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A Riff on Building Fierce Loyalty [Day 13 – 28 Days to BFL]


This is Day 13 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Friday, Carol Roth (of MSNBC and FOX fame) gave us an Old-School lens for Building Fierce LoyaltyToday, former Hay House radio show host and soon-to-be author Helen Kim (she’s also one of my favorite people in the world to talk to!) gives us her riff on what it takes to build fierce Loyalty. Guess what? It’s an inside/outside job. 🙂

A Riff on Fierce Loyalty

By: Helen Kim| @HelenKim

We live in times where technology has lent to the illusion that time is spinning forward faster and faster. The speed with which we can now access information and products lends a hand at making it more or less easy to inspire fierce loyalty and can influence our perceptions.

Technology makes things rather frictionless, making it easy for anyone to post and access opinions, comments and ideas. We are wired to share.

The desire to be loyal is a natural human instinct as it is deeply satisfying. People want to feel like they are part of a family or devoted to their favorite sports team, church, country,  employer,  products – anything, really.

We develop loyalty when we see leaders continue to try and make the right decisions for the benefit of their clients and employees. A business that can deliver their message effectively and instill in us a feeling of alignment toward a common vision garners loyalty or at least curiousity to experience the product or service.


No one wants to feel like you are using your business to work out your unresolved issues with your past. Self awareness is key in business and inspiring fierce loyalty. Do all the inner work (and do the outer work too because that is sometimes the way in). I once worked for a large management agency where one of the top earning agents had such a temper that there was a permanent hole in his wall where he had thrown a computer at someone in a fit of hysteria. This agency is no longer at the top of its

Know what you stand for and have create good boundaries around your brand/business.

We are constantly evolving and transforming and expect the same, or at least, hope for the same from others. This means you have to earn that loyalty again and again and again. It’s not a given. You have to manage experiences so that people want to return and be a part of your community.

It’s easy to be loyal when people behave but what do we do when we aren’t feelin’ the love? Someone with whom you feel fierce loyalty does something insensitive and it can rattle your faith in you, your business and them.

Preventive measures:

~Always be upfront, because you never lose when you tell the truth

~Be flexible which might mean that you have to compromise.

~Come up with delivery methods that better suit your clients.

Here is what I continue to work on for myself as I move into the next chapter of my life and business:

Your word is gold. When you say you will do something, you do it.

Show up – Attend conferences, parties, book signings, any place where your expression of support is seen, heard and felt.

Think about people’s problems and help them solve them.

Acknowledge everyone who shares a thoughtful comment/insight, whether a colleague, client, potential client, employee

Ask questions and LISTEN.


“You talkin’ to me?” ~Taxi Driver

I recently took a great storytelling workshop where the the first half of the day was devoted to listening.  Those first hours in a room with 12 people caused me to see how I skewed my own conversations with certain people was that how we listen and engage in conversation with anyone is dependent on how they are listening to us. When I think of the way

How do you listen to your employees? Your clients and customers? Is it with an open heart and mind or do you come with preconceived notions?

We all leave trails now. “With every idea we post, comment we share, we’re actually signaling how well we collaborate, and whether we can or can’t be trusted. It’s a new social currency, so to speak, that could become as powerful as our credit rating.” (Rachel Botsman’s TED Talk)


As we progress in life we have to make changes in order to stay vital.

Ask, “What’s next?”

Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, says that businesses must “innovate everyday to justify loyalty for a lifetime. Middle-aged baby boomer women are key consumers and influencers. Companies must do more than provide a product or service, they must offer solutions that respond to changing life-stage needs and desires. Older consumers demand new and different – making tomorrow as exciting as a first kiss.”

We need to meet our clients and employees at the place economists call “the coincidence of wants,” addressing needs and experiences the way  Zipcar, Rent the Runway and  Bag, Borrow & Steal have done.

In Conclusion

Fierce indicates an indomitable energy – unrelenting…

So in the words of Winston Churchill, when it comes to developing fierce loyalty, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

I would love to know what you think about all of the above. How have you developed fierce loyalty in your life (business, life – it all stems from the same place!).

