Brad Aronson is a husband, dad, teacher and all around great human. He is the author of the national bestseller – HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act a Time, “which is full of true stories about how one small deed can make a world of difference.”
“Outside of family, Brad loves teaching entrepreneurship in Camden, N.J. He believes in hands-on learning, so everyone in his class starts their own business, which has led to many adventures in entrepreneurship. Brad also loves volunteering on the nonprofit boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters and Hopeworks.

Alison: Okay. Is this recording?

Alison: Oh, it is, it is. Yay, yay! Here we are. Hello, Jean. Hi. It’s been some time.

Jean: Yes.

Alison:  We’ve been on a little break. And, um, you went to New York to see family?

Jean: I did, it was beautiful, I loved it, I love going to New York, visiting my son Matthew in Harlem, New York. And, uh, then I hung out with my sister and my mother. So it was a beautiful trip.

Alison: That’s lovely. And, uh, and I pretty much hung out with my family here, so it was great. I loved it. And today we’re talking about someone amazing.

Jean: Okay. His name is Brad Aronson, and he really is, uh, a champion for spreading kindness. And look at his book, Human Kind. It’s beautiful.

Alison: Changing the world, one small act at a time. And that’s what it is. Just a, um, a bunch of stories about people doing good in the world, from small to big, right? To like, you know, driving a kid home from school to, like, doing large organizations.

Jean: Exactly, and he’s so fits our insidewink motto, just sharing the good in the world. And you know what we focus on increases. So this is a great interview.

Alison: It is  wonderful. And I think, um, I think what I was so impressed by him is that his family had started from a very young age with him to impress upon him the need of kindness and helping others, which I think is great because you can see that now he’s carried it through in his life, right?

Jean: Absolutely. And he talks about that in the book and in the interview.

Alison: So let’s listen right now.

Speaker2: Hello, Well I’m Jean, I’m Allison.

Alison: It’s so nice to meet you.

Brad: Great to meet you guys as well. Thanks for having me.

Jean: Thank you for being with us today, Brad.

Alison: What an Amazing book.

Brad: Thank you.

Alison: Oh, my gosh, it was just. I read it so quickly because your stories are so beautiful.

Brad: Well, thanks, I appreciate that.

Jean: Yea..and I have a list of people that are going to receive this for the holidays, so, um it’s great. Beautiful. So, Brad, we thought we would start out with a question about how you were raised. How was your family life that you became this champion for kindness?

Brad: So, you know, I was really fortunate. Uh, my dad is probably the nicest person I know. So when we were kids, I remember going to the supermarket and someone stopped me and being like, are you Joe Aronson’s son? And, you know, you’re always taught, like, not to talk to strangers. I’m like, hey, uh, he’s like, your dad is the nicest guy. And that was all. I have no idea who it was, but like that, that stuck with me from from that supermarket, uh, experience. And I remember, like, one of our neighbors would always come over and give my dad tools, and I had no idea, like, my dad is the least handy person ever. But we had all these tools in the basement. And I asked him, like, dad, why is Mister Shukto bringing over all these tools? And he said, well, you know, I help him out with his taxes because my dad was an accountant and I don’t charge him and he wants to do something. So he brings tools. And, you know, I accept them as a gift because he’s really happy that I accept them. And I feel like I just learned so much through watching my dad. Uh, and, you know, that was a big part of my upbringing. And then there was a point, I think it was junior high where my mom told my brother and I, she said, you guys have it too good. You have no idea. You both need to start volunteering. And I started volunteering at this program called Buddies. It was for kids who had lost a parent or had some sort of really serious family trauma. And it’s when I realized, like, oh my gosh, there’s there’s all these people who had really bad luck happened to them, and it was so unfair. And that kind of got me passionate about being engaged in service and specifically with mentoring with kids like that. That is my passion. That’s what I love doing, and I think so my parents really played a huge role in letting me see the opportunities there.

Alison: And is your brother similar to you?

Brad: Yes. He’s very involved in service. Uh, and a very nice, nice person.

Alison: You’ve done so much and I’m and God bless you and your family and your friends. Your your personal story about your wife’s journey is so  beautiful because it’s so vulnerable. And I think sometime we live in a culture, I think sometimes that is afraid for people to ask for help. And and here in your book, I felt, um, that you allowed that to happen and people offered. And it opened up a whole world for you. Could you describe that a little bit to our listeners?

