The Big Idea
Questions I Answer
- How can I be more authentic?
- How can I practice more kindness?
- What can I do to figure out what I want?
Key Topics in the Show
Adrienne’s experience of finding the woman she wanted to become
How she learned to be okay with changing the world one person at a time
Why being kind will bring out your most authentic, best self
What Adrienne does to recognize and practice kindness in the world
Resources and Links
- Connect with Adrienne
This is The Intentional Advantage podcast with your host, Tanya Dalton, an
entrepreneur bestselling author, nationally recognized productivity expert, and keynote speaker. This season is all about strategies for success, helping you confidently step
into leadership, purposefully, intentionally and mindfully. Are you ready? Here’s your
host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Intentional Advantage podcast. I’m your host,
Tanya Dalton, and this is Episode 187. Today, I have Adrienne Bankert on the show
and she wants to talk to us about our hidden superpower. And I think what’s really
interesting about Adrienne is how she looks at kindness as a superpower. And I think
truly, and you’ll hear this in the conversation that Adrienne and I have, when you
start to look at strategies for success, a lot of times we think about what are the big
power moves we can make and how do we make our way to the top?
We have this idea of what success looks like. And I love that Adrienne has us kind of
step back and take a look and notice that, you know, what one of the strategies for
success really is is our kindness: how we treat other people, how we treat ourselves.
Her definition of kindness really did resonate with me. And I’m really excited for you
to hear her message. So let me give you a quick little background on Adrienne and
then we’ll kind of hop into the show.
So Adrienne is an Emmy and Edward R Murrow award-winning correspondent for
ABC News, Good Morning, America, World News Tonight, and Nightline. That’s quite
a lineup. Her compelling interviews with guests range from wounded warriors to
celebrities like Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds–so
many; and she’s gained a lot of widespread attention for her interviews. She remains
committed to the goal she declared early on in her journey to change the face of
Then she’s a regular speaker at events, providing practical and inspirational wisdom
that launches people into the highest and best version of their lives. She is the
author of Your Hidden Superpower, which is what we’re going to be talking about
today because I truly believe it’s a strategy for success. So let’s get into the interview.
Tanya: Adrienne, I’m so excited to have you on the show today.
Adrienne: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so grateful to sit here and chat with
somebody who loves intention as much as I do.
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Tanya: I know, I love it. I’m so excited for this conversation we’re going to have
because I really enjoyed reading your book. And I felt like it really spoke to a lot of
what we talk about here on the show. And in fact, I want to start by talking about a
quote that you have in the book, that’s a Diane Von Furstenberg quote, and she says,
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.” So
I wonder, did you always know the woman you wanted to be?
Adrienne: No, I mean, I had a glimpse. I think that when you’re 12, you think, you
know what that means–when you’re 16 and you’re 21–you know what I mean? Like,
most of us as women are on this quest and at some point, we have this epiphany of
what a woman looks like. I really do. I mean, maybe some people have it at eight
years old. I wasn’t that eight-year-old, but I always wanted to be gracious and
successful and philanthropic and kind, and wanted to use my platform and my
success to help other people and make the world better. Right? I mean, I always
wanted that, but I couldn’t have articulated it in my early twenties. I, I mean, saying
you want to change the world and actually doing something actionable is different.
Tanya: It’s two very different things.
Adrienne: So yeah. And then, you know, there’s people and I think it’s funny
somebody the other day thanked me for something that I said in one of my
speeches and said, you, you changed my life when you said this and thank you for
changing the world, even one person at a time. And I think for a lot of people, they
have a sense of, that’s not enough. They are giving. They are kind, but they think they
should be doing more. And so kind of settling into the woman that I desire to be as
this ambitious world-shaking person, I still had to be okay with the fact that I was
changing lives one person at a time. So not begrudging the journey of becoming a
world-shaking person and not begrudging that one person’s impact to one person
could also be life-shattering in a good way.
