reprinted from the May 2000 issue of Thresholds Quarterly

The inspiring life of Will Glennon founder of the Random Acts of Kindness Revolution

Building a World Community on Kindness

Will Glennon lived with us here at the College of Metaphysics for five wonderful days. He participated in the Manifest Destiny Spiritual Renaissance Weekend, which he references during our talk, and stayed on for a few more days to share. His willingness to laugh and cry with us during our wake for John Clark (see related article) made him a part of our community in a way we will all remember. He is a remarkable man, living an even more remarkable life, one that has most certainly touched yours, or will very soon, in ways you will soon learn. We talked of so many things that we will share more with you (he’s a father, author, and publisher) in upcoming Thresholds. Will is an entrancing story teller and we’ve kept that integrity in this interview so you can have a sense of actually talking with him. We begin with one of those stories so you can get a feel for the man, the kind of person who births a worldwide movement.

Glennon: You will appreciate this, I don’t know if you will, you might...

Thresholds: I probably will.

Glennon: Do you know who Carlos Santana is?

Thresholds: The musician?

Glennon: Yes, you will appreciate this then. I was in a bookstore in, now I don’t remember what state it was in. I was doing a book tour for something else and I was talking to the person at the bookstore who I’d known from a number of other times coming through. While I’m talking to this person, this guy, this biker kind of guy, comes up with a copy of The Practice of Kindness to buy. I looked at him and said, “Ah, that’s great.” I love it. I love it when I actually see people, you know, buy one of our (Conari Publishing) books. It doesn’t have to be mine, just any of ours. I thought, I just love this experience.
The bookstore person, turns to this guy and says, “Well, would you like to meet the author?” And the guy says, “Ah man, I would love to meet the author, you know. You know how I heard about this book?” Then the guy says, “No.” The guy says, “Carlos Santana turned me on to this book. He drives around with this book in his car.”

Thresholds: How great!

Glennon: He says, “Carlos is a friend of mine.” He says, “You know I was driving around with him and I saw this book and I picked it up and I was reading it and Carlos just said, ‘That is the best book!’”
And the guy says, “I’m buying it because Carlos Santana told me to!” And the bookseller says, “Well, here’s the author.” And he says, “Oh, dude!” It was cool. That was great. Great experience!

Thresholds: That’s a wonderful testimonial to the power of kindness, the attitude of harmonizing with the laws of the universe that bring abundant living.

Glennon: A community of people. The final book (see centerfold sidebar) is the Community of Kindness. It came out of the same thing. As the coordinators started getting more and more sophisticated, what we’ve been trying to do on the foundation, is take people at the basement level...”I respond to this.” “I like this.” “It opened my heart.” “I want to do something.”... And just sort of build on it. Get them to actually become engaged in their community. As we’ve done that, the feedback we’ve gotten is, there is no community anymore, you know, it’s collapsed. You know, how do you connect to your community when there isn’t a community?

Thresholds: When there’s technology without conscience, materiality void of spirit.

Glennon: Yeah, well exactly. The Community of Kindness was written for these people. How do you go about visioning a new way of community? And I thought there has to be, you know, hundreds of new models out there. There’s not one. There’s going to be hundreds maybe thousands, but you have to sort of look at it the right way. You have to want it in the right way. You have to start looking at the pieces of your lives and where can you build a community. Some of them can be.

Thresholds: That’s what the School of Metaphysics has been building its entire existence. Real friendships over time and space that endure because experiences are shared.

Glennon: There is such a thing as a virtual community, that’s not what the internet is, but there is one. You know, I’ve got friends; in Japan, ones in Kyoto, ones in Tokyo, ones in Paris, and there’s others in New York. We are a community. We are very close, very tight and even though we don’t see each other (except) once every three, four, five years that is a very powerful community. Any one of those people have a problem and the rest of us would be there. That’s rare but it’s still a different form and then how do we build that in other ways?
So, that’s what that book is about. Trying to get people to focus on constructing communities wherever we are and however we need to do it, because without them, you know, we can’t move to the next place. We’re not going to do it alone. For anyone who thinks they can go off somewhere and make this world by themselves...

Thresholds: ...kind of self-delusion. We’re all connected, to each other. You are a living example of that.

Glennon: (My life has been) a series of events that sort of played out interestingly and necessarily in order to sort of move me to the next place. It just, you know, life unfolds that way. If you listen carefully and pay attention to what the inside is saying it will always take you to the right place.

