Enlightened Conflict

fall winter and finding meaning in death

December 1st, 2016

 like-the-seasons-things-change-fall-spring-winter-time

========================

 

“What I fear I avoid.

What I fear I pretend does not exist.

What I fear is quietly killing me.

 

Would there were a festival for my fears, a ritual burning of what is coward in me, what is lost in me.

 

Let the light in before it is too late. “

 

 

 Jeanette Winterson from “The Green Man”

===================

 

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

 

—–

Unknown

(via ginger-and-preppy)

 

 

==============

 

Well <part 1>.

 

I just read a an article in one of those local papers you can pick up at Healthy Grocery stores which attempted to discuss how this time of the year <October/November/December> is the season of ‘decay and death’ … and how it was a potent time to connect with the dead <and highlighted several celebrations around the world which do just that>.

This thought was combined with the thought we human folk balk at connecting with death because it … well … seems morbid to do so.

 

 

and summer regrets

               getting rid

       of winter wishes

 

summer and i

=======

 

 

Well <part 2>.

 

I balk at the whole concept of ‘decay & death’ as well as the ‘morbid‘ thought.

 

Simplistically, seasons remind of us the cycle of Life <not death> and that death, in and of itself a sad event, contains at its very core the very simple concept that without Death, there is no Life.

 

This was immortalized in pop culture by Blood Sweat & Tears in their absolutely fabulous song “and when I die”:

 

====

And when I die and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there,
I hear that’s it’s cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I’m gone,
there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

====

 

While each Life is a stepping stone for every future generation each death represents a stepping stone for … well … the future.

dialogue with pain

 

I don’t need any Eastern religion wisdom to remind me of this … I think we all know this.

Now … I will admit that connecting with this thought is much much easier for us when we remove any personalized death and accept it as simply a turning of generations. Therefore … one of the reasons we do not celebrate death is because it can get too personal. And if that is a reason … it sure as hell is a good one.

 

But death itself?

 

While death is something we dislike, facing seasons remain something we must face year in and year out. It is a constant affirmation of the turning of time and that some things we may have gained will most likely be inevitably lost in the natural turn of time.

 

And, yes, as today is December 1st I am reminded that Winter is the time of Life’s strategic retreat and conservation of what gives it all life.

 

It is not death. And it is not decay.

 

It is Life’s thoughtful way to insure its existence and survival.

 

It is the time of incubation and rest and restoration for all things to come in the following year.

 

I could also suggest that winter is a time of reflection and … well … comfort. In winter’s dark nights the stars are at their clearest and we have the opportunity to see them as the sparks of potential and wishes and dreams and … well … Life. Uhm. And dreaming is never a bad thing … particularly during the ‘ebb tide of seasonal Life.’

 

I will not argue that as Life recedes in autumn and rests in winter we do, at least emotionally, get closer to connecting with death … but I do balk at thinking of autumn & winter as ‘things associated with death.’

 

.... a time to Reflect ......

…. a time to Reflect ……

I would argue it actually does a nice job of reminding us we need to let go of things. and, sure, maybe we connect with ‘the dead’ better at this time because … well … it reminds us to celebrate what we had and embrace letting go.

 

And that is the thing about winter … it demands to not only be felt but also that you meet it on its terms. Even better … Winter demands us to let go of things we most typically hold onto with ragged claws.

 

You cannot refuse its existence and you cannot ignore what was because what is … is … well … is starkly different. Where Life was once obvious it is now starkly absent.

 

I would note that all Eastern mysticism and ‘being in touch with the universe’ and the ‘natural ebb of the earth’ and all that stuff, at its core, just suggests that we pay attention. Pay attention to whatever energy seasons give us … and more often than not that energy it gives us is … uhm … just good ole fashioned thinking. It gives us the energy to think about our lives, lives lost and lives yet to be lived.

 

Acknowledgement of all of that increases your overall connection not just with ‘the universe’ but rather to the eternal pattern of life and invests a sense of energy into pretty much everything <yourself and Life>.

 

And just as Death breaks things down to the bare essence, winter does the same.

And maybe that is the connection.

 

When things are at their barest, when we are drawn closer to endings rather than beginnings, we inevitably ponder the ‘great perhaps.’

 

Back in September I wrote this on the first day of Fall:

 

 

 

I think we all seek a great perhaps of “what I know can be”. I think we all know what a better world really looks like. I think we all want to see the beauty that can be found in what is better in everyone.

 

And maybe it is within Fall and the falling leaves we begin to better grasp that failed plans and failed dreams can beget new plans and new dreams. And maybe it is within Winter where , in ts barest of bare essences, we are forced to begin envisioning what could be in plans and dreams because it is left to us standing in the bare environment around us.

time-seasons-change

 

 

What I do know about all seasons is that they are markers of Time … and poetically speaking … Time is always hungry for many of the things we dearly want to endure and do.

 

This makes Time both beautiful and doomed. Yeah. Time is beautiful and doomed. And that is where I really believe the whole ‘morbid time of the year’ goes astray.

 

 

for it seems all of Fall’s stars

                       have fallen

and often summer and i

run through the last warm days

through the cool grass

       gathering stars caught in people’s dreams

with the intent

           to toss them to Winter

through windows of dawn.

 

Summer & i

======

 

 

We, especially in the West, hunger for time.

Conversely, time itself <to us Western folk> has a hunger and its hunger is for ‘things.’

It is a nasty emptiness waiting to be filled.

 

Well.

 

If there is one thing humans are fucking great at … it is filling time and stuffing whatever we can into any emptiness we can find.

 

Death and dying makes us reflect. It forces us to do so. Just as the bare often starkness of Winter does.

And it makes us reflect on what ‘stuff’ we have crammed into whatever Time we have had.

 

Oh. Maybe what it really forces us to do is reflect upon time. and that is where death truly makes us feel uncomfortable … not any morbid feeling but rather it’s just being dead livingthat we have been indoctrinated to focus on living … living life to its fullest, not wasting any time, to do lists that never get completed and just doing shit <just do it>.

 

Nowhere in that list of shit I just shared does death have a place. In fact. Death represents the exact opposite of everything society & our culture almost demands we think about 24/7.

 

And when forced to face death, or feel a need to connect, we are much less likely to celebrate but rather assess … assess our doing mantra versus ‘stop.’

 

Look.

 

Most of us don’t purposefully ignore connecting with death and those who have passed away because of sadness <because if it were we would be more likely to actually do it because the opposite of sadness is reflecting upon the inevitable happiness> but rather because death and past lives force us to reflect upon our ‘doing accomplishment’ <as well as it forces us to stop … which compounds the feeling of ‘shit, I haven’t done enough and I am not doing anything now>.