Thank you to Sarah Robinson for inviting me to participate in this wonderful exchange. I feel fiercely loyal to her.


 is the founder of this company and former host of “Conscious Wealth,” featured on Hay House Radio. The program emerged from Helen’s experiences in counseling individuals in their relationship with money.  She featured teachers and authors such as Byron Katie, Julia Cameron and John Bradshaw and will continue to feature other experts’ work as it relates to money, relationships and work life. Helen is currently writing a book that will help people understand, reframe and ultimately transform their relationship to money. A former cellist, she is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music


P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

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  • Thank you. I love the reminder to consider “What’s next.” It is so easy to get wrapped up in the initial project that it is easy to forget to think beyond that.

    • Helen Kim

      Hi Caro,

      It’s a balancing act, isn’t it? I mean, you need to stay present to all that is happening now while you keep moving ahead, staying tuned in to what roads you could be paving. Speaking of roads, I am reminded of 2 greats: Yogi Berra (“When you get to a fork in the road, take it!”) and the line from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, “Two roads diverged into a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~ It takes courage, curiousity and craft to keep moving things ahead.  

    • Anonymous

      I like that too Caro. I find that if I think a little about what’s going to come after this immediate thing I’m doing, I do a better job of executing the immediate thing. Somehow it gives me more focus.

  • Rich post, Helen! Thank you. In answer to your inquiry, I’ve developed fierce loyalty in my life THROUGH my personal growth and education. Right now, for example, I belong to a group that is working toward developing profitable heart-centered businesses together. We’re each growing at different rates, yet share certain qualities and the experience of learning from the same mentor, exploring ideas together, having accountability with one another and getting to practice being fiercely vulnerable together. In this place, we get to develop our self awareness and work through our “stuff” so we are freed to put our best selves out there to our clients and to the world at large. My colleagues and our mentor are fiercely loyal to one another and outwardly so. This forum offers glimmers of the same sort of experience and it’s so, so powerful. Thanks for drawing this out of me just now. I’m loving the sense of knowing that I’m really on my way!

    P.S.: There appears to be some text missing from your post and I’d love to hear your complete thoughts. See: paragraph 1, last line, under Self-awareness and paragraph 1, last line, under LISTEN.

    • Helen Kim

      I’m happy this spoke to you, Lydia. Consistency and accountability are 2 key ingredients towards building any kind of relationship and it sounds like you have taken the initiative to create this in your life through your group.  I would love to know what actions indicate fierce loyalty to you?

      • Helen Kim

        P.S. I will take another look at the post, but I think it is all there. It might be my style of writing in this particular piece : )- 

        • I noticed the same thing as Lydia regarding some missing text.

          • Yes, I noticed it too. There’s a sentence which just reads, “When I think of the way,” and I’m curious what comes next!

      •  hmmm… indicators of fierce loyalty appear to be slightly different depending on the role the loyal follower plays… in the sense I’m talking about today, it’s collegial loyalty. I can tell they’re fiercely loyal when they show up in other places where I hang out, either by common tastes and preferences or by consciously seeking me out or being curious about other venues where I hang out. I can tell they’re fiercely loyal when they spread the word about me without even being asked. (and glowingly, too!) I can tell they’re fiercely loyal when they reflect back to me in ways that shows the depth that we resonate with one another. We’re co-listening. I’m sure there’s more — those indicator are top of mind.

        • Helen Kim

          Great list, Lydia. Thanks for going deeper with me on this.

        • Anonymous


  • Sharon E. Greene

    Hi, Helen,
    Thank you for a helpful and very thoughtful post…just what I/we need on a Monday morning! You’ve hit on two major actions that I need to be reminded of: Show Up and Listen. I often get stuck in deciding what to do next to advance myself and my being in the world because I have a backlog of unfiled papers and undone To-Dos (even if they’re minor, they’re still undone!) I’ve been using Sarah’s wonderful series to help get me going each day with a promise to myself to Show Up and use each day in the way that it should be used, even if it’s fixing what’s been sitting there waiting to be done and not necessarily focusing on the What’s Next. Even more importantly, for me, is the admonition and challenge to LISTEN. And this means listening to myself at a deep level so that I have more clarity about what I need to show up for…and to consider what’s next. Your post reminded me of one of last year’s guest “prodders” who encouraged the 28 Day group to practice FTF, do the Feared Thing First! I haven’t done that yet, but you’ve given me important guidance today. Thanks so much.
    PS. There do seem to be some dropped words or phrases in the post. But the message you sent is clear.

