Courage to be Curious with Adina Tovell

Making Appreciation a Daily Practice

November 03, 2021 Adina Tovell, Amy Steindler, Cheryl Rice Episode 165
Courage to be Curious with Adina Tovell
Making Appreciation a Daily Practice
Show Notes Transcript

What if every person knew … deeply knew… in their heart of hearts that they mattered? What might our world be like and feel like? Our guest today, Cheryl Rice, founder of the You Matter Marathon and Cheryl Rice Leadership, is doing everything in her power to find out… and she wants us to join her. Listen in to hear what she is doing and how you can become part of this powerful movement.

Where to find Cheryl Rice:

Web - You Matter Marathon
Web - Cheryl Rice Leadership

Where to find Amy Steindler:


Follow us on all our other platforms!


Hey, this is Adina, and I am super excited about today's podcast guest Cheryl Rice, who's founder of the You Matter, Marathon and Cheryl Rice leadership. And I think this is the fourth year the Courage to be Curious has been a sponsor of the You Matter Marathon, an entire month where we are consciously dedicated to helping each person feel as though they matter. We spread the message with these two words on these very simple cards, or in verbal messages or cards we made up but over a million cards will get distributed this month around the world, letting people know that they matter. So check out this episode. hear more about the You Matter Marathon Cheryl Rice Leadership Program and how you can participate.

Hi, this is Adina here with today's episode of Courage to be Curious with Adina Tovell and Amy Steindler. And we have we are beginning the month of November. And if you've been following us for a while, you might know that each year in the month of November for the last I don't know maybe it's three, four years, we have featured the You Matter Marathon. And we're not only going to be featuring that this month and talking to our guests today, Cheryl Rice was the founder of this, but we're actually going to carry this theme through the entire month. Appreciation letting people know that they matter. And having this come genuinely from the heart. As we're going to talk about today we are living in times where expressing our appreciation, finding ways to meaningfully meaningfully connect, letting people know that they really matter. Because we're living in harsh world at harsh times is so important. So what we're hoping you're going to do is that you're going to take this episode, see it as a leap into an entire month long conversation here. And then be inspired to take action for this month with us, we're going to give you some ways to do that, and keep tuning in. So that's my hope and wish for where we're headed this month. And bring us into today's episode as I said, Amy's going to be with me as co host. And since she's never spoken to the guests that we have today who I've spoken to in the past before, she's going to take much of the lead. But our guest today is Cheryl Rice. And Cheryl is the president of Cheryl Rice leadership, she has been working with leaders for like a long time now. She is a speaker, an author and a coach. And she works with helping women to be leaders in their own lives. She is also the founder of the nonprofit you matter marathon, you can find that you matter But we'll talk more about that. No running required. We'll hear more about that. And I'm so excited to have you with us today to kick off this conversation about appreciation and letting people know they matter. Welcome. Thank you. It's delightful to be with you and to have me in the conversation. It's just joyful. So thank you so much for your commitment to this vital message. Thank you Adina. You're welcome.

So let's talk. Go ahead.

Yeah, you matter marathon. I'm so curious about why it even exists, what what's behind you, the you matter marathon? What's the what's, what's the foundational belief that led you to create and sustain this organization. But I would say that the organization happened almost before I truly realized that belief. But what we have come to, to acknowledge is that we believe that the world would be a more peaceful and joyful place if every person knew in their bones that they matter. And we believe that the path to a more peaceful and joyful world begins with daily acts, daily acts of connecting and positive and sincere ways that honor our common humanity and honor the significance of the other. And that one way to do that to affirm the significance of ourselves and others is by these daily actions, and in the case of the you matter marathon, it isn't sharing cards that say you matter.

So those are our beliefs that underlying our organization and our mission is to create positive connections within and between individuals.

And it sounds like we were talking earlier and you are mentioning research that your research has sort of

backed up this assertion.