 

Yeah.

If you can get beyond the ‘doing’ aspect inherently death is more about sadness <loss of something or someone or time> more so than morbidity. Conquer the sadness and you have conquered death.

 

And all of this is just not that difficult <if you are willing to actually think about it>.

 

winter-fall-snow-season-change-lifeSeveral cultures do celebrate the autumnal solstice as the time life & death is closest. I would argue it is less a celebration but rather recognition of that which came before, and that which is dying, so that what will be will come forth.

Generations beget generations just as falls beget springs.

 

Death begets life.

 

This doesn’t mean we should celebrate impending death but rather recognize, even in sadness, life & beauty resides in the future.

 

Fall is of beautiful dying.

Winter is of starkness of death.

Spring is of rebirth from death.

 

This doesn’t mean you can find beautiful things to enjoy throughout any season.  Seasons simply remind us of the fact time does not stand still and no matter how hard we try and fill up the emptiness time offers us day in and day out … leaves fall, winter comes and spring arises.

 

I believe it is the Celtic wheel of the year describes this time of the year as Samhain … “the veil between the worlds is thin.” Just as several other cultures they use his time to reflect upon “that which was.” In my pea like brain … it is a celebration of navel gazing. It is an intentional event to purposefully explore the valuable relationship not only between Life and Death but the past and the future.

 

Listen to the cry of falling leaves,

            but winter breaks the silence

and warms us with words

of how to change it all

      before the Fall completely ends.

So, So

 

Look.

reflect brain things

 

I don’t believe we do not celebrate death and dying because we think it is morbid. I tend to believe we do not traditionally do so because we, as in Western civilization versus Eastern, don’t celebrate reflection.

We treat reflection more as  a personal thing and not a larger more public event and celebration.

 

Should we celebrate reflection? Shit. I don’t know. But understanding that seasons can offer us enlightening thoughts about how we actually think about death & Life & holding on & letting go is surely not a bad thing.

 

As for Fall and Winter? I do not think of death and decay. I actually think of flowers. Huh?

 

I credit Mark Strand for making me think Winter is the time to bring flowers into your Life as he describes Winter in his poem called Blizzard of One:

 

“A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that …”

Mark Strand <Blizzard of One>

Every funeral deserves flowers. Every Winter deserves thoughts of Life.

first class ticket through life

April 6th, 2016

=== leading yourself first

 

“There are very few products which do not benefit from being given a first class ticket through life.”

 

 

David Ogilvy

 

 

====

“When one loves, one does not calculate.”

 

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

 

===

 

 

 

One of the most consistent business discussions I seem to have with marketing people is tone of messaging … or how to frame the product or service or scraps of ocean stonesbusiness in the marketplace.

 

With all the books & processes cramming differentiation down every marketer’s throat most businesses invest gobs of energy identifying either what makes them distinct or different.

 

At the end of that road they are tired … and then have to figure out how to tell everyone.

 

This is where we start calculating the ones we love.

 

The ‘one’ being the business, product and/or service. We have lovingly crafted everything about it and now we begin calculating how to communicate it.

 

The calculation simplistically drives most people to gravitate to one of two places – humor or humorless.

 

Now.

 

To be honest.

 

I am not a big ‘use humor in communications’ person. More often than not humor is either misused <someone has decided ‘breaking thru the clutter’ matters more than actual substance> or it is off-putting <crass humor to make a point> or it is simply forced.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, and have not, use humor in communications and marketing … but it tends to be ‘smart humor’ and not slapstick or silly.

 

And there is a reason for that beyond the overall humor ‘misused’ thought.

 

I believe people deserve a first class ticket in Life.

 

And, frankly, I believe most businesses offer products & services that deserve a first class ticket through Life.

 

First and foremost I believe a business should treat their own product & service, and business, with respect and dignity and … well … at least an aspect of seriousness as a reflection of the seriousness the business itself put forth in coming up with the idea.

 

Most businesses are neither flippant nor not thought out. This doesn’t mean you cannot laugh at yourself nor offer who and what you are with some character and humility … but rarely do I want to suggest I didn’t do some first class thinking in building what I hope is a first class offering.

 

In the parallel world … the one in which the people reside who will actually buy or use this product or service … well … these people want to be treated with respect, respect for them, their heads, their hearts & their wallets.

 

All of this sounds practical. All of this most likely resonates with business people … then why does it all go out the window with some slapstick wacky creative structure in communicating the message?

 

 

Look.

 

No.serious nonsense change anything

 

As a business I don’t want to take myself too seriously.

 

But I need to weigh the fact that I have a serious business offering developed thru some serious thoughtful business acumen.

 

 

The problem mostly lies in the fact that after beating the crap out of your business positioning to uncover the strong core to offer … a business fears it isn’t interesting enough or distinct enough.

 

Then they fall prey to the ‘to break thru you need to do something different’ advice.

 

I have this discussion so many times with businesses I have honed the discussion platform into two basic starting points:

 

 

  • Try and view it all with a fresh eye

 

I typically suggest that a business always try and look at the world with new eyes … view the things they have maybe looked at a zillion times … so many times that the things are just things. I suggest that because people want to see a world through new eyes.

 

Some people call this the sea of sameness. I do not. I believe there is a lot of good shit and good things out there … but we have seen them … and derivatives of them day in and day out <and this includes “breakthroughs & NEW”> that our eyes, ears and hearts view without viewing.

 

Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more impactful to someone than seeing something they have seen a zillion times in a new way. It taps into a sense of wonder … I wonder why I never saw that before, wonder what I was doing in the past that made me not see that and … well … I wonder if I will ever view this thing the same ever again in the future.

 

 

  • Think vivid

 

vivid element close first class jwtWhen I was at J. Walter Thompson years ago the basic premise behind crafting recognizable and relevant ideas was about “vivid”  – vivid metaphors or vivid demonstrations in communicating the product idea.

Some businesses have something that makes them uniquely demonstrable. Superiority is best communicated, and most simply communicated, through communicating performance. Sound dull? Only if you don’t truly offer superiority and the demonstration isn’t vivid.

Some businesses rely on a vivid metaphor where an actual demonstration fails to be either distinctive or effective. Great literature bursts with metaphors … for commonplace things we often take for granted.

 

Love: “my love is like a red rose.”

 

The sun: “the sun rose like thunder”

 

Night: “the dark curtain of night.”

