Express Lane to a Kinder World with Nedal Ahmad
What if there was an express lane to a kinder world?
Turns out, there IS! In this short episode you’ll be inspired and empowered by Marly Q and Nedal Ahmad when you discover the ONE SKILL we must practice on a daily basis in order to create a kinder world, starting now!
Join our Kind QREW community – Click here
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Listen to this Episode and….
- Discover the express lane to a kinder world is practicing ONE skill every day
- Learn how kindness and empathy are different
- Be reminded how simple it is to make a difference that impacts everyone around you
- Use technology to make meaningful connections and elevate wellness
- Be inspired by origin story of Heal For Us, nonprofit focused on mental health
About Marly Q:
Kindness Influencer, Leadership Trainer, and Community-Builder on a mission to create a kinder world for over two decades. Through her podcast, she invites listeners to make “Time to Be Kind” each week to receive a spark of kindness, connection and community.
About Our Guest:
Nedal Ahmad is a social entrepreneur, food executive, founder of the nonprofit Heal for US, mental health advocate, and father of three. He is passionate about sparking mental health awareness and creating meaningful connections to build a sense of community.
Connect with Nedal Ahmad – Heal for Us:
Connect with Marly Q:
Join our Kind QREW Free Private Facebook Group: https://facebook.com/groups/kindqrew
Join our Kind QREW+ Paid Membership: https://marlyq.com/kind-qrew
Programs & Courses: https://marlyq.com/programs
Marly Q Speaking, Training & Retreats: https://sparkcsr.com
EP: 31 – Kindness Matters 365 with Laura Reiss
EP: 32 – Let’s start with Why (and How)
EP: 04 – Why Smile?
Marly Q If there was an express lane to create a kinder world, would you join me on that lane? Stay tuned as we answer that question with our guest at Nedal Ahmad.
Marly Q Welcome. Thank you so much for making time to be kind with me. , Marly Q and our PARKer today, Nedal Ahmad. He is my friend, a social entrepreneur, a food executive, a founder of a nonprofit called Heal for US, which we’ll learn about in this episode. He’s a father of three, and he’s a mental health advocate. I’m so excited that you made Time to Be Kind with us today, Nedal, Thank you.
Nedal Ahmad Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.
Marly Q Yes. So I have to tell our PARKer is listening. This is your first time in my world. Let’s tell them what a PARKer stands for. What’s a PARKer? , Nedal?
Nedal Ahmad Someone who Performs Acts of Random Kindness. I’ve got this on my laptop at all times.
Marly Q I love it. This is a podcast for PARKers. You listening us right here and making this Time to Be Kind is what I feel really has the power to shift our culture, to actually create meaningful connections and build a sense of community. And that’s what we’re doing here with our PARKer. So thank you for being that. And I have to be honest, we know each other since high school. We’re high school friends, but we became friends way later, like 20 years after high school.
Nedal Ahmad Took us a minute.
Marly Q And the spark of that friendship, I would love to just share a few moments of that, because back in August of 2020, I started a Facebook group with our high school. We should say we went to Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School. And I started a Facebook group and started asking people like, hey, do we want to do this 20 year reunion thing that was coming up in 2022? Mind you, we’re in pandemic. I’m pregnant. I’m like, I got some extra time. I’m home. I got some time. Let me start planning this event. Let’s see if this is something that we want to do. And you were one of the first people to raise your hand and say, yes. Count on my support. Count me in. I’ll be on the committee. Let’s plan this thing. And I want to ask you why?
Nedal Ahmad That’s a great question. I guess the sense of nostalgia. As being a father myself, I feel that I need for a sense of community. The nostalgia, what my oldest will be in high school in a couple of years. And that kind of road down memory lane was really a great one. And I’m so glad I did. I’ve been reconnecting with everyone. We had a blast at the reunion. I’m so glad I did it.