    • Helen Kim

      Hi Sharon! 
      Oy. I know what you mean re: Unfiled papers and To-Dos. I suspect that since you mentioned it so early on in your post that this bugs you. Hence, Sarah’s wise advice to work on what’s there. Purging is a necessary part of life and as you know, you need to create space in order to bring in the new. Believe me, I had a coach once tell me that I would not complete my book because I had bags of unfiled papers under my desk. She said that by keeping the bag there, I was sending a message to myself saying, “I can’t handle it. I just can’t take care of what’s right there in front of me.” So I took care of it, and have tried to purge every few months. Life changing.On another note, your comment has me questioning, just what does get in the way of our listening to ourselves and others? For instance, I know that when I speak to a certain family member, I skew my stories because of the way she listens. It’s hard to be a truly great listener – to listen without judgment (whether towards self or others) and preconceived opinions.Just think if every business on this planet was run by a great listener. What would that look like?

      • Anonymous

        I have a new rule. I throw away 10 things a day. Doesn’t matter how big or how small. Just ten things – gone. 🙂

        • Helen Kim

          Wow, Sarah! That must be why you have such clarity.

        • Sarah, I would like to “borrow” your wonderful idea, as I continue to de-clutter my itty bitty house, and office, and purse.

          10 things to toss…this I can do.

        • Anonymous

          Count me in on the 10 Things to Chuck a Day task.  I resemble the unfilled bags under the desk comment…

        • Sarah – I want to hear more!  How do you decide which 10 things you will throw away?  

  • I liked all of the comments under “Preventative Measures”  The theme is constant…it’s about everyone else (clients, potential clients, people in general), as it should be.

    Taking care of others will provide the means to take care of me, if we do a good job in the first place.

    Thanks for a great post Helen.

    • Helen Kim

      Yes, Lori! As long as we remain self-aware and make sure everyone’s needs are met, we all get to share the same playground.

      • Sharing is something we’re supposed to learn when young.  Why do some people forget this as they grow older?

    • Anonymous

      SUCH a fine line not to go overboard in either direction. Constant vigilance…wait, isn’t that from Harry Potter?!

      • You and Harry Potter 🙂   Constant vigilance is a good thing. Balance is the key, and as a Libra, I’m always in search of balance.

  • Niraj Popat

    Wow..Mind Blowing..Its is the most  refreshing blog  of the day..thank you Helen..I truely belive in this  “Your word is gold. When you say you will do something, you do it.” Your words has the ability to describe the character sketch of your Life.. & 
    “Never, never, never, never give up.” bcoz “Suffering is always better then regrets.. I have always followed those lines & its has always helped me going..

    • Helen Kim

      Neat, Niraj…! You’re welcome.  I love that – I think there is a very similar saying, “We can either suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.”  

  • Thank you! I particularly enjoyed the note about showing up so that your support can be felt. No matter how many times it happens, it surprises me a little to see how much folks appreciate it when I show up for events they’re presenting at or participating in. Definitely something to remember and prioritize!

    • Helen Kim

      Yes, M. Keli.  I am always touched when I see people I know in the audience. They could have chosen to be in a lot of other places.  2 Way Street, yes : )? Thanks for your post here .

  • Hi Helen,

    Riff is one of my fav words. We need more riffing out there!

    I’m an Enthusiasm Cultivator (actual title at my local biz association) and that goes along way. Folks become drawn to those who feel alive and electric.

    Show up with energy and enthusiasm, eager to learn more about others. I listen for what folks get electrified about. Our educ system — for the most part- punishes folks who exhibit enthusiasm (or drugs them so they sit politely on their wooden chairs for 12+ years.)

    Much more exciting world when we’re brimming with aliveness.

    Fun and funky post! Giulietta

    • Helen Kim

      I agree, Giulietta (and I love your title : ).  Culling and supporting what gives people that big boost in life is much needed. Rock on!

  • Helen Kim

    Thanks for pointing the “hanging sentences”. My bad. Sarah posted exactly what I sent her. When I started writing this post, I had 15 pages which then got whittled down to about three. Obviously the first sentence would end with “game” (“…at the top of its game) and as for the other – “When I think of  the way…. “, I was going to expound a bit more on what I mentioned to Sharon, above, using a family member as an example of speaking to someone according to how they are listening – skewing the way we tell a story according to what you think the listener can or can not “hear”. It was a big lesson for me – that one…. 