The Thirlby a better place. What can you tell me about that? What is the what is the research telling you? Well, and if I may just so everybody listening has a context of what we're researching and what the you matter marathon asked people to do that makes them feel better in the world. And that is sharing these cards you matter cards without with other individuals that they interact with. And we mail people 30 cards for free, no matter where they are in the world. So that's been our manifestation of these beliefs and mission for the past six years, this will be our sixth year. So we now know through research, both quantitative and qualitative, that when people share these cards, their sense of well being happiness, gratitude and connection to others increases. And we know that through surveys year after year, and we did a survey with Bucknell University also, we can only really research the people who give out cards because we don't have access, unfortunately, in any meaningful quantities to the people who receive cards, we know experientially their reaction, but we don't have formal data. But we do know that when people participate, their lives become more happier and fulfilling, and they feel more significant themselves.

And I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your experience with it. Because you you have given these cards out, I'm sure more than once, but there was an initial experience.

Tell me? Yes. The initial experience that really catalyzed my ambition to bring this forth into the world, happened in a grocery store, actually was about five years ago, five or six years ago, I was standing behind a woman in a grocery store at the checkout line. And she was telling the cashier about a recent struggles, and she said, with incredible emotion, that her husband just lost his job. And her son was battling addiction. And she literally said, I do not know how I'm going to make it through the holidays. And my heart ate for her. And I wasn't sure how to help, should I offer to pay for her groceries or ask for her husband's resume. So I didn't do anything at that moment. It wasn't until we were both returning our carts at the same time. And I just thought, go for it, Cheryl. So I went up to her. And I said, you know, I'm so sorry, I couldn't help but overhear, you're going through a really hard time right now. I'd like to give you something. And I gave her you MasterCard. And she immediately started to cry. And she said, You have no idea what this means to me. And she asked if we could have. And we did. And then I went back to my car and I started to weep. And it was then then I realized, like, oh my goodness, like, it was such a powerful feeling of connection at a human to human level. I thought I can't just be the only person giving these cards out. And just It's my nature. I'm like, it's like, you know, when you find a great pair of shoes, you want to tell other people or you watch a great TV show, you're like you want other people to watch it. I felt like that with these parts. I'm like, I have to get other people to do this and feel this and have this kind of impact. So that was the catalyst thick, I guess story, your moment and greatest wishes I could find that woman and let her know at that moment has fun. But I of course it would be not possible. But hopefully she'd be very proud of her role in this global movement. We're now in 85, or six countries,

which is amazing.

Was there a specific pivotal moment in your life that made that resonate so strongly for you that experience of seeing someone struggle and just showing up for them? And that's a great question. I think I'll answer it in two ways. One is what when I was first given a card, it was from a colleague who gave me a card kind of out of the blue. And it went right through me. And I've asked myself, you know what, like, because that's what spawned me wanting to give get these cards and give them and I think what I realized he means that I and maybe many people kind of live with an unconscious question of do we matter? Like, we don't even know we have the question until somebody kind of enters it for us. And and I think I had struggled honestly, with that question throughout my life. And I actually wrote a book called grab, I've been on my life about my journey to recognize my own significance and what that path was, and that was well before the marathon and you know, I remember just different times in childhood and summer camp experiences where I was desperately homesick and I didn't really know that I mattered. I knew what I needed to do to get other people to think I was significant, but the kind of things that are

A lot of women actually get their feel like they have to earn their love and belonging from performing from being a certain way from being kind from putting other people first. So I knew how to do that. But I didn't really know that I mattered, independent of how I make other people feel, or the grades I got, or the salary I made, or the size dress I wore. I don't think I knew that. And I don't think a lot of people know that, that they are worthy of belonging and love, regardless

of anything, because they're human being on this planet. So I think when I got this message, and it was so beautifully unadorned, it made me want to give it to other people who I think many of us especially today are walking around feeling marginalized, frayed.

We've practically you know, been primed these last two years to stay away from each other, that the other is scary for a whole host of reasons. And that terrifies me with that, that terrifies me. And it saddens me so many people are suffering right now. We know incidents of loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicide.