Brad: Absolutely. And I’d say I was really bad at asking for help. Uh, like I’d always been a helper. And that was the first time I felt like in my life where I really needed help. Uh, and people would come and be like, like, let me know what I could do for you. And I was like, yeah, I’ll get back to you. And I would never call them, right? Uh, like, I was just felt like I was so drowning. I didn’t know what to ask. And I felt a little bit guilty also. Uh, which there was no reason to feel guilty. Like people wanted to help. But I still felt bad. And then people just started stepping up and doing things, and that’s when it clicked. It was like, I really need this, right? So, you know, someone called and said, look, I’m picking your kid up from school. I realize you’re making the juggle. So Mia (Brad’s wife) was in the hospital. She was in the hospital inpatient, uh, for a month. So I would go stay with her in the hospital and then be running to try to pick Jack, my son, up from school and not lose track, you know? And then I taught as well.  So I’d be teaching, and, you know, I’d forget what day it was…and you’re just like, you’re in this like nonstop. And  people just reached out and I’ve talked to a lot of people who are going through really rough times, obviously, because the book is about people who were this small act of kindness changes their lives. So they’ve been through a rough time. What I hear quite often is that when people just do things, it makes a difference. There’s this whole group of people who are like, don’t know how to ask for help. And what we also all saw is that, like when we went through our traumas, people just came out of the woodwork. It didn’t have to be someone that I was close with, just someone I knew, someone I worked with was like, hey, here’s what I’m going to do. And it just changed our lives. And it really made me such a more thoughtful helper. Like, I changed how I help other people because I realized, oh my goodness, like, I’ve been doing it this way all this time. And I found a better way through, through people’s kindness and generosity.

Alison: So what is the better way? Like, what would you use to do? And you just said, I found a better way. What is that better way?

Brad: So a few things, uh, you know, one thing is a lot of times when people are going through a hard time, we don’t reach out to them because we think, like, maybe they don’t want to talk about it, or it might be awkward. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know them that well. And I was always in that boat of like, should I reach out? Should I not reach out? And what I learned is, when you’re in that really emotional state, the smallest little contact could give you strength. Like, we got an email from some woman who was a mom and her kid was in Jack’s class and she said, you don’t know me.  I can’t remember her daughter’s name, but I’m her mom, and I heard what’s going on and I just want to let you know I’m in your corner and, like, talking about it now. Like I feel myself tearing up a little bit, like that note from a stranger when you’re at a difficult time gives you the strength to keep going. And so I learned that. And when I talk to people for the book, what I heard repeatedly was being seen mattered. And being seen wasn’t talking about what they were going through. A lot of people didn’t want to talk about it at all, and I definitely fell in that camp. I did not want to talk about it, like I was dealing with it all day and like that’s the last thing I want to talk about and sometimes I’d even want to talk to people. But having that reach out where someone sends a text message and they send a joke or, or like they dropped off, like a little magazine. And I remember one of our friends, Mo and Mindy, dropped off like a magazine in the mailbox. Like, thought you’d find this cool to read.  And, like, I wasn’t going to read it, but they were thinking of me, and that felt awesome. So I think knowing that someone’s thinking of you is the first thing. Uh, the second thing, which I, you know, alluded to before, is just doing something. So I was someone who would always tell people like, let me know what I could do for you because I thought, I don’t want to make an assumption. I don’t know what they need. Like they’ll tell me and then I’ll do it, otherwise I won’t. What I found out is it was just such a blessing when someone like our neighbor stopped by and like, hey, you know what? We baked an extra lasagna here it is, like, awesom like, I don’t have to figure out what’s for dinner tonight. Uh, and, like, all these people at school signed up to pick up Jack, and it was it was just beautiful.  I mean, I just couldn’t juggle. And I remember the receptionist at school being like, wow, like, your kid has the biggest pickup list I’ve ever seen. And I was like, I know we’re really lucky. Uh, so also just doing it. Uh, and then one other thing is, is like when you greet people going through a rough time. Like something that we do when we greet people. We’re like, hey, how are you?  And we don’t even expect a response. It’s just we expect to hi or I’m doing great. And when you’re going through a rough time, someone’s like, hi, how are you? What goes on in your head sometime? Well, for me was actually pretty awful. You probably don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to talk about it. So should I be like, oh, I’m great. And just, like, be lying or say it’s awful and instead just saying, hey, it’s awesome to see you because it is great to see that person. Uh, and that way we’re you know, acknowledging that. And I want to say like, everything helps. Like I don’t want to come across like, hey, you have to be really careful, but these are just some things I noticed that I think have made me a better helper. And it’s because I went through that.

Alison: I love that…. It’s awesome to see you. I think that’s better than, How are you?,  no matter what.

