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Banking on KC – Dr. Michelle Robin of Small Changes Big Shifts

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Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host, Kelly Scanlon. Thank you for joining us. With us on this episode is Dr. Michelle Robin, the founder and Chief Wellness Officer for Your Wellness Connection. She's also the founder of Small Changes Big Shifts, and she's here today to talk with us about her annual 31-Day Kindness Campaign, and that kicked off on October the 14th. Welcome, Dr. Robin.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Thanks, Kelly. It's always great to spend time with you.

Kelly Scanlon:

Especially on this topic. What an important topic. This is your second annual 31-Day Kindness Campaign. You launched the first one just a year ago during the pandemic. What inspired you to put a focus on kindness?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Kelly, a couple of things... In 2019, actually, someone came to me, Ann Koontz, and said, "Michelle, we're in a mental health crisis." This is pre-pandemic. "You have other 21-day programs. I think we should do one around kindness and we should end on World Kindness Day, which is November 13th, which Lady Gaga is a big supporter of." Anne said, "Michelle, I'll help you." We created the bones of the Kindness Campaign, not realizing what was around the corner in 2020. We actually had it started before, because the mental health crisis... Kelly, what people don't realize is 8 out of 10 Americans are feeling some type of anxiety right now. That has gotten a little bit worse with the pandemic, but we were already in a trajectory of heading up before the pandemic.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Part of it is somebody nudged me back in 2019 to do something. She's a mental health advocate. That's the reason why we got started. Then last year, my friends at Lockton knew that we were in a crisis. After doing a corporate event, they said, "What else do you think we should do?" I said, "Well, people don't want to say, 'Let me focus on my anxiety.' The opposite of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation is kindness." We came up with, instead of a 21-day, a 31-day campaign. Part of the reason why is because we were in this very tumultuous time. We did a 31-day campaign and we reached about a quarter million people last year around the globe.

Kelly Scanlon:

For something that was a basically a soft launch, you just hit it out of the ballpark. I mean, you had tremendous response, which really shows the need for this kind of a focus. Tell us about what the campaign involves. You said you stretched it from your typical 21-day events to 31 days. Why 31 days, and what all happens during that time?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Well, I want to stretch kindness to 365 days, 24 hours a day, to be totally transparent. However, that's a little bit unrealistic. What the Kindness Campaign looks like... A company could sign up their whole team just through our portal. My team makes it really easy to upload that, and they can also do individuals. What happens is the minute you sign up, the next day, you start to get an email about kindness and it'll have a quote on it. For instance, here's a quote. "Do what you can with what you have, where you are." That's Theodore Roosevelt. Then what it will have is a little habit, an act of kindness on the back. We called it the campaign and not a challenge, Kelly, because we didn't want people to feel like they had to do it, because people are feeling pretty challenged right now in general.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

We wanted to make it a campaign, and so they'll get the quote and then they get a kindness act that will say, "Maybe check on your neighbor or buy the person behind you a cup of coffee, or write a thank you note." It could be, "Do something for yourself," self care. The campaign focuses on self care, community, and your colleagues and your family and your pets, so those different areas, through the 31 days. Then we encourage people to think about which days really lit their fire, because Kelly, I believe we all have medicine planted inside of us and that's maybe some of our purpose and the talent that I believe our creator gave us.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

How can we really express more of who we really are? I don't know about you, Kelly. My gifts are different than your gifts because we have different lives. That's what it looks like. Plus, I go live every day and we love to give out swag. I'm going live every morning and people could listen in and here's some other inspiration. They also can tune into my podcast, Small Changes Big Shifts, and I've interviewed some great people, Life is Good Kids Foundation, Steve Gross was on, just so many great people, as you know, doing wonderful things. We need to tell those stories better.

