Business

To brand is to simplify the complexity of the human experience to a succinct theme for greed.

Decisions made in consideration of brand guidelines are decisions made out of the audience’s perception, not out of sincerity.

It’s living a lie for self-interest.

It’s manipulative.

It’s a sign of a hack.

So instead of focusing on branding and self-gain, focus on living a fulfilling life and happiness will follow.

 

“Sometimes it seems as though our disagreements over everything–from politics to business to the designated hitter rule–are more serious and more divisive than ever before. People are making emotional, knee-jerk decisions, then standing by them, sometimes fighting to the death to defend their position. And yet, weʼre optimists.”

That’s the headline for the folks who manage ChangeThis, a project that publishes manifestos. They now have a list of over 60 pages of PDFs whose topics run the gamut: from technological innovation to ending racism with mindfulness to startup revolutions.

This project consists of some of the smartest people in the world laying it all on the line to try to move the needle on progressive ideas. I found it because I searched for The Bootstrapper’s Bible, a book dedicated to – you might have guessed – pulling yourself up from the bootstraps to create a thriving business.

Eventually, I’d like to download all of these. I think they’re that good. Enjoy.

Large companies asking for donations at the end of the checkout process is a useful nudge to get shoppers to be more generous

But a few large companies doing it just isn’t enough.

The local economy is where the biggest direct impact is made on people’s lives in the long-term.

So community leaders should start thinking about how to get local businesses to support important local causes.

In this way, people in the community who are at-need get help and whenever kids go to the store they see a society that cares.

 

Sites like CharityWatch and Charity Navigator rank charities according to their level of effectiveness. This is great for individuals who are actively looking to give their money to good, trusted causes. But it’s ineffective for the casual giver. These are the types of people who would benefit from these two improvements.

Here’s the first one: sites like the two mentioned work together to develop a certification program. This gives a helpful heuristic for shoppers asked to donate at cash registers. Asking if the cause is certified with the program would help them rest assured that the money they’re giving is being spent wisely.

For what guidelines might be, CharityWatch’s top-rated organizations generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, have met CharityWatch’s governance benchmarks, and receive “open-book” status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to CharityWatch.

And secondly, when asked to donate at self-checkouts there should be an option to get more information. Companies like WalMart expect shoppers to donate to charities out of altruism.  Sure people could take out their phones and look the charity up, but the whole point of the process is to give a nudge. So why shouldn’t they give this easy additional nudge? It would help ensure accountability and give further ease of mind.

 

Please accept my apologies for not getting the daily blog out lately. I have just returned from an intense conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I am back now, though! So back to it. In the future, if I’m about to head out for a conference, I’ll give a heads up. I had no idea my networking activity would be so demanding.

A consistent theme I saw while networking was competition. The entire time I was there I witnessed it – competition between schools for ranking, between journals for prestige, between students for job placement, and between colleagues for publication. (I’m preparing to go into academics.) The takeaway: I’m about to set forth into an incredibly competitive climate.  But I have a secret weapon; that is, the awareness between the difference between hierarchy and territory.

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art it’s said that “In the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways – by their rank within a hierarchy (a hen in a pecking order, a wolf in a pack) or by their connection to a territory (a home base, a hunting ground, a turf).”

To sum up Pressfield’s argument, most of us define ourselves hierarchically, and it’s likely that we don’t even know it. This is because school, advertising, all of the materialist culture tells us that we need to define ourselves by others’ opinions.

He says that this definition of our identity, which you will notice breaks down in places with a ton of people like Manhattan, is detrimental to our creativity. You will witness the development of the following characteristics:

  1. You become caught in a vicious cycle of trying to elevate your position in the hierarchy and defending against those beneath you.
  2. You come to define your happiness by your rank in the hierarchy, feeling satisfied at another’s defeat.
  3. You treat people differently based on their rank rather than other, more important, factors.
  4. You act, dress, speak, and think for others.

So we must live territorially.

What’s a territory?

  1. It’s the place that gives us sustenance, the core element of our soul’s nourishment.
  2. We love our territory alone. We don’t need anyone else to claim it. The work itself satisfies.
  3. It is something that takes work to be claimed. It doesn’t give, it gives back.

I’m going to leave his line of reasoning here. There’s more to it, but for the rest, I suggest you read the book.

In close, don’t get caught up in the competition. Just do the work you’re passionate about. Try not to think about the competition. Just have fun. Don’t care how praised someone is or where they stand in whatever fabricated pecking order exists. Just search for two things. First, who has interests that overlap with you? And second, are they a good person?

 

 

 

Yesterday I may have gotten some things wrong. Bloggers often speak about topics they may not have the qualifications to speak about. But I think that’s okay.

It’s okay, at least in this instance, because I admittedly don’t have the answers. I have my best guess, but that’s all I can offer. I can provide you with my best educated shot at what’s going on in the world. It’s likely not much yet, but I’m really, really striving to make it something. And that should count for, well, something.

I made a lot of assertions. I realize some of them might be controversial. They might even damage some career prospects. But I think that’s okay, too. Because there needs to be more people willing to give a thoughtful perspective. There needs to be more of a meaningful dialogue about important issues of our time.

A lot of folks keep their head down. That’s all right. I worry, though, that it might stop them from reaching their full potential. I fear it might cause a life of mediocrity.

I really care that people are judgemental and that their behavior is antithetical to a more connected, inclusive society. And I really care about global inequity. History is riddled with exploitative practices, and we aren’t given the personal toolkit to have a considerate conversation about the real implications or normative principles undergirding them. To not share that perspective would be a disservice to humanity.

I want to be clear that I’m not opposed to different perspectives. In fact, I sincerely welcome – even crave – them. The day I allow myself to live in an echo chamber is the day I’ve died intellectually and philosophically. It’s the day I’ve let myself down for comfort.

I think a part of living rightly is being willing to take a stand on some issues, particularly ones with such far reaching externalities like corporate greed. If everyone stood idly in fear that they wouldn’t get hired, the bad guys (and girls) would triumph unopposed.

I hope that we can foster a culture where professionals can be more than replaceable cogs in bureaucratic machines. I hope we can create a culture where they’re considered well-versed facilitators of cogent values. Not necessarily champions of a cause but moderaters who offer thoughtful lenses or ethical paradigms with a keen eye toward the disenfranchised.

We must consider the human. And professionalism needs empathy.

 

This is a central message in Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale. It doesn’t just apply to sales. It is remarkable how often we don’t get what we want simply because we don’t ask. Are you trying to get buy-in from a department head on a new employee recognition program? Ask them at the end of the meeting, “So do you agree that we should be providing gifts for work milestones and major life events?” This ensures accountability and forces them to verbally affirm they’ve been sold on the idea.

In your personal life, this is particularly important. Often the only way you can improve aspects like communication, appreciation, sharing of responsibilities, or romance is simply to ask. This isn’t just a guy thing, my female friends. It doesn’t matter who you are, it is difficult to simply pick up on another individual’s desires if they are not clearly communicated.