Award winning journalist and author Adrienne Bankert has released her first book. You might recognize her from her reports on ABC News’ platforms, such as Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and ABC News Live. Ms. Bankert gave us an interview ahead of her presentation on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. The book, Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone, highlights the importance of compassion and kindness when dealing with competition and negativity in life and at work.
What was the motivation behind your book?
My mentor knew I had a dream of writing a book—I had been pondering what to write about and he said, “hey you should write your first book on kindness. Your perspective is different and people would be helped by it,” and that was it. I started answering the questions I knew other people had because I had them too!
You have taken a very different perspective on what makes people unbeatable, what led you to the realization that the superpower is kindness?
I was looking for answers myself. It was getting to be more and more difficult to encourage people I mentored and coached that they were special or unique. I wanted a really simple way to convey to them that they didn’t need to compete because they were so one-of-a-kind. However, I didn’t really know how to tell them why we were special! So I investigated it and had this ‘a-ha!’ moment, that our kind self is our best self. That our individual kindness, our voice, our gestures are like our fingerprint.
Sometimes it is difficult to show kindness when we deal with others who are rude or unkind, what tips can you give us on how to deal with people who can be unkind at times?
Many times, we see kindness as allowing people to step on us or disrespect us. However, the more I have studied kindness in ourselves and others, the more I could clearly see that the one who remained kind under pressure, was the truly powerful one. The one who could keep their head in the game, and be a problem solver instead of losing it and getting caught up in a debate was the one who had the greatest advantage. When we see kindness from that standpoint, it is easier to keep your cool even when people seem they deserve to be told off. I also always remember to lead with compassion, rude or mean spirited people are hurting people, and there are a lot of people hurting right now. Even if someone seems like the worst—we can remember that we do not know who died, we don’t know what they are dealing with at home. We never know what someone else is really going through.
Why do people need to be real and how can our realness unveil our hidden superpowers?
That statement, “just be yourself,” is something many of us have heard but it can take some time to know what that means. I have learned that being ourselves is powerful because it is irreplaceable and incomparable. The world has never seen and will never see anyone exactly like you when you are being who you really are. Often we are acting like someone we are not, or being unkind and being who we don’t even like. Our true authenticity is revealed as we are kind. That is when you strike gold, and no one can deny that you bring something unrivaled to the job, the relationship, and to the world.
Can you share one story on how kindness has opened doors for you?
When I was going to leave one job and go to another—the general manager at the Los Angeles ABC station told me, “I can teach you how to be a better writer, or be a better reporter but I cannot teach ‘nice.’ That is what we need more of in this business.” She told me she didn’t hire me because I had everything she desired from a job candidate on my resume. She had spoken to a woman who knew me my whole career who said, “You want to work with Adrienne, I have never heard her say a bad word about anyone.”
I am not perfect, and I have definitely said regretful things, but I worked really hard not to say the wrong thing or anything negative, especially around people in the business who knew everyone. I made it a point to keep my opinion to myself. It paid off years later when I was hired at KABC.
You have called yourself a "tour guide." Can you share your experience with coaching and mentoring?
If you’ve ever been to another country where they speak another language, there is a translator who acts as a guide. If you want to go to a new place, whether on vacation or even a new job they assign you, someone, to walk you through some part of it to make the transition smooth and introduce you to a new experience, ride, world or culture. How much more do we need one in our goals and ambition, right? Yes, anyone who is a coach or mentor is a tour guide on the greatest adventure we ever take: our life.
In your spare time you enjoy sport, art as well as striking up conversations with strangers. How has your pursuit of philanthropy influenced your life and the lives of those around you?
I challenged myself, particularly last year to give like my life depended on it. I had really struggled seeing so much grief and pain in 2020, and I refused to feel helpless. I made it my goal and business to be philanthropic with a goal of raising $100k in 90 days. I asked friends, colleagues, and strangers. I just needed to break through the feeling of ‘business as usual.’ 2020 was not usual, and it was not okay to just be okay. I discovered a higher level of giving that allowed me to connect, make new friends, and discover and use my inherent talents and strengths and those of others simply by being committed to giving and service. I’ve seen it transform a person with low self-esteem into someone who is bold and confident when they live their purpose through generosity.