
Like creating silos or we’re copywriters? We’re friends, we’re designers. We’re friends. Let’s not be friends with a project managers.

Kevin Monroe 38:23
Oh, okay. Okay, now I’m getting Okay. Okay. Wow. Yeah, it is. Okay. So, what you know, first off, I was so excited just to see a question about belonging, because I believe that that’s something that excites me, Fe, we all have this innate longing for belonging, we want to be seen heard and valued. But yes, if you find a place where you are seen, heard and valued, and then you you, you stop being seen, heard and valued from anybody else, right? You’re not open to that. You’ve got hay that the six of us the 20 of us the 50, we’re, it’s us. It’s us. And now it’s us against the world. Right now, that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy, I don’t think. And we do see that in big companies. Is that Yeah. You know, I would, I would even take it a little further somehow. And it’s not just silos, people create empires. And then they pit their empire against somebody else’s Empire, and they’re wanting to expand their empire. And if it’s not their leaders idea, they don’t want to support it right, if it’s not our idea, so I think we just need to boss those to some degree but still have belonging. Now say you had something you wanted to. Yeah.

Fei Wu 39:37
I think it’s really true. I think some of this Simone and Dallas, I agree with you, I’ve witnessed this and in my 20s In my early 30s. It’s a really difficult situation. So I just want to acknowledge that I think, especially coming from consulting and marketing agencies, there’s a tendency that you have witness when an entire department Until let’s say is removed from the company because a particular skill or offering or service just are no longer supported by the company and that can be very harsh. So that is internally some sometimes this is unspoken, unsaid is, oh, we got to stick to each other. copywriters are the best designers are needed forever. You know, digital is not important. You know, these things can be very difficult. Even if you personally feel differently about how to, you know, be stronger, let’s be friends with everybody, let’s really make connections. If your team doesn’t feel the same way, that it’s hard to sell that message. So one of the things that I have done is, I think, number one, decide that you’re going to be different, you might create a different situation for yourself. So I did something because I wanted to do honestly, it’s not like I’m here to piss off somebody. But I started a digital production learning group, which was started by my you know, it’s about our department but I purposely walked into every everyone it copywriting PR TV ads, commercials, I walked into every department and invited people to join the group to talk about their discipline, and what they have learned and people loved it. And HR even stepped in and started ordering free pizza for us. And that was such an invaluable experience. And I didn’t have to be the Know It All either. I was no expert. I only know you know, slice of the pie. And I think I really kind of reunited people, in a way in a very unexpected way, kind of the Kenyan way as well. So try something that works.

Kevin Monroe 41:33
You use the word that I loved when I heard you say it, and then heard you expand invitation invite to invite invite, you know, the end of February 2019. I noticed there were five Fridays in March. So this was an experiment, I started hosting, I thought, what if I host a Hangout every Friday at 12 noon, because I had that window and that window, opened it up to people in Europe as well as people on the West Coast of the US. So I started hosting what was just called a Hangout on Fridays. And I saw week one I wasn’t real sure nine people showed up. We weren’t real sure what was going to happen it we had this wonderful time, week two, the value proposition started becoming clearer. Week three, it was growing like crazy. So how did you get here? How did you find out about this? And the answer was always the same. Oh, so and so in Miami, I was invited, somebody invited me. And I started recognizing this phrase. And and I coined the phrase, wow, the power of invitation, the power of invitation, what if we just invite people in? Right? We don’t erect walls to keep people out. We we lower the gates open the doors and invite people in. And when we extend an invitation, people are just as free to say yes, as they are to say no. Right? And and it’s just crazy. But you started inviting people. And you started creating alliances and finding allies in those author departments, because there are people that feel like what you feel and believe the way you believe. So why don’t we make allies with them over this cause, rather than, you know, create little fiefdoms that we’re now trying to fight against each other.

Fei Wu 43:24
Very true. And I think one of the things, Kevin, that I noticed is, I know that you come from a history of working in software companies and many different career paths potentially. And you’ve met a lot of people along the way, personally, for me to look beyond the, you know, the corporation I was working for was really helpful, because trust me, you know, as a younger person, you know, like 510 15 years ago, it was so essential, it was expected of me to work very long hours, nights and weekends. So I get it your your your work, friends are supposed to be your buddies, your family and I trust me, I build an incredible, you know, really incredible relationships, people I’m still in, you know, in touch with and supported throughout the pandemic. But it was so essential for me when I started the show, you know, Kevin is now episode, I think 328 Right now, I think I’ve memorized it. So I’ve spoken with over 300 people, having spoken with over 3000 people because of the gratitude challenge. And you start to see a whole new picture beyond what you’re looking at, you know, who you’re interact with every day. And that is huge for me. And one example would be, I want to just like throw it out there. One of the guys I interview said, I just want to be able to, you know, bring my kids to school and stand outside of school at two o’clock to welcome them home. It sounds so mundane. I said, I want to be there for my mom’s medical appointments. I don’t want her to walk in and talk to the doctor by herself. And that was that was such a Northstar and realize that’s the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. And I said that wouldn’t have won’t be possible because I don’t know anybody who can do that in my circle. And when I started the interview, I have 20 people than 50 than 100 people who show me the way and then what I realized as possible. Okay, so

