Nick Haines writes an exclusive piece for Female First
Nick Haines writes an exclusive piece for Female First

When people ask me why I’m a Kindness Ambassador they are sometimes confused when I say that it’s not really about Kindness at all, and instead it’s about loneliness and isolation.

You see, my core purpose in life is that I want everyone in the world to have someone that’s there for them. That’s what drives me and all I’ve ever worked towards. For me Kindness is the best and most certain way to make sure we have a world and culture where everyone is there for each other, and that’s why I’m a Kindness Ambassador in my heart and soul.

So, I wanted to explore if there was room for kindness in an entrepreneurial business or any business? The answer is YES, absolutely there is. There’s, in fact, no better way to unlock everyone’s potential, create a high functioning team and meet your company's goals. Kindness can sometimes be a tough choice but at the Five Institute – the organisation I have founded to help companies and organisations to address practical issues on relationships, cultures, communication, diversity, empowerment and kindness - we firmly believe it is a powerful tool and the best way to run a business. It’s not always easy and it takes courage.

Through my work at the institute and while creating The Vitality Test I have been engaged by a diverse range of entrepreneurial companies, individuals and organisations, and leadership teams. As well as by large corporations through to NHS hospitals, educational institutes, international governments and the United Nations.

More often than not when I am approached about creating a kinder culture within an entrepreneurial business, I suggest that it’s a bad idea. Which might seem strange when that’s my role, and that kindness and cultures sit at the heart of our work here at the Five Institute. What I normally suggest is a completely different approach within the entrepreneurial space, starting with individuals rather than the culture.

Let me explain. The challenge of creating a particular culture in an entrepreneurial business is that the one or two people at the top of the business are seen as a representative of that culture. So, you have to make sure that the culture you want to adopt matches the person at the top. There has to be a natural fit and an alignment with those people, or you’re going to create stress in the individual and stress within the business. Creating a specific culture like kindness in a large organization like a hospital is on some level easier, as no individual represents that culture, it’s a collective way of being. Whereas in an entrepreneurial business it has to match and be highly aligned with one or two people at the top, and if it’s not you’ve got trouble, and it’s going to cost the business.

So, even though a kind culture can reduce staff turnover and illness, be highly attractive to the best talent, increase creativity and productivity and create a better work environment and perhaps a better brand image for the business, it may be a really bad idea.

A far better approach for any Entrepreneurial business, unless the head of the business is consistently internally and externally kind even under the most stressful situations, is to work on individual behaviour around kindness, which gives all the benefits of a kind culture without any of the risks. And I think is a much better way to go.

At the Five Institute, we support and work with individuals to help them develop a healthy KindSet, which is like developing a healthy mindset, except that it’s all about kindness. A healthy KindSet is when someone is equally kind to themselves, others and the planet – ideally all at the same time. It’s important to recognise here that kindness isn’t a weak, wishy washy, ineffectual or an easy state to be in. It’s actually a very forthright, strong, strategic, tough and hard to achieve as a state, which gives astounding results.

As serial and lifelong entrepreneur I’ve reached nearly 60 years of age and never worked for anyone else in my life, apart from a brief stint as a petrol pump attendant in 1977 and because of that, I know my boss very well. I know my leadership style, what I’m good at and where my strengths lie, and also where I’m weak or what happens when I get under stress, deeply obsessed by a new project or when I’ve done too many hours and I’m tired. I know the good, the bad and the ugly part of myself rather well.

Knowing who you are as an entrepreneur - is in my mind - an essential component to creating a business that suits you and is successful on the long term and allows you to have time to do what matters to you, such as spending time with the people you love.

Most entrepreneurs know that’s the game and the aim, even if they don’t always achieve that state of entrepreneurial bliss.

Over the last 35 years I have personally worked with 1,000’s of entrepreneurs and one of the main challenges that stops us reaching that ideal state, and has led to far many conversations around regret, divorce, premature illness and deep unhappiness within a highly successful business is a lack of kindness. Or more precisely, a poorly developed KindSet, where there is a lack of balance in being kind to yourself, others or the planet.

Helping people within an entrepreneurial business develop their individual KindSet collectively creates a culture that is kind and allows us as entrepreneurs to reap the rewards of our chosen profession and avoids much of the heartache. Plus, it makes good business sense!


Through his work at the Five Institute Nicholas has been engaged by a diverse range of entrepreneurial companies, individuals and organisations and leadership teams. As well as by large corporations through to NHS hospitals, educational institutes, international governments and the United Nations. In his work Nicholas addresses issues around entrepreneurship, relationships, cultures, communication, diversity, gender, empowerment and kindness. To find out more visit To find out more about The Vitality Test, visit