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Ron Kaufman from Frisbee to New York Times Bestselling Author

February 19, 2016

Did you know that the Latin root-word for service is slave?

Talking to Ron Kaufman was very interesting. Want to know how to make the experience of providing service so passionately “up lifting” to you as much as for your customers even when it’s a tough client?The energy you bring back home with you will affect your family so you better find a way to be passionate while you are providing service.Ron Kaufman is is a New York Times bestselling author and one of the world’s most passionate and engaging speakers you will ever see on stage, on this episode he talks about how we are all service providers. All of us are born to “serve” each other and a bigger purpose, why else are we here!What makes Ron so amazing is that he is truly serving his purpose of uplifting the dignity of the service provider as well as making it an enjoyable process.Life loves all of us enough that your passion will emerge as long as you bring your full self to the game, which is exactly what took Ron from playing Frisbee in school to become the New York Times bestselling author he is today!Enjoy this passionate interview and pay it forward & share this episode with others who need it!Live PassionatelyMoustafa HamwiHello everyone and welcome back to Passion Sundays, the best way to end a week and start another. Our guest today is one of the most passionate, engaging speakers; an expert in the world when it comes to customer service and uplifting service. He is a New York Times best seller, with the book “Uplifting your service”. Our guest today is Ron Kaufman.Moustafa: Ron, how are you?Ron: Hey! Pleasure to be with you. Thank you.Moustafa: How is it going?Ron: I’m good. I’m good.Moustafa: If there’s a passionate speaker, I would have to say it’s you, because the first time I ever saw you on stage, I saw the energy and I’m like- “Ok, that’s how I wanna become.” What’s the secret to all of this passion?Ron: Hmmm…there’s something that happens, at least for me, when I get on stage when there’s an audience. And there is this level of energy just comes flying through, which is about taking care of, giving to, loving, serving, bringing value to the people I’m with. And, you know, some people say- “Ohh, he’s just saying that”, but, it’s physically true for me.Moustafa: OkRon: My wife says sometimes, as we’re growing our business, the different aspects of the business. Sometimes, people are saying- “Oh, maybe he should be writing more books. Or maybe he should be behind a video camera preparing more material rather than being on stage.” And she says- “No no, if you take him off stage, you’re going to kill him.” So, there’s that passion that shows up, electrically, energetically.Moustafa: So, how important is passion, when we’re talking about success in life? You are very successful; you’ve achieved world’s authority on your topic. Best-selling author. I mean, I’m sure this came from a lot of passion for what you are doing. How important is for people to have passion to succeed?Ron: Let me query back. What exactly do you mean by passion? You’re the passion guy, who writes Passion Sunday. What do you mean when you say passion?Moustafa: Passion for me is that drive and energy, when somebody…as you’ve just said- The minute you come on stage something comes up, that’s what I call passion. It’s that never-ending source of energy that comes up when you are doing what you really love or what you’re passionate about.Ron: So, is your sense of energy then that kind of passion, that high energy, driven, motivated, inspired, aspirational, is that what you mean by passion?Moustafa: Definitely, most of them, but doesn’t have to be high energy all of the time, because some people high energy or high energy, there are people that are more mellow but they are still passionate.Ron: Ar, so ok! So, then passion isn’t just the level of energy. It’s something else. Yeah?Moustafa: It’s the sustainability probably of that energy, also the continuous ability to keep going at the thing that you are working to.Ron: There you go! There you go! The continuous ability to keep going at something that you are working towards. So, then what’s the key, is how much, to me, do you actually believe in what you’re working toward. Right? Now sometimes people, especially early on in a career say- “I am passionate about getting that new car.” Or, “I am passionate about getting my book published” It’s more like, something I want to achieve but you can be passionate about it because it is something that really matters to you. Maybe later on in life or for some people that catches them much earlier in life, what are you really doing this for? What’s this really about? And, I’m just one of those very, very fortunate people for whom the topic aligns with the outcome that I’m committed to help achieve in the world. Ok, so when we talk about uplifting service and you think about the world “service”, you know, the Latin root of “service” is slave. So, “service” is got a problem because who wants to be a slave? You know, the customer is king, what does that make me? The lowly guy! And, it’s one of the reasons that some people say, you know- “I do not want to be a service provider. I want to be a professional.” As if, a professional is not a service provider! So, when I say “uplifting service”, I not only