Lively, funny, a gifted story teller, and creative problem solver—these would be just a few of the words and phrases used to describe Keith Bennett.
Keith Bennett is a man in his late 60s, though by looking at him you wouldn’t have guessed that; he still carries around the energy of his youth, and time has only added distinguished features to an already handsome man (but don’t tell him unless you want to see a coy smile turn at the corner of his mouth).
As a charming and gifted story teller, Keith runs the Leadership Development Program at a mid-sized health insurance company. His work? To teach those in the leadership positions of the company how to be vulnerable and approachable, while teaching the employees of the company how to develop their voices to become leaders themselves—and to host the arena in which all employees can voice themselves in a fair and professional manner, for successes of course, but primarily to address pain points where employees are unhappy.
As the bridge between upper management and the bulk of the employees, and as a sculptor of the “public square” where employees can express their thoughts, Keith has a powerful tool.
It’s a tool that you and I have, too: a smile.
Why is the smile so powerful?
All manner of scientific reports could tell you how our brains light up when we see a smile, or reciprocate one; it’s embedded in the human experience. We win a game? We smile. We see an attractive person? We smile. We have a friend console us in heartbreak? We smile. We feel love? We smile.
So why write about Keith’s smile? Of course there’s more to his tool kit than just this. But this goes beyond just one person.
At Keith’s age, many of us will experience receding gum lines. This is where the roots of the teeth become more exposed due to loss of the gums. It can lead to pain and sensitivity, but can also lead to a challenge of our confidence and happiness.
During a routine check-up by his dentist, Keith was made aware that his gum line has moved up his teeth a bit. Which (even being common at his age) Keith didn’t like hearing. So he decided to make some changes.
Six months go by and it was time for Keith to revisit the dentist.
Upon measurement of his gum line, the dentist found something that (according to him) is incredibly uncommon. In Keith’s words:
“The dentist said to me: Keith, we don’t normally say this, in fact we almost never say this, but your gum line is improving. What have you been doing differently in the past 6 months?”
Keith hadn’t done anything differently, so to speak. He still brushed his teeth twice daily, and flossed and used mouthwash before bed. He hadn’t change his diet; no cutting out coffee or other acidic foods. He got the same amount of sleep, and had more or less the same environment at his work and in his personal life.
So what, then? What was Keith’s doing differently over those 6 months?
Keith continues to shape the direction of his company, pushing and pulling the culture into one that encourages cooperation, discussion, and compassion. His work has led to astounding improvements in the overall morale of the company, which has helped him turn into some sort of company celebrity—one that receives “thank you” emails, pats on the back, and “Hey I was about to quit until you helped me talk to my boss.”
Keith was kind enough to leave us a review on Trustpilot, which kicked off the interview for this blog post.
With a confident smile, Keith thanked us for a great tasting, natural oral care line that he can feel good about using…and with his growing fame at his company asked us if we had any special products that could help him remember hundreds of names.
Which we don’t. Sorry Keith. You’ll just have to keep charming them with your great smile.