Kevin Monroe 45:12
I’ve got I’ve got, I heard this, quote, 20 years ago. First time I ever heard it. I was in a meeting, it was a town hall meeting Barbara Sable, from the Kellogg Foundation, she shares this. Relationships are primary, all else is derivative. Relationships are primary, all else is derivative. And I know some of the people here have heard me say that in sessions, because it’s what my father taught me, but it was a little more refined, you know? And so what that creates for me, Fe is this desire, okay, when you and I met, right? We had a mutual friend, Chris, that invited 12 people to a 90 minute conversation. Chris was the only one of the nine of the 12 people I knew, I didn’t even I didn’t even read the invitation the first time because I’m looking for something else. And then all of a sudden, I start seeing people respond, I realized what we’re being invited to. And I looked at this, and Chris loved it. But I mean, because I just shared, I went and looked up everybody’s profile, including yours that was on the list. And I just I asked this question, will my life be richer? From spending 90 minutes with these people? And the answer was absolutely. Now fate. This hasn’t even been a month. So Chris and I talked in the last hour, I mean, 30 minutes before I was talking to you, I was on a phone with Chris about something we’re doing. And Chris tells me you all were talking last night. It’s not even been a month. And I’ve I’ve I’ve had five one on one conversations with five of the 12 people that were there. I’ve been invited. Michelle Cheney was on with her last week creating content for content college, right and been invited to be a pick my brains with Maxine, pick my brain that brains pick my brain. Great. site, check it out. All of this, because we invested in relationships. And now I’m here with you. Because I said yes. You said yes.

Fei Wu 47:21
Yeah, exactly. We just give it a shot. We didn’t know how this is gonna go. Kevin, you’re one of the newest friends that I’ve had. And we had a very, this is the first one on one. So give it a chance. How bad could it be? And so far, it’s been very pleasant. And I’m so thrilled to be connected to your friends as well. So one more question from someone Oh, this is more like it. This is more like a reflection. It’s so true. I think it’s the most that I think people have forgotten our work. Charred heart lines are not the only part of our Nexus but the sidelines, dotted line connection with other teams is just as important, sometimes even more. So more important. And somehow I just have to agree with you. Because, you know, I realize sometimes people within the same domain, same expertise, might even have some sort of weird competitions going on, you know, as opposed to when you look at any company, any organization, you don’t only have designers, you don’t only have bankers, you need people from it from design from strategy to really work more cohesively together. So you’re absolutely right, Kevin,

Kevin Monroe 48:26
there’s a book, Benjamin Hardy authored the book, but it’s Dan Sullivan’s idea. And the book is called who not how, and when you’ve been taught to think that the answer to every question we have is, how can I do that? How can I do that? And Dan Sullivan, Simone says, The real answer is who can help me? Right, mapping that out? It’s not how can I do this? Well, who do I know? Or who do I not know? But I know somebody that knows, that could introduce me to the answer or help me find the solution. Rather than thinking how do I how do I how do I? So the answer to every How do I do that question is a who can help me answer?

Fei Wu 49:12
Absolutely. And I Kevin, I really want to respect your time we have about like five minutes or so left, and I want to cover and kind of get in there and talk about the idea of doing following your passion maybe you know anywhere 2030 50% of the time, and then you know in terms of revenue and make sure that we can all pay the bills be comfortable be responsible for our family for ourselves that it’s okay to work on something you know on the side maybe that’s a part time job maybe that’s a full time job a part time job. So I will be very I want to be very transparent and vulnerable by saying yes at one point you know, in the in the future, hopefully the near future I get to work on face world, the podcast, documentary, YouTube videos and all that jazz 100% of my time. I don’t do that I haven’t haven’t done that really consistently on a full time basis. So I do take on clients, you know, I do work on YouTube strategy for clients, I have a phone call tonight at 10pm. And because the client is based in Australia, so there’s certain it’s not a sacrifice, I still very much enjoy the consulting side of things. So Kevin, do you mind speaking to how you’re able to balance this passion project with maybe working with companies and also doing other types of work?