Kelly Scanlon:

You talked about how you wanted this to be a 365-day event eventually. When you talk about 31 days, they say that it takes 28 days to form a habit. Even though the official campaign may last 31 days, if you can get into the habit, maybe it will expand into 365 days, and then beyond that. Let's just be really clear here. Kindness isn't just a feel good kind of thing. It can actually help your brain become stronger, so explain that, the mental health aspect of it. Kindness is real. It actually triggers things in your brain when you perform acts of kindness. Talk with us about that.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Yeah. It triggers three different hormones and neurotransmitters, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Those three hormones help you feel like you belong. They help give you motivation to do things, as well as giving you a sense of purpose and meaning. When we activate those hormones and neurotransmitters, we actually take more action. What's interesting when you mention about kindness every day, what people told me last year... We did a wrap-up segment and we'll do it again this year where people can share what they learned and some of the acts of goodness that lit their fire and the ripple it created.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

What we learned is that a lot of people do these things naturally and intuitively, and it just helped them all say, "You know what, I'm already doing that." People would say, "Michelle, of the 31 days, I was already doing 17 naturally." Part of that helps people's mental wellbeing, but also just the nature of who they are. Some people, it's not their nature, and so this will give them some guidance. It will help to try reprogram and help those neurons start to fire differently. What people are feeling in general, Kelly, around the world right now is a sense that they don't matter, and everybody matters.

Kelly Scanlon:

Absolutely. You don't have to plan, necessarily, for these acts of kindness. It can be very, very simple things. I like to call it sometimes "just in time" kind of acts, where you see somebody that looks a little down and you smile or say hello to them. Takes no effort at all, but you don't know what kind of an impact that had on that person's day. There's just so many different kinds of things that you can do with this. When you talked about the feedback that you received where people realized that they were already being kind much of the time, that was a really important finding for you, but what other kind of feedback did you receive? Do you have any anecdotes that you can share?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Oh gosh, so many. So many things. Somebody would actually... They'd look at the act of goodness and let's say it was to reach out to an old friend. Then they would just sit, possibly, in just a few minutes and let their spirit guide them. They would then reach out to that friend. Their friend would be so overwhelmed with joy because they were really struggling with something and they needed someone to care about them right in that moment. That's an example, or the person who didn't have money for their groceries, somebody was able to be right behind them and thought about, "Let me just pay the extra $3 or $5 or $20, or maybe just buy your whole groceries." We heard stories about that.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

We heard stories about people, like their neighbor having their son who was in hospice care at the time, and the neighbors maybe didn't know that because they weren't actually communicating. This is also getting to know your neighbors a little bit in your community, and how they would take them food. There's just so many little things, or cleaning up the yard. An elderly person and the neighbor would be a neighbor and somebody would come and clean up the leaves in their yard, little things like that, Kelly. Take the trash can back up towards the garage door. It's just looking for those moments. It's as simple as opening the door for somebody and looking them in the eye, in a soul to soul versus role to role.

Kelly Scanlon:

I love that. Let's talk about your company, Small Changes Big Shifts. I mean, you're on a mission. You say that over and over. I've known you for years, Michelle, and you say you're on a mission to change the world with the work that you do through that organization. What is the purpose of Small Changes Big Shifts and some of the tools that you offer?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Well, Kelly, I'm sitting here thinking and I'm getting chills down my spine, thinking about the kindness and how the Small Changes Big Shifts movement really started with you. The Small Changes movement started about eight years ago when you said, "Hey, would you be part of my blog talk channel?" For some reason, I said yes, and committed to doing a show every week, and Kelly, I've done a show about every week since then. We've had a couple replays that happened when I had my accident or some shows that were so good we had to replay again, with Paul Young on Christmas Eve. That's a story that never gets old, but the Small Changes Big Shifts name came because you invited me and I had to think of the name of my show.

Kelly Scanlon:

Oh, wow. It's a great name, though. You know what, Michelle, sometimes you can't always see in yourself what other people see in you. I'm glad that you took the invitation and then look at what's happened with it. Tell us about your accident, because I know that was a huge, huge moment of reckoning. More than a moment... I mean, it was a while, but it was a very eventful time in your life. Talk to us about how that changed you.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Kelly, in my life, I have three areas. I have my private practice, Your Wellness Connection, which is getting ready to celebrate 30 years in 2022. Then I have Small Changes Big Shifts, which is my teaching platform, my speaking, my campaigns, my books. Then I have my Big Shifts Foundation, which is to really help make people make a shift. They all tie together. When you think about my accident in June 30th of 2015, I had a car that pulled out in front of me when I was on my bike. Technically, I hit the car. He pulled out in front of me. I had the right of way. The bad news is my pelvis took the brunt of it. I got a little bit of a concussion. Most people aren't aware of that unless they've heard my show. I wasn't aware of it, to be totally transparent. Sometimes when you have a concussion, you don't know what you don't know until people start saying, "You know what? You're acting a little bit odd." Then, hurt my thumb and my elbow and my knee and my ankle, and I got a 12 week vacation.

