ED: Today, we’re chatting time with Kris Wittenberg, founder of Be Good to People, about the challenges of a perfectionist mindset. In 2008, an unkind encounter with a stranger while running errands inspired Kris to ask herself, “WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST BE GOOD TO PEOPLE?!” When she returned to her office, she decided to iron “Be Good to People.” on a t-shirt to send a message to the world. Before she knew it, she had started a movement. Now, Be Good to People™ has grown from a simple shirt into a fashionable assortment of apparel, accessories, décor, and more. Their products all have a common theme; they inspire people to be kinder and take positive action.
As an entrepreneur it is really difficult to say that you’re going to accept anything less than perfect. But oftentimes when we set that boundary, we give up on so many opportunities and we don’t do as much as we could, because we don’t allow progress to take its course. Think about when something goes viral. It’s not because it’s perfect. Today we’re talking with Kris Wittenberg. She’s the founder of Be Good to People, also affectionately known as The Original Kindness Company. Kris and I are going to discuss the challenges and the incredible benefits of celebrating progress and not focusing solely on perfection. Kris, always a joy to spend time with you.
KRIS: Feel the same way
ED: One of the things that that we’ve both learned, is the principle of celebrating progress not perfection. How has that come to life in your world as you’re running your business and what have you learned through the ups and downs of business that really have helped you focus on that idea?
KRIS: I have to be constantly reminded of it because my nature is perfectionism, which will definitely stop me from getting anything done and completed. I need to practice it every single day, because a perfect step forward may never happen. But if you have a step forward, and then another step forward, you’re gonna A) Build a habit, which is great and B) perfection will come as you’re building it and learning it. But if you focus on perfectionism and getting things exactly right every time, you’re not going to get it done, because it’s really hard to make things perfect.
ED: I have found that this is a principle that is hard to explain to your your team, because it’s not saying you don’t want things done to the best of their ability. It’s like have that expectation, but balancing it with a healthy dose of grace.
KRIS: What I’ve learned is not everybody’s looking at the things that you’re noticing as not perfect. Very few, if any people, are going to notice it.
ED: True, as entrepreneurs starting out we wonder, “what is that first milestone I have to hit to know that I haven’t made the wrong decision, tanked my family’s long-term fortune, or lose my house? Frankly, not every business idea is a good one. There are a lot of entrepreneurs that start something based on emotion, and perhaps wasn’t fully vetted. Let’s just say you vetted your idea and you get to that first milestone, where you think, “Okay, I haven’t screwed up. This has some potential.” And then you get to that second milestone when you’re beginning to operationalize how your business is running and begin to see a reasonable cash flow. This is actually part of our formula for our concept of WOOO (Winning Others Over and Over). When you optimize, you can you help things run even more efficiently, more effective. When that happens, there’s no limit to the number of customers you can serve. What’s interesting about our WOOO principle and your brand is that it seems every transaction y’all generate wins your customer over-and-over and that leads to more transactions. Could you talk about how you have operationalized Be Good To People, and what you see when customer makes contact, buys an item, and what happens after that?
KRIS: We have one of the few automations that we have is when someone makes their first purchase, I wrote a very heartfelt email and that goes out to them after they’ve made their first purchase. But the letter is really funny because a lot of people, they’re like I can’t believe you took the time to write this. This means the world to me and I’m like, “Oh, no, I feel like a fraud”, because I didn’t take the time to write it personally to you.
ED: But there’s the interesting thing about progress not perfection. You put a lot of time into making sure that letter was perfect and operationalizing it. There are things that need to be done that only you can do as an entrepreneur. It’d be great if you could respond to everyone, but that would limit your ability to serve your community. So, you invested the time. What’s interesting about it is that that letter kind of breaks a lot of the typical brand standards. It doesn’t have the header and it’s clear it wasn’t a MailChimp document. It isn’t perfectly laid out. I just thought that was brilliant. It’s not inauthentic because it was automated. That is a great example where you took a personal intent, you operationalized it, and you did it in a way that was authentic to your heart. For all our viewers and listeners, this is not a paid endorsement, but I gotta tell you, I am so thrilled of being part of the Be Good To People community. You want to like get a little snapshot of how branding is supposed to work? Buy a T-shirt, put it on, and you see not only your behavior, but the behavior of those around you changes. That’s the ultimate measure of a solid brand, is when you’re actually changing lives and not just being a transaction. Always a joy to visit with you. Thanks Kris. Be Good To People.
KRIS: Thank you so much, Ed. Bye.
ED: See you!