Brad: Yeah. Right. Right.

Jean: And I absolutely can relate to doing something. When I was, uh, when my husband passed away three years ago. People would say, let me know what I can do for you? Just give me a call. And the best ones were when someone would call and say, we’re taking care of dinner Saturday and Sunday night. And like you said, Brad, I was thrilled. Thank you so much.

Alison: Exactly.

Brad: Yes.

Alison: When my mom was in our house and going through hospice and dying. And I’m an only child. And I had two little kids at the time and I never knew what I needed. I was only so in the moment of like, oh, I have to do wound care. Oh, I have to do that like I was. So in the moment I wasn’t even thinking, oh, we have to eat later, you know? And so when someone showed up, Sue Pastorius showed up with this big tray of chicken, like, just amount of cooked chicken. And I was like, oh my gosh, like, thank you. And I didn’t have to call. And that’s the thing, because I don’t even think I know what I needed for those months.

Brad: I totally did not know what I needed and it’s like a chance, like all of us have a chance to be a superhero for someone. And it’s not that hard. It’s just like taking that little step.

Alison: Yeah, and you don’t have to do something big… This is going to sound so funny, but I think the story that touched me the most was the teacher who figured how to tie shoes with one hand. Oh, I think his name was Don Clarkson.

Brad: Yes.

Alison: And I was like, I don’t know but that made me cry. Like, all the stories are so beautiful. How did you find everybody? How did you find all these stories?

Brad: So it was a mix. I started asking everyone I knew… Was there, like something small that changed your whole life, or that you knew changed someone else’s life? And because I do so much work with youth and nonprofits, like I had tons of people to ask and I heard amazing stories. And sometimes it was like a friend of mine, I had no idea. So I was out picking pumpkins with my friend Alex’s family, and I had known him since grade school. And I’m asking he and his wife and his wife’s like, oh, well, you know, Alex, every day goes jogging with this doctor. And it changed this doctor’s life. And I was like, really? And they told me this story. It’s in the book. It’s the story about Wally the physician and Alex who ran with him. And I was like, Alex, like, you never told me this. He’s like, well, you know what? It’s not something I do to tell people.  And so I found, which is beautiful in and of itself, but I found when I was asking so many people had these stories and then because it’s what I was excited about…So the example of Jim Abbott and his teacher, Don Clarkson, who learned how to tie his shoes. I read Jim Abbott’s autobiography memoir, which was amazing. It’s imperfect, it’s a great read. And there’s probably like three sentences about, oh yeah, my teacher, like learned how to tie a shoe. And that was really meaningful. And I read the whole book. I was like, I love that. I need to learn more. So I tracked down Don Clarkson’s wife and then I, you know, talked to like, Nick Newell, who had been impacted by  Jim Abbott and was able to through someone on Jim’s team like communicate with Jim and be able to put that story together. So like I do so much reading and then I pick out like that’s the part I love and I want to know more about. And then I’ve also because I was posting it online, amazing people would just be like, you wouldn’t believe this story, and they’d be emailing them into me. So there’s there’s so much out there. It matters what we look for.

Alison: Yes. Right.

Jean: Uh, Brad, can you please talk about what inspired you to write this book? I think we should have started with that.

Brad: So there were a couple inspirations. One was the, uh, high school graduation of a mentee of mine. So she attended Girard College, which even though it’s called Girard College, it is a high school in Philadelphia. And at her graduation, like on one side of me was this 70 something year old guy. And he told me, he said, like, I came down from New York, I graduated from Girard, and the school changed my life. So I come back every year to like, say thank you and support the next generation. And then on the other side of me was this mom who was crying, and she told me she thought her daughter would be dead or in jail. But here she was graduating. And there’s like a part in the ceremony where you sing the school song and they pass out like the sheets, and the dude next to the guy next to me. He stands up and is like bellowing the song. He’s so proud. And and the commencement speaker gets up and talks about how incredible these young people were. They statistically, they were from areas of Philadelphia where their success was not expected. It was expected that many of them would drop out of school, expected that very few would go on to college. And the commencement speaker talked about how every single young person had gotten into college. And then he said, but unfortunately, there are inheriting a world of of negativity where the negative is what is so pervasive. And that’s why tomorrow you won’t see anything about this graduation in the news. And, I like, I love inspirational movies and hallmark movies and all that type of stuff. And I felt like I was in one. I was alive audience member at this graduation and I so the next day I was thinking, it has to be in the news, like, how could they miss this? So I get online, I look everywhere and there’s nothing. So then I get our daily newspaper, which is the Philadelphia Inquirer. Look at every page and there’s nothing. So I think, man, like people would be so lifted up by this and they need this type of news… And it’s not there. And I thought, if I want it out there, I should put it out there. So I started writing more and more about people and organizations that inspire me. So that was the first inspiration. The second was when Mia was in the hospital. The nurses suggested that we go to this conference for young cancer patients and their caregivers. And, you know, my first reaction was, no way. Like, we’re here all day dealing with cancer in my free time, I do not want to be at a cancer conference. Uh, and Mia was like, definitely not. And then we talked about it that the nurses we found, and I’ve heard this from lots of other people as well. The nurses are just angels. We would not have gotten through that experience without them. They were amazing. And we decided that if they thought this was a good idea, it probably was a good idea. So we went and one of the speakers there had been through the same treatment as Mia, which is basically two and a half years of of chemo and treatment. Uh, so you’re in the hospital for about a month, and then after that you have two and a half years of outpatient where almost every day you’re going to the hospital to get treatments, but you can live at home.

