Joan Steffend Brandmeier answers the question:

What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?


Welcome, Joan.

Thank you.

Allow me to introduce you. After 17 years as a television news anchor for a highly rated Minneapolis station, Joan Steffend Brandmeier served as host of Decorating Cents, a show on the HGTV network dedicated to completely redecorating a room for under $500. 


Joan then walked away from a successful career to write two books, found a nonprofit, and search for deeper meaning and purpose. Today, she serves as the Ambassador of Kindness for Fun is Good, an employee engagement consultancy. Joan, what is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?

When you said non-family member, you had to go digging around in your memory banks and honestly one of the first moments that came to me... it will sound very small to anybody who's listening to this. I was in the sixth grade and I have always struggled with weight. I like to think that maybe I struggled with height... so it's kind of been an issue for me. I was one of the shorter, rounder kids in the sixth grade, and my sixth grade teacher was a man by the name of Sid Freitag. He was my first male teacher and I always had kind of a fear of the masculine authority figure. After he measured me and weighed me at the beginning of the school year, he could see that it bothered me. So this lovely man would take me aside and he would measure me to see if I'd gotten taller through the year. 

I know it sounds like such a little thing but he saw me, and to be seen as a human being is I think one of the greatest, kindest gifts that you can give somebody else. It doesn't mean that you don't see things that you would like to change in them but just see them where they are. I'm also such a huge believer in the smallest of things being really hugely important. So that little moment with my sixth grade teacher, Mr.Sid Freitag, is one of the kindest things that ever happened to me by a non-family member.

Well, it's true. I agree that the subtle acts of kindness are often the most meaningful and the most memorable. 

I think so too. You're not looking for the big applause, the big score, all the points. For good or for ill, a lot of our small interactions can shape our day and then shape our life.

Well, thank you so much for sharing your story, Joan. I very much appreciate it.

You're very welcome. Thank you.

Joan Steffend Brandmeier is an author, speaker, Emmy Award-winner, and Presenting Partner and Ambassador of Kindness for Fun Is Good, an employee engagement consultancy. As a young actor, Joan finagled her way into a job as a television news anchor, first in Duluth, Minnesota, followed by 17 years on KARE-TV (NBC) in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Then she skipped out on the crime and legislative stories to take a job as a host on the HGTV network, putting in 10 years being the face (and paint-splattered body) of Decorating Cents, a show dedicated to completely redecorating a room for under $500. While there, she hosted many of HGTV’s Christmas at the White House specials, the Rose Bowl Parade, Dream Home specials, and live Dream Home giveaways. 


Joan left the formal world of media and entertainment to begin her personal journey to recover the best parts of herself. She has since written two books, ...and she sparkled, a timeless and universal story of rediscovering who you are and the joy that is possible when you recognize you were always magnificent… and peace in peace out, which encourages us to find peace inside of ourselves (peace in) and look for simple ways to share that peace with others (peace out).


Joan also founded Peace Begins With Me, a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to education, inspiration, and collaboration in the area of inner peace. Today, she travels around the country delivering keynote speeches — and looks for the littlest ways to encourage herself and everyone around her to feel more purposeful.


Here is a 4-minute highlights video from one of Joan’s speaking engagements.


Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 13: The Reuniting Science & Spirituality Summit