 

 

The metaphor can make the commonplace exceptional and interesting.

 

Regardless of which vivid path a business pursues it should evoke something – surprise, synergy, sympathy, simplicity or shivers.

 

Day in and day out I stick to my guns and this point of view with regard to positioning businesses in the marketplace. Maintain the high road <because people like to get better than maybe what they expect> and think ‘vivid.’

If you pursue this kind of thinking as you frame your business, product or service … well … you actually limit your risk <that is also part of pursuing a ‘first class ticket’ philosophy>.

 

I found it interesting when I googled “first class life” and I found that First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Definition: First Class Life is a categorical term present in the classification of life insurance risk. It denotes low life risk.

 

Description: First class life comes under low risk category of life insurance and thus is charged normal premium charges. An individual identified as first class life is subject to normal premium rates for an insurance policy.

 

All business contains risk … it is inherent in everything you do.

 

Therefore in building your business you should be seeking to mitigate risks <so you can take the ‘smart risks’>.

 

Tone in communications shouldn’t be about risk.

But. love hate hugh

Let me be clear on this … a business should always seek to craft a message so that it is loved by some and disliked by others <that shows you have made some choices> but that message should always <always> be framed in a way that makes the people who love you feel like they just got a first class ticket through Life <and even the ones who hate you will most likely respect you in some way>.

 

You know … reading back over what I just wrote … this seems simple. If you are running a business and you have lovingly crafted some product or service you really believe in … well … why wouldn’t you buy it a first class ticket into the marketplace?

 

I call it “selling up.” I don’t want to undersell my idea, my business, my people … or my potential customers. I want them to feel like they part of something that brings Life ‘up’ … and not down. Seems like everyone would want to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

donuts, business and synergy

June 6th, 2015

donuts leadership==

“If you’re talking about how you promoted synergy in an organization, that could mean you just got everybody together for donuts twice a week.”

=

Erin McKean

—————-

“Donuts.

Is there anything they can’t do?”

=

Matt Groening

—————–

“Mmmmmm … doughnuts.”

=

Homer Simpson

———————–

So.

 

 

Yesterday was national doughnut day in America <I believe USA has a day for everything … or maybe there is something every day ? … oh well …>.

 

 

I imagine HR people who were paying attention rose to the occasion and brought dozens of donuts into the office using it as an organizational ‘synergy’ moment. Maybe let’s call it a ‘human moment among a shitload of business moments.’

 

 

Let me be clear.

 

I like donuts.

Maybe even love a donut or two.

 

 

But whenever I think about donuts … I think about the workplace & businesses.

sneeze donut

 

I do not associate donuts with organization synergy.

 

 

And I associate 2 things with donuts in business:

 

 

 

–        Long boring meetings where I knew I would have to sit and listen to some pompous blowhard<s> trying to be interesting, or

=

–       Business people who were adamant that a good meeting couldn’t be good without donuts

 

 

 

Maybe I am just an old cynical business guy <I am> but food has been, and always has been, a crutch in business.

 

I have always hated, let me repeat, HATED, food in meetings.

 

Sure.

 

I can find an exception or two <a breakfast meeting, a lunch meeting, a dinner meeting> but overall … I HATE food in meetings <apologies to donuts around eth world>..
I most likely hate donuts in meetings because I associate them with ‘forced synergy.’

 

 

Huh?

 

 

Most management people, whether they have a sense for how to create synergy opportunities or not, believe one of their obligations is to create synergy.

 

For some reason creating synergy seems inextricably linked to some sense of their ability to manage or be a leader.

 

For some reason they seem to think they actually need to proactively ‘create synergy.’ … ‘create’ being the key word.

 

 

My word? ‘forced.’

 

 

Suffice it to say the pursuit of synergy is a consistent business management topic in almost every organization.

 

 

In fact.

 

 

Most organizations actually set aside time … yes … set aside time to actually discuss setting aside more time with meetings and retreats to brainstorm ways to collaborate <create synergy> more effectively.

 

 

Best practices.

 

Incentives for sharing.

 

Processes and procedures.

 

 

Organizations can actually be restructured to accommodate ‘synergy opportunities.’

donuts raining

 

I blame donuts.

 

 

If there were no donuts we wouldn’t have all these long meetings brainstorming ‘forced synergy.’

 

 

 

Without donuts no one would sit long enough to waste all the time pontificating on synergy.

 

 

 
To be clear.

 

 

Business research clearly suggest that synergy initiatives more often fall short of management’s expectations than deliver the ‘synergy goods.’

 

 

Let me explain why I believe ‘forced synergy’ fails.

 

 

Nonconformity and oppositional thinking are essential aspects for breakthrough problem solving and innovation as well as progress in general. Synergy takes on a nontraditional aspect in this case … synergy is about absorbing nontraditional ideas and building upon them … and that is not a traditional definition of ‘collaboration synergy.’

 

 

 

Next.
Managing sometimes contentious different perspectives is tiring and if not managed properly is counterproductive to the organization.

 

 

It is absolutely easier to manage contrasting opinions by ‘forcing synergy.’ I actually call it lazy management but it is almost standard operating ‘synergy’ procedure in business.

 

 

donut eatenAnd that is where donuts most often make their appearance.

 

 

In meetings & brainstorming situations where there will be some meaningful conflict worn down to some meaningless blob of meaningless synergistic solution.

 

And it is the wrong way to create synergy.

 

 

Here is the main reason why I don’t believe donuts are needed.

 

 

Effective synergy is cultural and not forced. It should simply ‘be’ and not created.

 

 

Synergy evolves when people share <I apologize … I lost the source to these 3 things>:

 

 

• The seriousness of the circumstances they face

• Their common goal (s)

• A sense of interdependence with each other

 

 

 

Synergy is difficult to ‘create’ let alone develop.

 

 

Realistically … most employees seek to invest their energies in a way that matches ‘upside.’ That realistically is an incentive based behavior model <without a formal incentive>.

 

 

note:

 donuts are not an incentive …

 

 

 

Therefore establishing a common goal can actually encourage synergy behavior <without actually forcing it>. You ‘drag’ desired behavior thru the organization.

 

 

Of course this only works if your management permits some organizational interdependence.

 

 

And that is where ‘pockets’ arises as the most likely outcome.

 

 

You can encourage behavior until you are blue in the face <and, yes, I have become blue in the face with the effort in the past> but some will embrace it and some will not. Thereby creating the ‘pockets.’

 

 

 

This is a version of ‘growing a business unevenly.’

