Bert Pope: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”

Any attack, if it has any validity, can be absorbed and if any piece or part has merit, acknowledge it. Say thank you and move on. I would not engage in debate with someone attacking. That’s where it goes bad. If its ramblings, I feel “How important I must be to be the target of […]

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Any attack, if it has any validity, can be absorbed and if any piece or part has merit, acknowledge it. Say thank you and move on. I would not engage in debate with someone attacking. That’s where it goes bad. If its ramblings, I feel “How important I must be to be the target of such engagement?”. Never respond, it only encourages.

As a part of my interview series about the things we can each do to make social media and the internet a kinder and more tolerant place, I had the pleasure to interview Bert Pope. Bert is a father of four, the founder and CEO of Awesome Company Worldwide ( and the leader of the global #BEAWESOME movement. Following the tragic death of his wife from a texting-while-driving accident, Bert was left to navigate raising four children under the age of ten. Wanting them to become kind-hearted adults, he searched for tools in our digital/social society to help them create and celebrate kindness. When he saw a void in this area, he created the Awesome app to address it. Awesome is the social network for kindness. Members are encouraged and rewarded for doing and sharing acts of kindness in their daily lives. Points are earned for good deeds, volunteering, helping others and much more. Individuals, corporations and governments connect through Awesome, take action and see the ripple effects and positive impact on humanity they create. A global movement for good. Awesome! In addition to spreading kindness around the world, Bert is a successful real estate agent in Tallahassee, Florida. He has also created several successful shows TV and radio shows, including The Real Estate Weekend Showcase show on NBC, Extraordinary Homes of Tallahassee and Real Estate Radio on Cumulus.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After my wife Jill died in 2016 from a texting-while-driving accident, I was left to navigate raising our 4 children under 10. Making sure my children grow into beautiful kind-hearted adults is my greatest goal. My Children are growing up in a digital Social World and I want to help provide them with the best tools possible, but there are no digital tools to create and celebrate kindness.

So, I began my quest to create digital tools to help my children spread kindness and positivity making it fun to do good in the world and be rewarded. I trademarked the word “Awesome” for sharing content on social, web and apps and was awarded the single word identifier AWESOME by apple. I now have launched “Awesome” a social networking game for good, creating and sharing kindness challenges.

Gifting animated emoji coins to users, such as love, laugh, awesome and happy birthday along with a personal message from the sender. I also have “Give an Awesome” (IOS only) a content creation platform that shares memes of celebration from a library or by creating your own with photos to celebrate others with Awesome stickers.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I have become a great fan of failure. It is certainly not what you are going for, but when it hits, learning to pivot to where your focus should be is powerful. Using testing groups to understand what the need truly is and not what you alone perceive it to be.

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?

When testing the first kindness challenges on the app the task for users was in order to receive points for completing a kindness challenge a user would take a photo of doing the challenge (1) and then share how it went (2) and then GEO check in (3).

Well, My friends in Indonesia seemed to pick up on the app right away and they loved the social gamification of sharing but I don’t think they understood , There were photos being shared of goats, a cigarette, a shoe and just random items, but they enjoyed those points LOL

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The Awesome Company is dedicated to help provide tools to harness the power of technology to advance humanity. Providing fun and engaging digital platforms to perpetuate creation of positivity and kindness. Awesome, Social Networking game for good, will begin as a tool to help users have fun creating kindness and sharing positivity, but the evolution of Awesome as a positive social network, helping provide users with a positive footprint on humanity and be able to quantify that with seeing the impact they have on the world. See the digital ripple effects each act of kindness has. I would ultimately like to share a map of the world with each person’s profile. Helping each user to curate time, money and materials donated and the impact they have individually and with groups.

This is what I call the “Clarence” effect. Clarence was the angel in the movie it’s a wonderful life. Helping George to realize his impact on the world and not focus on the negative, sometimes overwhelming anxiety of the moment. To provide this as a tool to empower each user that they are AWESOME!!!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Have you ever been publicly shamed or embarrassed on social media? Can you share with our readers what that experience felt like?

I have had several different times where people have made negative comments. I wear bow ties, someone compared me to Pee Wee Herman in a negative way. Another was outraged I had shared my post for a new platform sharing positivity on his thread. Basically, some person was telling me to take my positivity and shove it…LOL. He didn’t realize I had purchased Facebook ads sharing my release. It and I could have easily been blocked or deleted.

