We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Denise Benz. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Denise below.
Denise, appreciate you joining us today. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
As January of 2020 rolled around I found myself gearing up for the new year and like most of the country, I was wishing I had more time to plan things out for the next season. I was sitting on the couch in my bedroom staring out the window thinking man, there’s just not enough time in the week. I wish time could just stop so I could get caught up. Then I kinda of laughed and thought I’d still be behind because everything and everyone else would still be moving forward. Then I said OK God, if you could just bring everything to a halt for 3 days, no wait, 1 week ok 3 weeks, LOL so everyone could reset that would be great!
Little did I know that shortly after that the world would stop! People would all stay home, kids would be out of school and planes would stop flying. As I flipped from news outlet to social media platform and watched people freaking out I felt the anxiety begin to impact me.
I’ve always been a person who walks in gratitude. I’ve always been known as a “gifter” I feel like anyone can say “thank you”, or “I appreciate you” but it’s important to put some action and thought behind those words. Over the years as an executive, I always took the time to show gratitude to my staff by giving them personal gifts. I was never the boss that passed you in the hall and only offered high fives. I believe that people matter, and a paycheck is just an exchange for time, not a reward for being exceptional.
As a CEO, COO, and consultant I still saw the need to extend that appreciation when closing deals. I jokingly said, “With all the flowers, candles, and gifts I send, I need to have a gifting company”.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
Well, my name is Denise Benz I’m a business consultant, philanthropist, author, and speaker. I’ve been blessed to serve as CEO of various companies. Prior to becoming CEO of Authentic Speakers Agency and the Personal Relationship Firm, I’ve worked with some of the top recognizable brands and names in the speaking and entertainment industry such as International Speaker, Tony Robbins, Secret teacher Lisa Nichols, America’s lovable actress Kim Coles, OWN’s Iyanla Vanzant and Brian Buffini the largest real estate coaching company in the country.
Believe it or not, my entry into this space was arrived at simply based on showing up to see how I could be of service. I’ve always been driven and motivated by being able to impact others. If I can’t make a difference I don’t want to be there. Regardless of my role, I’ve always shown respect and appreciation for everyone around me, clients, execs, and staff. Throughout my career, people have stated that I consistently radiated a humble heart, which I suppose has set me apart in an industry where compassion often takes a backseat.
Can you share one of your favorite marketing or sales stories?
Wow, here’s a story that I don’t tell often. Years ago when I was the CEO of Lisa Nichols company we had an amazing opportunity to produce “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul” After months of work we were charged with gathering a few celebrity stories to include in the book. We were invited to a BET awards show that was a room full of celebs. Keep in mind I had grabbed her hand and prayed in the car that God would open the door and allow us to meet the very people we were supposed to meet and allow the night to be a success.
If you’ve ever attended a show like this you know that the real networking happens at the afterparty. So, afterward, we set out to head that way, (which might I add we weren’t invited to) LOL Lisa had this brilliant idea to crash the party and just blend in. After passing phase one which was the private elevator. We arrive at the location only to be met with a suited security guard. We watched as person after person was turned away. She said we’re gonna get in just then I looked over and I saw RnB Legend Freddie Jackson at the door and as so many before him, he got turned away. I looked at Lisa and said Do you know who that was, She said NO, I said that was Freddie Jackson, If he got turned away there’s no way were getting into this party! She finally wore the security down and he said I’ll let one of you in. So, I went in first. All of this waiting to enter and have 2 ft space because the line to eat was so long it ended at the front door. As I stood there looking across the buffet at the line parallel to mine I spotted a tall man looking down at me.