Tanya: It’s so true. I think it’s so true. And I love how this idea of what you value is
really what carries you through no matter what it is you do, even if you can’t
articulate it, you know, that you want to do it in a way that has meaning to you and
feels good internally. And I think that’s so important; that really is part of being
intentional. And I think so often we think about success or we think about, or we
dream about our career path, and we think that means we have to work hard, no
matter the cost to ourselves or other people, but you share a lot of personal stories in
your book, on your path to the top. And it’s really clear that you have found that
kindness is a career changer for you. Would you say it’s one of the most important
things to finding success for you?
Tanya: Still human, still human.
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Adrienne: I would say that it was the way that opened the door, like nothing else.
And I think that I share it because I’m so convinced that it will work for anybody else.
You know, I was extremely driven my whole career. I still have that very high
ambition, but it was like getting there, you know, whatever there was, I was getting
there. And once I relaxed a little bit and accepted that woman who I wanted to be
and just did the things that I knew to do; maybe I didn’t know how to get from A to
B, but I knew how to help somebody else and doing that kindness and focusing on
being the solver, you know, being a problem solver, being the philanthropist in my
own way, in my own circles, in my own community, thinking of others, mentoring
others, as I was doing that work and not so consumed with just my own path, it
expounded or expanded who I became. I became larger than the problem, I guess,
in a way; the vision became larger, the heart–I was more wholehearted about what I
was being ambitious about. And then, too, building such a kind reputation. It doesn’t
mean you’re perfect. Doesn’t mean I never made a mistake. Definitely doesn’t mean
that . . .
Adrienne: Still human, but just focusing on, ‘Okay, you say you want to change the
world, but you’re so worried that you’re not going to get there. Your focus is on worry
rather than on your mission. So just focus on your mission of, be kind and be
generous and do the work and just know that it’s going to happen.’ And I know a lot
of people think that sounds cliche. I’ve heard it from a lot of people, but it works. I
promise you I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen in the lives of people I’ve
mentored and coached myself.
Tanya: I think that’s so true. You know, here on the show and with a lot of what I talk
about, I say, it’s not just women supporting women, it’s women building up women .
. . is what we really try to promote and talk about. And being kind is, is part of that
really reaching out a hand to helping out other people, not just always thinking of
yourself. So let’s back up just a little bit, cause I want to make sure my listeners are
on the same page because I think oftentimes when we think about kindness, and
especially if we’re talking about it as a superpower, it’s, you know, it’s being polite or
it’s just being on our best behavior. And you say it’s more than that. It’s a key to
finding connections. I’d love for you to share how you define kindness.
Adrienne: Well, the first definition of kindness is for me, identity. It’s who you are, not
what you do. So whatever you are you’ll do automatically. You know, if you are
addicted to chocolate, chocolate is in your house. You get chocolate. Whenever you
go to the store, chocolate finds you. People give you chocolate as a gift. You’re a
magnet for what you deserve. It’s a part of your life, you know what I mean? You are
a chocolate lover. And so chocolate becomes, you know, large in your life. When you
are kind, then your knee-jerk responses are kindness. You find that kind people help
you out. When you’re out at the store or at work, you find that people are kind to you
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back. You know, they send you letters or gifts or do the things that you care about.
Cause not everybody’s a gifts person. Some people are quality time people. But my
point is, is that when I realized that we, we became so focused on the doing,
performance-based mentality: let’s just do everything right, we ended up sometimes
being stressed out. So I thought, ‘Well, how do you fix that but still authentic? Oh,
you become kind.’ And when I looked it up in the dictionary, it was nature, natural
propensity, and determination as much as it was thoughtfulness, consideration, and
friendliness. And so I thought it’s like our genus and species. If it is that, then every
part of our lives, intentional or unconscious, becomes colored with who we are
without trying. You know, I don’t have to wake up in the morning and say, I’m a
woman. I am a woman. I know I’m a woman. I don’t have to make a checklist about
what being a woman is about. Just the same way I say I am kind. I don’t have to be
convinced. Even if I don’t necessarily act kind in a moment, I can return back to
kindness at any time because it’s who I am. And so I think that’s my biggest
definition of kindness.
