The ROI of Kindness

EPISODE 69: Best-selling Author of ROI of Kindness, and expert on leadership, change and team-building, Brian Biro is the guest on this week's Growthcast. Brian and host John Locke discuss breakthrough leadership, how to energize our teams, and how to build relationships.



[0:00:09.7] JL: Welcome to today’s edition of DHG’s GrowthCast. I’m your host, John Locke. At DHG, our strength relies on our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG’s GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace.

Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow's needs today.

[0:00:42.3] ANNOUNCER: The views and concepts expressed by today's panelists are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.


[00:00:55] JL: Thank you for joining us today on what I know will be a very uplifting and enlightening GrowthCast episode. My guest today is Brian Biro, known by millions of people as the world's breakthrough coach. He's delivered over 1800 presentations around the world over the last 30 years. He's the author of 15 books, including his best seller Beyond Success and his brand new the ROI of Kindness. Brian was rated number one from over 40 speakers at four consecutive Inc. Magazine international conferences. Brian was recently honored as one of the top 10 Interactive keynote speakers in the North America and one of the top 60 motivational speakers in the world. A warm GrowthCast, welcome to my good friend, Brian Biro.

[00:01:44] BB: John, you how I feel about you. You're one of the greatest people I've known in my life. I mean that sincerely. Being on your show is an honor and you did Brian Biro’s bio flawlessly, so we're off to a great start.

[00:01:56] JL: To our point earlier, I maybe even pronounced your name right.

[00:02:01] BB: You did. I am so excited to have you today Brian. I’m excited about your new book. I’ve been a great fan of yours for years watching you develop your career and speaking and just impacting lives, through all corporate America and around the world. Let's go back to the beginning here. Because I know there's always a few people who would listen to a podcast this who don't know you. This whole thing about being the world's a breakthrough coach. I know you've written 15 books and traveled the world speaking, teaching, team building, leadership coaching, but what prepared you for really doing this important work and being the breakthrough coach that you become?

[00:02:47] BB: Well john, I think the foundation is been the same throughout my careers. I've had three careers and that is I have a tremendous belief in people. I believe that there are no overachievers. That every one of us has more in us than we recognize very often. My first career, I was a swimming coach. You relate to that, since your daughter was a fine swimmer, and an incredible young woman. That's a great opportunity to understand that you really don't coach swimming, or coach basketball or your coach people.

Also great preparation to be a motivational speaker, because their hands are in the water, you have to really learn to get that noise out there. I loved it. I was I enjoyed that career. My team became a very successful team. I realized that I had no balance in my life. I'm probably the only person anyone on this show has ever heard, who went to graduate school to get a life instead of a job. I did, I ended up going in my corporate career became a vice president of a large transportation company, and then of a large international training company.

It was when I was at the transportation company that I started doing team building on our own organization, because we really were at the point where we could have floundered. it was Everybody said, it's the market. I said, No, it's not the market, it's not the economy, it's us. We have to learn to work together. That's when I started doing team building for our own organization to bring operations sales, the home office together, had an incredible turnaround. At the peak of that, I said to my wife “We're doing great, let's quit, I want to go do that work that I've just started doing.”

For 30 years, I've been doing this work that I love so much as a speaker and an author. That's the path. The common thread is this belief that we when we control our controllables, when we focus on what we want to create, that we have so much more in us and my joy is to help bring it out.

[00:04:44] JL: One of the things, among many things that I love about your perspective on life and people is that you state that we're really all leaders, and but most of us have been raised to think that they're just leaders. Then there are a lot of followers. Tell us about your perspective here. What is breakthrough leadership and it's focused on controlling those controllables that you just alluded to?

[00:05:07] BB: I think the starting place of understanding that we really are all leaders, because what is leadership? We use that word a lot, but we rarely clearly define it. Leadership is nothing more than making decisions. Any decision make is an act of personal leadership. Long before you started your career as a CPA or whatever it is that you're doing. You're the CEO of your own life. How do you show up every day? That's a huge part of leadership. How do you deal with this? We've all been dealing with for the last 15 months. How do you deal with uncertainty with challenge with enormous change that has a big part of your leadership.

