We’re excited to share this interview describing how Amazon – one of our 2020 Ambassador Organizations – ran the first ever digital You Matter Marathon!
My discussion was with David Murray, Principal Solution Architect, based in Dublin, Ireland, and Erin Quinn, Strategy Account Manager, based in Seattle, WA. Both David and Erin are employed by Amazon Web Service (AWS) and work on the same account team.
Thanks for your time. I understand that you’re part of the Emotional Intelligence community at Amazon. How did you get started with the Marathon?
David: We’re founding members of the Emotional Intelligence and Success group at Amazon where we believe that – It’s not just your IQ – it’s your EQ that matters! The idea to launch the You Matter Marathon at Amazon started when we both learned about the YMM from reading Brad Aronson’s book “HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act at a Time”.
Erin: We co-host a podcast titled “Working from Home Success”. It was started in March 2020 to raise awareness for mental health and promote diversity and inclusion by allowing people to share their personal experiences and work from home tips. Each episode highlights a specific emotional intelligence based tip to help Amazonians deal with the added pressures of COVID. During the recording of the podcast we started to understand how isolated people were feeling and thought that they could benefit from participating in the Marathon.
Why did you want to get involved in the You Matter Marathon? What business or cultural norms does it align with?
David: Amazon is known for its peculiar culture. We like to do things our way, neither of us has ever worked at a company where the leadership principles were so ingrained in our everyday lives. One thing we are always keen on is an experiment and Erin and I looked at the You Matter Marathon as an experiment in how to increase people’s happiness through gratitude. We felt that after a long year with COVID, Black Lives Matter, and working from home, we would like to look at a way where we could recognize our peers and remind them that their work is important and they matter.
How did Amazon share You Matter cards?
Erin: Our Marathon was virtual, so we used the tools we had at our disposal including our internal wiki, Slack, and email. The majority of the feedback we received was how easy it was for people to share the digital You Matter cards via Slack. When we kicked off the Marathon, the instructions were to simply Slack or email a colleague with the card and no additional words. This approach allowed us to get global reach for our Marathon within days.
David: Some people took the Marathon a step further by designing their own personal You Matter cards. Others used the You Matter card template and printed physical cards to distribute outside of Amazon.
What was the impact of sharing cards in these ways?
Erin: 100% of the feedback we received from people was positive. We encouraged people to provide feedback by offering a You Matter phone tool icon (another part of our peculiar culture.) We received more than 200 feedback emails within the first two weeks from places as far and wide as India, the Philippines, and South Korea. Our marathon was featured on the internal Amazon intranet where every employee had access to participate.
Do you have one or two favorite stories or quotes from your Marathon that you want to share?
David: Here are a couple of our favorites:
- What a great idea. I have been sharing these out over the last few days and the response has been highly positive (and sometimes funny). Most people have not bothered to ask why I was sending it, but just focused on the random act of nice. Please keep it going!
- An opportunity to let your colleagues know they matter and show your appreciation! Also had the opportunity to spark a conversation with colleagues who are around the globe that I’m unable to meet in person or have not caught up with for a while!
How will you continue to build on your investment in sharing the You Matter magic?
Erin: While Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause and reflect on everything we have to be thankful for, gratitude and kindness shouldn’t be confined to just one season. As part of the Amazon You Matter Marathon, we will continue sharing the You Matter message via the Emotional Intelligence and Success community throughout 2021, encouraging our fellow Amazonians to spend time every day focusing on gratitude as it can have a huge impact on health and well-being throughout the year.
Why would you suggest an organization get involved in sharing You Matter cards?
David: Any organization interested in the wellbeing of their employees would be wise to get involved. We had two goals when we launched the You Matter Marathon in November 2020: 1/ Promote kindness. We know witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health, and 2/ Combat COVID fatigue by encouraging our peers to take time to share a few kind words with someone. By building our campaign around these goals, we found that those sharing the message benefited from their actions as much as the receiver of the You Matter message did. We learned that we don’t know how much someone needs to hear those two words until they have been shared.
Wow. Thank you both for your pioneering leadership in the global use of the digital You Matter cards. I have no doubt your experience will inspire others.
Click HERE to bring the YMM to Your Organization Today!
Cheryl Rice, Founder