Adrienne: My second definition is what you talked about, which was connection
because nice is that politeness. We can be very exact and make sure nobody hates
us. And everybody likes us and thinks we’re really sweet, but that doesn’t necessarily
mean we’re connecting with anybody. It just means that we’re avoiding conflict. I
don’t think that nice is a bad thing at all. I think that people being nice is a start, but
the graduation to kindness fosters connection because kind is extremely
situationally aware. And when you’re situationally aware, you can notice when
somebody is having a moment. You can notice when they need encouragement,
you can hear that inflection in their voice. And they’ll remember those kind acts, it
starts to create this indelible imprint in their mind of who you are.
Adrienne: Even if people are suspicious or skeptical about kind people like you are
too good to be true . . .
Adrienne: They immediately upon seeing a track record notice, ‘Well, that’s who she
is.’ You know, some people are easier to win over than others. But the fact is is you
are really starting to create this thread of connection that’s woven into the story of
your life, imprinted in other people’s memory. And that can bring up opportunity,
that can foster a phone call. If you have that kind of reputation, they’re going to think
of you for the next job or the next opportunity, the next speaking engagement, even
just the next vacation. Like, Hey, you’re cool people. I want to invite you to come out.
So for me, it fosters connection because kindness is always authentic.
Adrienne: People have asked me like, ‘Can kind be, you know, have the wrong
motive?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s not kindness.’ So it’s identity, it’s connection, and it’s
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authenticity because I think that your kind self is your ultimate best self. It’s you not
just on your best behavior, but it’s you acting in the way that you’ve always wanted
to be and how your parents wanted and dreamed for you to be, which was
generous, kind, conscientious, thoughtful, sweet, wonderful, wise, and um, yeah,
Tanya: All those great things. Yeah. And you kind of touched on this in the book, you
go a little bit deeper into this idea that you can’t control what others say or what
they do, but you can control what you’re known for: your reputation. And with that
power of choice, you can make more empowered actions, right?
Adrienne: Yep. You can craft your own story. You know, a lot of people, they talk
about what your social media reputation is. I mean, they don’t use the term
reputation. They just think, you know, right now employers, they go on your social
media accounts, they check you out, they Google you, right? When you’re going to
meet somebody or speak to them, you don’t usually jump on the phone right away
and talk to them. Most people go on Google. I’ve just experienced this. You know, I
don’t have any data on this, but I’ve experienced this. And as an interviewer, you
know, I have to do my research about a person, but it’s the stories that are told
behind the scenes. It’s the stories that are told when you’re not in the room that, to
me, have even more impact. It’s what are people saying–not behind your back, but
what are people saying when you’re not around, about you? What’s the story being
told? And you have more power to craft that story than you may know. Through your
kind actions, you’re weaving this, like you’re crocheting this story and it’s up to you to
author it. And at any point, even if you had, you know, made a mistake, even if you’ve
had done something that you wish you could take back at any point in time, you can
reclaim your story and start weaving it again. It’ll take some time, but the fact that
you are kind . . .
Adrienne: You know, I tell people, even if you do make a mistake, but you’re a kind
person and you’re known for being kind, that kindness remembers you; that
kindness returns to you. People will say, man, you know, I hate that that happened to
you or that you did that, but I got your back. I’m going to look out for you with this.
Tanya: Right. Yeah. I mean, at the heart of it, it’s about being human–that you’re not
going to be kind 24/7. Like, you’re good. We’re all going to have times where we snap
or we say the wrong thing or we do the wrong thing. And then we, ah, we cringe
inside. Right. But I think that’s part of this idea that you talk about that we can, we
can use kindness as an advantage. It helps us make an impact in the world. And that
includes embracing and pursuing a realness, a true authenticity. It’s not about
looking good, it’s about doing the things that you know reconcile inside that feel
good. Would you agree?
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Adrienne: Yes. Yeah, because I think people are craving realness and authenticity
more than they ever have. I mean, I’m in the media industry and I have a really
profound respect for viewers. I think that they’re really savvy based on how much
video content they consume, not just watching news programs, but also being on
YouTube. I mean, kids like they Google and they YouTube everything and they find
the video and they look at these stories and they see people on video shot with a cell
phone and it’s like, this is not an act. You know, this is what real life looks like. I mean,
there’s lots of stories that you want to vet. Um, but that’s life, you know what I mean?
