When I started The Kindness Podcast, I prayed with fervor before each episode.
God, please help me not screw this up.
God, please help me sound okay.
God, please help me ask the right questions.
It was all about me. I wanted to make sure each episode was exceptional because I thought I was exceptional—or at least exceptionally prepared.
That was back in 2017. It took some time to realize I didn’t have to be exceptional or “on”—or even particularly gifted—because I was working for God, and He is beyond exceptional.
Before The Kindness Podcast was even a twinkle in my eye, I was in the WOUB Public Media radio studio in Athens, Ohio, doing an interview about my book, Kindness is Courageous: 100 Stories to Remind You People are Brave + Kind.
My host was Tom Hodson, a long-time judge in the state of Ohio. He was also a professor at Ohio University and the director of the school of journalism. He started a podcast before most of us knew what podcasts were. You could say this guy was a go-getter.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the one truly outstanding trait Tom carried couldn’t be written on a resume. He exuded kindness.
We finished the interview. Just before I turned to leave, Tom looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Nicole, what can I do for you to keep this message going?”
He was talking about kindness, of course, not increasing my book sales.
Questions like that have a way of stunning people into silence. We have a to-do list a mile long, but we aren’t ready for someone who asks how they can help.
I stammered a bit and said, “I’ve always wanted to do some radio spots about kindness.”
I was thinking 30-second stories that could run on our local station once a week. Tom thinks a bit bigger.
“How about your own podcast?”
He introduced me to the amazing Adam Rich, the sound engineer who could make things like iTunes uploads automagically happen.
A month later, I was sitting in a little sound booth while Adam sat on the other side of the glass pushing the buttons.
Episode 1 of The Kindness Podcast featured Netflix star Leon Logothetis. Leon is known for riding his yellow motorcycle all over tarnation (North America, Europe, and Asia). The catch was, he didn’t take along any money. We all got to watch as he took on the dubious task of asking people to help him out with gas, food, and a place to sleep. He relied on people’s kindness to get through each day. Leon got to learn a little of each person’s story, and in return, he often found a special way to repay their kindness. The show is called The Kindness Diaries, and I promise you it is bingeworthy.
Tom thought it would be fun to have a community event to kick off The Kindness Podcast, so in October 2017, he found the money to bring Leon to Ohio University to speak.
Have I mentioned Tom likes to think big?
We had a meet-and-greet with hors d’oeuvres and KIND bars and packed the campus theater. My mom flew in from Florida, and friends drove down from Wisconsin. It was a special night.
We rounded out the first season of the podcast with guests who were filmmakers, best-selling authors, kindness experts, and everyday people who had great stories of kindness I wanted everyone to hear.
Once I got more comfortable behind the mic, I stopped asking God to help me look good and instead asked God to help my guests shine.
I wanted every person I talked with to have a great experience. I couldn’t control whether we had one person or one million people listening. I couldn’t control what happened when I left that sound booth and the episode was posted. So instead, I made it my mission to do everything I could to make my guests feel relaxed enough to share their heart for kindness.
Looking back, I noticed that a funny thing happened. As the podcast evolved, so did I.
Guests who gave me their time also gave me their knowledge and expertise. I learned that four feel-good hormones are released into the body during an act of kindness, and that kindness works as a trifecta, affecting the chemical levels in the giver, receiver, and witness (episode 4 with Brooke Jones from The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation). I learned why some people get a “helper’s high” and some don’t (episode 10 with Allan Luks). I learned how kindness can tame suicidal thoughts (episode 14 with Tammy Joy Lane).
Eventually, I learned enough to write a book. Baker Publishing released The Negativity Remedy: Unlocking More Joy, Less Stress, and Better Relationships through Kindness in October 2020.
Throughout the past four seasons and more than 150 shows, I noticed an interesting connection. Most of the guests had a deep faith in a higher power. Many of those guests pointed straight to Jesus as their source of kindness.
During that time, The Kindness Podcast was a secular show. We were housed under National Public Radio and even aired on NPR One, so I had an obligation to toe the line and make sure we didn’t focus too heavily on any one faith.
I can’t count the number of times the interview would be over, the mics would be off, and I would get to ask the guests about how they saw God’s kindness at work in their lives. That was my favorite part of the conversation, but I couldn’t share it.
Then one day, I had a wake-up call.
Oprah Daily named The Kindness Podcast one of the “16 Best Happiness Podcasts That’ll Uplift You.” In fact, that article listed it as third in that happiness podcast list.
I should have been thrilled. I should have thrown a big party and set off confetti cannons.
The problem was, I didn’t care. Seriously. You get on a national magazine’s radar—Oprah Daily’s radar—and you don’t care? Yep.
I mean, it was nice. I appreciated how easy it became to get big-name guests, but that was about it.
I didn’t care because I knew people didn’t get to hear the best part of the conversation. They may have been uplifted, but they weren’t being emboldened into radical life change by the greatness of God.
It’s the kindness of God that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4). I had seen what God’s firm hand in mine had done in my own life. He had broken the chains of addiction and brought me a joy I couldn’t find on my own. I want other people to experience the miracles that unfold when we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Being on Oprah’s list and having to feign excitement was a wake-up call. I knew I needed to get closer to God and regroup.
In the summer of 2021, I took a three-month sabbatical. I shut down the podcast, my writing, and most of my speaking events. I prayed to God, asking Him to bring back my joy. I needed to know His will going forward, because I felt like I was slipping out of it.
God didn’t disappoint.
The passion God gave me as I spent the summer with Him grew from alphabet blocks to calligraphy.
I realized my love for kindness and for teaching people how to use kindness to overcome negativity at home and in the workplace was God’s step one for my life.
I believe God’s step two for my life is to speak encouragement into the body of frustrated believers. I am being called to churches and Christian businesses. I am being called to equip Jesus’ followers with tools to combat the critical spirit that surrounds us so our behavior matches up with our beliefs.
I am also being called to transition The Kindness Podcast into the Christian realm so I can share the best part of the story—the God part.
I hope you’ll join me in this endeavor. In exchange for 20 minutes of your time every other week, I will do my best to fill you with a renewed sense of hope, an enthusiasm for kindness, and an awakening of all the exciting ways we can interact with the Holy Spirit every single day.
I want every episode of The Kindness Podcast to sweep out the fear, anxiety, or judgement that may be parked in your brain. Each guest and I will give you at least one practical tool you can implement now and more than one reminder that God’s kindness is on the move in this world.
Even though I will be the one behind the mic, I know God will be the one speaking to you, pointing out the places in your life where He is working.
If you want to learn more about me, you can check out this article.
If you’d like to hear some of these conversations I get to have with guests, listen to The Kindness Podcast. I hope it brings a little bit of light to your day.