Marly Q I am so glad. I am also so proud. And I want to just take a moment to thank you and to thank our small but mighty volunteer planning committee that came together to create not just another reunion or another event, but what I think we did was something truly memorable and impactful and honestly, historic. Something that in the history of our high school had never been done, where alumni come back and say, hey, we want to not just plan our reunion, but we want to do it on campus. We want to come back and actually walk the halls again and be able to bring our families and take pictures, and not just for that, but also raise some money and be able to give back to our school. So you were integral in that happening. I was actually going through my own healing journey. There was many times that you witnessed me crying, experiencing high levels of stress, saying, I’m going to cancel this thing, I’m not going to do it. And you and the committee really kept me focused on the why this was important. You helped me through my event PTSD that I was experiencing, and also really helped me to feel that we can create an event, a three day event at that. It was a Friday night, a Saturday, and even a virtual event. We did a three day series of events, and I would not have been able to do that without your support and that of the committee and you all showing up around that time. My husband was having some health issues and I wasn’t able to get there early and set up. And just the teamwork, the feeling of community and how I felt supported with this event was just so beautiful. And I just wanted to take a moment to thank you and the committee, who I hope is still listening. Love you all.
Nedal Ahmad I sure hope they are too. And the reality is, it was the same for me for different reasons, where I kind of felt isolated at the time. And those little calls and meetings that we had just gave me something to look forward to at the time, and a time where I felt like I didn’t have a lot to. So it was really great to have those connections. And till today, people who I hadn’t seen in 20 years, we’re still talking on a regular basis, yourself included, and I think that’s been really great. So mission accomplished. With what we were trying to do there and what you really put together, which was beautiful.
Marly Q Thank you. Mission accomplished. My mission is to simply be the spark of kindness, connection, and community. And in a past life, I really took on the full burden and responsibility without realizing that our true power is in extending an invitation to others to park to others, to contribute, for others to engage. And we met for well over, I think it was eight months, putting this thing together. Right? And I know that I don’t just speak for myself and for you, but the whole committee. I think we really came together like friends do, to support each other, and that was the whole point. So yay. And that wasn’t it. I think that was the spark. We also collaborated on my first three day virtual event last year called the MANkind Summit. It was our inaugural virtual event to spark Mental Awareness Now. MAN in MANkind is an acronym. Surprise, surprise!
MAN stands for Mental Awareness Now. And the purpose of that event was to spark mental awareness now and to spark some meaningful conversations so that we can break the stigma around mental health, create amplify some voices, and really try and make a difference in our own personal lives, in those that we love, our friends, our community, and ultimately the world. And you participating as a speaker at that event at the MANkind Summit, which is coming up again, by the way, plug May 2023. You’ll be hearing from it soon. And we were also able to do something really, really special, and that was launch your own nonprofit. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Nedal Ahmad Yeah, I love that we were able to collaborate on that despite that week being really insane with the school shooting and everything else. But the summit itself was really beautiful. And I had have this idea, must have been about a year prior that I had been working on this, and I wanted a platform where I could help potentially fund people’s mental health treatment. And having gone through my own kind of issues over the last three years and roadblocks and really understanding that I can’t pour from an empty cup, I kind of had to take a step back and say, how do I really want to do this? At the moment,so right now, all I do is about once or twice a week, I just help people find providers that are within their insurance network. It’s just a way to keep momentum going, even though I can’t take the nonprofit to the place where I need it to be just yet.
Marly Q But you’re starting it, right? You got to get started. So even though this was something that you’ve had in your heart to do for quite some time, what I love is that we were able to insert you into a platform or an event or a container, as I’d like to say, and just share with people, even before you’re ready, share with people. Here’s what is on my heart and mind and plan to create and to build. And it’s okay to start small. It’s okay that you know the first fundraising check that your organization received was only $300. Right. Maybe in some other metrics that’s like, oh, what are you going to do with the launching a nonprofit with $300? But let’s speak to the value of these small acts of kindness, these small opportunities that allow us to create some momentum and move forward, right?
Nedal Ahmad Absolutely. Everything has to start somewhere, and it’s usually the smallest acts that have the biggest impact. When you think about our smallest interactions in the street, somebody letting you in when you need to change lanes, that feeling alone is just like a “sigh”, especially in this town that are driving.
Marly Q I think I just “sighed”, as you said, right?
Nedal Ahmad And it’s those little interactions every day that really have an impact on our lives. Because with strangers, it’s difficult. It’s not like you’re going to do some life changing event, but really just taking that moment, putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes and just being like, let me just make this person’s life just a little easier today. And it helps a lot, especially when you start seeing it in others. And all of a sudden, hopefully one day we’ll see a much kinder world.
Marly Q That is the mission that is the purpose of creating this podcast, is really to remind people of that, remind people that we have that power to be the spark of kindness, like I say. And for you, I know that you have kind of a fast pass or an express lane to creating a kinder world. What is that express lane? How can we all PARKers listening like get on that fast lane, on that express lane to a kinder world?