Like, don’t believe everything you see right on YouTube. But the fact is, is that people
are so used to now consuming what they see that they oftentimes can tell the real
from the fake.
Adrienne: When you go to a higher level of association, you know, when you’re
talking to people, who’ve been around the block and you’re talking to people who
are professionals, who are CEOs of companies and some of the most influential
actors and actresses in the world and people who are used to being around tons of
engagement, they can usually smell it a lot easier.
They’re really keen. I call them geniuses because they’ve been around people so
many times they’ve studied the art of communication. And so if you want to go to
the next level, you’re going to have to be more aware of being authentic. And I never
wanted to be one way on television and one way when I was at home and one way
when I was at the grocery store and somebody stopped me and all of a sudden I
have to put on this act or this mask. I said, I’m going to be myself all the time cause
it’s a lot less hectic.
Tanya: Oh my gosh, and less stressful.
Adrienne: It’s way less stressful. And I thought, okay, when people say you are so real,
what does that mean? So I literally would just sit with myself and just kind of think
about what the switch was because that word authenticity . . . Be authentic, be your
authentic self . . . it’s like most people don’t even know how to pull that switch. Like,
they don’t know the difference. So how do you, how do you make it really simple and
practical? And I thought, Oh my gosh, just be kind like your kind self is: your best self.
Your kind self is your realist self. When you’re kind, you know . . .
Adrienne: You think about your doctor: they can be a really cool doctor, but really
disconnected or just distant. And they just come in and they clinically check you out
and they leave. There’s no bedside manner. There’s no, you know what I mean? Like
there’s no connection, but you really love it when you get the kind nurse. You really
love when you get the kind doctor. You remember the celebrity or the athlete who
stopped to shake your hand or, you know, back when we could shake hands, you
know, or sign or autograph your jersey back when that was even possible. You
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remember those people in your mind. And I thought, you know, really, if you’re just
kind, that’s who you really are, that’s authentic. And when I got that light bulb, I
realized this is way bigger than just being sweet to people and being nice.
Tanya: Yeah. It goes so much further than just being nice to other people, being kind
to other people because really it’s, it really is this idea of, you know, even being kind
to your body, you talk about kindness to your team, that there’s all these different
levels of kindness that, that really play into what we’re talking about here. To me,
when you talk about it, it’s like going the extra mile, just doing that little extra
something that, that makes a difference. Instead of being a doctor who comes in the
room and gives the diagnosis, it’s giving the diagnosis and some bedside manner,
right? It’s, it’s that little, little bit extra that makes a difference. So can we talk about
those different kinds of kindnesses, that being kind to your body, being kind to your
team, and what that looks like?
Adrienne: Well, I mean, if I remember, I don’t know when I was, it was during the
writing of this book that I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, if I didn’t nurture
my soul, if I didn’t breathe, if I didn’t rest, then I was going to take that out on other
people. So take care of myself or I’m going to take it out on other people. Cause I
would watch myself get cranky about different things, like, What is that? Those were
the days that I didn’t have enough sleep. Those were the days and I didn’t eat right
and my blood sugar was low or something. But those were the days when I hadn’t
given myself that meditative time to just rest regroup recharge. And so I’m trying to
give people the best of me. And I’m trying . . .
Adrienne: You know, recently, um, on Instagram, Jeremy Parsons, he’s um, a reporter
for People. He said something so good, but he has this mantra when he comes
home as a dad to his kids, ‘I’m going to give them the best of me, not the rest of me.’
And he actually, like, repeats it in his head as he’s coming up to the door to see his
children. And I just thought so many of us are so wanting to give people all of us and
serve and do and be amazing . . . and yet, we’re not feeding ourselves. The only way
that we can give to anyone is if we actually have it in our heart and our life. And so
making the time for me to, you know, in the morning, whether it’s working out,
which I just started doing virtually with a trainer, which is a big deal for me. Huge,
Tanya: Yeah. I just started back to doing some Pilates, like these private sessions and
I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you. My body is so grateful right now.’ Yes.
Adrienne: You know, even when it hurts, you’re just like, well, I can tell I’m alive.