Thresholds: How do you know when you are doing that? How do you know?

Glennon: I... I’ve always known. I don’t know. I can’t even give you a way of explaining that, it’s just a knowing. It’s a frustration in my life because there are times when I have this knowing and people would say “you can’t know that” and I say “well I do know that!” It’s like, “Well, how do you know that?” “Because I do!” I don’t know how I know, I just know. It’s there. It’s part of who I am.
I can make up stories about how I know it and they would circle the truth but they wouldn’t be what it is. I don’t think it’s a psychic thing. What I really have come to think is that it‘s the way my mind works. I mean the word that came out of you (during an intuitive report session) was “cohesion,” which is interesting. I never have labeled cohesion. You can tell I have lots of words so when I talk about it, I talk in paragraphs not in terms of words. Cohesion is a good word but the way it works is that I see everything in relationship. I see everything in very complex relationship, and any time something new is introduced to me, whether it’s a concept, a thing, an event, I immediately know where to place it in the context. I immediately see how it emerged and where all the other pieces and things work so it’s like this, sort of, massive unfolding tableau which is always accessible to me. It’s in much more than three dimensions, so there’s different depths to different parts of it. There’s different amounts of energy and power associated to different pieces to it.
One of the things that the (dharma) report talked about is my sense of influence and how to use influence and how to see influence. I’ve had that all my life. It’s nothing that I ever had to study or learn. It’s just there. I can see the way it unfolds. I can hear when someone says something that is discordant to what’s going on; I know where we are headed with it. In a big meeting I can prevent a lot of bad things from happening by stepping in and moving slowly around. The best explanation for how I know is that, the picture works.

Thresholds: Yes, the visualizing power of the mind to create in our image.

Glennon: I don’t use that picture for myself very often. I am so used to using it in my work that I don’t turn it on myself that often, but what will happen to me is I will get very clear signals that it’s time for me to examine myself in perspective. They’re different signals. Sometimes they are shoulder would suddenly go aaaaaawwwjjjjjjkkk! Something is going wrong here. I’ve gotta back up on this one! I’ve had that happen a few times before. Sometimes the pictures come in dreams obviously. Sometimes they come in wonderful moments of synchronicity where little pieces fly out of the sky. I am very attuned to those because every new piece of information immediately goes to its place in the tableau. Any signal that I get immediately falls into place so I can pick up on the signals.
What the signals tell me is “now you have to look at yourself again, in this picture” and see what I’m supposed to do. When I do that, it’s obvious. It’s obvious! It’s not always nice; it’s like, “I don’t want to do that I’m sorry. This is not where I want to go. No I’m not going.” Then three days later it’s like you get another bonk on the head, “No, I said I’m not doing that. I’ll go back and look again. No, it’s the same I don’t want to do that. There’s got to be another way.”

Thresholds: So many people think successful people like you never experience the desire to run away, to do something other than what you are inwardly driven to do. It’s an art, that inner listening.

Glennon: (The key) is truly in using the gifts that I have of my own perception. It’s a knowing. It’s just a very, very solid, concrete, undeniable and infallible knowing. I’ve never been wrong. I’ve never been wrong, and you know, I mean to the point where the people who have been in my life long enough to experience that, don’t even question it anymore.

Thresholds: You’ve had such a rich life thus far, from activist, to lawyer, to publisher, to foundation director, how do you do it? How do you know when to make the changes?

Glennon: The thread that runs through my life because of, because of my dharma really is “where am I supposed to be?” I know what my job is; my job is to make things happen, to push-pull, get the wheels going. And it’s all about consciousness. It’s all about raising people’s consciousness and my only question is “Where is my point of view?” It’s leverage, because I’m supposed to find my point of view. It’s like I’m not supposed to be in a back water somewhere. I could have stayed in Santa Barbara. It’s beautiful there but that’s not where I was supposed to be which is why I had to get out of there.

Thresholds: Can you explain about leverage? About finding your point of view?

Glennon: While I was in law school, we started Conari Press. I was living with Mary Jane who was my partner. She is an extraordinarily talented editor and they are rare. We were talking about what are we supposed to do here, and essentially it came down to the question, “where is our point of maximum leverage?” I looked at all the pieces and thought, “we should be publishing books because of your talent and I can run any business there is and I can write.” This was all very logical.
Conari Press was founded with the intent of being essentially a subversive publisher where we were going to publish books that were really beautiful, in just gorgeous little packages, that were edited in a way that they were completely unintimidating to anybody. They would be just a delight for people to hold, to pick up, to read. Then into those books we were going to pack information that was going to help them change their lives, help them learn, grow, expand their consciousness.

