In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind

By: Christine Hopwood

This past November, our CEO Brian Plavnicky had the opportunity to get together with like minded entrepreneurs working to change the world. He spoke on a panel called KindFest 2022, hosted by the award winning Leonor Diaz Alcantara, along with two other speakers taking charge to build a world with kindness: Jelena Ribic Pavelic and Nadja Matesic.

Leonor is the CEO of Montessori Group and she did a wonderful job putting together such a great group of speakers. Their causes and Revel Gear’s efforts really tie in well together. Jelena Ribic Pavelic, Founder of Family Tales, is a journalist turned inspirational children’s storyteller who recently launched a book that you can purchase, which she is also so kindly giving away to people in need, as well as to teachers for their classrooms. You can support her or gain support from her books by taking a look at her uplifting stories for children who have or still are experiencing traumatic situations. She describes her willingness to share her book called “Letters from HealVille” by saying,

“If this story comes to one child who will feel calmer and will start shifting their mindset towards positive things and the future this moment, then if I had to give thousands of books away to get it to that one child it was worth it.” 

Brian spoke thoughtfully on memories with his Mother growing up, when she would pick him up from school and ask him, “What are three nice things you did today?” He says that kindness was ingrained into him at a young age. This upbringing has led Brian to be the person that he is today, starting Revel Gear with a philanthropic side that he says is to “empower entrepreneurs, children, and provide lighting and power when it’s needed.” Revel Gear began with a mission to send 1 million lights to energy impoverished areas, and it has now lit something within Brian to spread the entrepreneurial spirit to future leaders.

Nadja Matesic is the Mobility Coordinator at Udruga IKS, creating community based activities and learning programs for people of all ages as well as people with disabilities. Nadja mentions how sharing a meal in a time of crisis is one of the most meaningful and heartfelt experiences to bring people together. Brian found hearing food being an integral part of the community interesting because he also saw that within his work with Agile International where Revel Gear lights are helping to protect crops in Mali. Brian also mentions briefly about getting a call from Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, when the war in Ukraine began, asking if Revel Gear would like to be involved in their disaster relief efforts. He is clearly well on his way to lighting the world like he set out to do.

The dictionary definition of kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” Leonor asked Brian, Jelena and Nadja what their views were on niceness vs. kindness, and if they view them as the same or different. Nadja speaks of the Croatian translation of nice/kind and what the definitions mean to her. She says, “Kindness is a core value that comes from somewhere deep inside.” Jelena differentiates the two by stating that nice is doing things that you feel are right, and that being kind is a natural reflex that becomes an instinct. Brian agreed and thinks that it comes down to the important act of talking with one another and asking how you can help someone, along with how something as simple as a smile can make a huge impact on someone’s day. He shared, “I don’t think we need to be doing anything massive in the world. It’s just the simple things.”

Both Jelena and Nadja spoke of situations where Revel Gear lights could really make a difference to help people in need, such as in the shipping container homes which many Croatians are still living in after the disastrous effects of the 2019 earthquake that Nadja witnessed first hand. She explains the tragedy that has affected the area post war and post earthquake. The Revel Gear Trail Hound™ USB lights, being the most energy efficient lights on the market, can make such a difference in these areas. Brian was inspired by Jelena’s work and how her stories are able to help everyone, including the older folks who get to write and send their stories to the children.

Brian explained a reward program he began with an old friend who teaches at his elementary school to help the children’s kindness after the passing of an influential Principle. Revel Gear brought in lights for the kids and told them, “You are the light of the world. How do you make the world a better place?” They set up a Kindness Box for the kids to nominate themselves and others who have exhibited kind acts during the school day. At the end of each day, they draw one submission from the box to talk about it together. It has been a great way to help them view the world through the lens of kindness.

The panel winded down with Leonor saying that she is optimistic for the future knowing that these three leaders are in it, and there are three things to take away from this:

  1. We need to be kind to others but not to forget to be kind to ourselves.
  2. Talking about kindness and emotions with children is extremely important.
  3. It’s the little meaningful things that have the biggest impact.

I highly recommend taking time to go watch the KindFest 2022 and learn about the other speakers. You will leave feeling inspired with a sense of renewed hope in humanity knowing such wonderful people exist in our world.

Let’s all take a lesson from Brian’s Mom and start asking ourselves on a regular basis, “What have I done to be kind today?” I know I will. With all of the chaos happening around us, now is the perfect time to bust out that kindness that I know you all have inside and make your heart grow three sizes.