want to improve the quality of service that people get as customers and that’s the whole corporate customer service domain, but I also want to have the experience of serving one the uplifting for the service provider. Right? So, it’s uplifting service, and then the third is to uplift the dignity of the whole idea that all of us are here to serve each other. I mean, why else are humans here on the planet? None of us can be here alone, we need to grow up with each other and take care of each other and so for me that’s uplifting service.Moustafa: I love the angle you brought where you actually have to give to be able to get, and you have to serve to be able to be served, internally and bringing that back to the word “passion” actually talking about Latin. You know, the word “passion” comes from the Latin word “passio” which means “suffering”Ron: AhhhhhMoustafa: Passion of the Christ?Ron: Yes, yes yes. So, something about which you are so called that you are willing to struggle, to sacrifice, to commit, and then if you see the beauty of its purpose, then the energy comes and you go “passio”Moustafa: So, talking now about customer services, it’s pretty much…I mean, I love how you position it nicely but it is pretty much tough topic because, as you said, it is about enslaving in a way. If you do it with love, it doesn’t feel like enslaving, but, being able to service so much when the person on the other side is not appreciating and giving you feedback that you like. And especially with industries like hospitality and other industries that are based on providing continuously with that service with a smile. How can one keep that energy and that passion and that smile and engagement?Ron: Yeah.Moustafa: Because, even if you love it, you would get drained after a while.Ron: Yeah, there is wear and tear. Especially, as you say in something like a hospitality business or being a bank teller or someplace where there’s high volume and not everybody is in a good mood. So, then I think it really speaks to- why are you really doing that with your life? I mean, if you are doing it to make enough money to put food on the table and you’d really rather be doing something else, then I hope that you are pursuing that other dream in your spare time, free time, becoming better and better at it, so that one day it becomes more emergent in your life. But otherwise, if you are saying- “Oh! I gotta work on something, you know, and I’ve got this job and I got a promotion, now I’m the supervisor or whatever.” Can you get underneath the transactional level of “did he smile back?”, “did I get a compliment?”, “did they appreciate me?”, “did that person make my day easier or worse?”, and get below that level to the more “What am I really bringing about here in the world?” “Do I have the opportunity to touch other people’s lives in a way that when they go on in the rest of their day, they’ll be lifted up a little bit and not counted in such a tit-for-tat manner. In such a “Well, if I do, you should do for me.” In other words, don’t keep score at that level, work at a deeper level that says- “The more I give, the more positive I bring to the world. The more I uplift other people, it’s going to come around. It just may not come around in the way, you know, I can count on it right now, but it’s going to come around.”Moustafa: So, I am stuck in a job where I’m not really passionate or engaged or I love it. Fine, I see that I am serving people, but it’s not really what I want to do, I am not sure what I want to do. How do you handle someone like this who is in a customer service type of a setting, they are not very clear on what they want, but they are not finding the energy in where they are now? What’s the best way for them to stay engaged? As you said, until they figure out what they want to do next, but for now, I ‘ve got to pay the bills, I’ve got a family to take care of, there’s so much that I need to take care of now.Ron: Ok so, for the service provider who is at that level, if they are as you say- I’ve got to pay the bills, I’ve got a family to take care of, is to be aware that the energy I bring back home with me when I leave work is going to affect my family. So then do I want to come back from work drained, little bit exhausted, I’ve left some of myself on the floor over there. Now I come home and you know, I am that kind of guy at home or do I want to come home from work in a way where you know, I brought some good energy back. In which case, then the way I play when I am at work, the way I engage there I’ve got to invent a game that allows me to have a sense of “I’m here I want to bring my energy up so that when I go home I bring my best self home” How do I do that then? How do I interact with my colleagues during the day? How do I interact with my customers during the day? So that my energy goes up. Right? It’s not going to work if you say- “Well, I am going to that, erghhhh, you know, I’ll show that customer. I’ll beat that customer, then I’ll feel better and go home” It doesn’t work like that. Right? You’ve gotta go home having made other people felt better, so that you actually feel better.Moustafa: I love it! So, it’s basically about you enjoying what you are doing now until you move to the next thing.Ron: That’s the challenge for the service provider. The bigger challenge I think is for the leader of the organization that has those people in it. In other words, what’s