This is to me that the most essential message of our time right now is being able to give and receive this message you matter. And it does start with us recognizing our own worth. But you know what, we all need to be reminded of it, we all need to be reminded. So sorry if that was long winded. But that's, that's my internet sticking with it. Yeah, I appreciate I appreciate the authentic emotion that is accompanying that part of the conversation. And, you know, we just did so beautifully. And this was the question I'd intended to ask you. And you've sort of answered it. Earlier, before we started the podcast, you mentioned that it was important medicine. And I love the concept of medicine. And what you just did was was to articulate for us what's ailing us?

And why this is important medicine. So thank you for laying that out. Absolutely.

How common in your work with leaders is the feeling that you're just described, you know, obviously, you're an accomplished human being you've done a lot of work in your life. And at the time, when you Mater came along, you were already doing your work in the world. How common is this in your work with other leaders? This feeling of? What's my significance? It's a great question. Again, most of my work, not all, but a lot of it is with women. And I think this is a common theme. And it's sometimes it doesn't even get named as mattering. It certainly gets named as lack of confidence in the lack of kind of a belief in one's own power and significance and that it's okay to have an opinion and assert an opinion, it's okay to set a boundary, it's okay to ask for a raise. It comes up a lot with the women I work with about how do they be their most whole self at work or almost anywhere in their life? And I think the origin of that is like, you know, do I matter? Like this? My do I matter? And if in the real question is if I knew that I matter, what would I do? You know, if I knew that I never mattered, even if I failed, even if my opinion was wrong, even if I don't get that race. If I knew that I matter. I mean, what a great like, I want to say insurance policy that to have at your core, that sense of significance to oneself? Well, heck, then we can, you know, really have some fun, because it's not all, as, you know, just fraught, it's like, no, I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm a leader I'm giving, I'm serving, you know, but I matter independently of all of it. So I think it is inherent in most of the work that I do professionally. But again, it doesn't always get articulated as succinctly as we're talking about it now. But it's it's there for most people. And I also believe that most people want to know that they're, they show up and that somebody cares that their existence at work matters to others, like most people want to make a difference. You know what whether no matter what that work is whether it's making a hamburger or working at NASA, most people want to feel like their time their labor makes a difference and that they're, they're being them, they show up and then other people think

thank you, you know, you do matter.

One of the things I was thinking about as you were talking and we talked about women leaders, they may brought that up because you know you work so significantly with women leaders, one of the things I've been thinking about too, is young people who have grown up in the social media age, where when you're looking at images because what we've done

post on social media is things of perfection these things have, you know, a life that looks perfect in some ways that actually, you know, if we talk about illnesses, right has this incredible and almost immediate capacity to diminish the self, right? You know, you go on and you can scroll on how many likes somebody else has what they posted. And we've been talking about it as medicine. And you almost talked about giving out these cards becomes like an insurance policy, we're in the world of vaccines. Now, you know, I am almost a method because I see the impact on young people to the levels of anxiety that are stemming from not feeling like enough because of the world that they've grown up in. And that, you know, one of the ways like we talk about it as medicine as a preventative medicine is it almost like getting a good vaccine to really participate in these activities so that you can continue to reinforce your own self worth, in an in a world that you're living in, that feels like it's constantly assaulting your sense of self, so true Edina, I call some of that, like, you know, contingent matter. We believe we matter only if we have this curated life of perfection, having the best vacation, the best skin, the best job, or, or whatever it is, and I can't imagine the pressure on younger people. And it's it you're right, I love your drawing on the analogy and drawing it further. I do think

that messages like this, that anything that can

affirm one's own belief in themselves and their inherent just right to be here, like, that's fortifying. And we need, we all need each other, you know, we're,

there isn't really a language for us that really gets at what I think the alchemy of giving and receiving this message there is, I believe in some African language, there's a word called Ubuntu, which I believe means I am because of you. And that's the closest that I have come to appreciate what this is when we give people it's recognizing our interdependence, we need and are needed by each other. So I need to feel like I matter. And sometimes I need you to tell me I do. And then when I do, then I can give to you and it becomes a self fulfilling and positive virtuous cycle, you know, it becomes a virtuous cycle and for young people today to get that reinforced to them. Is is so important. And that's why we have a lot of schools. But the heartening part is, when people sign up to participate in the matter marathon, they can do it as an individual and receive 30 cards for free, or they can do it as a group. And we have a lot of schools throughout the world participate, because this aligns so well with character based education, anti bullying efforts. And it goes on and on kindness clubs, I just had a student council.

