I am excited about this interview because I want to share Lisa Metwaly and her story because I think you need to know about her! Lisa and her husband are the owners of Q Kindness Cafe in Downtown St. Paul. I love what they are doing in the name of kindness and how that has impacted their business. Lisa smiles brightly as she says, ” People dump buckets of love over my head all of the time.” I can see why, Lisa loves to do acts of kindness and share stories of acts of kindness. She is surrounded by kindness because, because of her passion for it and that make Lisa a kindness magnet!
The Q Kindness Cafe is tucked away on the first floor of the Lowry Building, an old office building in Downtown St. Paul. The Cafe website says; ” Back in 1961 The Lowry bustled with Doctors offices, Moms, Dads and Kids who visited. People flocked to the Q for comfort foods. Even though offices relocated, many remain regulars for a reason. They are part of a family.”
I was one of those kids going to one of those Doctors at the Lowry Building and I remember the Q. I don’t remember ever eating there but I remember it always being busy. About a year ago my friend Heidi took me to the Lowry Building to share the new treasure she had found, the Q Kindness Cafe. When I met Lisa that day, I knew I wanted to know more about her and she was one of my top picks for women I wanted to interview.
The coolest thing happened when I sent Lisa the email to ask if she would do an interview. Early the next morning while I was still asleep I had a dream.
Dream: Q Kindness was opening a new restaurant and I arrived for a meeting with Lisa when they were working on the front entrance. It had just been plastered and raised in the plaster where huge floral motifs, like a jungle, it was gorgeous. I was going to help Lisa roll out her new children’s menu by taking it around to kids to get feedback and give them a coupon to come in and try it. I had a plate of pancakes to show them a long with really cool, kid friendly menu. That was a perfect job for me because I had worked with children for years and could walk up to any child on the street and start a conversation and kids immediately connect with me. While we were talking Lisa brought out the yummiest sweet rolls and some kind of magic coffee that would break up the carbohydrates and gluten so they would just flush out of the body. That way you could eat the sweet rolls with no harm to the body. Pretty cool! While we were talking, a man came in who didn’t feel very good about himself and Lisa and I did a coaching session with him, in true Q Kindness fashion. I imagine that kind of thing happens a lot there.
I woke up thinking about my dream, knowing the interview was a go, when noticed I had an email. It came in at 5:33 and it was Lisa saying she would love to do an interview. I think I was probably dreaming about her at the same time as she was emailing me. It was Friday the 13th, a day I have always considered lucky.
5:30 AM is Lisa’s usually time to catch up on-line because she is a busy woman. When she is not at the cafe she is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. She has done that for 10 years. It sounds to me like it is almost a full-time job. How she juggles all of the balls I have no idea!
When I told Lisa about the dream she said that one of her dreams is to franchise Q Kindness Cafe. With all of this synchronicity that dream might be closer to reality than she thinks.
I think you are going to love this interview!
Katelyn Mariah: Hi Lisa, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. One of the first things I would like to talk with you about is being an entrepreneur. Do you feel you have always had the entrepreneurial spirit or is it something you grew into?
Lisa Metwaly: Ever since I was a little girl I loved to serve. My mom used to make little yarn poodles out of yarn and I remember going door to door to sell them. They were the cutest things, I felt everyone should have one in their own special color.
As an entrepreneur, I believe it serves me well to want to serve others. My husband is the money and accounting side of the business and I am the community service and connector side. It’s who I am and always have been. We balance each other well. I keep spending time and money on others’ until he tells me I can’t. So far it has served us well. The more we help others, the more the business picks up.
KM: Can you tell me what lead you to become the owner of Q Kindness Cafe?
LM: The Lowry building, where we are located, used to be the Medical Arts building and we served the Doctors, Dentists and all those who visited them. When the building was gutted and sat empty, our business suffered beyond your imagination. My husband and his partner decided to sell and found that no one wanted to purchase it so he had the brilliant idea that I buy the other partner out and do whatever I wanted with it.
As a Certified Franklin Covey Life Coach, I put my coaching skills to use and co-hosted events called Make Mama Happy, which was a workshop for women discovered their gifts and fully gave these gifts with a “pay it forward” mentality. It was the start of the global kindness initiatives at the Q. We called it the Kindness Campaign. A fellow life coach and friend, Amy Zastrow, recommended the name change to the Q Kindness Cafe. Even after we had made all of our new signs with the logo, the name stuck. We reinvested in new signage and started our journey forward to become known as a restaurant determined to change the world with kindness.