Nedal Ahmad I personally view empathy as the absolute express lane to kindness. Being able to treat people exactly the way you want to be treated, being the person that you need in a moment where you’re stressed or rushed or any other feeling in between, just taking that time, it can be the smallest thing, but have the biggest impact on somebody’s day. And whether it’s an example, I don’t know.
Marly Q Can you give an example?
Nedal Ahmad An example!! I don’t know, I feel like…
Marly Q A recent example. Cause I know it’s a daily practice for you and a daily you know for me. If you were like, oh, can you tell us an act of kindness that really inspired you? I’m like it’s on a daily constant basis, right. Present to it. So for you, what’s maybe the most recent act of empathy that you received or that you observed or that you got to experience?
Nedal Ahmad I’ll give you one that I’ve actually given recently because it’s actually a fun story. I was It’s about last June. I was flying back from Philadelphia. I like to take myself out on trips every once in a while that way by myself. Jazz club, whole nine yards. Had a blast. When I get back, when I’m coming back, I get on a plane. As soon as I walk into the plane, I hear a child screaming at the top of their lung. Now, of course, that always creates a kind of bottle of pressure in an airplane. And as I’m walking towards my seat, that sound is getting louder. And it’s a mother with a two year old, and I’m sitting right next to her. And so she’s obviously mortified because, of course, it’s a man who sits next to her. But little does she know that the man sitting next to her has a lot of experience with screaming little girls and next thing I know, me and this young lady become best friends and this mom’s just mood towards the flight was changed the entire time we ended up becoming friends and staying in contact. It was such a great little interaction. But I know over time, the impact, that just like talking to the kid rather than just the grunting and all the normal things that people love to do on an airplane when a child is surprisingly being a child. And it’s those examples that I like to give where it’s like, it wasn’t really that much effort, but had a really large impact on most of the plane. There was a couple of hundred people impacted on this one because that screaming stopped pretty abruptly.
Marly Q Amazing. Yes. It could be that simple. That’s simple. And that had a huge ripple effect, not just for the mom who you showed some empathy to and was probably relieved, like, oh, thank you, I’m not sitting down next to a jerk. Right. But also that empathy, that currency of kindness, like, I call it, like, empathy is kindness in action, right? How that affected everybody. Like you said, everybody on the plane received the effect of that empathy that you expressed, received that currency of kindness. Can you tell me how kindness and empathy are different?
Nedal Ahmad I think the biggest difference, kindness is usually the act. Empathy is more of the intention. How do you want to make that person feel and kind of looking at it inwards rather than just the action.
Marly Q Yes, that’s such a great we’re going to emphasize that in our show notes because empathy exactly, it’s a deeper frequency almost, I feel, because it does start with the intention, right. In order for kindness to randomly bubble up in your heart, for you to be inspired or influenced to take the action. I think the deeper emotion there, the deeper energy. Emotion is empathy. If we’re connected to it, we’re connected to the humanity of the person in front of you or next to you or behind you. We’re connected to that. That is empathy, in my opinion. When you’re feeling with people and when you feel with people, when you feel connected to other people, then kindness naturally, naturally comes up for you to take the action to help.
Nedal Ahmad Right.
Marly Q Do you agree with that?
Nedal Ahmad Absolutely. I absolutely agree with that. And the more people we connect with, I mean, that’s one of the biggest things that we’ve lost over the pandemic, is that community gathering and really being able to feed off of people’s energy. It’s very different than when you’re in person rather than any other form of contact.
Marly Q It’s true. It’s true. I’ve had to learn how to kind of bring that energy and that sense of, like, connection to the virtual space where pre COVID I only did live in person, community building events. So imagine, right, the shift over to Virtual well, we’re going to lose that connection. And what I learned, to my surprise, was, no, we could actually use the virtual realm and all these platforms to amplify our ability to connect with more people if we use it in that way. Right. If we’re not trying to use technology to kind of hide behind it and create this distance with people, we actually use it for what it’s intended to do. Well, if the intention is to connect right meaningfully with others.
Nedal Ahmad Yeah And you know it is a convenient and tool that can connect people. And so long as, like you said, it’s a tool and not something that we’re just constantly hiding behind, where you just not showing your true self.