  • Carla K.

    I get is… we have to grow past what we want and know and grow into what the client and potential client wants and needs. We have to communitcate the way they want, whether by phone, text or in person and listen for the clues and cues that we help us maintain theit loyalty.

    • Helen Kim

      I immediately saw some phrases that summed up some important concepts here, Carla;

      Know and Grow
      Clues and Cues

      Thanks for distilling things here.  : )  

  • KarenW

    Hi Helen,

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post.  (I’m seeing a “musician who has transformed into something else super special” emerging as a theme in this series…)

    The quote you pulled from Rachel Botsman’s talk really resonated with me today.  I love the idea that how and what we contribute in the social space is sending signals about how well we collaborate and communicate – and that one day the degree to which we do this well will be as important as our credit rating.  (That day can not come soon enough!)

    It leaves me thinking and feeling that it’s the way in which we give support and are present in community that is just as important as what we provide to the community in terms of tangible advice, products, etc.  Our way of being in the world says just as much (if not more) as what we do or produce in the world.  Your comment on treating our word as gold resonates deeply with me.  Mostly because I am working hard to create a new habit of saying “no thanks” or “not right now” and only saying “yes I can and will do that” when I know I can keep the promise.  Part of this is about integrity and part of it is about sanity – saying yes to gentle stretch in my life and not crazy, mad stress that is brought about by far too much “yes”.

    And asking questions and actually LISTENING to the answers – what a concept.  If only the world asked more and “knew” less…it would surely be a better place!

    Thanks again,


    • Helen Kim

      I so agree with you, Karen re: only saying Yes to those things you can and will do. Saying No is a developed skill. If we aren’t comfy saying it, we just have to practice saying it.

      and I think that day is only around the corner where the culmination of every comment (ours and what others say about us), post, picture, etc will be tallyed up = integrity rating.

      and thanks for suggesting that I might have morphed into something “super special”. I loved Elizabeth Marshall’s post here as you can imagine : ). 

      Thanks for sharing your neat observations here.

  • A wonderful blog today Helen. Thank you. 22 years running my own retail service business and still learning that I must continue to win my client’s loyalty. Today I had a new client come by and want a refund because her new eyewear was supposed to be here today as promised but didn’t arrive. She only know me and my business for 1 week as compared to fiercely loyal clients of 20+ years. Does she care? No! She’s disappointed and so am I! So I’m working hard to repair a problem and remind myself that each and every client needs 100% care and concern to become a fiercely loyal client. And also I thought, after reading your blog, how important it is we are Fiercely Loyal to ourselves first……it makes the giving to others so much easier!

    • Helen Kim

      Hi Colleen, 

      Great to see you here.

      This reminds me of what my friend Daniel is rumored to have done.He built the McDonald’s empire in Hong Kong. 
      When they just opened a few decades ago, a woman wore her fur coat there and someone spilled tea all over it. 
      She was outraged. 
      Daniel bought her a new fur coat. 

      She became one of the biggest fans of this fledgling hamburger chain – not only did she have a new fur coat, she had a great story to spread. 

      So you don’t know. This client today? She might become one of your biggest “advertisers”. : ) 

  • I absolutely love that you bring up self awareness. I spent a solid two years developing a healthy self image and have seen how it affects absolutely every area of my life. It breaks my heart to see people who are not self aware or who are too caught up in all their baggage to realize they are totally worth it and can reach out to other people with that confidence. That might not at all be where you were going with that, I promise I read all of it, but it’s what stuck out to me. Thanks for your post! 🙂

    • Helen Kim

      Hi Sherrie!
      Anything that gives greater focus to self awareness is a good thing. It’s sometimes easier for others to see our potential and how we get in our own way. Also, our personal progress is accelerated when someone who feels fierce loyalty and upholds a bigger vision for you, is present. Thanks for your post! It was a great one to wake up to this mornin’. : )

  • Hello Helen! The line that’s stuck with me…”You have to manage experiences so that people want to return and be a part of your community.” So very true. One of the keys to managing experiences is managing expectations. Motel 6 does a great job at what it does, but if the customer is expecting the Marriott, the customer experience will always be disappointing. Our job as communicators is to clearly define our position/mission in order to attract the “right” customers/clients/membership that we actually have a chance to excite and retain.