Kelly Scanlon:

What a way to get that.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

What a way to get that vacation. Kelly, what I want to tell you is that because I was in the right state of being, and when I say being, I'm going to mean physical, mental, spiritual health, I actually was in a great place. I was getting ready to leave, and two days later, on July 1st, I was leaving to take a... My youngest nephew who's expecting his first baby... That's so cool right now.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yeah, congrats.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

It's making me emotional. I was going to take him on his graduation trip. We were going on a sailboat with one of my friends. I was going on this fabulous trip. I just had two days of back-to-back taking care of my clients, then I was on the road. I had gone to my office that Sunday before. This was a Monday morning. I paid all my bills. I was training for a triathlon. I just had finished the Whole30. Physically, I was in good shape, which I think really made a difference in my recovery. Also, I was in a great space spiritually and I wasn't in any anger or resentment. When you have an accident, your recovery depends on what state you're in at that time. I want to tell you, six years later, I have some small hiccups, but I'm so blessed. My memory's back about 90%. I have some discomfort, but I've also been a chiropractor for 30 years. It's a very physical job. I feel very blessed, but because I lived this lifestyle before, it helped me recover. Thank you for asking about that.

Kelly Scanlon:

Well, I know that it was a pivotal moment for you and that that message is one that is very important for people to hear, because it is so easy when something like that happens to become bitter, to be angry and so forth. To be able to be in the space that you were and actually use that as really a launchpad for even greater positive things was phenomenal. What are some of the tools that you offer through Small Changes Big Shifts?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

In day 31, I'm going to let people sneak ahead a little bit. Day 31 is really discovering, as I mentioned, what gave you joy. Kelly, through that accident, people were so good to me and it's even emotional talking to you about it now. Literally, there was... People brought me food and it's hard to ask for help. That's why it's so important for people to have what they're good at. Instead of saying, "What can I do to help you?", say, "You know what? I am really good at bringing by smoothies or vitamins or bone broth." That would be my swag. I'm not the person that can take you to the doctor's appointment.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

I mean, everybody has different gifts. After that, I started giving differently, instead of saying, "Kelly, reach out to me if you need me." People aren't going to do that. It is a humbling experience to ask for help. I remember one day I didn't have groceries and Crystal was, I think, out of town because she was back to work traveling. Someone called to say, "Michelle, what do you need today?" I had told myself, "Whoever calls me first that day, I'm going to say I really need some groceries."

Kelly Scanlon:

Yes, you were going to make that ask, right?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

I was going to make that ask. Whoa. That was digging deep into my soul. Essie Davis called and said, "Michelle, I'm going to come see you today. What do you need?" I said, "God, Essie, I need a few groceries." She said, "Just send me a list." This campaign is very personal to me. It's not just that accident. It's also the way people have cared about me my entire life. I grew up in trauma, like most people. The neighbors cared about me or they would take me to church or the chiropractor started pouring hope into me. This campaign is extremely personal to me, and also my work. You asked me about the... The question was about my work, but the work is how do I help people feel loved so they will take care of themselves? Whether the tool is drinking water or the tool is kindness or the tool is gratitude or chiropractic or massage or acupuncture or going for a walk or posture. I just offer people tools so they can find their way back home to who they're really designed to be.

Kelly Scanlon:

You said that before. We all have a medicine inside of us and we just sometimes have to get back in touch with it. What you offer are some of the tools. They can vary person to person, but some of those tools that help you find that again. What is uniquely yours in that space? You also have a Big Shifts Foundation. How does that compliment the work you do through your main organization?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Well, it's really my purpose and my calling. I would say it's not a compliment, it's my reason. Big Shifts Foundation is to help kids, five to 30 year olds, live a more whole life so we can make generational change. How can we make generational change, five to 30 year olds, through whole person health? It ties in with the Small Changes Big Shifts message, ties into Your Wellness Connection. If I had to pick right now one thing I'd focus on the rest of my life, it would be the Big Shifts Foundation, because when you can help a kid like me... Kelly, that's personal too. Someone poured into me. Not just someone, someones have poured into me. A lot of it happened before I turned 30, and they helped change the trajectory of my life. To be having a conversation with you in a nice warm house where I'm able to afford my groceries... I'm able to pay for my gas. I get to go do meaningful work every day, is because of someone teaching me about Whole Person Health. They didn't use those words, but it's exactly what they did.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