that person’s role? He can’t say- “Hey, if you’re not highly motivated, quit.”, because, he needs the labor. He needs that person who may have some technical skill or other competency, but then can that leader cultivate a culture of uplifting service? So, that even though people may come to work not entirely inspired, motivated, ambitious about touching other people’s lives, the culture itself, provides that encouragement that motivation. And that’s really what the book’s all about.Moustafa: Obviously that’s just not the book, we’ve got the master behind the book and the obvious solution is go get Ron Kaufman for that. So, let’s say somebody wants all of that, can’t afford, not ready, can’t reach out to Ron. What’s the one nugget, you can say- “You know what, if there’s anything you can apply quickly to get that passion back into customer service, what would that be?Ron: Actually, given today’s social digital mobile world, and I don’t say this as self-promotion, I say this as a valid answer of your question and say- Go to YouTube, type in my name, type in the word ‘service’, find the 300 videos online that are free. Start watching at least one of them before you go to work or on your way to work. You find one you like, sit your team down, share it with them and then when your company is ready, and you want to do something bigger, be in touch.Moustafa: Love it! That’s similar what we are doing with Passion Sundays. Just free content for everybody to be able to enable them. So, now talking about, how did you end up in the whole area of customer service? Was that a clear passion of yours from the beginning and that brings back to people about the clarity of “Maybe I don’t know what’s my passion now but would it emerge or do I need to be clear from the get-go?Ron: I think life loves all of us enough that it will emerge, so long as you bring your full self to the game. Ok? And don’t say- “I wanna see it! I’ve gotta find it! Right now! Grgh” Because, you know, that’s the kind of expressed frustration that kind of keeps it at bay. There’s a certain amount of mystery and magic in life, right? So, in my case for example, my grandmother taught kindergarten for forty years, ok, in New York city and she was the kind of woman who could see these two boys fighting and go over and you know, separate them and yet, have each of them feel like they won. And then when their parents came in, you know to pick up the kids at the end of the day, she’d have each parent feel like they had the most amazing child on the planet. And, and, and, right? And, I looked at that and learned from her- “Wow, every single person you engage with, you could engage in a way that leaves them feeling better about themselves and that will then affect other people. Right? Because, she called it love. She didn’t call it service. And then when I was in school, I mean this body is not a basketball body right? I’m not going to play football, right? So, I was on the ultimate Frisbee team and the ultimate Frisbee team was this sport where it didn’t really matter how big you were. You know, if you were good with the frisbee and I was, but, the no.1, the first rule of the game is called the spirit of the game. And the spirit of the game in ultimate frisbee is that, the players work it out on the field. We don’t have referees. It’s not somebody else’s call, it’s our call. So, even if there is a dispute, we’ve got to work it out. And we work it out in the spirit of the game and so that gave me access to being able to play, to become a coach, to become captain of my university ultimate frisbee. I was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, you know, for ultimate frisbee, for bringing it out into the world. You know, it took me all over Europe, I got to meet people in India because I had a seven-dollar piece of plastic and I would throw it to them. And of course you know how frisbee flies, someone would see it and they would try to throw it back. And, I teach them how to throw it back and the next thing, you know, I was invited home for dinner and I could sleep on the couch and you know, I got to know the world that way. And then, when I learnt more about adult education, Singapore reached out to me and said- “We need to change the nature of thinking in the entire country, from low cost manufacturing, do it right, you know be productive, 6 sigma, zero deffects to “oh, we have to be more flexible and adaptive and responsive and proactive and collaborative to take care of this magical thing called customers”. And so, I was invited to be one the people that help re-educate the nation. To become a better service providing nation, focused on adding more value through service. I didn’t pick that. Life picked me for that.Moustafa: I love it! And, I’m sure why life picked you! I can see the passion and energy starting from a frisbee to whatever you’re gonna do. It’s just having that passion and engagement and I’m sure our viewers loved it! Thank you very much Ron.What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion. If you’d like to stay engaged, subscribe to our social media channels and if you want even more valuable interviews and tips and tricks on how to live passionately, then go to and subscribe to our Passion Sundays newsletter.Until the next episode, live passionately.Moustafa Hamwi

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Moustafa Hamwi - Keynote Speaker, Coach, Author