Sometimes a career doesn’t just provide a regular paycheck; sometimes the rewards are less tangible. Here, entrepreneurs talk about the way their businesses make a difference to the world — and why it’s so important to choose kindness.
RONNI KAHN, OZHARVEST
TELL US ABOUT OZHARVEST. It’s Australia’s leading food rescue organisation. For many years I ran my own events business, where I saw huge amounts of good food going to waste every day. I was looking for purpose in my life and decided to bridge the gap between surplus food and people in need. I started with one van and delivered 4000 meals in the first month!
now operates in nine cities and regional communities across the country, rescuing food from over 3000 food donors including supermarkets, cafés, delis, restaurants, airports, boardrooms and food outlets. To date, OzHarvest has delivered over 80 million meals to vulnerable men, women and children through 1300 charities.
In the last four years, the business has expanded to include education programs allowing us to create positive change for vulnerable people, including opening Australia’s first rescued food supermarket — the OzHarvest Market.
WHAT DOES KINDNESS MEAN TO YOU? Kindness is the capacity to show compassion and goodwill to those around you, and to yourself.
IS THERE AN EVERYDAY ACT OF KINDNESS
YOU PRACTISE? I always look for any opportunity to say a kind word and I’m a big hugger! Simple gestures often go a long way, whether it’s sharing my parking ticket if there is still time left on it, or speaking to people on the streets about what they need. I believe in paying it forward. You never know when a small action will make a big difference.
HAS THERE BEEN A TIME WHEN A STRANGER’S KINDNESS HAS INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE? The very first time someone paid the toll on the bridge ahead of me—for me—it made me smile all day and I told everyone! I always look for ways to deliver random acts of kindness!
HOW DO YOU FOSTER KINDNESS IN OTHERS? By living it, sharing it and showing it in your everyday life, it rubs off on others. Lead by example, I hope!
WHAT LESSONS CAN WE TEACH CHILDREN? Children learn through behaviour, if you give them opportunities to do good for others, this will set them on the right path for life.
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STEPH SCOTT, LOVESWEATS
WHAT IS THE LOVESWEATS PHILOSOPHY? I’ve always daydreamed about ways I can merge passions and interests. My experience teaching yoga at Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross sparked my idea for : it’s a community health initiative that uses yoga and mindfulness to tackle social isolation. We provide a space where people can feel safe and judgement-free. This might sound simplistic to some, but a lot of the people that come to these classes experience daily exclusion from society, whether it’s through homelessness, addiction, depression, gender orientation, and so on. When people face daily stigma, the power of love, community, human touch and connection is more important than ever.
WHAT DOES KINDNESS MEAN TO YOU? Treating everyone with genuine respect, regardless of gender, occupation, status or culture. It’s important to keep empathy and compassion in your kindness toolkit, too. This also applies to ourselves — sometimes self-love is the hardest type of kindness to bestow.
IS THERE AN EVERYDAY ACT OF KINDNESS YOU PRACTISE? Sending ‘I love you’ messages! My partner and I have developed a little ritual where we send each other an ‘I love you’ text every day. I make an effort to send a similar message to my mum and dad, and sometimes my close friends. It’s my way of reminding myself how lucky I am to have these people in my life.
HOW DO YOU FOSTER KINDNESS IN OTHERS? By meeting people with respect, compassion, empathy and patience. It’s amazing how approaching with kindness instead of anger or frustration can defuse an unpleasant situation or argument.
WHAT LESSONS CAN WE TEACH CHILDREN? Take kids volunteering, expose them to other cultures and help them
to understand and feel comfortable with both good and bad emotions. Help them express gratitude. Tell them they’re loved.
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KIM PEARCE AND KATH DAVIS, THE POSSIBILITY PROJECT
WHAT IS THE POSSIBILITY PROJECT? Kim: I was a high school economics teacher and Kath trained as a milliner and worked as a fashion stylist, so we combined the things we love to create The Possibility Project. We’ve collaborated with a charity in Jaipur, India, to create a clothing label called Slumwear108, making products that are kind to both people and the planet.