 

 

http://brucemctague.com/growing-a-brand-unevenly   >

 

 

And that is okay.

 

 

In fact … it is more than okay.

 

 

It is how business works.

 

 

If you think you can get an entire organization work ‘synergistically’ and have an entire organization working on all cylinders all the time … well … you are doomed to be disappointed.

 

 
Great organizations have pockets of synergy and moments of aligned behavior.

 

Great organizations maximize those moments and pockets <and encourage more alignment moments and more pockets>.

 

 

 

To me.

 

 

Leave the donuts in the shared eating area and out of meetings.donut power

 

 

To me.

 

 

A business should focus on “pockets of synergy” and not organizational synergy.

 

 

This actually means you need to get the incompetent managers out of the way <and let them eat their donuts> and simply scan an organization to see where the true synergy opportunities lie in the organization.

 

 

Cooperation and sharing are certainly organizational ideals that are beyond debate.

 

 

But I would argue that well led organizations will have pockets that will gravitate toward the desired behavior.

 

 

And what you do is encourage the organization to manifest the ideal, be okay with pockets who embrace the ideal … but not force it with those who do not <and fire the ones who balk at it>.

 

 

I would also argue that failed ‘forced synergy’ initiatives not only are a waste of time and money but they can also irrevocably damage a business.

 

 

Synergy exists within almost every organization.

 

Synergy rarely exists within an ENTIRE organization.

 

I have never read this book ...

I have never read this book …

 

 

 

You give the donuts to the non-synergy people and they are happy.

 

 

You don’t have to give donuts to pockets of synergy because they don’t thrive on food … they thrive on synergy.

 

 

Donuts.

 

 

Suffice it to say you have an organizational problem, or a people problem, if all you ever hear is “will there be donuts?”

 

 

 

 ==

Ok.

 

 

Now that I have slammed donuts in the business environment … I will share a doughnut I have never eaten … but love the brand story: Fractured Prune Donuts

 

===

Fractured Prune encourages individuality and believes your doughnuts should be just as unique as you. We challenge you to stop staring at rows of preconceived doughnuts and instead let your inner doughnut genius run wild.

Choose from at least a dozen glazes and toppings to make a doughnut the way you want it. And remember, there’s no wrong way to make your delicious!

Fractured Prune shops take their name from Prunella Shriek, a 19th-century woman who became famous for breaking bones in athletic competition with men, even into her 70s. Back in 1976 when Tom Parshall purchased Josh’s 46th Street Market, he was thinking about a new name for his enterprise. Several friends gave him suggestions, but he felt they all lacked imagination & individuality. He had been reading through the abstract of the land he purchased, and an unusual name caught his eye. Back in the late 1800’s a woman named Prunella Shriek had owned much of the land in that area. Tom didn’t think too much about it until one day he was browsing through the Baltimore Library and came across a book titled “Ocean City Love”. As he looked through it, he was thrilled to see Prunella Shriek’s name with a paragraph devoted to her.

Even though she was in her seventies, she was the only woman who competed with men in traditionally men’s sports such as ice skating races & skiing competitions. She was an excellent tennis player, and was county ping-pong champion circa 1895. Being older and somewhat brittle, she often returned from some of the more vigorous competitions in a wheel chair or on crutches. Thus the townspeople began lovingly to refer to her as “Fractured Prunella.” When Tom read this, a voice in his head said, “Hello”, he would name his enterprise after this wonderful & spunky old lady, and call it “The Fractured Prune® “.

===

gracefully letting go

March 29th, 2015

 

 
———gracefully let go card

 

 

 

“Teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.”

 

 

via lilac-veinss

 

 

=====

 

 

 

There are moments in the life of a man, and of a nation, when it is right to say:

 

 

I have done my utmost, and I can do no more, therefore I will cease my striving and seek another road.”

 

 

 

======

 

 

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt.

 

 

They will grab onto whatever is in reach.”

 

 

 

Claire Zorn

 

======

 

 

 

freedom feels like hold

Ok.

 

 

Letting go of shit may be one of the hardest things to do in the world.

 

 

Even more difficult?

 

 

Letting go gracefully.

 

 

These are the moments in which you have decided you have done what you have done, done what you consider enough … and you are … well … done.

 

 

These are the moments in which you actually consciously think:

 

 

How do I let go?

gracefully let go lemons

Where do I begin?

Do I let go memory by memory?

How many goodbyes will this take?

Do I leave words with everyone until I have no more words left to give?

 

 

Oh.

 

 

And if I do all this, will it even matter?

 

 

In addition.

 

Maybe I should do nothing.

=

Maybe I should just stand here and let others let me <or ‘it’> go.

 

This stuff, letting go in general, let alone gracefully … is hard. Really hard.

 

 

And while we typically suck at letting the right things go, let alone anything I imagine, we REALLY suck at letting things go gracefully.

 

 

Suffice it to say..

 

 

 

Most people don’t let go gracefully let alone let go at all.

 

 

You just get stuck.

 

You just hold on tight … and then when you do let go you just want to throw it away and ignore it as if you never held it.

 

 

And maybe you get a little confused.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

There is no handbook for “how to let things go gracefully. “

 

gracefully Yep time let go

 

It does not exist and so you must try to find ways to figure it out on your own.

 

 

Frankly … it seems almost cruel that a handbook on “letting go” doesn’t exist <let alone gracefully>. Because it may be one of the most common things we do in Life.

 

 

We don’t seem to notice the almost daily experience as we let go every single day of countless amounts of things:

 

 

Moments.

Minutes.

Objects.

People.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

We may not notice until we are faced with a situation that we want to hold on or that we are the ones being let go.

 

That must be it.

 

 

There comes a moment where we realize we are the ropes in a tug-of-war.

 

Someone holding on at each end … until one decides to let go.

 

 

Someone watches you leave.

 

 

Or maybe you end up watching someone else leave.

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

We have lots of personal experience letting shit go.

 

 

Most times things are let go little by little. And in these small but significant changes we don’t really learn the ‘gracefully’ part … just the letting go part.

 

 

In addition.

 

 

Not only do we let most things go in small insignificant increments … often you have no control.

 

 

Things get lost.

 

 

People are going to begin to let you go regardless of whether you ask them to or not.

 

 

I have said it before … but part of growing up is leaving shit – regrets, stuff, people, choices, etc. – behind.

 

 

Well.

 

 

That is the gracefully part.

 

 

Learning to let things go that you not only made the ‘let go decision’ but also the things that were ‘let go’ by someone else.