Tanya: That’s right.
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Adrienne: But that time for you, you feel better. You’re not so tight. I’m trying to
invest in one of those body massager things where you can just put it like it’s a gun
and you can like use it on your shoulders and your neck because you know, in New
York, we cannot go out and just go get a massage right now. We can’t get a facial.
We might be able to get a massage now. Cause it just opened up some spa
treatments, but we can’t get a facial. And for me at one time facials were it; like spa
life. Basically I lived for spa life, and yet . . .
Tanya: Who doesn’t?
Adrienne: Yeah. And you know, to go two or three months without a massage or
without a facial for me is detrimental because that was the–that was my outlet. And
so getting creative and finding other ways to make sure that you’re taking care. In
your way, what does your body need? If I have to buy one of those athletic massage
guns, then I will do it just to make sure that I’m getting that blood flow and working
it out. So it’s like, do whatever you need to do because otherwise, you are going to
resent something or somebody. You’re resenting the fact that you can’t be taken
care of or you can’t go and do the things that you wanted to do. So now you’re going
to be cranky with a whole bunch of other people who have nothing to do with it.
That’s the kindness to self.
Adrienne: And the kindness of your crew. Like back in the day, my mentor, he
actually advised me to work as a volunteer. I was working on television in a big
market and he was like, you’re going to become one of my editors and camera
people for my nonprofit. And you’re going to be the best editor I have. You’re going
to be the best camera person I have. You’re going to be the best writer I have. I
ghostwrote for a newspaper that he owned. This is while I’m salaried with the TV job.
But he said I want you to empathize with your crew. I want you to know what it feels
like when they’re under pressure.
Tanya: I love that. That’s so smart. Yeah. It’s like a business where you start at the
bottom to end work. You have to work your way up. Yeah. To really understand.
Adrienne: And the cool thing was, is I was already in a good size market, but I had
never really had to, you know what I’m saying? Deal with a lot of empathy to crew at
that point cause I kind of meteorically landed there and I hadn’t gone through some
of the paces, but he was giving me those paces while I was still working at a high
level on air. And you make mistakes with crew.
Tanya: We make mistakes with everyone, let’s be honest. We make mistakes with
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Adrienne: Yeah, you have communication breakdowns, you have crosswords, but
you learn how important it is to develop that partnership in a real way and keep
those, you know, boundaries. And I talk about kindness to your crew and respecting
them. But I also talk about, and I think it would be mutual kindness to your crew and
kindness to yourself. And in these rules, these codes of conduct that I list. And one of
them is, never talk bad about anybody. I don’t care if this person is your bestie at
work. Just never say a bad thing about anybody at work. Because the chances of
now of things, getting back to people are much higher and that’s, that’s respecting
yourself because you are your own publicist in that moment. And that is also respect
to other people because you don’t want to cause venom or make this person think
differently about somebody else. So I, I, I love the codes of conduct that I put in there
because they’ve served me well. And you know, you learn some things the hard way
and some things you learn because you did it right. And I want people to do it right.
Adrienne: And then, you know, I talk about kindness in terms of scheduling kindness,
because a lot of people think they’re too busy to be kind.
Tanya: Oh yes, we’re familiar with those excuses. We talk about those excuses an
Adrienne: And I think, well, you have enough time to scroll on social media for two
hours so you can make . . .
Tanya: Mmhm, you are preaching to the choir.
Adrienne: You know? So I, I tell people, it’s like my fitness plan, you know, I’m
exercising, that’s great for my body, but how is my heart? You know, a lot of people
want to do good in the world, but they don’t have the passion. And I’ve been there. I
am in an extremely excited person when it comes to doing things that will change
lives. But there’s been many times when I didn’t have the passion behind it because I
was exhausted. Not because I didn’t love people or didn’t want to do the right thing.
It was literally like exhaustion was zapping my passion and zapping my creativity. So
I thought, okay, what do I need to do to get back to that? And number one, I asked
myself the question whose heart are you drawn to right now? Who did your heart
break for? What, where’s your compassion pointing to?