Kevin Monroe 50:30
Okay, so you know, I mentioned that I’ve 17 years I’ve had my business, that business originally started working with nonprofits doing strategy and leadership development, board retreats, strategic planning. Now, you will not find that anywhere on my website, because that’s not the work I’m aspiring to do now. But I have legacy clients for whom I still do those projects, right. And when one of those or when, when a client is referred to me by one of my legacy clients, a new client, I will entertain doing that, because those things help pave the way to get to the passion work we want to do. So I think of it is this two things? One, how do we extend the runway? Right? How do you get just more time that you can keep the plane flying before you have to shut down? Or? And the other thing, gosh, how do we get more oxygen? Because when you when I when when when you feel that squeeze of money? What do you feel like you feel like I can’t breathe, right? I don’t have enough oxygen and we need oxygen to survive. So do whatever it takes to keep the lights on the bills paid while you are creating that that you want to become in and then recognize relationships are going to be what opens the door, someone is going to see what you’re doing know what you do, and make an invitation that an introduction that becomes part of the answer, right? And then you know, it’s this balancing thing. Maybe it’s 7525 At some point, then it becomes 5050. And then all of a sudden, it’s now 75 percents coming from your new project. That’s right. And you just keep going until you can do all of it this.

Fei Wu 52:31
Yeah, absolutely. I love the transparency. This is something we have to talk about guys. I think it’s so much so many of us creators are thinking about zero to 100, either all or nothing. It’s just not how it works. So I love this new comment from the reinvention perspective, a new key trend is

Kevin Monroe 52:53
oh, what is? Okay, how awesome. Who coopetition right, balancing cooperation and competition, collaboration and competition. So people that might have been adversaries in the past are now collaborators or CO operators, right? Because there’s this new approach. And the other thing is, how do we raise the water for all the boats on the river? Right? You know, I had a friend a couple of weeks ago, introduced me to somebody by email that was starting to do something in gratitude. And my response was in the person’s name was Lizzie, and I remember typing go Lizzy go, how can I help you? And my friend, Melissa responded to me brought tears to my eyes. She goes, that’s why I love you. I knew that would be your response, not like, oh, oh, no, somebody else is trying to get in the gratitude space, you know, how do we shut them down? Rather than how do we go, Hey, we need more people doing this. Because there’s 8 billion people on the planet. Maybe you saw that last week right there now 8 billion people. I don’t believe I have the capacity to serve 8 billion people. But I want eight, all 8 billion to be exposed to gratitude. That’s, that requires all of us doing this.

Fei Wu 54:22
That’s right. Another great question from Simone. But what techniques to carve out that balance of keeping the lights on versus passion? What are your favorite way or ways? Yeah.

Well, I mean, I think you mentioned one, right? Operations.

Kevin Monroe 54:45
Part of it is doing whatever it takes. And okay, so let’s be transparent. Fine. You mentioned something I’m gonna I’m going to I’m not really good at this. I want to get better at this. I want to get better at this. Asking people to help asking people, Hey, do you know somebody that you could introduce me to? You’ve seen what we do? Is there somebody you know, that could benefit from this? Would you make an introduction? Right, rather than than just trying to take it all ourselves and, and I will tell you one of my favorite books, I was looking for it, it’s laying around here somewhere. Oh, the boy, the mole, the fox in the horse. Do you know this book, The boy, the mole, the fox in the horse. It’s a children’s book. But it’s a great philosophy book. Two things out of this, that will be done. So it’s a boy that then meets the the mole and then they go on they meet the fox and they meet the horse. And then at one point, the boy ask the horse, what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? Ask for help. Yeah. And to recognize that asking for help is not giving up. It’s refusing to give up. Right, so we need to get better at opening the door and asking people for help.

Fei Wu 56:11
I think that’s a such an important message. Everyone, especially for women. Women have the tendency, there are a lot of women who are watching us at the moment. There. We always prioritize everybody else, whether that’s a spouse, your friends, family, your children, sister or brother, everybody else when we always come in last. Yeah, we’ve been educated that way. Right. It’s a selflessness. It’s this, this somehow this attribute we have to hold on to. But you’re absolutely right. Kevin, like asking for help has been one of the most challenging things. And I’m working on daily. I feel like that’s the thing I’m working on. You know, and I believe I know that at the beginning. You mentioned you mentioned depression, mental health. It’s an absolute real thing. And I think it is for people like us who have experienced who have the almost in a way privilege to, to be able to see it to seek help. To understand it better, is so important, right? And I think just connecting the dots and asking for help is so essential. And to believe that people around you, they love you, and they want you to be successful, and they want you to be happy. And if somebody turns you down, so what it’s just for me it just not. It’s not right now, not right now doesn’t mean never. And I have other people to turn to.