Representative contact me from Kentucky, about about the part so yes, yes, yes. Yes, young people, yes. This message to give it and receive it to get out of themselves. No social media can be so self, self self, Anna.

Let's look at the other people.

I'm curious to know when you give the card out, and it says you matters. You matters you matter.

When we when we give out on what are we saying? You matter to whom? We know Whoa, how should we think about matter?

But I don't know how to answer. How should we think about it the way I think about it is and it's interesting to me, because there's nothing else on the card. And often people turn it over when they get it to see are you selling something? What's the catch and see? No, it's It's complete. And what

I'm saying when I share this part is I'm reminding somebody of their inherent significance because their human being

I'm saying you were significant, you have worth you belong. That's what I intend to convey. When I share apart, nothing more, nothing less. And I'm not even saying you matter to me. And I'm not even saying and you know, I've I've said this and it might sound a little weird when I say it, but I think saying you matters to me even more powerful than saying I love you. Because I love you. It's a beautiful thing and goodness knows we need and want to hear that. If I say I love you, it's a statement about me. You know, if I don't love you, it doesn't mean you're less lovable. It's just I'm saying that something about me and what I love about saying you met her it's it's it's independent of me and it's just a truth. You know, it's just a truth that we forget. It's true. This is

The fact that you matter because you're a human being, you know, even I can think of people who I may not agree with on any issue, but I would assert that they matter.

I would assert that every every person, I would assert every person, every sentient being,

matter matters.

Yeah, I love that sentiment. And I think we talked a little bit earlier before we started recording about the giver of the card and their own feelings about mattering. What can you tell us about that?

Well, I can tell you that when people commit to doing this to sharing these cards, and it doesn't have to be with the stranger, for goodness sakes, I don't have put any expectation on people you give it as, as if you feel moved to

that doing it will change how you feel about yourself. And we've had people say, I mean, one of our quotes from the first year I'll never forget is I see people differently. I see myself differently. That was one of the first from 2016. The first year somebody said that quote, and we've used it because it's so it just gets down to it. That's what we want to create. I see other people differently, I see myself differently. That's what happens when people give out these parts.

Yeah, I love that it feels like a feels like an expression of compassion and self compassion. So the sort of all around compassionate way of looking at.

Yeah, yeah. Carol, can I ask you, how has this experience shifted, because of the more virtual environments? I mean, I just think on a very practical level, the number of people that I physically see in a day has shrunk so significantly over these two years, right? And I'm not alone. There even us like we're we've done this podcast before in person, because we live near each other. And today, we're on Zoom. So you know, how has that shifted? And what creative ways have people found to participate in this environment? Yeah, super question. The good news is, actually our numbers went up last year, which is really interesting. And I thought they wouldn't, but they did. I think people were hungry, hungering for ways of doing something to connect when we couldn't connect. So a

couple of things. One, we have a digital cart. So when you sign up, in fact, Amazon last year became our first organization that we're aware of that did a purely digital global you matter marathon within Amazon. And they had a great experience. In fact, we shared a blog post about their experience. So when you sign up, you get access to a digital part. So you can be sharing cards as you wish digitally without risking any in person contact. Another creative thing that people have done from the beginning, but even more so since the pandemic is leave cards in places where they know people who need to see them will find them. So whether that's, you know, sometimes a gas station, credit card holder, and then next person will get the card or an ATM machine, or just leaving them just in doctors offices, you know, when we're interacting with people and and we are even if it's less, there's so many people are mailing that we have a lot of people who will mail these to prisons, to nursing homes. So you know, wherever your imagination goes, you know who in your life needs to hear this message. Bus drivers, so people have gotten creative, we have the digital card. And again, you can always leave the card for someone who might see it on a park bench.