Brad: And one of the speakers who had been through the same treatment said, when you have a treatment that’s that long, you need a project. Because a project gives you a focus, it gives you a purpose. And I thought, you know, my project is I’m going to write about, like, all the good stuff that’s out there, uh, starting with the amazing people who helped us. And I’m just like, that’s what I’m going to write about. So that was kind of like, I didn’t realize it would take me so long. Like it took longer than her treatment to actually get the book out. But that was kind of the one of the impetuses that got me writing. And boy, it was amazing therapy for me to just like, think about all the good out there. Yeah, uh, changing the narrative from, you know, why me? I mean, when Mia was first diagnosed, I remember there, like, you know, this is very unusual. She’s very healthy, and she’s she doesn’t have any comorbidities. And she’s young, which just adds to, like, what? Why is this happening to me? Right? Like I’m getting cheated, which is not a fair way to look at it. Like this happens to lots of people. But that is what was going through my mind and the whole time, like, you’re just feeling awful. And when you read about and then write about and participate in the good, it helped. It helped me. It helped lift me up and have a better perspective on everything.

Alison: And now Mia is and your family is doing great?

Brad: We’re doing great. I’m going to knock on wood because, you know, I’m suspicious.

Alison: Uh, I totally agree. And I’m wondering now that you’ve written this book, how did this book.. Because you seem to be very open and you were always doing volunteer work. So how did writing this book change your life? Like, now? Like, do you understand my question? Like, did it have an impact on your life that you’re feeling the repercussions from still?

Brad: I, so the impact for me was so when I finished the book and it was supposed to go to publication, I suddenly thought, oh my goodness, this is awful. It shouldn’t go to print.  I just read it so many times and I was like, went through this crazy like, oh no, stop the presses. And I reached out to like five really good friends who would tell me the truth and who also liked feel good books. Because if I asked people who didn’t like it, of course it’s not a good gauge. And I said, please be honest. Tell me, is this okay? Uh, should I print it? Because I’m having second thoughts. And they were like, you should absolutely print it. And I’m so grateful they, like, in that short period of time, read the whole thing, gave me their feedback because I just didn’t have confidence. I like I’m telling people’s stories and I really wanted to do them justice. These are amazing people that I admire. Uh, in addition to my own family members. Uh, and then it came out and the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive, I felt great.   And, uh, probably should not have doubted what I wrote, but I did. So it gave me a lot more confidence that my story could help people and that my story was, you know, had that type of value and getting feedback. So I’ve heard from nonprofits, one nonprofit called, and they said, we’ve got this huge donation from someone, and they told us it was because they read your book. Like, I have no idea who made that donation, but that was awesome. And getting people to randomly email me and say, I read your book and here’s what I’m doing. And they’re sharing like the goodness they’re putting out in the world. That has kind of kept me trying to get the book out there more and more, because I feel like it does have an impact, which is awesome to see. Uh, and, you know, I love writing, so I plan to write more stuff, but I’m having fun right now, getting the word out there and trying to, you know, make more good in the world.

Alison: I love that you’re so honest, saying you had self-doubt about it, because I think that’s what a lot of people face that they like here. I think, oh, of course, you just knew this was great and took off. So I love the fact that you because I, we talked to a lot of people and they’re like, well, I don’t know. And so hearing you say, do it or you know, that you had self-doubt is very encouraging, I think for a lot of people.

