Sunday Roundup – June 8, 2014

Intention. It is the reason why we act – we intend to get a result.

Exactly what the result is, however, is the important part of intention. Intending only to be kind will get the result you want, even if you don’t know you want it.

Treating People with Kindness

Kindness begins with one of two intentions: 1) to receive something in return or 2) for the sake of doing it. Reason 2 is best, as it focuses on one’s own intent.

There is no expectation of return, so there is no chance to be disappointed. Expecting nothing in return makes it more pleasant when one receives something in return anyway.

Pillars of Trust

Business owners will consider Reason 1 first. That is how a business functions: it is intended to generate a profit .

Reason 2 to be kind does not expect return, but that does not mean there will be no return. Being kind with no intention of instant return is more noticeable than one would imagine, and doing so creates stories of trust that are worth sharing.

Clients sharing their own stories about an amazing business works far better than a business telling the same stories. There is no better endorsement than “on top of delivering the goods at the right price, they were exceptionally kind”.

Career Boosters: The Value of Volunteering

“I did it for the sake of itself” is not the best interview content, so the article linked above focuses on direct benefits of volunteering. Though one may volunteer for the sake of doing it, the interviewees make it clear that there are tangible benefits.

Just like being kind, volunteering has more benefits than “more business” or “another sale”. Volunteering is kindness given action – doing good deeds for the sake of doing it. Picking up skills, knowledge, and relationships are side-effects that need no warning label.

Over to You…

Do you give away your time? What about your kindness? Tell a story about the unexpected benefits of your intention to be a good person.


Before We Begin a Witch Hunt…

Hello everyone! My apologies for a late blog: some ducks had to be put in a row for this one to be published. Now, on to defending internships…

In the past 4 months alone, there has been a deluge of news stories exemplifying bad internships. However, unpaid internships are not inherently evil. The circumstances and result of internships, on the other hand, could pass inspection as evil.

For those same 4 months, two days of every week have been booked for what is essentially an internship. It is not called that, but it functions the same way: I do work for a company and am not paid. This arrangement came about because I met with an experienced member of the marketing industry who invited me to learn more about said industry by doing volunteer work at the company where she works.

What Works

This internship works for a few reasons. It takes up only six hours every week, and I can work additional hours if I feel like it or need to so that work is completed. My direct supervisor is acting as a mentor: answering questions, inviting me to participate in tasks, allowing me to make my own mistakes, and providing honest feedback.

The most important part is how much control I had over the arrangement. I was asked to set my hourly commitment. I am expected to be honest if I think that I will be unable to complete a task.

Obviously those tasks benefit the company, but they are also relevant to my career goals. That is enhanced further by the aforementioned face-to-face feedback that flows both ways. The intentional results are refinement of my skills (helping me) that benefits the company (skilled workers are generally do better work) and refinement of current employees’ skills in the organization (see previous parentheses).

Examples of What Does Not Work

I am not stuck in an internship of 12-hour days doing phone surveys on the premise that is “relevant work” for a management position (don’t teach me about quality control charts or how to manage the differences between individual employees – why would I need those as a manager?). I am not bussing tables for free at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver (I am still reeling at the fact Fairmont is serious).

The Issues

Based on what I have read in the articles above and my own experience, it seems like there are two main problems that make unpaid internships unbearable for interns.


Human beings have fundamental needs. Eating, sleeping, drinking water, and having access to shelter and clothes are important for everyday life; so is having time to mentally unwind. No pay, no time to earn money on the side and limited leisure time because of a high number of working hours (and not listening to complaints) has unfortunate results.

Some will argue that the interns have made a choice to work the hours they do. That is true in some cases, and I am sure any intern takes their positions with faith that they will be treated well. Unrealistic time commitment expectations and no chance to have complaints heard does not constitute “well treatment”.

Actual Learning

Six 40-hour weeks performing phone surveys do not qualify as broadening a skill set. One week of phone surveys? That will teach someone a lot about the ground-level work and how to be patient in the face of anger and resentment, so it is not useless. However, an additional five weeks of phone surveys is like using a sledgehammer to drive home a finishing nail.

How about bussing tables at the Fairmont Vancouver for free? What can one learn from that internship? How to stack and carry more plates than looks reasonable and fake a smile.

The Bottom Line

Internships are not inherently evil. Everyone involved in an internship can benefit: interns gain skills, organizations gain trained employees and current employees (if they’re smart/willing to accept criticism) can refine their own skills. Keep internships alive, but make sure they deliver what is promised without pushing a human being past their bodily limits.