The foundation, our objective is to help these young people really go back to who they are and who they're designed to be. We just launched last year, oddly enough, around the same time as the Kindness Campaign, a scholarship program, because of actually a young woman who reached out to me during the pandemic and said, "I don't know what to do, but I trust you. Can you help me? I don't feel right." We spent some time together and I realized that she was sitting there and she realized it too, that she probably couldn't pay my normal fee and she also needed therapy, so I called my partner who's a therapist. Said, "By the way, I want you to work with this kid. I want you to charge her something because I believe everybody needs skin in the game, but I want you to give her a really good rate," and we did.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Over the next few months, she was coming in, saying, "Oh my gosh, my life is changing. People like me don't get to have this experience." I went to my board and I said, "You know what? There's something we can do right now. We can start a scholarship program." My board said, "Yes." We took five young people, January 1st through July of 2021, through a new scholarship program that we just launched last year. We're getting ready to take our second class here in the next few months. The Big Shifts Foundation is that, is how do we help instill that? I could go on and on about the foundation. It truly captures every single cell in my body.

Kelly Scanlon:

Obviously, you're passionate about it, and obviously, you are doing great work and changing lives with it. As we close up here today, what tips would you give our listeners that they could apply right now and to put themselves on a path to wellness?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Put your hand on your heart and take a big breath and say, "Thank you. Thank you that I'm able to breathe. Thank you that I'm able to possibly walk today. Thank you for the gift of choice." So gratitude is probably the number one gift I'd recommend across the board, non-negotiable. Puts your hand on your heart. There's something magical about actually touching your heart and feeling that beat. If your heart's still beating, God has a plan for you and your life and you just need to dial into it. Without a doubt, Kelly, this campaign will help you feel more connected. I know it, because I have lived it.

Kelly Scanlon:

Again, it's not too late to tap into this campaign. You've got it underway for about a week now, but you can still go out to your website and register and sign up, correct?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

You still go out to websites, smallchangesbigshifts.com\kindness. We got kindness swag there. You can support some local as well as some international people around that are spreading the message of kindness. So much goodness happening.

Kelly Scanlon:

You are doing so much work. I said earlier that you are on a mission. I have to ask you, what's your end game? What do you ultimately want to see accomplished as a result of your work?

Dr. Michelle Robin:

Well, I'd love to impact a billion people that small changes can lead to big shifts through the Whole Person Health lifestyle. The Kindness Campaign is in the psycho-spiritual quadrant. You think about retirement. I don't have a retirement. I have a retirement when God takes me away, but I think I'll do this work the rest of my life.

Kelly Scanlon:

Smallchangesbigshifts.com/kindness. Go out and sign up. You'll be doing yourself a favor in addition to others. Michelle, thank you so much for being with us today and for all of the good work.

Dr. Michelle Robin:

A shout out to Mary and her team at Country Club Bank... They're actually our foundation's bank and we really appreciate all the work they're doing in our community as well.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, President of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Dr. Michelle Robin for being our guest on this episode of Banking on KC. They say kindness is contagious, and it's a good thing, because people today are hungry for kindness, for caring, for thoughtfulness, for making the world just a little bit gentler, amid the divisive rhetoric and the anxiety and isolation of the pandemic. The quarter of a million people around the world who signed up to participate in Michelle's inaugural 31-Day Kindness Campaign last year are a testament to that. Now, a week into this year's kindness campaign, Michelle says her big wish is to stretch kindness to 365 days, 24 hours a day. We can all be a part of helping Michelle achieve that goal, and in the process, we'll create a better world and feel better about ourselves too. We can start by signing up for this year's campaign today. Even though the campaign is already underway, like Michelle said, it's never too late for kindness. Even if you don't officially sign up, make it a point to do something kind for someone today and tomorrow and the next day, until it becomes an integral part of who you are. Thanks for tuning in this week. We're banking on you, Kansas City. Country Club Bank, Member FDIC.

 

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