Marly Q Right. I’d like to ask you, how does empathy show up in your daily life? What does it look like? How can we practice being more empathetic?
Nedal Ahmad You know It really is just an intentional thing. And I cited some of the simpler examples earlier, letting someone in when they’ve got their blinker on, somebody who you can tell is in a rush at the supermarket, like, hey, jump in front, man. What is that real? Those little things that don’t actually have a major inconvenience on our day but can transform somebody’s next few hours or rest of their day. Just thinking about it from that, what do I need and how can I provide? It that’s simple. Just how do you want people to treat you? The old golden rule, right? We’ve heard it since we were in kindergarten. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you. It really is that simple. And I think that we’ve kind of lost that a lot over the years, where it’s become really a me culture way too much.
Marly Q So what I’m hearing is that we need to just practice being more empathetic. We need to reconnect with our mankind-ness, our humanity. What makes us one mankind is our ability to be empathetic with each other, is our ability to be kind and of service to each other, is our ability to solve problems and innovate and create solutions right. And we can only do that when we’re, I believe, connected to who we are as one mankind. And I love that you spend a lot of your personal time just in your own way, being an advocate for mental health and being a friend to so many people online and using technology in this way to support others in their mental health journey. And from a place that you’re in it, you’re still in the journey, right? Not from this place of like I’m on the mountaintop, having achieved enlightenment. And I don’t suffer from any mental health concerns, but somebody that, while they’re going through their own healing journey, is willing and vulnerable and courageous enough to share a bit of it invites other people in to ask questions, to see you as a friend, to trust you with a referral or recommendation to a therapist or a counselor. Right.
Nedal Ahmad What I found most effective, and particularly for me, as you pointed out, still going through it myself, still finding my own journey, sharing that and making myself vulnerable and open to people has helped them open up to me and be like, well, this is what I’m going through. And that’s where usually the conversations end up leading to, well, let me help you find someone in your network. And so it’s almost been my superpower that I’m not doing it from an enlightened state, quote unquote, or from some mountaintop. Like, I know better. And it’s like, no, man, I’m going through it, too. Let’s do this together. And little by little over time, it’s just created a little ecosystem of people supporting others. I see it also, I’m part of a kickball league. I see it there all the time with, we are the worst team in the league and yet the most supportive and happiest. And people fight to want to join our team because of how nice we are to each other and how much fun we have. And it’s really just that just being open to being vulnerable that way.
Marly Q And that’s how we shift our culture, the express lane to a kinder world. People, let’s be more kind, more empathetic, more connected with each other. It can be that simple, and that’s why it’s so profound. And we have podcasts like this and events like that in order to remind each other we’re not even here to teach anything. We’re here to simply remind each other of who we are and hopefully inspire and influence each other to think more about yourself and others and this world and how we’re all connected here. And if we come from a place of empathy, the intention every day is to be empathetic towards one another, be connected with each other. I really do believe and agree with you that that is the express plane to creating a kinder world. Nedal, could you please share with our PARKers listening? How can we connect with Heel for us and learn more.
Nedal Ahmad So you can Follow Heal for Us on Instagram, the tag is @healforus reach out to me directly on my Instagram. It’s @Nedalaahmad. And any way we can connect, I’m always happy to. And any way I can help, I am always around.
Marly Q You’re such a good friend. Thank you for being my friend. And to all of our PARKers listening, connect with this man. He’s the coolest. So, Nedal, before we wrap up our time together here today, what is your favorite quote that inspires kindness and empathy for you on a daily basis?
Nedal Ahmad That’s a very easy one. It’s actually a Maya Angelo quote, and I hope I don’t butcher this off the top of my head here, but she says, people may forget what you did or what you said, but they’ll never forget the way you made them feel. And I try to live by that all the time and that’s trying to make myself and those around me feel as good as they can.
Marly Q I love it. I definitely try to live my life by that quote as well. And I’m sure our PARKers listening really appreciated that reminder today.
Friends, I know you enjoyed this episode of Time to Be Kind. Now the conversation happens over on our private Facebook page. If you haven’t joined our Kind QREW yet, now’s the time. Click the link in our show notes. You can find that along with the transcriptions and the links to connect with Nedal and Heal for Us over at MarlyQ.com forward slash this episode number. Again. That’s MarlyQ.com forward slash this episode number (33), meaning the number of this episode. See you next time.