Laura Reiss: “Keep your lectures short and to the point!”

Keep your lectures short and to the point! Share fun stories to make your point and give opportunities for interaction with questions and answers. Be yourself, you can’t go wrong. As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laura Reiss. Laura Reiss has always […]

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Keep your lectures short and to the point! Share fun stories to make your point and give opportunities for interaction with questions and answers. Be yourself, you can’t go wrong.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laura Reiss.

Laura Reiss has always believed in a world where people support & celebrate each other. In 2008, she harnessed this belief and started the first Kindness program at Sunrise Park Elementary in Boca Raton, FL, where her children were going to school. This kindness movement that began as a single club became The Kindness Matters 365 Foundation, Inc., a Florida not-for-profit organization that educates children about being kind to themselves and to others. Through extraordinary programs nourished with Gratitude, Compassion and Kindness, Kindness Matters 365 equips kids and teens with knowledge and skills for their social and emotional well-being.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was raised well, at a very young age, my parents taught me and modeled for me, the importance of being grateful for what I have, compassionate and mindful of others and KIND!

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I remember being in the back of the big yellow school bus heading home from a long day in school. I must have been around 8 years old while witnessing the “bully” of our class teasing a fellow classmate. It didn’t make sense to me… why in the world would someone want to make another person feel badly? It was so upsetting that I marched my little 8-year-old self right over to them, in an effort to stop the insanity. Eventually, the bully turned his anger towards me and I will never forget feeling like I could never let that happen to another person, ever!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Our KM365 programing has the capacity to transform the individual students that participate.

Our most often told and my favorite story is of a young boy who often acted up during club meetings and disrupted speakers. Though he was known as the “bully” of the school, no one really knew what was going on inside of his world and his heart. School administrators offered to remove the boy from the club but based on the principles of inclusivity and patience that are integral to Kindness Matters 365, he continued to participate.

During one meeting, in the middle of the school year, an organization that holds an annual free opportunity to go to camp for children with life threatening challenges presented to the participants. The boy sat raptured and at one point he raised his hand and asked if they had any other spots available at Camp Boggy Creek. He shared that his sister had leukemia. The entire room, teachers, parents and students moved and inspired by his request and explanation.

That was the beginning of this boy’s transformation and everyone around understanding the true essence of being kind, even to the bully of the school. They are usually the ones who need it the most.

They were able to find a spot for his sister at Camp Boggy Creek, and this kid became a different person. You don’t know what a little kindness can do. What in his life will he go on to do? Years from now, we are going to see a change in the world. If you grow up learning kindness, it can change everything.

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 being interviewed for a 100,000.00 dollars grant, one of the questions was about how I could guarantee sustainability. I responded in detail about our hundreds of Ambassadors of Kindness being trained through the Foundation to deliver our curriculum and programs all around the world. I was so proud! I later came to understand their question was about financial sustainability, we did not receive the grant. I did however get very clear about how to create and speak about our financial sustainability! Lesson learned.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband Andrew Reiss.

I remember the moment so well when I went to my husband asking if he thought it would be a good idea to start a free after school program where I talked to kids about being grateful, compassionate & kind. With his full support the 1st kindness matters 365 after school program started in 2008.

After 5 years of watching the transformation of children, teachers. parents, administrators and beyond I decided this important conversation was for all children everywhere around the world.

I then went to my husband, once again, and asked what he thought about starting a foundation? He looked at me right in the eyes and said “good luck with that”, and… you have my full support.

In 2014 we became a 501 C3 foundation with a commitment to have a kindness program in every school in the world.

The foundation quickly grew and Kindness programs started popping up all over the country. Before I knew it my husband was asking to be a part of the foundation, to sit on the executive board and help further our important programming.

He is currently Chairman of the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation’s EX Board, Governance Committee and one of my biggest supporters!

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

You don’t have to know everything about everything. You do what you’re good at and surround yourself with others that can contribute by being good at what they excel in.

Exceptional takes time, keep going.

What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

There is something truly magical that happens when you realize your purpose in life, follow your dreams, and dedicate yourself to the betterment of the world. There is also something even more magical that happens when you empower and support others to find their true potential and do the same. This magic occurred for me when I saw the need to teach our children, the future of our world, the importance of gratitude, compassion, and kindness. Everything that I do every day is to inspire a kinder world and the people in it.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

Practice, practice, practice your talks in advance so when you are presenting it flows out easily.

Keep your lectures short and to the point! Share fun stories to make your point and give opportunities for interaction with questions and answers. Be yourself, you can’t go wrong.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

Sometimes you just have to feel the fear, embrace the feeling and know that it’s really excitement about the opportunity to share, inspire and contribute. If you are authentic, somewhat prepared and being of service, you cannot go wrong!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Keep going, exceptional takes time…

Find your WHY and shine your light.

Surround yourself with like-minded people.

YOU are the change!

You be you!

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

With Covid-19 and being quarantined, Elementary, middle and high school students around our country are engaged in “at-home learning” and feeling the effects of social distancing. These kids need our help to create a “new normal”; they need knowledge and strategies so they can thrive academically, emotionally, and socially…now more than ever because they cannot attend school in person, eat lunch with their friends, or gather socially like we did when we were kids.

Through our age-specific KM365 KINDNESS ANYWHERE programs, KM365 provides children and teens with vital social and emotional learning tools for greater coping skills, well-being, and mental health. Kindness Anywhere meetings are online, available for everyone, and led by trained KM365 Ambassadors. Meetings address relevant monthly topics and are jam-packed with interactive lessons, educational videos, engaging speakers, and amazing experiential service projects.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I have a severe self-care routine! I wake up, and start my day, thinking about all the things I am grateful for. I usually start my day around 4:30 am, feed the animals, walk the dog, clean my space ( Kitchen, laundry…), return emails, complete or prepare for any work and meetings for the day, mediate, exercise and eat breakfast before the sun rises. Then I’m ready to enjoy my family as they get up and ready for their day. I’m constantly thinking about my thoughts, actions and intentions making sure they empower and support me. I am a healthy, strong vegetarian eating mostly organic plant based. I am also one of the more optimistic, positive people I know but when life thrown me a ‘curve ball’ I have a treasure chest of tools to empower me in turning anything around.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?” When you change the way you think of things, the things you think of change”

Wayne Dyer

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’ve already started that movement! The Kindness Matters 365 Foundation!!!

As the founder and Chief Kindness officer of the Kindness Matters 365 Foundation, I am committed to achieving global kindness, to have every child on the planet experience acts of kindness that occur where they are. What started out as a single, after school, Kindness club in 2008 with 35 children, has grown into a Kindness Matters 365 movement with over 500 trained Ambassadors of Kindness, and more than 100 programs in 12 states. We have collected and distributed over 2,000,000 dollars in goods, supported over 46,900 individuals, raised 4 million dollars in disaster relief, reported over 750,000 community service hours and impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people of all ages, religion, color, political views, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds. This Kindness conversation is for everyone!!!

Through the Foundation’s success, evolution, and our commitment to empower people and transform education, we created a Kindness Curriculum and training with a structure and platform to deliver it.

My commitment is that our children, their children, and their children’s children are raising their children in a better world.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens! Dream world:

Panashe Dasai

Reality: My Mother, Linda Baratz, my 1st and constant source of support, inspiration and infinite love.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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