Smile Cards are a grassroots effort to spread good into the world. The cards are part of a Pay-it-Forward Campaign created by KindSpring. Sort of like a do-good chain letter or a good deed game of tag. However you think of it, the message is simple – spread joy and make someone smile. Sometimes it’s hard to step away from the drama and see the world in a positive light. Between the news on TV, stress at work and external stimuli, we can easily get lost in negativity.
KindSpring‘s mission is to encourage “Small Acts that Change the World.” The company has done a great job of integrating kindness and gratitude into a successful business. The Smile Card Pay-it-Forward Campaign is just one example of the the company has used its mission to grow the business. On the Donate page of the website, the creators explain the success of their project:
“When [we] launched this site in January of 2004 we had no budget or business plan. What we did have was hearts full of trust in the goodness of humanity. By the end of the first year we had shipped over 51,000 smile cards and covered all costs out of our own pockets. By the next year demand had increased manyfold — and people all over the world wanted to know how they could contribute [financially].”
I found it inspiring to learn that people were reaching out to this business, asking how to donate money and time. When I discovered the Smile Cards, I was immediately excited about the idea. I see them not only as a reminder to spread light and make others happy, but also as a reminder to ourselves to smile and look for the good all around.
The smile cards are free, removing the cost barrier of this project. You simply go online and order them, or print them from the downloadable PDF and keep your cards with you at all times. When the moment strikes, you do something (anything) nice for a stranger – whether it’s buying the coffee for the person behind you in line, giving up a parking space, or giving someone a genuine compliment. Then you can leave the Smile Card behind. The card asks that person to now pay-it-forward and do a good deed for someone else, thus passing the card.
In an effort to spread the positivity on a small scale, I’ve given one Smile Card to each of my co-workers and explained the concept behind it. I’ve encouraged them to use the card and am curious to hear what they will do to pass the card around.
To bring this back to social and web, here are my thoughts on lessons learned from the Smile Cards and “The Pay-it-Forward Campaign”.
- Create content and products that make people feel good about supporting you and your company.
- Take on projects and offer services that you believe in. When you believe in a project, you apply more energy to it.
- Word of mouth is powerful and spreads like a wildfire whether good or bad, so aim for the good.
- Remove as many barriers as possible. Look for ways to make it as easy as possible for your users to access and share your content, products & information
- Express gratitude. Take a couple minutes each day to express gratitude. Focus your attention on positive thoughts to keep your mind moving in a creative direction.
- Have a clear message. What is your company’s mission and how do you encompass that into all aspects of your business?
- Step back. When you are knee deep in a project, step back and look at it from someone else’s perspective. Are you still achieving your goals? Are you still driven by the same motivation?
We often don’t look at business as a ‘touchy-feely’ industry and forget that happiness (and smiling) is contagious. Start with the basics and from there build your business and spread the word with integrity.
Feeling left out? You can get your Smile Cards online! Download them and start spreading light and happiness!