 

 

In other words … learning to let things go even when your world starts to tilt.

 

 

Simply.

 

 

Holding on is a shitload easier than letting go.

 

 

And, in fact, I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘holding on gracefully.’

 

 

You are just … well … holding on.

 

 

Sigh.

 

 

Let’s end with this thought.

 

Unfortunately … I tend to believe you encounter more things not meant for you than those things actually meant for you in Life.

 
And while we may eventually get better as we get older with regard to sifting through all these things inevitably you will end up with a lot of shit that … well … aren’t really meant for you.

 

And even more unfortunately … there really isn’t anyone to help you sift thru … no one is going to … ‘teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.’

 

 

That is something you just gotta figure out on your own.

 

gracefully Life

Me?

 

I am a work in progress.

 

 

 

I have certainly learned to let go of things … but still learning to do so gracefully.

 

 

I can only hope that I am more graceful on the important things.

when not to let go (and balloons)

March 28th, 2015

—-

hold on let go balloons

“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go.

Balloons are designed to teach small children this.”

=

Terry Pratchett

————–

Well.

 

 

I have written about how difficult it is for people, in business & Life, to let go of things so much I am not sure I can find any new words to share on that topic.

 

 

In fact … if you google “reasons to not let go” you get nothing.

 

Nada.

 

 

You get jack shit on the topic.

 

 

All you get is page after page of ‘reasons to let go.’

 

 

And, yet, there are certainly times to know when to not let go.

 

 

To be clear … a purposeful ‘not let go’ is a different difficulty for us. While not letting go is something that is mostly based on some version of fear or doubt … knowing when to not let go of something seems to be more about our difficulty in discerning what is important, or good, and what is unimportant , or bad.

 

 

In fact.

 

I think part of the ‘not letting go’ difficulty resides in how we learned to hold on in childhood <the balloon thing>.

 

 

We learn very early on that when you let go of something good it floats away never to be seen again. So we have learned to hold on a tightly as possible to goodbye handanything that could be construed as good <even if it is really a crappy balloon>.

 

We have become so good at it we are almost proud of not letting go. Therefore the problem isn’t our ability to actually hold on … it is choosing what to really not let go of.

 

 

Not letting go is complex compounded by the fact we are complex people.

 

 

Why does the complexity matter?

 

Because there is no formula. No ‘rules of not letting go.’

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

 

Some things are obvious.

 

 

The self stuff, the character stuff, the ‘who you are as a person’ stuff you don’t let go of. They are good balloons.

 

 

 

But after a while you have so many balloons you can’t discern the good ones from the bad ones. Which leads me to suggest I sometimes believe the ‘what not to let go’ choice is an acquired intuition thing.

 

Yup.

 

I just typed acquired and intuition side by side.

 

 

I like to remind people that you are not borne with good intuition. You may be borne with a good intuition muscle but experience strengthens the muscle and it takes some time & experience to ‘acquire’ the intuition necessary to ‘not let go’ of the right things.

 

 

Regardless.

 

I suggest intuition because unless one of the balloons has lost all its air and has sunk to the ground you are choosing amongst a shitload of balloons that maybe all look pretty good to you.

 

 

This may sound crazy because balloons float above you and should seem obvious at all times … but the connections to many of the balloons in your life are actually like links of a chain underwater.

==

“The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition.

Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes, or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness.

The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links.”

Arthur Koestler

==

learning to fly hands
You see the balloons.

Okay. You see some of them.

But the strings get all tangled up and you cannot tell which string to let go of <because you are not sure which balloon will go away> and which one to hold on to. Some of the choices you make as you look at the strings is intuitive. And given some time and experience I imagine the string feels a little different in your hand as you pluck it out from all the others. That is this version of intuition.

 

 

So.

 

 

One of the things I admire most in people is consistent great intuition and how they manage what to not let go of.

 

 

It is an interesting characteristic to assess when you meet people and is fairly easy because you can just look up and see the balloons they carry with them.

 

 

So, in the end, maybe the balloon metaphor is bad … or maybe I simply overused it … but suffice it to say that while there is a lot of free advice on ‘letting go’ there isn’t a whole shitload of advice on ‘what to not let go of.’

 

 

I think it is obvious that there are certainly some ‘be yourself’ characteristics that you should never let go of <although figuring out what to not let go of as you try and improve yourself is not easy either>.
What is less obvious is the other stuff in your life. Experiences, knowledge, even people.

 

birds on hand

I don’t have any answers today. Just questions. And maybe some prompting that this is something we should think about a little more.

 

 

Most letting go advice online is vapid and a waste of time <albeit with good intent>.

 

 

I don’t have any advice for ‘not let go’ other than think about it. We all learn to hold on to balloons because they represent freedom and hope and good things waiting above us. Those should be the things we hold on to and not let go of.

new normal in marketing … demographics are dead

February 26th, 2015

new normal old normal

———

Demographics are dead.

Successful products, services and brands will transcend their initial demographics almost instantaneously.

As a result, executives who continue to attempt to navigate using demographic maps, with borders defined by age, gender, location, income will be ill prepared for the speed, scale and direction of change.”

==

Trendwatching.com

—————-

 

 

 

So.

 

 

While gobs of people talk about the effect of ‘social media’ on marketing <which is kind of crazy because it is simply another tactic and not a strategy> not many people discuss how people’s attitudes are shifting … and the effects on HOW marketing approaches the voodoo it does.

thinking attitudes change
What do I mean?

 

Well.

 

 

 

 

Not many people talk about the impact of globalization on marketing this way … but … an overall impact of a more connected global world is that marketing is a shitload less about demographics than it is about attitudes.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

That thought is going to make a shitload of people in the marketing business tear their hair out.

 

Why?

 

Because targeting via demographics is much much easier than targeting attitudinally.

 

 

In addition … the foundational attitude everyone is tapping into is … well … unlearning <wow … that sucks for marketers>.

 

 

What I mean is that as we become more globally aware we also then begin challenging conventional wisdom more often <and change what we think more easily>.

 

 

That is the new normal.

 

Yup.

 

Conventions are increasingly being overturned as we … well … encounter a new normal.

 

The new normal attitude is more often reflected in “why?” … instead of “of course.”

 

 

To a marketer this can seem disconcerting.

 

Shit.attitudes behavior humans

 

To someone looking from the outside in with regard to the world this can seem disconcerting.

 

 

But … you know … while it may seem like you may be suffering from a mild form of chronophobia <fear that time is moving so fast I’ll never be able to catch up> … the reality is that most people like the changes occurring around us … and are quickly changing their behavior to accommodate what, overall, they see as improvements.