Adrienne: You know, there are people that you notice, whether it’s homeless people
on the street as you’re walking through your neighborhood, or it’s the pictures of the
medical workers inside the hospitals while you’re scrolling social media or watching
the news, or it’s another group of . . . maybe it’s children who you see playing outside
now finally able to get to the playground in some cities, but don’t know when they’re
going to go to school again.
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Adrienne: So if, if you follow that warm impulse to help a certain group of people,
you’ll actually start to clarify your own vision and renew your passion. And following
your heart in that way, will give you the opportunity to be more wholehearted in
everything you do versus just doing things because you know, it’s the right thing
and checking things off a list. And then just real quick, the strangers kindness, I call
strangers fast friends. I think that you can connect with anybody very quickly
through kindness. I listed a number of examples and I thank people when I see them
doing kind things. So if I see somebody holding a door open for somebody else, I
thank them for being kind. If somebody on the airplane helps with my baggage,
without me even really knowing or asking, I’m always super grateful. And I thank
them because I want them to know that it pays to be kind. I want them to know that
there are still people in the world who recognize that kindness matters.
Tanya: Yes. I’m really big on the Thank Yous. And I thank my team. I think thank you.
Is one of the most underutilized words in the English language. We could all stand to
say, thank you a lot more. Thank you for the big things. Thank you for the small
things. Thank you for the in-between things. It makes a, it makes a huge difference
in brightening someone else’s day.
Adrienne: Appreciation is really what everybody wants.
Tanya: It is. At the end of the day, that’s what we want. We want to be appreciated.
We want to be seen. We really want to be seen. So let me ask you this to close out
the interview, What do you wish for most? When people close the cover of the book,
what do you want them to walk away with? How do you want them to challenge
themselves to help live their best life?
Adrienne: I would really want them to see that being kind is their identity because
we live in a world where we’re told everyone is special, but we don’t really quite know
why everyone is special. Then how am I even special? You know, how can we all be
special? And I think that for me, when I found out that kindness was like your
thumbprint, that your version of kindness and your expression of kindness will be
completely different than mine. That you can actually get outside the box and
brainstorm ideas of kindness that I’ll never think of, that that will be my way of
touching the world because we need a world where people recognize how
wonderfully unique they are So that eliminates competition, that eliminates
comparison, that eliminates low self-esteem. Just knowing how treasured and
valuable their contribution is to the world that they are unduplicatable and then
giving themselves the time to help develop their own kindness practices will make
the world a much more real and wonderful place.
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Tanya: I love it. And what a great way to close out this, Adrienne. Thank you so much
for coming on the show. I know you and I are going to have some fun and do some
random questions, which we’ll be posting in my Facebook group . . .
Tanya: . . . After we close out this recording but thank you so much for coming on the
show. I really feel like your message of kindness is one that we all need to hear. It’s
something that a lot of times we take for granted or we don’t think about, and it
really is so incredibly powerful. So thank you so much.
Adrienne: Thank you, Tanya.
Tanya: I have to tell you, I really enjoyed chatting with Adrienne. And even after we
closed out the episode, she and I chatted for a few minutes without the recording
going and she genuinely is exactly as she presents herself: very kind, very thoughtful,
and really just incredibly intentional, which of course, you know, I love.
Now, if you enjoyed this interview with Adrienne, I know you’re going to really love
her random questions. We had a really good time diving into some questions like,
who would she like to interview and the best advice she’s ever received.
Lots of great little nuggets that she shares and that’s going to be over in my
Facebook group. Just go to Tanyadalton.com/group to request to join. There are lots
of little bonuses from the podcast in there. So I would encourage you to head on
over there. You get a little extra info on Adrienne and some behind the scenes of our
podcast together. I’ll have all the links to connect with Adrienne on my show notes.
So you can definitely get those at Tanyadalton.com/podcast. And her book of course
is available anywhere books are sold. We’re going to continue our season on
strategies for success next week, by talking about overwork and how it’s not really
helping your productivity. But first, I want to challenge you to find some way . . . a
little teeny tiny itty bitty way that you can be a little more kind today to three people.
Three people, just a random act of kindness: a kind word, a compliment, because
truly I have to agree with Adrienne. Being kind is an intentional advantage.