No, we you know, I have a special affinity for the face to face but I also let it go and know that somebody finding this part on a park bench could see it as a sign and their whole day is changed so I'm not overly attached to that. But when people start seeing the impact that has on other you kind of get addicted to that like a happy habit. I want to know like in any moment I can change everybody's day I've seen it time and time and time again. But there are plenty of safe ways Edina comfortable ways for people to share without having


show how long has you the you matter marathon at the cards been around? I mean, this is the first time hearing Oh, but how long has it been around? This will be six years. So the first one was 2016. And it was done as a project me so I had I had no ambition to have a nonprofit organization. I at all was the first year again could I get could we invite

333 people to share 30 cards which would have been 10,000 cards out into the world. That was my question. Could I do that? And we blew through that

I never expected this would have an international appeal. So, you know, it's grown. And I still remember that first year when people who would sign up would be people who I didn't know. And I'm wow, like, I guess somebody must have told somebody and now it's like, you know, we've had almost 200,000 people individually now 200,000 People participate through the individuals and Ambassador organizations. And, um, as I said, 8485 countries, we just got Indonesia.

And it's just

amazing. So that's an it's through people like Adina being so kind to be both a sponsor, and to share her platform, and others, and we've gotten some good, you know, good blog posts that have had an international appeal or audience. So I'm so grateful.

I have to ask this question. Has anybody translated the cards into other languages, like how many languages are the cars, we only know I know Hawaiian, and Spanish, and we will do a Spanish card on

when people ask for it. But that's all I know. So.

So we just talked about the beginnings of what's next for the you matter marathon. So I'm proud to say that the first five years, this happened in November and and we did that because of logistics. And because we love the connection with thanksgiving, it states that it's a time of expressing gratitude, and it worked well with schools and curriculums. So this year, since January, we have actually

become kind of on demand, you matter. So when people sign up anytime of the year, they will now get cards mailed out to them. And that's a huge milestone for us. So we're no longer just relegated to November. So that's been a big, big, I'm grateful, because people sign up all year long now without us having to market it, so to speak. So that tells us we've met a goal I didn't even know I had, which is to become, we're out there. So we're not making people wait nine or 10 months to get cards, which is awesome. And then the other thing that we're going to be doing more of twofold is emphasizing

that I matter also, that you matter, and we're happy to have you give out the cars, but we're going to be doing some more programming on how do you reinforce for yourself that you matter, even if no one ever gives you a part. So we're starting to do more communications and programming around self care, self compassion, because we do recognize that that's so important. And we want the people in our community, we call them yummies people who sign up to give out cards yummies, we want our young males to feel as wholesome and alive with this message. Also, so we're doing more now. Not feel sprayed.

Yeah, I love that it's sort of a natural progression from the outward expression of mattering to the inward work of knowing that you have a place at the table. That's great. That's great. Yeah.

And I think this piece, you know, we were talking,

I love how we've talked, like it can go both ways, right? Giving out cards can reinforce my own sense sense of mattering. And as that bucket inside me gets filled, I can actually feel more of it at the ready to flow forward. Right. And I mean, I know I've personally had that experience, I'm sure the yummies have that experience, you know, other yummies have that experience to have, you know, as I become strengthened, in my own sense of self, my own sense of mattering, I as you said, I can get out of my own space in my own head, and my concern about am I enough, and I now am able to give that message out even more freely and even more generously. You said that so beautifully. That's so beautiful, you know, if we're just telling other people, they matter, and we don't have that sense of fullness and truth, that we believe it for ourselves, we will get burned out or resentful. I mean, that that's not sustainable in the long term. And it is so much more wholesome when we come from that place of fullness ourselves, without a doubt, without a doubt. And then once you have it like that for yourself, you just, you just can't almost bear it that other people don't. It's like you just can't bear it. It's like if your tummy is full, and you see somebody hungry, it's like, no, like I want you to feel nourished and whole and full to so

the other thing I just want to say about that as I think this work is continuous work also because even the most secure among us, even those of us who have developed a really strong