Brad: And, and I think a lot of people do have self-doubt because after I shared that with people, other people are like, oh, yeah, after writing this book, I got to meet some other authors. Uh, and I would ask them, they’re like, yeah, that’s that’s natural. So for anyone who’s listening, it is natural to doubt your own work. That’s okay. Find people you really trust, uh, and get their opinions.

Jean: And and Brad, I also love the fact that not only do you share these beautiful, simple stories that make such an impact on people’s lives, but you also give you share little tips. You know how to think outside the box. You know how to do something that one wouldn’t normally consider. And I after every chapter, you you give these little, uh, send a note to somebody, take a jar and put little, um, affirmations or something that you admire about that person. So every day that person can, when they’re having a need a little boost, they can put, pull out a, a, um, you know, something good about themselves. Do you have a favorite?

Brad:  I do have a favorite, actually. I feel like so often for me, if I sit down and write someone a thank you note, right? There’s so many people we could write a thank you note to, I feel amazing. So maybe it’s a little bit selfish, but like if I’m if I write a thank you note, I’m reliving those kindnesses and I feel so good about it. I love sending people thank you notes because I also love mail. Right? We don’t send enough mail anymore. Enough cards anymore. So it’s it’s fun. Uh, so I, I personally love that, uh, I also like, uh, you know, I think of one that I learned from my neighbor when, uh, when Mia, you know, was was in the hospital, our neighbor Vicky would call up and say, oh, I’m going to Trader Joe’s. What can I get for you when I’m there? Which was different than being like, hey, do you need anything or can I pick anything up? It’s like, I’m already going. And that wording was just so beautiful. Like, I’ve internalized that and I try to use that as well. Uh, and it’s interesting. So the idea for, uh, that little section of the book was I was talking to an agent who was super helpful, and she’s like, what’s the goal of your book? And I said, I want people to know that you don’t have to be a millionaire of an army of helpers like you can make a huge difference just on your own. And she said, well, you have to spell that out for people. You should have a little section at the end of the book. At the end of each chapter, it’s like, here’s what you do, because I had thought, like people would get it out of the stories. And, uh, that was just brilliant. And it, I think, made the book so much better.

Jean: Yeah.

Alison: It’s it’s excellent. All those little tips and, and also I’m, I reached out to the Senior Project. Uh, I had never even heard of that in your, uh, Hall of Fame, which is great, because I would love to be a grandparent to some body. Do you know, and help some child so that that Hall of Fame, uh, are those organizations that came to you or did you reach out to them or how did that come about?  It’s such a great group of organizations.

Brad: Thank you. So it’s a combination. I knew a bunch of them, uh, because just being in in the nonprofit space, uh, and then I did a lot of research. So trying to find, it’s really hard when you’re a nonprofit, like, a lot of times you have so little staff you can’t even handle volunteers. And, you know, that’s okay. And I made it my mission to find nonprofits that could handle volunteers and had a meaningful way that we could participate at different levels. So there’s the writing letters to seniors, which could be a one time event. And then there’s being an ongoing mentor, which can be, you know, years of participation. And I’ll also throw out there one that I think you might like foster care to success, where that’s for foster kids who are in college because unfortunately they have such a high rate of dropping out of school. And there’s just a lot working against you. Like if you’ve been in a foster home when you go to college, someone else takes your spot and suddenly there’s no home for you. Uh, outside of school, you might be on your own. I know a lot of the students I’ve taught have been foster youth and just the mental stress. I remember the the number one question I get is like, oh my goodness, what do I do if my roommate asks me about my family? Like, I don’t want to tell them that my mom is a drug addict and my dad’s in jail.

Brad: So they have all this stress. And what foster care to success does is they just match an adult with each foster youth that they serve in college to kind of be that person. Like, we’re going to send them a care package on their birthday. We’re going to talk to them once a week when they have the bright idea of like, I’m going to take an extra class, I can finish college early. We’re going to say, why don’t you get first you’re through your first semester first. Yeah. Uh, and like, and there was one woman who she had a scholarship that she almost lost because the business office made a $500 mistake that they blamed on her. And she was young and had no way to navigate the system was pretty much like, forget this place. But, her mentor was able to kind of call up and get through the red tape and help it work. So, I mean, and that’s a way deeper commitment than writing letters. But from what you said, I thought that might be one that was of interest to you. So I thought I’d toss it out there.

Alison: Foster care for success.

Brad: Foster care to success.

Alison: Okay.

Brad: And you could probably find it in the index of the book.

Alison: Okay, perfect.

Brad: If not, email me and I will email you their info.