 

 

Therefore … as a marketer <or business in general> this behavior shift is less about convincing anyone to do anything … it is more that the bulk of the people are simply seeking permission to do the changed behavior.

 

 

This should change how marketers view what they are doing and how they are encouraging change … because permission is significantly different than convincing.

 

 

It becomes more about reducing barriers and embracing less negative product impacts for a consumer.

 

==

Understanding consumers’ needs and wants remains critical.

However, it will be those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are satisfying consumers by reducing negative issues in seemingly dissimilar or even opposing demographics that will succeed, regardless of which ‘traditional’ demographic(s) they serve.

==

 

 

In today’s world people can <and increasingly do> pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with, without any regard to demographic ‘conventions.’

 

 

They are sharing a product, and the product experience, regardless of age.

 

This means the only way to sell <or give them permission to buy or do> is to tap into some ‘shared attitude’ of a group you have identified of interest to your product or service.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

This will confuse a lot of marketing people because … well … shit … they are already confused.

 

Huh? … Why do I say that?

 

Well.

If you stay focused on demographics it becomes easy to become confused when looking at behavior.

 

 

It looks like consumers are constantly not behaving as they ‘should.’

 

 

That said … I come back to attitudes … and permission versus convincing.

 

 

Trendwatching called a version of the idea I am discussing – POST-DEMOGRAPHIC CONSUMERISM.

 

 

==

People – of all ages and in all markets – are constructing their own identities more freely than ever.

As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more.

==

 

 

 

Now … to be clear on demographics … in general … younger, affluent people are the most likely earliest adopters of new products and services. They are certainly more open, more experimental and have fewer commitments.

 

 

But now innovations are being rapidly adopted by, and almost instantly reshape the expectations of, any and all demographics.

 

 

Society is now too fluid, ideas now too available, the market now too efficient, the risk and cost of trying new things now too low for any and all people to ‘up their game’ with products & services. The ability to experiment and, ultimately, identify personally with a wider variety of brands and products fuels increased personalization and yet creates a larger collective attitude <whew … there is an interesting dichotomy>.

 

 

Just look at smartphones.

 

 

While we look at the disconnected/connected world as a ‘young person issue’ … smartphones has an almost 75% penetration of people aged 12 to 54.

 

Yes.

 

 

I just said almost ¾ of anyone under the age of 54.

 

bond smartphone why attitude

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you end up skipping the whole demographic thing and are not clear where to start … let me help you out.

 

An attitudinal marketing world actually almost begins not with the people … but the enabler.

 

 

Huh?

 

 

If I am selling an app I look to smartphones <and attitudes of smartphone buyers>.

 

 

If I am selling a book I look to amazon <and attitudes of amazon users>.

 

 

If I am selling a car I look to car lots <and attitudes of car lot shoppers>.

 

 

Attitudes get driven by who uses, and likes to use, the enabler.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This actually makes this whole attitudinal thing slightly easier because now I have a place to at least start … some existing behavior <and the attitudes attached to that behavior>.

 

 

The enabler also enhances a latent ‘purchase desire’ … for other things.

 

 

What do I mean?

 

 

The enabler enhances a desire to ‘do more like this’ or a desire wrapped around a sense of ‘shit, if I can do this this way … why can’t I do this thing this way?”

 

 

That is a powerful desire to tap into.

 

perfection looking at htings differently

And that innate desire simply comes down to ‘permission to do’ rather than ‘convince to do.’

 

 

This attitude is an odd <interesting?> aspect of democratization of purchasing.

 

 

This attitude also bleeds into a larger ‘how will I enter the world’ type attitude.

 

 

Because there is this democratization of the purchase it almost eliminates an aspect of early adopter <which has a “get ready for me world’ attitude> and instead almost forces a mass of people into more of an ‘I need to get ready for this world’ attitude.

 

 

This democratization of purchasing impacts attitude so significantly <creating this ‘new normal’> because the overall ‘heads of the people’ has changed at the same time. The ‘head change’ has been driven by a world where, increasingly, conventional <traditional> basics can no longer be taken for granted.

 

 

What i mean by that is because people perceive they are facing a seemingly never-­‐ending onslaught of challenges and issues, people tend to see today’s world as a tough, difficult place where someone needs to focus on survival long before someone can consider ‘thrive’.

 

 

 

And, once again, this is not a demographic thing … this is a pervasive attitude among all demographic groups.

 

 

This is the new normal.

 

 

And the new normal attitude leads to some rebelling against, or complete rejection, of conventional beliefs, conventional way of ‘doing things’ … and also traditional businesses. As people reluctantly adjust to today’s version of a mature reality, all the while professing they will never lose touch with how it feels to be young and relevant, the democratization of purchase feeds into an ‘I can be young & old at the same time.’

 

 

This attitude is easy, and difficult, to track because while almost all the ‘individuals’ carry this mindset around wherever they go … the actual ‘individual’ chooses when & where to apply it in Life.

 

 

“They choose when and where they will attack.

If the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely.”

Neil Howe, Demographer

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This means that if the issue seems below their threshold of importance, they save their energy and let it go entirely. This thought captures an overall attitude among all people.

 

Ok.

Maybe not everyone … but it is an increasing attitude among a significantly increasing amount of people.

 

 

We could call it simply … a survival response.

 

 

Survival?

 

Well.

The world has shown people that shit happens <and some pretty fucked up shit> that you can’t plan for … but you can kind of prepare for.

 

 

 

Sort of prepare for.
Anyway.

danced on the edge

 

With this new normal attitude and the fact marketers have to focus on tapping into attitudes and not demographics … I feel the need to say that … well … edges matter when you talk about attitudinal.

 

 

No.

 

 

I am not talking doing something ‘edgy’ … I am talking about drawing some lines in the sand. Avoiding fluff and focus on the fold. Eliminate ambiguity and dial up some certainty.

 

 

Why does it matter?

Raised on a steady dose of truth <and untruths>, straight talk <and double talk>, honesty, and some heavy doses of reality, people today expect the world to be a tough place.
They’ve been taught the motivations of brands, corporations, and institutions are seldom what they seem.

 

 

This translates into the fact that if businesses that pander, condescend, or rely on lazy stereotypes … they will not connect.

 

 

Speak truth, the harsh truth, or die. Get out of the gray. Place an edge on everything you say and create some distinct feelings about whatever it is you 19 speak the truthwant to sell or say. Avoid ambiguity. Clarity & certainty are almost mandatory <and, please, do not confuse this with ‘simplicity’ … because one can provide clarity without overt simplicity>.

