…I also think that we all have to be taught how to be kinder in a practical way. Our responses online may arise from an emotional moment. We are triggered to be angry when someone posts something thoughtless. The same mechanism can be used in a positive sense. If somebody says something that you want to respond to, take a pause and imagine their loved one died today, and they aren’t acting like themselves. This actually happened to me in real life — where someone’s negative comment came the morning after their mother passed. It taught me to wait before responding, and to assume that anyone who is cruel has had a really rough day or life. It helps buy ourselves time so we don’t repeat their error and reciprocate with an emotionally fueled response.
I had the pleasure to interview Adrienne Bankert.
Adrienne is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning correspondent for ABC News, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline. She reported live from Chiang Rai, Thailand, during the rescue of thirteen boys and their soccer coach as the world watched the historic rescue. She traveled to London to cover the Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and was the first network journalist to report live from the scene when several police officers were massacred in Dallas, Texas in 2016. Her compelling interviews from guests that range from wounded warriors to celebrities including Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and more have gained widespread attention. She has worked in local news in Sacramento, Dallas-Fort Worth, and in Los Angeles as a host, anchor, health and wellness, and general assignment reporter. She remains committed to the goal she declared early on in her journey to “change the face of television,” and is a regular speaker at events providing practical and inspirational wisdom that launches people into the highest and best versions of their lives.
Bankert is passionate about financial literacy and teaching generosity to all ages, having partnered with a number of charities. She is a philanthropic engineer, helping to design new ways to meet needs and to make dreams come true that are worthwhile investments for community and corporate partners.
As a consultant, Bankert is a friend, mentor, and tour guide to men and women — from established leaders to those in the early stages of their career — helping them find their way in the greatest adventure they will ever embark upon: LIFE.
Adrienne is the Author of “Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone”
Thank you so much for doing this with us Adrienne! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I’m a journalist with ABC News — based in New York. I am originally from California, although I was “adopted” by Texas! I enjoyed a great few years in Dallas/Fort Worth and loved it. My ambition to be on network TV carried me here to NY. I’ve traveled the world and am very grateful for the opportunity to sit down and have conversations with some amazing people. One of my favorite things to do is to strike up conversations with strangers.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One I love was when I was in Hong Kong to interview Dwayne Johnson and the cast of his movie “Skyscraper” in 2018. Meanwhile in Thailand, a youth soccer team and their coach were trapped in a flooded cave. I went from flying over Hong Kong in a helicopter with Neve Campbell, and making dim sum with ‘The Rock’ to waking up, filing a brief Asian market business report for World News at the crack of dawn, to taking two very small planes from China to Chiang Rai, Thailand and getting in position for the arrival of the boys by ambulance to the hospital. It was all about the adrenaline rush that week! It was hot, sweaty and very rewarding work with a lot of compassion for both stories. Talking to Dwayne — he is all about his family, and so though it was a Hollywood action movie, I focused on the family element in our interview. In Thailand I told the story from the viewpoint that these children hadn’t seen their parents, and couldn’t have visits immediately after rescue for fear their immune systems were compromised. I always look for ways to take larger than life people and events and make them relatable and real. Couple that with the culture, language and traditions in two very different Asian nations, and it was exciting for sure!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
NOT FUNNY, but my first day on the job of the first news station I overslept. I was hired to work a split shift and I had to be in at 2:30 a.m. until 9 a.m., and then back again from 4–6:30 p.m. for the evening news. I came in that morning high on adrenaline and couldn’t sleep for hours. I was so excited. I somehow managed to get my nap in and woke up at 5:30 p.m.! I saw several missed calls. I drove as fast as I could into the station even though I missed my time. I wanted to make sure I apologized in person! I was very sternly reminded that they “took a big chance on hiring me” and “I couldn’t have this happen again.” I felt like such a failure. But, it’s proof that they took the right chance on me! All was forgiven. I learned that you want to be kind to everyone — especially the people who have to cover for you when you mess up. Because someone has to speak on your behalf when you’re not there. You’re going to make mistakes for sure. Your graciousness and humility will be remembered and reciprocated. And, the higher you go, more is required of you — so better to grow out of and learn from mistakes quickly!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My e-course for my book “Your Hidden Superpower” is something I am really excited about. I do not like personal development that is too nebulous or just a really good conversation. I need lots of life hacks in my life. The e-course is full of the lessons learned at work and in conversations that have helped me develop kindness from a lifestyle to an identity. Truly practical.
This is the fourth e-course I have done. The other three are on a platform called www.genconnectu.com — which is a wonderful developmental, educational site that endeavors to bridge younger and older generations. One course is on championing connections, one is on perfectionism and architecting the “perfect” life, and the third is a phenomenal live event that teaches us about how to have the best day ever.
A lot of the basis of these courses is included in my upcoming book, “Your Hidden Superpower — The Kindness that Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone.” I wrote it with the hope that I could help people see kindness from a completely new perspective.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Social media is a great way to connect with people. What are some ways people can be “kind online?”