Alison: So, my father and, um, you know, he had a life changing moment. And I used to bring coaches to elementary schools in LA USD, and it was this very small nonprofit. Jean helped me with it. And, um, you know, I was doing it and I felt like it was me and two other women, and Jean and I thought to myself, like, are we is anyone really care about this? And then one day, this little boy, I don’t know who he was, ran up to me and said, did you get the coach? And I said, yeah, I helped get the coach. And he hugged me so tightly and said, I always wanted a coach… Like, and I don’t know. That changed the course of it for me because it became personal, like it was this. It was faceless before, and then it became like personal because, you know, and that that was such a beautiful moment that he squeezed me so tightly. You know, it just moves me, you know, so little things like that really can change the movement.

Brad: And it should move you. I mean, that’s beautiful. Like, and every kid should have that.  Every kid should have a coach in their life, like a family member or an adult at school or someone in the community. And something that I think is important to mention is like, so often we don’t know the impact we have. And you’re wondering and like, I find this so, you know, I teach 18 to 25 year olds and the majority of them have had significant trauma in their lives. And I’ll ask them, like, there’ll be a class where I’ll ask them, like, is there something small that like, changed your life? And they’ll mention these things. Someone said, like, my fourth grade teacher knew that I didn’t have enough food at home, and she gave me the job of cleaning the blackboards, and I didn’t realize it until years later. It was because when I cleaned the blackboard, she had all this food out that I could eat, and that was her way of like, feeding me. And whenever I hear the story, I’m like, did you tell this person? And they’re always like, no, I never did, but that’s a good idea. I should, and I think so often people don’t hear it, but we’re having that impact, uh, even in the book, like a lot of the stories that are, the people didn’t realize at the time how this was changing their lives and they can’t find that person to say thank you.

Alison: Uh, what do you teach?

Brad: So I teach entrepreneurship.

Alison: Oh, that’s interesting. And, um, and those those the the mentees that you have, what what does your class give them besides just, like, steps to be an entrepreneur. Like what? What do you think it gives them self confidence or what do you think that most of these young adults need right now?

Brad: So it’s not a traditional class. Uh, so, you know, I don’t lecture. It’s not like graphs and charts. Uh, really, it’s so the young people, the young entrepreneurs I serve are very entrepreneurial. Many of them have had to be entrepreneurial to survive. They have side hustles, like, and if you’re entrepreneurial and you join this, this program, uh, basically you’re either going to start a business or if you have a business, you’re going to grow it. And, uh, what happens is like some people have a little side hustle, maybe they’ve sold 1 or 2 pieces of jewelry they made and they want to grow it. Or they love doing hair and they want to do people’s hair, or they’ve got they’re great with lashes and they want to do people’s lashes. Uh, and in the class every week, they have to commit to what they’re going to do that week, uh, to push their business forward. It’s about taking a big idea and making it doable. So one woman wanted to start a restaurant. Well, she didn’t have the money, and she wasn’t going to get the loan to open a restaurant and get the equipment. But she was great at making pies. And people loved her Kool-Aid pie. That was her specialty. So it’s like, all right, well, bake Kool-Aid pies in your house and sell it to people.

Brad: And that went really well. So then after selling it out of her house, she starts selling it to food trucks, and the food trucks would sell it. And then her next step is to sell it to restaurants. But what I try to do is take that big dream and boil it down to something really small that we can start with, and force people every week to make a commitment of what they’re going to do. And what I hear is, I’m so happy because having being forced to do something every week took it from a dream to something I actually did. And then when they’re. Applying for jobs. They have a story to tell, like so. For a lot of these students, the business isn’t going to be what supports them. But when you’re applying to jobs and you say, I have my own t shirt company and I’ve sold $5,000 worth of t shirts like that, that’s meaningful. You have a lot to talk about, and you’re learning how to sell and you learn how to be uncomfortable. So I want them to be around different types of people. We teach about business networking, and I bring in a whole bunch of old people like my age who don’t look like them, who they’re not going to be comfortable around.

Brad: I’m like, all right, we’re going to do practice some networking, and then they’re prepared for that. So and so the purpose of the class is like you’re taking these steps towards your dream, which might be you want to write a book. It might be you want that restaurant business. And we’re tracking it. And every week we have a lesson where you’re learning and implementing it towards your business, and you’re building this support network like everyone in the class gets really close. And we have these alumni events where the alumni from from years, like, you know, you get to see each other and support each other. So it’s about for some people, they have their full time gig out of it. They built a business. It’s what they’re doing. We’ve got one young man who employs six of the other kids in our program now. Uh, for some people, it’s it’s a step to a job, and for other people, it’s learning resilience because businesses don’t always succeed. And you learn that, okay, well, you’re going to try something else and you’re going to keep going. And there’s a way to learn and grow from it. Mm.

