On Giving Thanks.

Thanksgiving.

Family.

Friends.

Food.

Warmth.

The brisk fall air that reminds you that you are alive.

Whether you choose to celebrate or despise the commercialization of the invented holiday season, Thanksgiving does serve as a subtle reminder of all things that are important. All things that are essential to being:

Family:  The people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference. The people that teach us how to love. They are the field which we sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

Gratitude: It turns what we have into enough, and more. A meal into a feast. A house into a home. A friend into a stranger. It binds our communities together.

Possibility: Every day offers us the opportunity to make a difference not just in our own lives but in the lives of others. An opportunity that is afforded to us as a result of the connection and the optimism we gain when we know we are in it together.

For a few days, we are reminded of the interdependence of life.

We couldn’t have the meal we share without the sacrifice and labor of others, from farm to table.  The food we share is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

This Thanksgiving, instead of measuring your goodness by what you don’t do – by what you deny yourself, what you resist, and what you exclude. Let’s all agree to measure the goodness in us, and in everyone, by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.

It’s The Thought That Counts…or is it?

The problem with the prevailing view of thoughtfulness is that it doesn’t scale. There are no network effects. No platform exists for the foundation of our actions. Instead of merely being thoughtful, we each have the choice to be generously thoughtful.

There are two ways to be thoughtful: first, there is the prevailing view in which being thoughtful is merely being kind.

It’s holding the door for a stranger.
It’s flashing a brief smile when you walk past someone.
It’s offering a compliment.
It’s sharing what you have, expecting nothing in return.
It’s giving someone a discount.
It’s the card and flower routine you employ every valentines day or birthday.

However, these acts are passive, stemming largely from our subconscious rather than from intentionality.

The problem with the prevailing view of thoughtfulness is that it doesn’t scale. There are no network effects. No platform exists for the foundation of our actions.

Instead of merely being thoughtful, we each have the choice to be generously thoughtful.

Being generously thoughtful is acting with intentionality and openness. 

Being generously thoughtful creates trust.
It creates a platform for each of us to scale our actions, providing benefits to both people, over and over again.

However, being generously thoughtful also requires trust, which is why so few of us go down the path of acting with generous thoughtfulness.

To earn one’s trust is time-consuming.
To earn one’s trust can be draining.
It requires vulnerability.
It takes emotional labor.

However, the emotional costs of being generously thoughtful pale in comparison to its impact.

Each of us longs to connect and be members of generously thoughtful communities.

Being generously thoughtful is self-reinforcing.
It is useful at a large scale.
It is valuable in nearly every circumstance — in every location, with every human being.

Being generously thoughtful lowers the transaction cost of connecting with one another, allowing us to redirect our energy towards collectively satisfying our higher order human needs.

It allows us to redirect our energy toward living with empathy and vulnerability, which fosters a deeper sense of love and belonginess in our lives.

It gives us the capacity to cultivate self-esteem, freeing us to worry less about what others think of us.

It gives us the capacity to achieve self-actualization in our lives, experiencing the world totally for what it is and finding a meaning to life that is important to each of us individually.

The excess capacity created by being generously thoughtful nurtures both the part and the whole.

The part, in that it frees us to individually explore who we are and what is important to us.

The whole, in that it makes it easier for us to connect, as through self-exploration we each cultivate the capacity for transcendence, or the desire to help others achieve self-actualization.

The value of being generously thoughtful rises with the scale of participation in our community.

In the prevailing view, being thoughtful is more of an action, focused on one person.

Being generously thoughtful is a state of being, not directed at any one person, but at our culture at large.

Brand Marketing: It Was The Best of Times, it Was The Worst of Times

Our culture has a social capital deficit. Some brand marketers are taking action to change that.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

While the setting is drastically different, as when Charles Dickens penned those words he was referencing an age of radical opposites taking place across the English Channel in France and the United Kingdom, yet Dickens sentiment captures the brand marketing landscape of today.

Today’s brand marketers live in a world of chaos – big data, social media, attribution ambiguity, etc.

For some, it’s a world of despair and conflict. And others, a world of happiness and engagement.

It’s a world of extreme opposites without any in-betweens.

At no time has this been more clear than during the advertising mania of this weekend’s Superbowl, advertising largest stage.

It is the best of times.

Instead of providing respite or simply taking the easy road and providing entertainment, some brand marketers decided to have a voice. They decided to make a statement.

Airbnb and Coca-Cola on diversity.
Goggle and Expedia on acceptance and global togetherness.
Budweiser and 84 Lumber on immigration.

These brands were willing to take a stand.
To have a point of view.
To put profits on the line for something they believe in.

This is what we have accused business of being unwilling to do for so long.

However, brand marketers aren’t out of the clear.

#BoycottBudweiser and #DeleteUber are subtle reminders that there is still work to be done.

It is the worst of times.

Our culture has a social capital defict.

Powerful brand messages are met with skepticism.
Authenticity and motives are questioned.
Vulnerability is ignored instead of embraced.

Yet, the journey to authenticity and consistency starts with a small step in the right direction.

It begins with generosity.

Over the weekend a number of brands started their flywheels of generosity and I hope they continue. I hope others embrace the risk and gather the courage to have a voice as well.

Our culture needs it.

It is a time of transformation.

The Holiday’s Are About More Than Consumption & Gift Giving…

Whether you celebrate or not, the holiday season serves as a not so subtle reminder of a tireless, yet critical idea: friendship.

Friendship is beautiful.

The excitement.

The surprise.

Catching up.

We missed you. We are happy for you. We are so glad that you are here.

The reassurance that what we had still remains and the optimism that it will continue to be sustained.

Friendships are our fuel. They ignite within us, causing mini explosions that satisfy our yearning for safety, belongingness, love, and esteem. When tended to with care and intentionality they aid us in our journey towards self-actualization.

Simply, without them, we wouldn’t exist.

As you enjoy this holiday season, take the time to celebrate your relationships. The connections we have with one another.

They are move valuable, fulfilling, and sustainable than any gift you will receive.

The One Debt We All Have — It Has No Maturity Date

Debt: (1) something that is owed or due. (2) an obligation.

In society there is an interesting dichotomy when it comes to debt. There is what some call “good debt” (ie, a mortgage, a educational loan), or capital / resources put towards an investment that has the potential to grow in value. Then, there is “bad debt” (ie, credit card debt, a payday loan), or an investment that quickly loses its long term value and has minimal potential to grow in value in the future. We all have had, or will have, some form of each debt over the course of our lives. Yet, what I want to call attention to is the debt that we share. The one debt that we all have in common. It is the obligation that connects and binds us to one another. The obligation that we all share, is the obligation to be more human.

Be more human:

Be vulnerable

Speak openly about your failures

Smile

Laugh

Cry

Love

Question

Care

Think

Change

Build

Respect

Listen

Learn

Grow

Give

Teach

Try

BE

Being more human is a “good debt”. Our investment in being more human connects us to one another. We make payments with emotional capital. Emotional capital that cultivates the growth we seek in our relationships. Failure to pay according to schedule doesn’t have an immediate impact on our lives. Instead, the negative impact accumulates over time, just as with financial debt. Ultimately, leaving us emotionally bankrupt and disconnected from our community and the world we live in.

Our obligation to be more human has no maturity date and the interest is payable daily.

Unfortunately, there is no auto-pay. It is hard, but we are obligated to do it.