Fashion legend Diane von Furstenberg may be 72, but she still has plenty on her plate. In addition to running the thriving business built atop her iconic wrap dresses, the designer is involved in a host of philanthropic causes, from fundraising for a new Statue of Liberty Museum to helping local artisans in El Salvador bring their products to market. 

How does she find the energy for it all? A big, generous spirit clearly plays a role, but according to a new profile of von Furstenberg, published this month in American Way, so does a unique (and very stealable) morning ritual

Two emails to power up your day. 

"My first two emails every morning are meant to do something that doesn't benefit me," von Furstenberg tells writer Laurie Brookins. "Once you become well-known, you understand the power that comes with your voice and your relationships. So with these two emails, I make introductions between people who might never have met, but I believe there could be a benefit for them. I explain why I think this might be a great connection, and I let them take it from there. I love doing this; it's like having a magic wand on my desk."

The rest of us might not be anywhere near as well-connected as von Furstenberg, but that doesn't mean the idea of starting your day with a simple act of paying it forward isn't a great idea for everyone. 

Scientific data shows that even small acts of kindness both bounce back to the giver and ripple out widely. Generosity makes you and those around you happier. But you probably already knew that without reading a bunch of research. And it goes without saying that keeping in touch with contacts and offering proactive help can only be good for networking and your professional relationships. 

More surprisingly, other recent studies show that developing a quick and straightforward morning ritual to "reconnect" to your work-self -- in other words to shift your frame of mind from home to office -- significantly boosts both energy and productivity all day. One way the research team behind the study suggested you might reconnect with your work self? By consciously thinking about who helps you reach your goals and whom you can help. 

The conclusion from all of this is that von Furstenberg appears to be on to something. Starting your day with kindness in the form of a couple of helpful emails won't just lift your mood and boost your network, it will also help give you the energy and motivation to accomplish more of your goals. All it takes is a few minutes and a little thoughtfulness. 

Who could you email tomorrow morning with a helping hand or an encouraging word? 

Published on: Feb 21, 2020
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