    Thank you for your fantastic insights!  

    • Helen Kim

      Morning, Peter! So true, re: managing the experience by communicating, communicating, communicating. I think it also comes from absolute clarity as to what we as business owners are/aren’t able/prepared to do and offer. As we build our businesses it is easy to start losing sight of what we are all about and derail off course, suddenly finding ourselves running a business we don’t like much. Thank YOU for your insights!

  • Anonymous

    Helen, Thanks for spending some time and sharing your thoughts on fierce loyalty. I really agree with everything you say. Loyalty is built by listening, supporting and being bound by one’s word. I also like to think that being loyal means you cut some slack when someone is having a bad day and building loyalty would hopefully afford the same reciprocally, because hey, we all have bad days.

    • Helen Kim

      Ah yes…. that’s a biggie, isn’t it? Cutting people some slack. I think it starts with you though. I am a double Virgo and fight the urge NOT to give myself slack. It’s an ongoing process but the better I am at lightening up about myself, the better I can do the same towards others.  What helps in this overall process is to be transparent about what’s going on. Great point, Barry. Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Blancolin

    On February 27, I have a big meeting with a powerful local organization about community engagment and I’m feeling so much better prepared thanks to this tribe and all these contributors. And on a personal level, throwing out 10 items a day is a much more reachable goal than my current  “clean office for 30 minutes per day”.

    • Helen Kim

      I also love that idea that Sarah put forth earlier and am definitely going to try it out starting today. I am really curious to see what I see.

  • Thesnowlegacy

    I got to this one late. I love it! Thank you Helen for putting in the time to share this. I always feel I’m a good listener until I get reminders like yours ;-). That’s why I loved your post. The part about listening really struck a cord because it’s something I’m striving to perfect. Thank you!

    • Helen Kim

      Ah yes, we can always go deeper when it comes to listening.  Who is it that we were designed to listen more, say less; 2 ears. 1 mouth.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for your post Helen!  What I’m really seeing here are the words “show up”, “do what you say you’re going to do”, “listen more than you speak”, & “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  I’m distilling everything today into bite-sized pieces, hopefully my own social currency has enough change in its pocket for that!  :  )

    I’m constantly amazed about how difficult it can be to just show up & do the work, do the thing you say you’re going to do.  At the end of the day, what else do we have to look back at & feel proud of?  Will it be all of the emails we skimmed through but never answered?  All the people who asked us “how are you?” & then we walked by so quickly that we never heard their own answer when we posed the question right back at them?  It makes me wonder what exactly business is boiling down to.  Productivity & profit over communication & true connection?  Just thinking out loud over here but I’d rather have people fiercely loyal to me than a Scrooge McDuck vault full of cold, emotionless cash that pushes me further & further outside of my real reason for living- connecting & serving my fellow human beings.

    Thank you for your insightful post & for leaving those seemingly unfinished thoughts for us to complete them as we need to!

    • Helen Kim

      I thank YOU for this great reminder. Last night I was talking to a new acquaintance about doing our own work first.  Your point of people asking, “How are You?” is a question I realize that I don’t ask myself often enough and if I don’t take the time to ask, how on earth will I hear someone else’s response? I mean, REALly hear it?

  • What a great post … I’ve come in late to this series but determined to catch up!  I love the point on ‘Show up – Attend conferences, parties, book signings, any place where your expression of support is seen, heard and felt.”

    • Helen Kim

      Yes, and getting out and circulating is a really, really good thing and besides, celebrating people doing their thing is such a life-giving gesture for all concerned! YIPPEE!!!! 

  • rmsorg

    Helen, great post!  Many great points about gaining and working everyday to innovate your business to keep that fierce loyalty.  What resonated with me the most was to ask questions and LISTEN.  Listening is very hard for many businesses to do, to truly have the patience and to care enough about their customers to Listen to what they truly need. 

    I also love the fact that you actually write about how our reputation online is a “new currency that could become as powerful as our credit rating system”  You can see that with apps like Klout. 

    Overall a great piece that give us many wonderful nuggets of information to ponder on.


    • Helen Kim


      Great to hear that some of the riffs went on longer for you : )

      Yes, isn’t it true that we are all leaving trails of data that add up to something while under the watch of the rest of the world, pretty much.

      Thanks for the tip on Klout. I’m gonna check it out….