So many people have stepped forward to help with the business plan and re-branding process. I’m so grateful for the hands who have so willingly made this possible. Thank you for being one of those helpful people.
KM: I remember the poodles you are talking about. I had a teacher who made them along with bunnies and other animals. She brushed the wool yarn so they were really fluffy and I thought they were so cute too!
I love hearing about relationships that work as a true partnership like the one you and Jimmy have, it sounds like it works perfectly. Lisa told me that Jimmy is the kindest man she has ever met. He has a big heart.
KM:The Universe has a way of getting us where we need to go, even when we want to go in another direction. It seems that all roads lead to our destiny. It appears that is what happened to you to with the closing of the Medical Arts Building and the door opening to Make Mama Happy Workshops, which I imagine has led you where you are now. Many people would have given up when the building closed. I think it is important for people to see that good things come out of staying with what we believe in. How were you able to hang in there and open to new possibilities?
LM: There were many days that weren’t so easy. My husband is my primary resource to help me keep the faith. He told me, “There are good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, good years and bad years. It all works out in the end when you keep the focus on what matters most.” I think of this often and keep the focus on what matters. I work hard to stay in integrity and provide value through a quality product in a loving environment. That love has come back to me ten fold through the random kind acts that happen at the restaurant. It really is a fun place to be, regardless if we’re busy or not in any given day. Every day can be full of surprises.
When it’s quiet, we prepare for the busy days to come. We always plan to be busy. Being prepared and having faith is everything!
KM:Life really is that simple, isn’t it? We humans complicate it! I love your husbands philosophy, always focus on the positive/what you desire and it will come back to you in surprising ways!
Lisa and I talked about how easily people give up on their dreams and what kept her going. I think a lot of people give up when they run into obstacles. Not only does she keep Q Kindness going but she is a flight attendant with Delta full-time but she has had her share of obstacles along the way and yet she didn’t give up on her dream, as you can see by this article in the Women’s Press:
With a background in financial services sales, as a flight attendant, and as a life coach, Cotter Metwaly has a lot of experience and inspiration to draw from. It’s mostly personal challenges that have induced her positive outlook on life. “You appreciate the mountain when you’ve been in the valley,” she said, shaking her head slowly.
Her parents divorced when she was 15 years old, which led to a rebellious adolescence. Cotter Metwaly’s sister then died in a car accident in 1990. “A lot of people can focus on holding onto sadness instead of hope,” she said, but she chose to remain positive.
“You just have to put the roadblock up,” she said, making a “T” with her hands and shaking it. “I mean once in a while you have to go back there and go through the mourning, but then you have to switch gears, and it’s all about what you focus on.”
It was her father, Cotter Metwaly said, who guided her throughout her life. “My dad always said, ‘I trust you, I trust you, I believe you and you can do anything.’ And that has influenced everything I do. I mean, give a person a reputation and they’ll live up to it.” She says she uses this idea to influence the kids and teenagers who hang around the café.
As Cotter Metwaly spoke about her father, her voice wavered and she stopped mid-sentence. Eyes cloudy-a stark contrast to her ease when telling tales of kindness-she glanced around the room. “Instead of mourning for him I mourn for the people who didn’t get a chance to know him,” she said before adding, “He died a month ago.” She stopped, took a breath, but didn’t continue. After 30 seconds she had collected herself. She looked up, cocked her head and smiled again.
This article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press is an example of how Lisa turned adversity into something positive:
After the Q Kindness Cafe in downtown St. Paul was burglarized over the weekend, the owner didn’t get mad. She decided to respond in the spirit of her restaurant’s philosophy and practice random acts of kindness.
Co-owner Lisa Cotter Metwaly’s reaction to losing $250, including $50 in waitress’ tips, is to amplify the kindness- she’ll give away $100 worth of hand warmers Wednesday to her customers who ride the bus.
“People do random acts of violence, but what if they did random acts of kindness?” Metwaly said Monday. “This is my little test. I said to myself, “Practice what you preach, Lisa’. What you give comes back, so you just give more.”
KM: And what happened with your test?
