Reciprocal Altruism – the importance of empathy

Dev Patnaik with Peter Mortensen explored how organisations of all kinds prosper when they tap into a power each of us has: empathy, the ability to connect with other people. Their book’s called ‘Wired to Care’ and it’s something I often come back to as a reference source.

They cite an example from 1893 when more than 200 leaders from over 40 countries came together for a Parliament of World Religions. The goal was to see if they shared any common ground. Imagine that happening today and how long it would take! Anyway, the leaders all had different religious beliefs but did find one thing they all shared as a unifying belief, The Golden Rule. Their declaration was ‘The Ethic of Reciprocity’, a belief that human’s have the capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, which is the root of moral behaviour.

Wired to Care goes on to explore great examples of brands that work to The Golden Rule, something which is a natural human behaviour and inherent in the human brain.

They highlight that when we become disconnected from other people, we can’t behave in a consistently moral way as we ‘simply have nothing to calibrate our behaviour by.’ A challenge they set in the Golden Rule is to ‘treat people even better than they might expect to be treated.’

This year we’re looking forward to celebrating people who are #kindaware, brands and testing ourselves with how we treat people through different Kindaware campaigns.

Personal social responsibility:why i gave my bike away

Last year I started this blog to up my ‘personal social responsibility’. I’m treating it as an experiment: an exploration of the power of kindness. I volunteered with Spots of Time in the summer and it was amazing to see the difference a pampering day made to the elderly.

Communities can be a powerful entity both destructive and supportive. Living in London often means you don’t know your neighbour. I’ve been thinking about who in our community we know. I used to live in a small town (well village which is now a town) and everyone knew each other.

So…I’ve decided to expand my community and not just where I live. Through my blog I’ve ‘met’ people in the US doing amazing projects on kindness and lots of people in the UK. I’m doing an event in April which will raise money for different communities doing ‘good’ things (social enterprises mainly).

And I’m looking at possessions I don’t really need anymore and am finally doing something productive with them. I’m spreading a little bit of random acts of kindness by giving them away to someone who really needs it, so it will hopefully help them.

I put an ad on Gumtree saying someone could have my bike for free, they just needed to let me know why they wanted it.

The aim was to pick someone who it would make the biggest difference for. I got over 70 responses and stopped the ad, so I could try to get to know a shortlist of people a bit better.

Sheri and some of her family came to pick my bike up this morning, including her gorgeous 1 year old. She looked at my blog and kindly told me about a community project, The Workshop, run in West Norwood that she thought I’d like.

Sheri strongly believes in the power of communities herself and volunteers some of her time to teach beauty & makeup, for people who couldn’t afford it otherwise (I found this out afterwards).

The experiment in ‘personal social responsibility’ is just beginning….

World Kindness Day – November 13th


Luckily I’ve just discovered its World Kindness Day tomorrow. Yesss.

The day started in 1998, by the World Kindness Movement, which now contains 18 member nations. Who’d have thought hey.
The purpose of World Kindness Day is to ‘look beyond ourselves, our country, culture, race and religion; and realise we are citizens of the world.’ For true progress to be made, surely we have to focus on this commonality. We begin to experience empathy for each other when we have things in common – so be kindaware!

Louise Burfitt-Dons heads up Kindness Day UK, which aims to promote the value of kindness in society and the amount of kind acts on this day. Their mission is to make everyone in the UK carry out an act of kindness on November 13th, what may you do?

She’s a very impressive women, check her out.

How Panera got it so right – 650k Likes by simply showing a little compassion

This is a brilliant blog post by Bill Taylor about the importance of humanity in business. It’s also a great story about someone who went the extra mile below…

Brandon Cook, from New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in hospital. She unfortunately was dying of cancer and complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup (but the hospital’s soup was inedible). Her favourite soup was clam chowder from Panera Bread but it’s only sold on a Friday.

Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager, Suzanne Fortier. Sue made clam chowder especially for Brandon’s grandmother (even though it wasn’t a Friday) and she included a box of cookies as a special gift.

Brandon told the story on his Facebook page and then Brandon’s mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera’s fan page. Gail’s post generated over 650 000 “likes” and more than 22,000 comments on Panera’s Facebook page. Panera got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy and that they certainly wouldn’t have planned to get — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers and potential customers.

And for Brandon’s family and grandmother such a compassionate action will stay with them forever. When my grand dad died he had some amazing last meals, which no doubt sends them off in a happy place.

Small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

The Kindness Cab

Last year Leon Logothetis gave free rides to strangers in his kindness cab, raising over £10,000 to fund books for This year he did the Mongol Rally with his team mates, nicknamed the Flying Dutchman, and 10,000 books were donated to

He swapped his life as a city broker to pursue his dreams to travel the world and spread kindness: “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” –Frank A. Clark