Kevin Monroe 57:29
Yeah, absolutely. And then Okay, so the book I have listened to most in the last year and a half. And there is a reason why it is the seven decisions by Andy Andrews. And I listened to it on Audible because Andy reads it himself. And he’s such a great voice talent. When their voice characters. He’s a comedian used to be a comedian. And you know, so if they’re different voices, you get all of these characterizations. But there’s seven decisions. The seventh decision, I’m going to tell you, this is why this is the secret. This is why I keep listening to this book, I’ve never listened to it eight times. I’ve not listened to any other book eight times in the life ever. Seven decision, I will persevere without exception. I will persevere. Other people will persevere until it gets tough. And then they quit. And he tells the story of an Aboriginal tribe of rain dancers, that when they dance, it rains it rains. And you know, in Australia, one of the white community leaders is calling for help and ask the chief of the Aboriginal tribe, what is the secret to your success? When ever you all dance, It always rains in the chief says it’s simple. We don’t stop dancing until it starts raining.

Fei Wu 58:57
What’s the name of the book again?

Kevin Monroe 58:59
The seven decisions,

Fei Wu 59:01
the seven decision,

Kevin Monroe 59:03
the seven decisions. So folks, I’m just telling you don’t stop. Don’t stop and do whatever you have to do to get oxygen in the tank to extend the runway to keep doing what you feel so passionate about doing. Ask for help. And then yes, of all, then, then persevere. And just keep at it don’t quit. And that’s one of the things that I kind of laugh at. I mean, I have a friend we what’s our greatest strength? Our strength is our our reason, you know, we just won’t quit. The way we would actually say if we’re too dumb to quit, right? We just keep going. Whatever you want to say. But just keep going. So yeah,

Fei Wu 59:51
so many comments. I realized even if I pin the comment right now, and they won’t fly in until like the new ones here, but you know, actually I’m going to do this For, I want to thank everybody who is here with us. If you want to drop us any final thoughts and comments, you’ll be on screen. But I want to thank everybody who’s tuning in, I know how precious your time is. And I know most of you are here for Kevin, I hope you learned something. And being able to have some key takeaways from this. And Kevin, like, before we wrap up, there’s one thing you want people to do to think about, before we part ways what would that be?

Kevin Monroe 1:00:27
Oh, it is so simple. By what if we all do this right now, but I mean, as soon as this is over, what if you think and just whoever is the first person that comes to your mind, who is somebody that you are thankful you are glad they are in your life, however, they’re in your life, friend, relative, employer, co worker, whoever that is. The next thing you do, take a moment and send them a text message and say, I’m grateful for you. Here’s why, however you say that, send them a message, just like me, I’m so happy that you’re my friend. I’m grateful to have you in my life. Every time I host a gratitude encounter, Fei and I did this yesterday, this time yesterday, I was with a group, a tea company, Yamamoto Yama, tea, and we invited people to reach out and people get stories back. And you may send a message to someone who’s really in the on the brink of despair right now. And all of a sudden your text message telling them you’re grateful for them. It sparks hope it it is a bit of light for them. So send a text to somebody, and then come back and post in the thread what happened or send me a message? And if Yeah, there are several people here that I know, a couple I don’t think I know, Simone, but I promise you I want to know Simone before this day is

Fei Wu 1:02:01
so true. I meet so many people through live streams. And you know, we follow each other. And it’s amazing how we can help each other just discover the content that we produce more. You’re not alone, guys, this is just you’re not alone. You know, there are a lot of success stories out there. Everything seems easy overnight. But no success is measured by decades. And I want to take a moment and just just show you guys, you know what I’ve received from Kevin, you know, not only I get my own envelope, but I also get two packages of friend of face world. And on the back it just like look how beautiful everything is. I’m grateful for you. And it doesn’t incredible, like these are the cards that you can get from I’m grateful for you.co. So that CO you know, you can hand this out to people I feel like yeah, I’m gonna go to farmers market and just like, you know, hand to random people and doesn’t have to be people who know me really well.

Kevin Monroe 1:02:59
So my friend Vicki that works for Pfizer, she goes and she, wherever she’s at work, or you know, at the Panera brand last week, she’s picking up an order for the team. And she gives the person writes on the back a little note how grateful she was for them. They were amazing. The person didn’t speak English didn’t understand. The manager came up and pick the card and explained to her and all of a sudden she’s crying. She’s crying. Because the expressing gratitude transcends culture. It transcends language. It’s amazing. So when you tell somebody, I’m grateful for you, here’s why you will make a difference in their life. And, and many people will respond, fight and say, You made my day. Yeah. So that’s what we all get to do this afternoon. So let’s do it. Let’s go make somebody’s day.

Fei Wu 1:04:00
Let’s do it. Guys. Thank you so much for joining us today. Be sure to check out Kevin’s work, Kevin, you know, Kevin’s website, as well as I’m grateful for you Dotco. And yeah, start spreading the love. And I hope all of you have a wonderful day and I’ll see you next time when we go live. Bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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