HOW DID YOU TEAM UP? Kim: It started on the school run. Kath has three children and I have four. I was walking my kids to their first day at our local school and Kath kindly said that they’d love it. Such small acts of kindness remain at the centre of where we are today.
WHAT DOES KINDNESS MEAN TO YOU? Kath: As the word derives from ‘kin’, for us it’s an active demonstration that we belong to each other. The Possibility Project is our vehicle to help break down structures that prohibit kindness. We hope to move conversations and actions to what we have in common with each other, rather than focusing on our differences.
IS THERE AN EVERYDAY ACT OF KINDNESS YOU PRACTISE? Kim: The best place to practise kindness is within ordinary situations that wind you up. When I’m driving in Sydney, I give way to others without looking for the thank-you wave. Being unconditional with your kindness has huge health benefits; you feel so much lighter.
HAS A STRANGER’S KINDNESS INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE? Kim: My parents tell a story that when they migrated to Australia from India, they had to sell everything to pay for their passage. A stranger on the ship heard about this and decided to take a hat around — as a result, Dad arrived in Sydney with 10 pounds to start a new life with his young family. I grew up believing life is not about filling your pockets with money, but filling each other with hope. That stranger did this for our family.
HOW DO YOU FOSTER KINDNESS IN OTHERS? Kath: It’s a cliché, but ‘be the change’ is a powerful mantra. We can’t make others behave kindly, but we can demonstrate what we want in our world.
WHAT LESSONS CAN WE TEACH CHILDREN? Kath: Simply telling our kids to be kind to others is insignificant compared to actually exercising kindness. It’s why Kath and I put a lot of energy into fostering a kinder fashion industry. Teenagers especially love to know how they can be kinder to people and the planet with their buying choices. It’s a privilege to be creating this opportunity.
CHRIS RAINE, HELLO SUNDAY MORNING
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR CHARITY. Hello Sunday Morning is a charity that is focused on one major problem: in Australia it takes an average of 18 years for a person with an alcohol dependancy to get effective support. Our mission is to ensure that every single Australian has access to support to change their relationship with alcohol, in the moment they need it. Our behavioural change program is called Daybreak, which you can download for free and talk to a health coach about your drinking, as well as get immediate support from a global community going through the same challenge. I started Hello Sunday Morning about eight years ago after a few bad hangovers. I decided to take a year off drinking and write a blog about what I learnt. The name of the blog was Hello Sunday Morning and the rest is history.
WHAT DOES KINDNESS MEAN TO YOU? It is the pursuit of character. There are times I convince myself that possessions or money will make me happy… But happiness inevitably fades in their attainment. Experience has shown me that I feel happiest when I’m giving to someone, with nothing expected in return. It could be lending a hand, giving my time or just sharing a joke. Each time I do this, I feel like I get to a better truth. It’s like peeling off a layer and revealing a deeper character of who I want to be. This is where the richness of life is.
IS THERE AN EVERYDAY ACT OF KINDNESS YOU PRACTISE? I like to learn about people. I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes people find this uncomfortable but more often than not I think people like the idea of being heard and seen.
HAS A STRANGER’S KINDNESS EVER INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE? I always dreamt of going to Oxford University. I was never smart enough in high school to get in, so when an opportunity came up in my twenties to get a scholarship, I studied for a year for the entrance exam. I failed the exam and it was looking like I wouldn’t be able to get in. But then one of the directors at the school who had read my application sent a letter in support of my admission, on the proviso I could get a slightly higher score. They gave me a second chance and
I ended up getting in. Without that letter, I would have never been able to fulfill that lifelong dream.
HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN HELP CHILDREN LEARN TO BE KIND? I think children are naturally kind. As my friend who works in education told me once, ‘There are no bad kids, only sad kids’. It’s easiest to be kind when things are fair; when there are equal opportunities for all. But we don’t live in that world and children inevitably grow into adults who have to fight for more or just enough. I think we could help children by helping adults be less greedy.
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