Probably most important of all is what impact you have on people. Do you lift people up by who you are? You're already a leader but my passion is about helping young people understand that they're what I call breakthrough leaders and breakthrough Leadership is about controlling three controllables. Now, when we're controlling our controllables, life is good, we feel momentum, we feel confident, we feel we know where we're going.

It's when we try to control uncontrollables that we get worried, scared, angry, frustrated, and there's three foundational controllables that really, we have a choice about that can change the whole trajectory of our lives. The first is to shape our future. That's about vision. The controllable is our vision. The second is to energize and engage our teams. Now, before we can energize and energize our teams, we have to energize and engage ourselves. the third is to build people, build teams, build relationships.

No matter what your position is, no matter what industry you're in, never forget that the foundation you're in the people business is the relationships you build. It's how you grow and learn and how you help others elevate themselves. That's not only going to determine how successful you are in your career, but how much joy, how much impact you have along the way. Those three controllables, shape your future, energize, engage your team, build people, teams, and relationships are the controllables that will lead you to breakthrough results.

[00:05:07] JL: Well, I love the simplicity of that the three controllables. Thinking about how we spend our time and what we're focusing on. We're going to talk a little bit more about that later. The reality is, that there is an attention that we need to have towards, how we're showing up, and how we're investing in the people that are most important to us in our lives. The one thing that I've always admired about your approach is you look at the world holistically as an opportunity every day to get up and have an impact on someone's life.

I have to believe that, that was part of the inspiration for this new book, the ROI of Kindness, which, by the way, I just finished the book last night I loved it. It was it really was uplifting, insightful, and really some tangible elements of that which I'm so excited to talk about. Tell us about the book, and really what motivated you and ignited you to write all this.

[00:08:16] BB:  Well John, I believe that right now, more than any time in my lifetime, kindness is needed at a whole new level. I've seen so much separation in the last five years more than I've ever seen before. We've seem to have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable. I believe that kindness is needed in every level, whether it's in business, whether it's in our families, in our communities, whether it's with people who see the world differently than we do. We can still find that power of kindness.

The one of the most important reasons for writing this book was to shatter the myth that most of us have been conditioned in the business world, that kindness is weak, the kindness is soft, the kindness is nice outside of business, but it has no place in business, it's all about doggy dog. The first part of the book really blows that myth out of the water with some really specific and powerful examples of organizations we all know of that are centered around a kindness, culture, and how incredibly they are differentiated in a positive way from other organizations.

I'll give you one quick example. In the fast food industry, quick service food industry, there are two companies that are centered around a core culture built around kindness. One is Chick-fil-A, and the other is Starbucks. Now the average annual turnover, the biggest challenge in the quick service food industry is turnover is holding on to good people, finding good people, the average annual turnover, as you now know, because you read the book, and that industry is 170% per year.

That means they turnover almost two times per year their entire force. Now those two companies that have understand that kindness rocks in business, kindness builds all kinds of not only just positive vibes with customers, but it builds connection and synergy with each other. Those two companies Chick-fil- A's annual turnover is 14%. Starbucks is 24% versus 170%. when you calculate that every time you have to rehire, retrain a new employee in that industry, the average is right around $6,000. That is an enormous amount going straight to the bottom line.

Not only is something that feels good when we deliver and when we receive it. Now we understand that kindness is the single most important factor in building a culture that leads to bottom line ROI success.

[00:10:49] JL: The stories in the book are really startling when you think about the magnitude of these organizations and how the attitude of a few of these CEO’s has made a difference really. Not only how this company's brand has evolved, to your point, the bottom line, and that's what I love about your concept here is the ROI on Kindness because of the fact that people generally think that this is a nice to have. When you look at it, and you see it as a business imperative, an opportunity to differentiate, to develop your brand.

This is what makes this book so exciting for me. I want to, just shift to another part of the book that I thought was fascinating. That's this, Seven Habits of Highly Effective CKO's. I love that term. I'm going to ask you about that in a minute. I want to just also highlight these seven habits in case, I'm sure we won't have time to hit them all. I want our listeners to write these down. Because this is something if you can pay attention to these seven things that you wrote in the book, I think it's going to be an incredible differentiator in your leadership style and the way you approach many of these business opportunities.