Thresholds: You certainly have done so, with Random Acts of Kindness!

Glennon: The only way I can explain Random Acts of Kindness is that in addition to all the old souls being called into existence right now, things are being called into existence as well. There are energies that are being called. It’s like we need something, so make it happen! That’s what Random Acts of Kindness was. I mean, it was clearly a response to a need.

Thresholds: And somewhat unsuspected on your part, the enormity of the response to the need.

Glennon: There’s a funny story attached to that. Literally the first book was done in like two weeks. We were just about to send it to the printer and I had a panic attack. My panic attack was “this is a weird book, nobody is going to buy this thing. They’ll say yeah, nice buy a book for God’s sake!” I thought if I could get them to open it and read just one story, they’d love it like I do. These stories had magic in them, so I put on the back of the book that phrase that’s back there “Join the kindness revolution!” with a big exclamation point. Then I thought ok this is oxymoronic right? Kindness and revolution just don’t sort of go together so people would say, “What is this? This is an odd thing!” and then they’ll open it and then I’ll have them right?
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. We ended up getting-in the first six months-thirteen thousand letters from people and every letter said: “I love this book! Here is my story” and they’d give us this just amazing story and at the end of the letter they’d say I want to join. “What do I do? How do I join the kindness revolution?”
We were like “uh oh, now we are in trouble!” Oh man, we are really in trouble now! So here I am a veteran of the anti (Vietnam) war movement, grass roots organizing right? I know the trouble I’m in, but I also have resources and my resources are I know how to mobilize large groups of people with small resources, so I’ve got the perfect idea. What we’re going to do is we’re going to declare Random Acts of Kindness Day. We picked the Friday after Valentine’s Day and I wrote a letter back to all of these people and I said, “Okay, you wanted to know what you can do, here is what you can do. Do you want to join the kindness revolution? Get your friends together, PTA, church group, anybody you know and love. Anyone you can pull together you get them together. You form a kindness coordinating group and you go out into your community, into your neighborhood and you show people the power of kindness! Remind people how powerful it can be! What an important force it is in their lives! Love, Will.

Thresholds: Brilliant! Our members will find this particularly inspiring!

Glennon: Then I sealed them, sent them out the door and I thought we did it! We’ve fulfilled our karmic responsibilities here: thirteen thousand people wanted to do something for kindness, we’ve given them something to do. We have fulfilled our responsibilities.
Two days later the phone started ringing...and they rang, and they rang, and they rang, and they almost rang Conari Press out of business because we couldn’t pick up the telephone to get out. You know you pick up the phone to get a call and someone is there, “Hi is this the Random Acts of Kindness people?” It’s like, “No, we’re trying to run a business here, please get off the line!” It was really getting difficult. My staff was ready to kill me! I’d say, “Be kind, be kind!” and they were like “grrrrrrr!”
There is a funny story in the middle of all this. Emily Miles was my publicity director and the sweetest human being in the world. I walked by her office and I heard her slamming the phone down, and I sort of popped my head around and I said: “Emily are you, okay?” she said: “I’m fine!” and I said, “who was that?” She said, “Just another one of those kindness fermigifidgits!” The calls were, “this is great, this is wonderful, you know I’ve got my friends, they are coming over but what can I do? You know, how do I do this? Do you have any posters? What about bumper stickers? How about pins, can we get pins?” It was just overload. It was killing these poor people.

Thresholds: So in the spirit of kindness you had to do something to make it work.