LM: We got all of the money back and more. People stopped by the restaurant and slipped us a $20 or $5 and me got back more than we lost. We gave all of the extra money we got away.
That is just one example of the obstacles that Lisa has overcome. In 2007 she was not able to work for a year because she wasn’t able to walk due to a severe problem in her foot. So she is no stranger to overcoming adversity and building a successful business.
When I went to visit with Lisa at Q Kindness one afternoon, over a BLT, fresh squeezed lemonade and fries, the interview really got cooking. I left with so many things I wanted to write about that I have to find my top things so this interview doesn’t get too long. I chose the BLT because it is my favorite sandwich so I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of the BLT. I have had good ones and I have had bad ones. The one at Q Kindness is up there with the good ones, and the fresh squeezed lemonade was fabulous and I could taste the kindness that went into it. Liquid kindness, now how to that be anything but good!
So if it isn’t obvious by now, Lisa is passionate about Kindness and doing random acts of kindness when ever possible. Just like with the Law of Attraction, the kindness she puts out comes back to her 10 fold. She has created a global kindness initiative called “Kinactors”.
KM: Lisa I would love for you to talk about your kindness project, Kinactors. Can you tell my readers what it means and how they can get involved?
LM: When we started this kindness campaign at the Q Kindness Cafe, I started to look at people differently. I never knew where the kindness was coming from when it was anonymous. I see kindness potential everywhere. I know that we all have it in us to help the world be a kinder place. Our marketing strategy is based on kindness and it has served us well in business but the kindness initiatives have taken on a life of their own. Thank you for allowing me to share them with you.
We’d love for people to share their story when they receive a random act of kindness or hear about one at http://www.kinactor.com. Kinactor(kind actor/connector) is a word that we made up. ke’-nak-tor (noun) Someone who writes about kind acts to connect.
When we started the kindness campaign at the cafe, we had people from all walks of life coming in to share their story. I’d always pass the stories along to others’ at the restaurant or at various networking events. Eventually I realized these stories were meant for me to give in a much bigger way.
For instance, there was a man who came into the Kindness Cafe with his wife during the hockey tournaments and bought a whole team breakfast. He put $300 on his Visa and told me not to tell the kids until they tried to pay. I was not to take their money but ask them to “pay it forward.”
We have a wheel of kindness that people spin that everyone loves. Whatever they land on is the kind act they do for the day such as buy coffee, breakfast, lunch and various treats. These are given away later when a random customer comes to order that item. We keep a list behind the counter and when something is ordered that is already paid for, it’s a random act of kindness. The person is asked to “pay it forward” and do something nice for someone in the future.
A woman spun the wheel and landed on “share something” she emailed me saying she wanted to share her IPOD Touch , worth $350. She thought was could use it for a contest of some sort, which I was thrilled to ablige! Over 100 people posted kind acts on our Facebook page and we drew a random number at the end of the contest and gave away the IPOD. Out of this the Kinactor blog was born.
Kindness really is everywhere and it’s that heightened awareness that’s needed for maximum effect on the world and you can share your stories on the Kinactor website.
One of my favorite stories is the man who told me he disciplines his kids with a focus on kindness. He has a poster of kind acts up on the wall and when the kids misbehave, they are to go over to the wall of kindness and choose a more appropriate action that they will do next time. Another woman shared that same story only she made her kids write a report on the kindness action they will pursue next time.
Another woman started a kindness patrol for kids in the fourth grade to monitor kind acts. The incidents of bad behavior went from the 300’s to the 30’s in only a few years time because the kids are more focused on kindness.
Kinactor.com is a vision of hope for companies and people to connect and learn from each other; to create a culture of kindness wherever you are; to be more focused on kindness.
I’ve written a manual that has all the components of our kindness campaign. I’m happy to share with others that would like to start a kindness initiative. Currently I’m working with Delta Airlines on this project. Feel free to contact me via email Lisa@Kinactor.com or my cell # 612-387-4977 for more information or if you’d like to do a random act of kindness as an incentive for more kindness stories
KM: I encourage everyone reading this who lives in the Twin Cities to stop by Q Kindness Cafe so it is always busy and so Lisa can do what she loves to do all the time. If you don’t live in the Twin Cities, stop in when you are in the neighborhood. It will be the kindest think you can do for yourself.