 

 

 

That said.

 

 

Standing out, being distinct, may matter more than success.

 

 

This is a reflection of an overall societal thing … kids are more and more raised by parents less obsessed with winning or their kids obtaining traditional status symbols of ‘success’. This results in an attitude more focused on standing out rather than being #1.

 

 

Suffice it to say … being distinct matters.

 

 

Not being better or being ‘unique’ but instead simply being clear with regard to who and what you are. Distinct differentiates in a fluffy grey world.

 

 

 

Both of those things, edges and distinctness, matter when it comes to attitudinal marketing.

 

 

I say that because while the world may feel overwhelming on occasion <mostly driven by what social media fake journalists keep telling us we should be overwhelmed> most of us are becoming quite good at judging … well … the turn on, tune in, or drop out choices.

 

Frankly … it’s a survival mechanism people have honed as a reaction to the babbling insanity that surrounds everyone and which can eat life away if permitted.

 

 

We actually have learned relatively well on how to choose wisely with regard to what to pay attention to.

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

If you are a marketer … shit … if you are a business owner … success may often not be found in focusing on some ‘demographic appeal’ to what you are selling or saying. Success may actually be found in tapping into some attitude.

 

The business world is becoming more and more ‘age democratized’ and therefore you are just as likely to piss off potential customers focusing on a demographic as you are in appealing to the demographic you are trying to attract.

new normal marc johns

 

More importantly?

 

 

You are probably leaving potential customers at the table if you use a demographic focus.

 

I can’t remember the source but I know I have read that attitudinal marketing & targeting can be 6x more effective than a demographic approach.

 

 

 

I imagine if I wanted to close this article with a factoid that’s a good one.

plain packaging and the burden of non deceitful messaging

February 23rd, 2015

So.

 

 

This is about marketing and communications and plain packaging versus branding … as well as truth and deceit.plain packaging invisible naked

 

 

 

 

“In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market.

In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed.

To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds.

There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.”

=

Edward Bernays

—-

gift responsible

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society.

We can brutalize it.

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.”

=

Bill Bernbach

———————–

 

 

Last April the Guardian had a small editorial on plain packaging because Great Britain is thinking about having plain packaging for cigarettes.

 

Within the short thought piece it poses the question of “what if there were only plain packaging … for everything?”

 

 

 

Well.

 

giving yourself convenient

That topic is something anyone in the professional communications industry should ponder not from a true business perspective but rather a philosophical ‘what do I really do for a living’ type perspective.

 

 

Why?

 

 

One of the hot topics among young people when I speak to them is “the moral depravity of capitalism” and its flag bearer “the morally corrupt advertising.”

 

 

Stand up in from of today’s youth and make sure you bring your A game … cause you will need it.

 

 

A discussion about plain packaging for everything spans capitalism, brands & branding and … well … people themselves <how much they can actually be influenced to do something they don’t really desire doing>.

 

 

I remain steadfast in this discussion.

 

 

 

Capitalism, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

Advertising, in and of itself, is not morally corrupt. Only people can be moral or immoral.

 

 

But regardless of my steadfastness … plain packaging for everything sparks an interesting discussion … not just about the morality of marketing & advertising but the role, and importance, of brands in people’s lives.

 

 

I will begin with the short editorial:

 

—————-

== The Guardian ==

Unthinkable? Plain packets for everything.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely – perhaps everything should carry a warning

Could the plain wrappers, which the government has said it will introduce for cigarettes, be usefully extended, to other potentially harmful products?

Alcopop could be divested of its deceiving glamour, fatty food could be labelled as just that, sugar could be generically dispensed.

Whisky would just be a brown liquid in a bottle without pictures of terriers or a chap striding along.

Marmalade would just be a brown substance in a jar (after all, when you buy oranges they often put them in a plain brown paper bag).

Ice cream would no longer carry names reminding you of heavy handguns or novels by Mark Twain. Except, of course, in very tiny letters at the bottom of the pack.

High heeled shoes could be stripped of their fashion names and carry a warning about muscle strain and bunions to come.

Fast cars could have their badges pruned.

The more we extend the list the sillier it becomes.

Yet we know how many designs for marijuana packets were patented in the hope that it would be legalised: the magic wand of branding could then be waved over them to bring big profits to these far-sighted entrepreneurs.

Brands allow us to choose, but they also sometimes stop us choosing wisely.

Perhaps the problem could be tackled more directly by simply attaching a label to everything saying that branding should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Naturally a label like that on an actual packet of salt could cause confusion, so that one might have to say in that case that branding could be a snare and a delusion.

————–

 

evil good hands

 

I imagine beginning the discussion you have to use the end of the editorial – … branding could be a snare and a delusion.

 

 

The mind has plenty to grapple with from such a short grouping of words.

 

Brand <and branding>.

 

Exchange Value.

 

Deceit.

 

Caveat emptor.

 

Influencing.

 

Information and disinformation.

 

 

Now.

 

This issue has been discussed for decades.

 

 

The most famous public discussion may have occurred sometime in the1950’s. Printer’s Ink <a magazine I believe> published an editorial … Toynbee Vs. Bernbach on Advertising <oddly … in this day & age where you can find almost everything online … I can’t find a copy of it … therefore I am dependent upon a sole bad hard copy I made years ago>.

 

 

 

The summary?

 

 

—–

Arnold Toynbee:

Advertising is moral mis-education.

Advertising is an instrument of moral, as well as intellectual, mis – education. Insofar as it succeeds in influencing people’s minds, it conditions them not to think for themselves and not to choose for themselves.

It is intentionally hypnotic in its effect it makes people suggestible and docile. In fact, it prepares them for submitting to a totalitarian regime.

toynbee berbach advertising

=

Bill Bernbach:

Only people are moral or immoral.

Advertising, like so many technologies available to man, is neither moral nor immoral. Is eloquence immoral because it persuades? Is music immoral because it awakens emotions? Is the gift of writing immoral because it can arouse people to action?

No.

Yet eloquence, music and writing have been used for evil purpose.

No, advertising is not moral or immoral.

Only people are.

—–

 

 

capitalism desperate

When I discuss capitalism & advertising I place both of these thoughts on screen and suggest people have to make a choice.

 

 

 

Are people sheep … or smart enough to make decisions on their own?

 

 

Are all people who do marketing & advertising immoral?

 

 

You realize that plain packaging isn’t the issue.