sense of self. We all feel that vulnerability, like, it doesn't really go away, I've discovered, you know, we are all going to have moments, we're going to know that we matter, we're going to feel strong and secure, something's going to come into our universe that's going to ping us and suddenly, you know, jeopardize that for a moment, or bring that into question. And so the continuous work, right, this is a life long practice. And that is part of what it means to be part of that interdependent human race is that we have to continue to support and reinforce each other this way. So right, it's just you get it so deeply, and you're so right. It's never done, because we're human, and we are vulnerable. And this is why, you know, people have their spiritual practices, they go to their church or synagogue or mosque regularly. We hear the same songs, we hear the same messages, but because we need to, we need to hear them. You know, we have our positive practices, the meditation, walking, whatever people do, we do it, because these are practices and that's why this is a practice, because it does help us remember and it helps us remind people and we all need it. For sure. Beautiful point.

So Sharla is we're coming to a close here. Talk to us a little bit about both how people can learn more and find out more about about the umount or marathon and how they can access the cards and participate. And then also a little bit about shall rice leadership and how and what they can find you for in terms of shortly. Thank you. Thank you, Adina. Well, the you matter marathon is very simple to find go to you matter You can sign up today as an individual or an ambassador in your cars will be mailed out within two weeks 30 cards for free, it's really important to know the cards are free, please tell your friends.

So that's the easiest way to participate in the marathon. We also have a Facebook community you matter marathon and we're on all the social media channels, except Tik Tok. Yet, I haven't quite had the courage to branch into tick tock, but if any of you listening do please make a tick tock, you better tick that would be great. And then for my business, Euro rice, leadership, calm and my passion is helping women be leaders in their own lives. And I work with people in corporate settings and life transitions, just helping them make their way in the world. And it's a privilege to do that. So and I also do speaking engagements as a lot around the inner critic and helping women turn down the volume on their inner critic, and discover their inner champions. So and you've been a glorious champion, and Deena, from, as you said, it's been at least three years maybe for and I'm just so grateful, because it's people like you who have the compassion and the ability and the determination to spread messages like this that we have been able to grow. So I'm so grateful. Now, Amy, your your excellent questions are just such a delight and added so much richness to our conversation today. It feels like the first time almost, I'm getting to talk about that. And about this. And that doesn't happen all the time. So thank you both for your invitation and showing up so beautifully today.

And enjoy. And thank you, Amy for Yes, I mean, I have to say and I always love that when Wow, that was a good question. And to be able to invite somebody who's been speaking about this a lot, just because I'm for the first time. So thank you, Amy, for bringing that into the space for us. And to everybody who's listening. As a sponsor of the matter marathon, we get our own sets of cards. And so every year we put out there to the community is drop us a note if you'd like to participate as part of the courage to be curious community. And you can drop that note through info at courage to be curious, calm, send us a message through Instagram or Facebook, we'll get it in any of those ways. We're at Instagram at courage to be curious. And we have our own page on Facebook. So we love to participate as a community and you can get your own set of cards from us as well. And then we share some of the experiences people are having. So please continue to participate. And if for any reason, you either can't access a deck of cards, or maybe you find yourself in a moment or a time where you don't have a card with you. The message still works right Cheryl?

The message still works even without the card. And so we would love for you to dedicate yourself this month of the marathon to as Cheryl was saying, beginning to really build that habit into your daily life that every single day can we carve out a space than our mental energy and our personal time to say this is where I'm directing my energies right now because this is

My contribution into creating the kind of world that Charles described.

Right? So we want to invite you to do that when to to invite you to participate and kind of follow us on social media as we're going to be doing and extending this message throughout the month and our social media, and to really becoming ambassadors and continue to share maybe you know, somebody in one of the few countries that you matter marathon has not yet reached and you will be an ambassador. They continue to spread the message there. So, thank you for listening. Join us in participating. Thank you, Cheryl, for being here. Thank you, it's an honor. And Amy again for beautiful guidance in this show. And we will be back with everybody with podcast episodes all throughout the month where we are carrying forward this theme you matter and the importance of appreciating people around us.

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