The books on display at airport stores always catch my eye. They are the most important books. At least that’s what they seem to proclaim. They are the best-sellers, the ones everyone is talking about. The ones you better read if you don’t want to miss out.

I hope my next book will be one of the loud, important books everyone wants to read.

Sometimes I want to be like those books — popular, important and someone everyone wants to sit down with.

But then something will happen to remind me that the people who really affect my day in a positive way aren’t the ones everyone is talking about. They are the ones who do one simple thing. They make me smile.

Danny Givens is one of those people. He’s been shining shoes for 50 years and just 27 months ago (he likes to count in months) he got to open his own shoe shining business in the Minneapolis airport. It’s called D.G. Express.

I’ve never gotten my shoes shined before so it was a little odd that I felt called to sit in his chair. But my boots looked like they needed a little love and I had an extra hour to kill so I found myself in the most extraordinary conversation with the most extraordinary man.

I finally had to interrupt him and ask if I could record his message because it was so positive and profound. (You can find it on my facebook page.) I was especially touched by his thoughts on Winning Wednesday. He said people ask him, “What are we winning? I tell them breathing is achieving! Now go win over a co-worker or make up with a loved one.”

Before I left his chair, he reminded me about the “Giving Tuesday” trend. He said when you have nothing else to give, you give your smile.

I got up from his chair. My boots were new but so was my spirit. Both had a healthy shine that left me energized to do something to pass along that positivity.

I had been in the presence of excellence and it felt like a bit might have rubbed off on me.

Better than any book I could have read or tweet worthy star I could have stumbled across, I got to meet Danny Givens in the Minneapolis airport and my day won’t be the same.


Let’s carry on Danny’s passion to make the world a better place with these printable kindness calendars I got from my friends at FTD. ( There are lots of kindness ideas out there, but these are some of the simplest and best I’ve seen. (No, I am not getting paid to say that.) I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If someone asks why you’re hiding notes in your friend’s daily planner or taking out the overflowing office trash, tell them it’s because the most important people in life are the ones who make others smile.