 

And that the topic is complex.

 

 

Suffice it to say … selling shit <marketing or manufacturing> is always about balancing sales & ethics & values.

 

The moment you lose sight of that is the moment your moral compass, or business, goes off the tracks.

 

 

And you have to pay attention to your moral compass if you are in the communications business because there is gobs of research showing that the degree of brand loyalty increases sharply from the age of ten, and peaks around the age of 30.

 

 

There is gobs of research showing that the degree of emotional involvement a person invests with a brand increases their irrationality.

 

 

 

Why the hell did I include those factoids?

 

 

Because that means if you are in the communications business <this includes packaging by the way> you have a responsibility. And that responsibility is being ethical & being truthful and not being deceitful.

 

 

Basically people know and love brands.

 

People know the names of brands, remember what they see and hear about them and form opinions of them.

 

 

And people actually do NOT like plain packaging … they like all the wrappings around the shit they buy.

 

 

And the trappings are important because brand relationships don’t form in a vacuum.

 

 

To become truly loyal to a brand, you have to create strong attitudinal foundations. The peak loyalty is a strong attitudinal allegiance to a brand.

 

Some suggest this is a ‘bond.’

 

 

 

I cannot remember who built this “brand loyalty pyramid” but , in general, it says pretty much the same thing as every ‘loyalty pyramid’ you will see when you walk thru the door of any credible communications company:

 

 

compete connect smart

• Presence: does the consumer know anything about the product or service?

• Relevance: does it cater for their needs?

• Performance: does it deliver?

• Advantage: is it better than others in some way?

• Bonding: nothing else can beat it.

 

 

All consumers, whether kids or adults, form brand relationships in this way.

 

 

On a side note … interestingly, research shows that among kids, around half of all brands change their typology every two years, highlighting an extremely rapid ‘migration’ of attitudes.

 

 

But, in general, Millward Brown research shows that brand allegiance changes very little across the generations. In two out of three categories, adults and kids are bonded to the same brands. Many brands manage to tap into needs and desires that transcend the age of the consumer, and many do this through careful product segmentation.

 

 

loyal to brand

I included a lot of this stuff because we use the word ‘brand’ often in a very simplistic way and it is a very non simplistic concept.

 

It has to do with perceptions, attitude and expectations … leading to specific behaviors.
And all this gets me back to plain packaging and, conversely, discussing ‘brand.’

 

 

Plain packaging suggests everything is equal. Toynbee would like that.

 

Everything equally good and equally bad.

 

 

Unfortunately for Toynbee … whether you believe it or not … the shit we buy varies in quality.

 

 

Could we exist, or subsist, on the lowest quality?

 

I am fairly sure we could.

 

 

But our everyday existence is made up of more than simply existing. What I mean is how dull would life be if that is all there was?

 

 

To be clear … even within the lowest income purchasers, those who have a heightened sense of survival, there remains hope for something better and the occasional indulgence of something better.

 

Non plain packaging permits a manufacturer to showcase ‘better’ or ‘different’ so we, the people, can make choices.

 

 

Ah.

 

Making choices.

 

 

 

People make choices. Non plain packaging helps them make choices.

 

 

Professional communicators also make choices.

 

 

 

This leads me to something called … “Do this or die.”

 

 

Do this or Die is a manifesto written by Bill Bernbach <one of the founders of the advertising agency Doyle, Dane & Bernbach – DDB> and it is written to those who CREATE advertising and messaging … the professional communicators in the world.

 

 

It is a directive ‘the creators of messaging’ to create inspiring truthful meaningful messaging.

 

 

He suggests in his manifesto to the ‘creators’, those who should bear the burden of ‘non deceitful messaging,’ that the people are not a nation, or world, of stupid people.

 

People are smart.

Do-this-or-die-Bill-Bernbach1

 

And maybe ‘the people’ can be tricked once … but very very rarely twice.

 

 

“DO THIS OR DIE” is a warning, a promise, a call-out to the lazier advertising and marketing and communications professionals.

The ones who accept and produce mediocrity.

The ones who don’t understand the power of truth and the ones who compromise ‘truth’ in the interest of sale or ‘false differentiation.’

 

 

 

Do this or Die.

 

What we professionals communicate must be truth:

 

 

==

“… the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth. For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.

Now.

The other side of the coin.

Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about. Sadly, so many products aren’t. So many products don’t do anything better. Or anything different. So many don’t work quite right.

Or don’t last.

Or simply don’t matter.

If we also play this trick, we also die.”

==

 

 

Discussing plain packaging is discussing the symptom of a larger problem.

 

 

It becomes not a discussion of marketing or communications or even capitalism … it becomes a discussion about people and doing what is right versus what is wrong and choices.

 

 

I love this discussion with young people.

 

 

It is a hard discussion in which they may approach it with some naiveté … they also approach it with truth in hand.

 

 

Truth that while there are moral and immoral people in the world … that even moral people will slide down the slippery slope of mediocre ethical behavior under the guise of either <a> not knowledgeable enough to do anything better, or <b> everyone else is doing it.

 

 

 

In the end.

 

 

 

Let me say I despise what Arnold Toynbee suggests with regard to people.

 

 

I refuse to believe people aren’t smart enough to make knowledgeable decisions.

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be influenced to such an extent they desire things they shouldn’t desire.

 

 

 

I refuse to believe people can be manipulated to do wrong things <but certainly can be inspired to take positive actions>.

 

 

 

 

I do believe communications can influence attitudes.

 

I do believe communications, done well, can affect behavior.

 

 

But I don’t believe communications can make someone do something they don’t want to do … nor convince them in any consistent way to do wrong things.

 

 

 

Just as you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink … communications can lead someone somewhere <immorally or morally> but inevitably a person makes the moral or immoral choice.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

Here is something I am emphatic with when talking with young people <and as often as I can with older people>.

 

 

 

I do believe professional communicators have a higher responsibility than other folks.

do things right don nothing

 

 

I do believe … all of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

 

 

We can vulgarize that society.

 

We can brutalize it.

 

 

Or we can help lift it to a higher level.

 

 

 

Plain packaging?

 

 

Why am I against it?

 

 

Well.

 

 

I would lose an opportunity to help lift society to a higher level.

 

That’s what I tell people.

 

 

And that is what I believe.

 

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shirking responsibility
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This old post is not about communicators … but business responsibility to shaping society.

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responsibility in business (or … shapers of society)

http://brucemctague.com/responsibility-in-business-or-shapers-of-society

Enlightened Conflict