You said, one was being fully present, blame busting, humility, living with gratitude, just listening, which I love that one, and ask more than tell, and then focus. Before we get into a few of those, and I know, we just have time to talk about a couple of them, but tell us what is a CKO, and give us a little peek behind a couple of these habits?

[00:12:36] BB:  Well, I love that you brought that up, the CKO. It's something that really ignites me because right now, this minute, everyone listening to this podcast, you can make a choice. Now, you may not be able to immediately become the CEO of your company, you may not be able to be the CFO or the COO. Right now, through a simple choice, you can get into that corner suite and be a CKO, which is a Chief Kindness Officer. It's just a way of understanding that remember that you are a leader. Every single day you were you are teaching people through your example.

You are absolutely a leader and never forget. Anytime you have contact with a customer or a client, to that customer client, you are your company. When you represent that company as a CKO, you create a whole new dimension. The CKO, as you mentioned, there's one thing to know that we want to be kind, but how do you deliver kindness, both in business and in your family and your community in ways that really, really make a difference.

You brought up several of them. One of my favorites is one that has never talked about. It's such an important ingredient in kindness. It's something that you exemplify beautifully, John, and it's called humility. Now, I like that one because many people classify humility with the same old conditioning that they think about, about kindness that your humble is a little bit weak, humble is a little bit. Humility has nothing to do with your confidence or your impact.

You can be tremendously confident and have and be very humble. My mentor, the man who wrote the foreword in my first book, he's, and if people could see me right now, his pictures right behind me was the greatest coach of all time, his name was John Wooden. at UCLA basketball, 10 National Championships. John Wooden was very confident, but he was one of the most humble people I know. Because being humble doesn't mean you think less of yourself, it means you think of yourself less.

When you are humble, what you do is you allow other people to feel your humanity to feel your vulnerability to feel your honesty and your integrity and it refuels theirs as well. Being humble also gives you another huge benefit, which is only those who are humble are lifelong learners. Only those who are humble would rather learn from a mistake than to try to cover it up. Because they are much more concerned with character than reputation, your characters who you are, reputation, only what others think you are.

One of those seven habits you can start today is that power of humility, to say, and that's where you start to give credit and take responsibility. One of my favorite quotes that really sizes it up, was from the great coach from Alabama football legend, Bear Bryant, and he said “I'm just an old country plow hand.” He said. “If I've learned one thing” he said, “If you want to get a team's heart to beat as one,” he said, “When things go great, they did it. When things go pretty good. We did it. things go bad, I did it.” In other words, I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to look at myself honestly, and not beat myself up when I do poorly, but I'm going to grow and learn and take that responsibility and for the rest of your team that lifts them to a whole different level.

[00:15:54] JL: I love the quotes that you've sprinkled through the book. Another one that I was thinking about that you used in the book was a Zig Ziglar quote, “Humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will.” Wow. We think about all of these different elements of the Seven Habits of the CKO, and it's none of them are really hard. We don't think about it that often. We get so consumed in the day to day world of getting it done. Today's world of back to back zoom calls, zoom burnout, and lack of connection. When you agree that it just it takes maybe more effort now than it ever did to engage in some of these?

[00:16:49] BB: I think what it does, and what it requires more is to build the habit0 and yes, it requires more focus and concentration than ever before, because we're becoming habitually less inclined to do some of these seven habits, but they're there and they start with it with awareness and with the choice. The one that I think if we had, if we only had said, we only have a short time, we can go over them again on another on another show. The one that is at the foundation of them all I call it the secret behind the secret is to be fully present.
Because what is our job in business? What is our job as parents? What is what are we really here for and I believe that comes down to one thing. Our purpose is to help the people that we lead and serve and care about to know they're important. Because when people fell important they rise to an Oh, yes, spirit. When people feel unimportant, they fall to an Oh, no. How do you help people know they're important, unmistakably, unshakably, right away, and the only way to truly do that is to be fully present?