That is what I did. I just deleted those comments.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

I didn’t engage, so it was fine. At first it was interesting but then I made a choice to delete their comment. They can write what they wish. It was deleted and forgotten from my feed. I don’t remember if I blocked them 100%

When one reads the comments on Youtube or Instagram, or the trending topics on Twitter, a great percentage of them are critical, harsh, and hurtful. The people writing the comments may feel like they are simply tapping buttons on a keyboard, but to the one on the receiving end of the comment, it is very different. This may be intuitive, but I feel that it will be instructive to spell it out. Can you help illustrate to our readers what the recipient of a public online critique might be feeling?

When I see that type of negative behavior, I feel that the person needing to engage/share in a negative way is seeking the attention they lack and will do anything to be acknowledged by anyone, even if it is bad.

Do you think a verbal online attack feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?

Any attack, if it has any validity, can be absorbed and if any piece or part has merit, acknowledge it. Say thank you and move on. I would not engage in debate with someone attacking. That’s where it goes bad. If its ramblings, I feel “How important I must be to be the target of such engagement?”. Never respond, it only encourages.

What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?

I think the younger the person is the more harmful it would be at the moment. Long term? depends on the situation.

Many people who troll others online, or who leave harsh comments, can likely be kind and sweet people in “real life”. These people would likely never publicly shout at someone in a room filled with 100 people. Yet, on social media, when you embarrass someone, you are doing it in front of thousands of even millions of people, and it is out there forever. Can you give 3 or 4 reasons why social media tends to bring out the worst in people; why people are meaner online than they are in person?

Some of the time, not all. The inability to hear voice inflection and delivery makes for a wide range of interpretations. We see it all the time in texting someone you know, and they know you. They read a text from you and somehow because of how it is being perceived alters the message. That is why the evolution of the LOL and emojis have been necessary to understand the context in which the message is being delivered.

Sometimes these friends that you don’t know as well as others in the thread may be using dry humor to drive the conversation but to an outsider the content is shameful.

I do have one friend that I grew up with and have not seen for years. Along with my other friends, he grew up with knowing that on Thursdays, for whatever reason, John chooses to have a few cocktails and start into some interesting chatter on Facebook about one topic or another. We all know this. I still follow him and love him as my friend. I don’t engage on those days.

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?

Freedom or free will is powerful. It is a choice to engage and be as I call it sucked into the rabbit hole of negativity and then prey on your consciousness.

There are terms in social media, i.e. Feed, content. Is your feed, feeding you in a positive way and why not? Is the content you create benefiting you and others to enjoy the contentment of life, sharing the journey you wish to share of your awesome world?

If you have negative people or content being shared within your feed. There is a block button/delete button to not allow them to feed you anymore. You are in control, so take control.

It’s nice to have lots of friends, but do you know them all? Who are you sharing your social world with?

Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”.

Be the change you want to see in the World. Don’t choose to engage in the negative, because it will only cloud your day and hurt yourself.

Freedom of speech prohibits censorship in the public square. Do you think that applies to social media? Do American citizens have a right to say whatever they want within the confines of a social media platform owned by a private enterprise?

For me the beauty of social media is connecting with and staying in touch with friends and family. The freedom for all the world equally, to share on a free platform that every person’s digital page has the same template, opportunities and abilities. Rich or poor, regardless of color of skin or where you live in the world. It is amazing 🙂

If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?

Providing more positive choices and abilities to help engage users to celebrate and lift up others. Allowing for the ability to share times of depression and not be pitied, but helped. No one feels awesome 100% of the time. Creating a virtual hug or the ability to love one another to navigate life. Currently, the facade of social media is difficult for others who believe their situation is not as Awesome as their friends…this is where we need to work a bit.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. It’s not money.”

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 🙂

Warren Buffett, because of Coca-Cola. I would suggest Coca-Cola purchase one of the largest pharmacies in the US. Coca-Cola’s origin began in a pharmacy/soda fountain. Since we’re now in the digital era, the area that used to house the photo lab in the pharmacies could be turned into a gathering area, coffee shop/soda fountain/Starbucks type place to share the full line of Coca- Cola products. Their worldwide distribution of products has provided them with the ability to create large kiosk shops in 3rd world countries empowering economic growth hubs, forming communities in the middle of nowhere, acting as the only resource for many in the world by providing water and other necessities. With the pharmacy industry, they could provide all kinds of medical supplies.

Generic drugs have been the subject of unfortunate markups even after patent expiration. Coca-Cola, having a broad business portfolio and not needing to suck out every dime, would make a fair profit while defeating those that take advantage of people that must purchase at whatever cost to maintain heath, life or quality of life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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