I think the key is to act as if someone is always watching you. Even children act better when they know someone is watching them. Not in a big brother or watchdog kind of way, but an “imagine you’re famous” kind of way. I believe the key to being kinder online first is training and telling people — you already hold someone’s attention- you are valuable, worthy, and making a difference NOW. Secondly, we leverage the desire of more and more people today — who want to go viral, be known, for what they do or say. I say that we all can be famously kind. Ryan Reynolds told me he never makes a joke that makes fun of other people — if it could be construed that way — he turns it around on himself. I think unkind people sometimes think they are funny. Be funny like Ryan Reynolds.
I also think that we all have to be taught how to be kinder in a practical way. Our responses online may arise from an emotional moment. We are triggered to be angry when someone posts something thoughtless. The same mechanism can be used in a positive sense. If somebody says something that you want to respond to, take a pause and imagine their loved one died today, and they aren’t acting like themselves. This actually happened to me in real life — where someone’s negative comment came the morning after their mother passed. It taught me to wait before responding, and to assume that anyone who is cruel has had a really rough day or life. It helps buy ourselves time so we don’t repeat their error and reciprocate with an emotionally fueled response.
The coronavirus outbreak impacted millions of people around the world. *Can you share some incredible acts of kindness you’ve seen and experienced or stories you’ve read online and why they are meaningful?
My favorite is from all of my neighbors in Manhattan; those I know and those I do not. The new “happy hour” or “golden hour” as so many of us describe it that happens every night at 7 p.m. People banging pots and pans and cheering like they are at a baseball game and ringing cowbells from their fire escapes and windows is so much fun. It is so encouraging. The cars driving by are honking to join in on the celebration. It is all to support our front line workers. It is the most unifying thing. It makes it feel like all is right with us even as the world is shut down. The fact that my neighbors kept doing it every night for months is awe-inspiring.
I also know people who have launched non-profit causes and individuals who are moved with compassion who started providing meals for hospital staff, police and non-profits. People who adopted their friends who were furloughed and gave them enough money to cover meals for a month. My favorite kindness is the embracing of people from miles away. We have all had to learn to be kind from a distance.
Many people are feeling overwhelmed by negative news stories they read online. What is your advice to people who want to stay up-to-day on what is happening in the world while limiting their exposure to negative news?
I asked one of the girls I mentor to help me find kindness stories and she said that it really encouraged her by looking for kindness as she would have searched a news headline. For every 30-minutes of news stories, why not take at least the same amount of time to look up positive stories, kindness accounts (there are tons of them now) and humanity stories? It is a practical way to stay balanced and hopeful. We are joined to our phones and need to advance the power of social media in a positive way.
If you had the power to influence thousands of people about how to best comment and interact online, what would you suggest to them? What are your “5 things we should each do to help make social media and the internet, a kinder and more tolerant place”? Can you give a story or an example for each?
1. Post only what you would not mind being broadcast around the world on national television, posted on the front page of the biggest newspapers in the world, and that would go viral on every social media platform. Think of everything you say with that much weight and you’ll be more conscientious about what you post.
2. Pay more attention to the comments that you see, especially from friends and colleagues that you know. People are posting red flags all the time and if we would actually just tune-in, we would see when we need to take the conversation off-line. Instead of posting “oh I hope you feel better” — text that person or send them an email and ask them if they really do need to speak with someone. Especially, if you see something posted online that looks like a cry for help.
3. Remember that direct messages are synonymous with a public post. Sometimes social media can give us a sense of being unwatched or private but since everything can be screenshot, make sure to treat it as public even if it’s personal. Ensure you are ok sending something that might be shared.
4. Social media can be a lot fun — but every time you post, be conscious of your reputation. Like I said earlier — act like people are watching you, searching for you, and want to know more about you. Anyone who is pursuing success has to know that someone is possibly going to search your old posts and comments to find your track record. Don’t think you have to walk on eggshells, but consider your future and the big picture every time you share online.
5. Treat social media more like it’s a first impression or a first date, or a first meeting with someone rather than this alternative universe. We have to begin to see that the technologies we are using have become like the traditional handshake. This is not some false reality or even virtual reality anymore, it’s very real — and so you act a lot differently when you know that this is *just the start* of a relationship with someone. And, that there is a likelihood that anyone who likes your posts or DM’s you, could be someone you meet or, better yet need, in real life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have a ton of favorite quotes, and live by so many words. But, one that has guided me and impacted me over the past three years and even while writing this book is: “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be” — Diane Von Furstenberg
I have always been a big dreamer — but there was a time in the past decade when the “doing” started being eclipsed by the “being.” I have had many friends who are older than me and I learned lessons just by watching them. I realized that at the end of the day, the who was more important than the what or the why. Who was I? Who would I be in 20–30 years? Who did I want to help? This quote has kept me focused on legacy and not just accomplishing more.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Oprah Winfrey. Why not?!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me @abontv and Your Hidden Superpower @theunbeatablekind