Brad: You are so inspirational. Yeah.

Brad: Oh.

Jean: Thank you. We really are. I want to tell you that I was in, uh, Canada last week, and I gave a little speech at my husband’s alma mater, which is University of Ottawa. And I cited a little quote that you said about we have its fundamental the opportunity to transform someone else’s life. I don’t know if you know that you wrote that, but I cited it to the group that I spoke to, and, um.

Alison: That’s beautiful.

Jean: People like are saying, yes, yes. And it is no small act. Like you say in your book. There’s no small act. It’s it’s all these little, small acts are really changing the world. A they go un unsung, but people like you, what Alison and I are doing. And by the way, if you’re going to do a second book, Alison, mustbe interviewed. She does so many good things. She is like an angel here. She does so many kind acts of kindness she put together, like her friend’s spouse passed away, and Allison organized and setup dinners and meals for this family.. So I could spend all evening talking about you, Alison.   But anyway, uh, are you working on another book, by any chance? Are you collecting more stories for another?

Brad: So I do have, I have I have a lot of I have tons of things. I have tons of projects that I love and want to work on. Uh, you know, the two, two books that I’d like to write next, uh, and that I’ve started, one is, you know, like stories about inspiring kids because there are so many kids who have started their own nonprofits who are making this huge impact, and there’s so many lessons we can learn from them. And I think they can inspire other kids as well. Uh, you know, from writing humankind and talking to some of the kids that I interviewed in the book and what they did, I feel like what I came away with was like, as a parent, when my child brings me an idea, sometimes I’m like, well, have you thought about this obstacle? What are you going to do if this happens? And really, what I should say is, that’s an awesome idea. What’s the first thing you can do to take that little step and get started? Uh, so so that’s one book that I’d really like to write and will write. And then another book is the the title in my head is Do Something Awesome, and it’s a book about, kind of, the little things you can do in life to get ahead. Uh, so kind of like the nuggets at the end of the book with the advice, but going beyond that to a whole bunch, like how to be a better listener, a better communicator, and that comes from so much of what I do when I’m teaching and, and, and bringing that together into a book.

Alison: I love that. I think I think those would be I think those would be great. And I find this book, uh, very spiritual. Um, I really find it. Do you have any sort of, um, um, and yet you never mention anything about, you know, typical religion or God, but do you have any sort of spiritual practice or anything that you could, you know, maybe share with us?

Brad: Absolutely. So my spiritual practice is, is, uh, and I’m laughing because it seems so minimal. I meditate for ten minutes every morning.  I feel like it just it’s funny because I’m the person who in the morning, I’m like, I got so much to do. Like, I just should just not do it. I don’t need to do it this morning.

Alison: Right.

Brad: But I feel bad if I don’t do it. It’s like it’s there’s something there that is grounding. So I do ten minutes of meditation every morning. I was raised as an Orthodox Jew, and, uh, I led the services in our temple as, as a kid. And I remember at some point what went through my head. Of course, this isn’t right for everyone, but this is like my thinking was, I spent all this time in temple. The world would be better off if I spent that time in a hospital volunteering, and for me, that’s where I wanted to be. And, I guess so that.. I remember my mom saying to me,  you were watching TV and the news was on about all this bad stuff that was happening. And you’re like, I can make more of a difference if I go out and I do something and I want to do stuff. Uh, and that’s been my outlet. And it really is just so, I find it so rewarding. I love doing it.

Alison: And you said that nurses are angels and I totally agree with that. But I think an angel is love in action. I think an angel is someone who really…and I think that’s what you are.

Brad: Oh thank you.

Alison: I really think, I really throughout this book, I felt such gentleness and vulnerability and you and, um, you know, we read a lot, a lot of books like this, you know, for our interviews and things. And what I really loved is you never talk down and you just sort of very, very much relating, um, and, uh, I was wondering, do you think this has worn off on your son?