What that means is when you're with people 100% of your mind, body and spirit is with that person you're with where they are now. That that's what full presence is. Now, how many of you listening have ever been with somebody where their body's present, but the rest of them is definitely in another county? Here's the question, how does it make you feel when someone you wish to be fully present with you is not fully present with you? How does it make you feel when somebody really wants to connect with you is obviously more interested in picking up their cell phone while you're talking then they are a truly listening? Well, for some people makes them angry, John, for some, it just makes him sad. For every human being I've ever known, even the most confident individuals. When there's someone we wish to be fully present with us and they're not it makes us feel worth less. I and makes us feel insignificant and unimportant.

I will really encouraged people to recognize that the simple choice to focus on being more present will change your life will make you more productive, not less productive. I learned this from my two greatest teachers, my daughter's Kelsey and Jenna, when they were eight and three, I was so caught up in myself so caught up in my time that instead of being present with them to talk him in at night, read him a story, I'd be caught up on the phone doing stuff.

One night, my two beautiful daughters when they were eight and three, walked into my office as I was picking up the phone when I could have been tucking them in or reading a story and being present. They changed my life. they said, “Daddy, we just want to know before we go to sleep tonight. Do you love your phone more than you love us?” I felt the knife go in deep. Emerson said what you do scream so loudly, I can't hear a word you're saying.

I was living my life as if my phone was more important than my children. Well, that day, my life changed because my goal in life became to be more fully present. Here's the beauty of it. I thought it was doing it just for them. Every dimension of our life changed when I made the decision to focus on more presents. From that day forward, I would never do more than seven events a month. Up until that point, I was gone 20 to 24 days a month. After that, it's no coincidence.

None of my books have been written before I switch shifted my focus to being fully present. All 15 of my books came after that you get more done being present than less done. Every time that you're with somebody and present with them, you say to them beyond words, you matter, you count your significant, you're important.

[00:20:16] JL: I've heard you tell that story several times and each time I hear it just resonates and goes deep with me too. What a life lesson for all of us. Right? Thankfully, you recognize that at a key point so you could be president with your daughters. Now I can share that story with a lot of business professionals who are struggling. On this GrowthCast, podcast we really want to help business people figure out really ways to grow that might not be obvious.

I'm going to ask you a hard question here, Brian. A lot of this stuff from a human standpoint makes sense and the stories that you related in the book, which are phenomenal, are really encouraging and uplifting. If I'm a professional out there, and I'm trying to be convinced right now, about the ROI here for business growth. Help us understand the reality of that. Why should I take this extra time, and what is going to be the impact for my business and my growth of my organization?

[00:21:26] BB: A whole bunch of - we could we could spend a day on all the reasons why kindnesses is important in business as it is anywhere, but let’s just cut to a few of them. Number one, by far, the biggest reason that people leave organizations give up, give up their position go to somewhere out. It’s not about money. It's not about salary, it's not about benefits, it's because they can't get along with somebody that's important to work with. That's studies have shown that again, and again.

When you create an environment, a culture that's built around kindness, and people start to feel significant, people feel they matter. What happens is, is that they're going to be, they're not going to feel as we often do in business, that old game called whack a mole, then you go – when we go to the State Fair, and that little thing where the thing pops up, and you hit it with a rubber mallet. That's what happens when people don't feel they matter when people feel they get blamed when they take a chance.

In business, a great example. What differentiates us in our industry? I'll give you another organization that is so such a brilliant example of the power of kindness, combined with something else that comes with kindness called fun. it's fun to be kind, it's fun to be treated with kindness and in the airline industry, and one company has dominated for 46 years, never once have they been unprofitable? Not once. They never had a single layoff in 46 years, the average turnover rate in that industry is about 30%. Theirs is less than 3%. Who are they?  Southwest Airlines.

They are the organization that has a kindness value proposition built into what they do. Their kindness is about the way we treat each other first. They will never tell you the customer comes first at Southwest Airlines. They will say that we come first. The way we treat each other will automatically be delivered to the customer to the passenger. 46 years of absolute profit. What's the difference in that organization, they focus on a kindness culture built around kindness and fun. Their kindness value proposition is moving, is having fun and moving people. That's what they do.

