Invention of connection

Who would think that a significant mission like “spreading dignity to the people” could begin with a napkin? For Prophit Co., it did.

More than a decade ago, co-owner of then Prophit Marketing, Joe Kiedinger, was struggling to connect with his new pre-teen stepson, Alex. Kiedinger, an outgoing, former cruise ship entertainer was vastly different than his deep-thinking, introverted stepson. The more Kiedinger tried to reach out to the boy, the more they seemed to clash.

Then, one game night, as Kiedinger placed his Monopoly piece on Pennsylvania Avenue and lifted the property card, it hit him, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a card with all of Alex’s rules of communication right on it? Then I’d know how to connect with him!”

He quickly sketched out his inspiration on a napkin.

He was on to something. Kiedinger and wife Danica, co-owners of a small marketing firm based in Green Bay, could envision the card concept greatly impacting their marketing clients who shared frustrations about internal communication. So, the pair eagerly began to study possible card applications. Kiedinger learned that 56 universal traits exist, which were identified by marriage specialist Larry Bilotta, that comprise our human dignity — traits like organized, faithful and enthusiastic. Each individual is motivated by a unique blend of these traits. Kiedinger and Bilotta plotted a way to use his algorithm in a process to help people express how they want to be treated.

After several years of experimentation and study, the About Me Card was born. For the first time, Kiedinger saw how his son viewed the world. Their relationship changed immediately. “It was probably the biggest epiphany I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Kiedinger said. 

The small, 3-by-5-inch card contained a list of each user’s unique personal motivations as well as the “rules” to follow to best communicate with them. The card was soon paired with a scheduled one-on-one meeting rhythm called the “Check-In,” which guided a leader and employee through a more meaningful dialogue than the typically brief — and often unproductive — one-on-ones of the past.

The vast majority of managers in corporate America have no professional leadership training and struggle to navigate through mentorship. The Check-In allowed those leaders to simply follow prompts to walk through a conversation that was not only custom-fit to their associate, but one that offered staggering results. Prophit clients shared rather stunning outcomes: lower turnover, reduced conflict, higher job satisfaction and drastically improved employee engagement.

But how? How did a paper card and some questions turn things around for companies? The answer was profound. What Kiedinger discovered was human dignity. Employees and leaders alike felt dignified in the process of connecting with one another. They were able to share their unique drivers and needs while learning to adapt to those of others as well.

The Kiedingers knew they had something remarkable on their hands and wanted to continue to spread its positive influence. The co-owners sought a digital application that included further resources and increased its reach. No longer did Check-In partners need to be in the same room with physical cards and a Check-In sheet between them. Now, Check-Ins could take place anywhere in the world. Along with the invention of the About Me Card and the Check-In, which allowed individuals to express their rules for dignity, a new name and a new digital platform were created: Dignify®.

By installing this technology into their internal processes, leaders were able to reduce the drama by guiding two people through a conversation, building understanding. The tool also could lead co-workers through similar conversations to build trust and understanding. As one user reported, “It’s hard to believe that a 30-minute conversation using Dignify can feel so good. I understand where my co-worker is coming from and we discussed positive ways to better work together. It was actually a little fun.”

The patented online platform is now used worldwide from Texas to Bordeaux, France, and is used by nonprofits, mom-and-pop shops, big business and even a Fortune 500 company. What do all these places and businesses have in common? People.

Anyone and everyone can use Dignify, and it’s changing lives.

From its founding in 2002, Prophit has metamorphosed from a three-person staff creating and placing advertisements to a full-fledged organizational health firm providing communication and leadership strategies that increase operational excellence.

As Kiedinger says, “Marketing will only accelerate what was going to happen anyway. Company culture and leadership are what drive the bus and create real growth.”

He continued, “We dig deep to first establish a healthy company before we push any messages out to the world. We, internally, spread dignity and teach dignity-based communication. We take the time to analyze what’s working, what’s not, and train leaders on how to improve their methods. We validate the client’s purpose and ensure it is trickling down through all the ranks, and finally begin purpose-directed marketing. Purpose-directed marketing is a reimagined approach that focuses on the company — purpose first, its heart, its true north. It comes last in the process because the world can’t truly know what a company stands for until everyone is on board internally.”

The company was a decade ahead of the times. Today, we see that people carry their motivations, emotions, personality, thoughts, hopes and communication style with them wherever they go. There is no true division of self. We cannot simply ignore or bury workplace conflict and tension forever. It creates resentment and stress. Leaders across the globe are finally realizing that if they want a stress-free, successful company, then they need a focused strategy to get there.

Prophit Co.’s Dignify is changing lives, truly and completely. Kiedinger says, “Leaders and their associates alike have shared stories of ‘complete 180 degrees and heart-wrenching realizations’ about how a leader’s past will shape them. Each and every person is shaped by their past. Each unique person has coping mechanisms and talents. Dignify reveals how a person succeeds in the world and begins a journey of helping them become the best version of themselves. Dignity is a personal foundation; it is how they bring good works to the world.”

Today, Prophit Co.’s mission is clearer than ever: to spread dignity to people. This simple but admirable call to action is one that inspires and empowers the Prophit Co. team through the choices they make each day, even leading the organization to provide major discounts for nonprofits and helping challenged teens who would otherwise not be able to afford the life-changing tool, Dignify.

As Kiedinger said, “It’s my personal mission to teach acceptance in this unaccepting world. How could I hold back a tool like this when it has the capacity to impact so many people’s lives? I just can’t and I won’t. The world is finally at our doorstep, knocking away, as people discover the power of dignity. And I can’t wait to share it.” 

Company: Prophit Co.
Innovation: Dignify®
Website: prophit.com | dignify.com

To view the entire 2021 Champions of Innovation edition, please click here.