Brad: I, you know, I don’t know. He you know, he’s a teenager now, so he would never say if it did. Right. But I think the service has worn off on him. So you know when. And I think about like, he got to be more engaged probably than than he otherwise would have been when Mia was sick. Uh, you know, I still did a lot of the service work, but if she wasn’t going to be babysitting him, I was just bringing him with me. And he was way younger than, like, everyone there. And I think it was really good for him. You think that as a little kid, they might not absorb it, but I think he absorbed a lot of it. And, uh, and so I think it was really what was going on in our life introduced him to more service than he would have otherwise seen. Uh, and I think that has had a positive influence.. As far as the book, I was shocked that, like, he has no desire to read it like his dad wrote it- when he was little, I used to tell him the stories like, oh, and there’s this person and he enjoyed hearing them, but, you know, no desire to read it. Uh, because, you know, I’m his dad, so I’m definitely not cool. And, uh, but but I think for kids like, we could tell them all we want, but for they have to see it. They have to see us living what we tell them, and they have to be engaged. And they have such a beautiful way of being engaged because they are carefree. No hesitation. Like you have a feeling as a kid you’re going to go up, right? That kid who just gave you a hug, right? An adult probably wouldn’t have done that. But the kids, they just. And that’s what people need.

Alison: Yes.

Alison: I totally I totally agree. But you know, I agree. When when my kids were teenagers, you know, they could they didn’t really even they they believe they didn’t know me. You know sometimes. But now that they’re older, I think this is a beautiful legacy that  he will have and be able to share with his with your grandchildren and his children. It’s really you did such you did such a fine job. And I’m so happy we got to meet you because you’re so nice. You’re just downright nice, Brad.

Brad: Thank you.

Brad: You guys are making me feel so good. This is this is this is a great, great end of day for me.

Alison: It’s true.

Alison: We really, um. We really just appreciate we both, while we were reading it, were like, wow, I love these stories. So thank you.

Jean: And I love that they’re not long. You can just open the book to something beautiful.  So beautiful. And, you know, I,  just thank you for taking the time to write this.

Alison: I hope when you  write the next one, we’ll talk to you again.

Brad: Absolutely. When I write the next one and I have my advanced copies, you will get some of them.

Alison: Oh, I would love that. Thank you, thank you. Really. Thank you so, so much. And, uh, give, give our love to your family.

Brad: Yes, I will.

Brad: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it, and thank you for spreading good news. Like we share that mission of getting good news out there.

Alison: Share the good.  I think there is so much power in that. And I think it’s just, I think it’s like a balm for the soul. And I really feel like that’s what people need. I know I do, you know?

Brad: Me too.

Alison: Thank you. Have a nice night.

Brad: Thanks. Have a great night.

Alison: Bye bye. Bye.

Alison: He was such a nice person, wasn’t he? Just from the minute he came on. We do these over zoom and the minute he came on, you just saw his face. Gentle, very gentle, very kind. And really, um, just wants to help. Just wants to help.

Jean: And yet he’s very passionate. He’s he’s just not as, um, you know, very I mean, he is very. It seems to me on the interview easy go lucky. But he has a very strong passion within him. So.

Alison: And I you going to read something from his book that really impressed us.

Jean: So he writes, why not think bigger than our daily routines and crossing items off our our to do list? Each of us has the power to be awesome every day. If you say to yourself, I’m going to make someone’s world better today, it will happen. All it takes is looking for opportunity, following through and that resource we all have within us. Love.

Alison: Isn’t that wonderful?

Jean: Yeah, he just has such a beautiful perception.

Alison: And also when you remember that we’re, um, my son Brady and my and my eldest child, Em was saying, um, that the thing about me that they can’t believe is that wherever we go, I just start talking to people, you know, and, um, they like that because then it shows them they were all really connected. It’s all the same, you know? And today we were going through the drive through of Walgreens, and there was a rainbow, and the man and I were talking about looking at the rainbow. And Brady was just laughing because he was like, I think you made that man’s day, like treating him. And I think that’s that’s what I think Brad is saying. Yeah, that you can do it at any moment.

Jean: That’s true. We all just want to be seen and heard and it doesn’t it doesn’t take a lot. That’s the beauty also of his book. And he offers amazing charitable organizations that that are doing excellent work. And, uh, like you said before, just a very small acts of kindness.

Alison: And you’re right at the end of his book, he has sort of like a Hall of Fame of of resources, if you are interested in helping out. And I actually looked at them and I’m, I’ve contacted one of them and I hope that over the new year I can I can do more.

Jean: So yeah. And he lastly he gives these little tips like when you think of your when you’re thinking, oh, how can I, um, do something for someone else? And he gives, he offers all these tips that just help you think outside the box.

Alison: That’s right. Which we spend a lot of time, you and me outside the box, I think, I think that’s where we live in our own box. Like outside the box. Well, we hope you enjoyed this interview. Please read Humankind. It’s it’s a real pick me up. It’s beautiful.

Jean: Right. It is indeed.

Alison: And have a great day. Bye bye.

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