This stuff what sometimes joke about, “Oh, this is soft stuff.” What makes the difference when you get down to it, if you're in a CPA firm, you deliver the same services. What's the difference? You are, it’s you. It's the way you conduct yourself and in an organization to you is called the culture. When we come rally around that kindness culture, we're going to do reduce turnover, we're going to provide better service, we're going to create more attractive to our customers, we're going to have more loyal customers. All of that feeds right down to the bottom line. This is core, simple, clear, powerful stuff.

[00:24:10] JL: Wow. I love every element of that. I just hope that our listeners really understand that it, it0 can make a difference. It can impact to their business, their environment today show up in every day, their clients, their colleagues and the ability to build teams. Brian, we could talk about this for another hour easy. I do want to ask one final question. Because you are the shining example of the ultimate guy of gratitude and thanking people and I have been inspired and can't live up to your model. I tried to do that as much as possible. Tell us how the simple Thank you makes such a difference in our lives.

[00:24:54] BB: Gratitude, the emotions, all emotions have actually been measured in terms of their frequency - emotions and frequency was where electrical beings. The highest frequency emotion is gratitude. When we're in a feeling of gratitude, we are at our peak and gratitude when we express it to others recognition or acknowledgement, appreciation. The way we deliver kindness. When we come from that place of gratitude, we fill people beyond any almost any other thing that we can do.

When we start by being present, and we bring gratitude into the equation, we become unstoppable leaders who build people who then want to practice gratitude. I’ll make this as fast as I can this be the fastest ever. How do you deliver gratitude in a way that changes lives? Just remember that Sports Network called ESPN, the E says deliver gratitude and appreciation with effort and energy and four people's effort and energy not just the results. The S is occasionally use the power of surprise. Surprise is the superglue of impact when you express gratitude. An unexpected card or note. A handwritten card today is totally surprising. Stopping a meeting suddenly and just acknowledging someone who had no idea they were going to be acknowledged that surprise will stay with them forever. P we've already talked about it's the core, be fully present, send that unmistakable message that they're important but most of all, do it now that’s the N in the ESPN. Now is the time to deliver that gratitude.

Too many people, John, live in the world of as soon as. As soon as, has only one destination. It's perpetual procrastination. If there's people in your life that you need to thank, do it now. If there's people in your life you haven't been present with change it now. If you've been blaming people, you can change it now. If you do that, then you become that active, joyous, powerful CKO.

[00:26:49] JL: Brian, all I can say is, I am so glad I got you now to share this with our audience, because powerful, very simple, but incredibly powerful, life changing and inspirational information to share today. Brian, I can't thank you enough for being here today. Thanks for being a phenomenal guest and inspirational speaker and a good friend,

[00:27:13] BB: John, people may not know this, but you are in one of my books is a greatest example in my entire life of a fantastic authentic networkers. I think the world of you and I think this work you're doing is very important. Thanks for having me.

[00:27:29] JL: I want to thank everyone for joining us today on GrowthCast with Brian Biro, America's breakthrough and actually the world's breakthrough coach and author of the new book, the ROI of Kindness. We hope you were encouraged and uplifted by today's discussion on kindness, and have a better understanding of how creating a culture of kindness is not only a great leadership attribute, but proven growth strategy.

Now you can obtain the ROI of Kindness book at and you can order that book today. If you want to learn more about Brian and the fantastic work he does all over the world. Just go to Brian Biro that's I'm your host John Locke and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon on another episode of DSG GrowthCast and until then, be sure to rate review and subscribe to DSG GrowthCast on Apple podcast, Spotify or Podbean.

End of Episode
About DHG's GrowthCast

At DHG, our strength lies in our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG’s Growthcast, provides insights and thought -provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace. Join us in discussing tomorrow’s needs today.

Disclaimer: The views and concepts expressed by today’s guests are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult with your legal and financial professional before taking any action.


Bob Kunkle
Director of Executive Coaching and Development
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