Be a Weed

Weeds grow strong.
Weeds grow wherever they please.
Weeds are hard to kill.
You pull them out, and they grow back – time and time again.
Weeds come in all shapes and sizes.
Weeds can prosper in nearly any environment.

Weeds are independent thinkers:

Jeff Bezos
Warren Buffet
Karl Benz
Marting Luther King, Jr.
Johannes Gutenberg
Seth Godin
Noam Chomsky
Dr. Phil Valentine
Yuval Noah Harari
Alan Watts
Joseph Campbell
Ray Dalio
Alain de Botton
Lewis Hyde

To name a few.

What do these individuals have in common?
Each of them are weeds in societies garden of ignorance.
They refuse to let popular opinion govern their decisions.
They consider the facts, as they are currently known, and make a decision. When the facts change, they are willing to change their point of view to meet the current dimensions of reality.

Our culture needs more weeds.
Weeds are natures support corps and are vital to a healthy universe.
They are a reaction to the myriad of deficiencies in our culture.

Most importantly, weeds perform a vital job in our ecosystem: they quickly establish, protect, and restore the humanity that has been left exposed by natural and human-caused disturbances.

Be a Weed.

Are You Testimonial Worthy?

What would the people you engage with say about you?

Three simple questions:

1. How do people experience you?
2. How do people experience themselves in your presence?
3. Would they recommend you to others?

In the old industrialist economy, little emphasis was placed on testimonials.

Because instead, it was much more powerful and easier to simply pay for endorsements.

In the industrialist era, the endorsement of Michael Jordan made more people drink Gatorade and want to wear Nike shoes.

People purchased George Foreman grills because they thought to themselves, “if it’s good enough for a guy like George, it’s good enough for me.”

However, the power of endorsements was largely in their scarcity at the time.

There were only a few major brands and a few major stars to feature in a scarce number of advertisements through a scarce number of marketing channels.

However, in the connection economy, there is an abundance of all of these things, largely decreasing the overall effectiveness of the famous endorsement.

In the connection economy testimonials have power and leverage.

Testimonials have power because in a world of abundance, a world of so many products, services, and talented people, someone has decided to speak up on your behalf, expecting nothing in return.

What is it that makes someone want to speak up?

Transformation.

Change agents.

An experience that changes how someone views the world.

An interaction that causes someone to pause and say “I used to believe this, but now I believe that”.

 

An opportunity that takes someone from a posture of not believing and not engaging to a posture of attention and action.

However, just as with endorsements, testimonials come at a price.

However, the price is not currency.
Instead, it’s the price of emotional labor.
The price of caring.
The price of being generous.

The price of showing up and doing work that is remarkable. Doing the work of an artist.

A price worth paying.

A Dream Deficit

We need more dreamers.

More people that believe in the impossible.

More people that refuse to accept the status quo.

More people that ignore the propaganda of the media, who’s aim is to splinter our communities. To make us believe that we are in this alone. To indoctrinate us into believing that all we should worry about is ourselves. To indoctrinate us into believing that only seemingly “powerful” individuals and institutions can make a change in our world and that we should stick to watching cat videos and reading buzzfeed “news” articles.

We need more dreamers.

People that dream to create the new institutions that will lead us to prosperity in the post-industrialization age.

People willing to dream of a different way to educate and prepare children for the connection economy. People that recognize that the current model of education was built to cultivate obedience. Built to efficiently produce individuals that work in factories, follow orders, and never think to question authority. People willing to dream of an education system that fosters difference, is project based and cultivates creativity.

People willing to dream of a world in which all corporations actually care about their consumers. A world in which the health of the individual is prioritized before profits. Do we really need another can of soda? Do we really need another package of cigarettes? The answer is no. However, the incentives of the current system put profits before the well-being of the individual.

We need more people willing to question the incentives of the current system.

More people willing to change the incentives.

Dreams, by their nature,  are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. We, as a culture, must embrace the individuals that dare to dream.

Ode to Being an Artist

Our culture, and the business community, in particular, has an artist deficit. We need more artists, not more managers

I will be an artist.

Not the narrow and uninspiring mainstream definition of an artist: “a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.”

But a generous, empathetic, gracious, and open artist. An artist that does work that is meaningful. Work that is personal. Work that changes the receiver.

Over the last two years, I have been loaned two debentures.

The first debenture is time.
Time to think.
Time to read. Time to realize that life is not short, but that we make it that way.
Time to fall in love many times, always with the same person, my beautiful wife.

The second debenture is a choice.
The choice to stay at home and spend time with my beautiful bride.
The choice to build relationships with those that inspire me to be a better person and to think critically.
The choice to learn how to live, instead of how to make a living.

The choice to search for truth, instead of certainty.

However, all debts come with an obligation. An obligation that I will devote my life to repaying.

An obligation to imagine.
An obligation not to pretend that change is impossible.
An obligation to perceive of what is new and different from what is inferred from previous knowledge.
An obligation to make mistakes.
An obligation to daydream.
An obligation to describe things that do not yet exist.

An obligation to be an artist.

Our culture, and the business community, in particular, has an artist deficit. We need more people that aspire to provide products and services that are personal, creative, and passionate. Products and services that change the receiver.

We need more artists, not more managers.

In our current culture, too many leaders pretend that nobody can change anything. That we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field.

But the truth is, every day, individuals, change their world over and over. They do this because they are artists.

Artists make the future. I will make the future by imagining that things can be different.

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.