Glennon: Yeah, at that point I realized two things: one, they weren’t going away, and two, if I didn’t figure out some way to deal with them, my staff was going to go away! So I had to create the foundation. I had to create this foundation to deal with this up-swelling of people who wanted to be kindness revolutionaries and the number of people who participated has essentially doubled every year since then.
I got to the point about a year and a half ago where I was almost getting destroyed by the growth of both Conari Press and Random Acts of Kindness, because I had to run both of them. It was really, really laying me into the ground. I’ve been trying to raise money for it so I finally said “Ok, I’m going to take three months off. I’m going to do no publishing. I’m going to take three months off and all I’m going to do is look for money for the foundation. If at the end of these three months I don’t have anybody who wants to give money, I’m going to run the foundation through this last year, through the Random Acts of Kindness week and World Kindness Day (because now we’d expanded to world kindness) then I’m going to shut it down. I’m going to send a letter to people telling them, keep it up if you can but we can’t.”
It really mangled me. You know six years I put my heart and soul into this but I couldn’t do it anymore. So I spent the three months and I got no one. I started to make plans. It was like about six months away from World Kindness Day which was November of last year and I started to make plans to shut it down. About three months into that time I got a letter from this lawyer in Denver. He said, “I represent someone who is interested in the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (could be a) potential, significant contributor, would you send me some information?” We sent them a box of stuff and I wrote him a letter saying if you want I’d be glad to fly to Denver and talk to this gentleman. He called me about three weeks later and I flew to Denver. I didn’t know this man from Adam and we’re sitting there talking and he pulls out this file. It was about (three inches) thick, and he says, “We’ve done a little
research on you.” I’m looking at this file, and I’m thinking holy cow!, you know, and my mind is like, oh God what have I done wrong in this life?

Thresholds: It’s a classic your-life-flashing-before your eyes!”

Glennon: Oh, my imagination was going nuts! Finally he says, “ I’m really interested in the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. It’s incredibly exciting. It’s an amazing thing.” And then he said, “I want to fund it. I want to fund it at whatever level is necessary to allow it to grow into its full potential. I’m willing to give you five million dollars starting.” I’m like... God! and you know this part of me that knew this moment was coming, but I’m also in shock, just totally in awe. Then he says the conditions are you have to sell your business and you have to move to Denver. And when he said it, I already knew I didn’t have a choice. You know you can’t say no to that kind of stuff, even though I don’t like Denver, I love the Bay area. I love my business, (but) you know it’s like, ok I understand. I said, “Well do I have to decide now?” He said “No, you can take a few weeks but I would like you to decide fairly soon.” I went back to the airport, got on the plane, flew home and by the time I landed in San Francisco, I already knew what I had to do, so I actually called him the next day and said, let’s go.

Thresholds: why Denver?..

Glennon: that’s where he lives, that’s where he lives...

Thresholds: ..and he wants to be a part of it?

Glennon: He wants to be a part of it...

Thresholds: ...that’s great...

Glennon: He is a really interesting human being. He is the richest person you have never heard of. His name is Phillip Anshutz. If you look at the Fortune 500, the richest people in the world, he is eleven. He made his money by himself. When he started he was a wildcat in Wyoming, struck oil, got really rich, then he bought the Southern Pacific, then he bought Union Pacific, merged the two. He owns Quest Technologies. Obviously what has happened to this guy is he went through some kind of spiritual crisis and it’s like he has all the money in the world, all the toys in the world, anything he wants and it didn’t cut it. Now he wants to change the world and he is going about it the same way he went about business. He is creating this sort of philanthropic institution center in Denver. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, he is also going to fund the World Kindness Movement. I have to go to Singapore in November for the meeting of the World’s Kindness Movement and get them to agree to let us headquarter in Denver, because that’s his condition, which makes perfect sense. He wants me to run it because he trusts me. Then he’s got other pieces that he wants to put in place. He wants to create consciousness raising stuff and he’s already bought components for it like a motion picture and television production company. What’s interesting is he's a business man. He had a spiritual opening and now he is going about it in a very businessman kind of way, and it’s precious, it really watch him. Yeah, it’s like, it’s a really fascinating experience.

Thresholds: I would call that the Law of Attraction because what he doesn’t have you do, and what you don’t have he does...

Glennon: That’s right, that’s exactly right.

Thresholds: It’s a beautiful story, it’s a Christmas story.

Glennon: Isn’t it, I know, I know. And when I tell people that, they say this is like a fantasy. You know this is like a movie or something. It’s like I know it’s truly amazing.

Thresholds: It’s like things ought to be. That’s how I look at it..

Glennon: It is how things ought to be. What I have learned is the better you get at really hearing very clearly all the messages you are getting and paying attention to them, the better you get at that, the more this is just natural. You know because the universe is always trying to work that way. It’s constantly trying to bring people into the right place, at the right time, to do the right thing. You just have to hear the... “turn left, turn..hey turn left!”... what?.. I got an that’s not an itch, “you are supposed to turn left you idiot!” If you can hear those things, if you can really pick up on that, the better you get at that, this is just a natural process, just a real natural process.

©2000 School of Metaphysics Thresholds Quarterly No. 18 No. 4

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