I looked around at the other guest and then back at him only to find him still staring down at my skirt. He was frowning and would look away and then back again. I started to get irritated, thinking why is this man frowning at me? Never making eye contact he continued to make the face as the line slowly moved. I took a deep breath and said you know what maybe he’s having a bad night. I’m going to kill him with kindness! When he looks up I’m going to smile and just be pleasant. Finally, which felt like forever he looked up at me and we caught eyes. I smiled and tried to be as positive as possible. I think he then realized that I must have caught all the ugly faces he was making. He walked over and apologized and said, I was staring at your skirt (which was silk, long, and flowing) He said I was trying to figure out why it was glowing. I looked down and my digital camera was on and was hitting my skirt as my arms moved from side to side. We both laughed so hard. I confessed that I was wondering why he was being so rude and that I had decided to kill that energy with kindness. We introduced ourselves and talked about the show. Then I told him why I was there. after about 20 minutes Lisa came in. This place was so packed that no one could sit. Here’s where the story gets good. Because of my choice to be kind he invited us to a private table on the balcony. We walked through a sea of people to a tiny table where he introduced us to none other than Suzanne de Passe whose party we had crashed! The one person that EVERYONE in this place wanted to spend time with. Suzanne is an amazing businesswoman, she’s recognized for discovering and signing Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Rick James, DeBarge, and Tina Marie just to name a few.
You see I’m a person who tried to choose love and kindness even in difficult times, even when no one is looking. We went on to form a relationship with her and the book was a success. As I reflect back I think I always knew that kindness is always the right path. It’s stories like this in my life that affirm who I am as a person and as a business leader.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
Yes, When I curated our coffee, boxes, tea boxes, wellness boxes, and candle boxes I wanted to keep the packaging simple and clean. I figured there was no need to announce ourselves so to speak. I figured a plain box would surely bring about a present surprise to the person opening it to find all the beautiful things inside. Besides it would keep the cost low since we throw boxes out anyway.
Well, one day I received an email from a woman who was very upset, demanding that I call her back. (Keep in mind she didn’t leave her number) She then left a message demanding I call her back and wanted to know how we got her address. She said, “If I don’t hear back I’m going to report you.” I was thinking oh my goodness. I had to take a moment and say to myself Wait one second… who is she reporting me to, the Kindness Police? This woman’s reaction was crazy!
When I finally spoke to her, I told her I had never had anyone respond this way that received one of our boxes. She quickly told me she had called her credit card company and reviewed all charges however there wasn’t one from Elevation so she was happy to see that. I explained that Elevation is a gifting company and often people log on and send gifts to others as a form of appreciation. She wanted to know what was in the box, who sent it, and how we received her address… after explaining this multiple times I decided to give her an example. I explained that recently we were invited to a private corporate staff event and the company ordered boxes for staff members by simply going online and placing the order. At that moment she realized she knew someone from that company and knew who must have sent it to her. She opened it and said “Oh my goodness this is beautiful” This is so nice. It felt like a compliment wrapped in sandpaper.
I was exhausted when I got off the phone as this call was much longer than what I’m sharing.
This incident left me pondering a profound question: Is showing kindness even worth it, are we simply in a different time where being kind doesn’t matter? Then at that moment, I heard God’s whisper, saying” It’s worth it because Kindness is Timeless.”
It was in this instant that my perspective shifted. I had to make a bit of a pivot in the direction I was going. Instead of dwelling on the frustration of the call, I saw an opportunity—an opportunity to encapsulate the essence of my brand and my mission in a single, powerful phrase. And so, the idea to coin the phrase “Kindness is Timeless” was born and now it’s on every single box as well as our intention for those receiving a box!
I had turned adversity into a statement of purpose, a reminder to myself and to the world that kindness, no matter the circumstances, is a timeless and enduring virtue. It’s a message that transcends the transient frustrations of the moment, reminding us all that genuine acts of kindness have a lasting impact.
In the end, my story is a testament to my unwavering commitment to Elevation the Brand’s values and the enduring power of kindness. It’s a reminder that even in the face of adversity, a single act of kindness can transform not only a moment but also a perspective, leaving a lasting legacy of inspiration for all who encounter it. People are now calling our boxes “Kindness Boxes” and. I love that LOL
Something else that makes me proud is that In collaboration with the Benz Legacy Foundation we get to send compassion boxes to people diagnosed with cancer and wellness and appreciation boxes to educators and youth in foster-care.
I’ve learned that you can allow a flame to burn you or illuminate your path. Even in the darkest moments, there’s an opportunity for growth, creativity, and the spreading of love and joy. Dreams can be pursued and realized, even in the most unforeseen circumstances. It’s all about mindset, when you control your thoughts you control your future!
Thank you for the opportunity to tell our story, I hope we inspire people to treat those they love better and acknowledge those around them, because Kindness is Timeless and People are Priceless!
elevation the brand
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