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Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Prescription for B.S.

In Tips, Trends on November 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm
For Part One of this three-part series of entries on Busyness Syndrome, click here. For Part Two, click here.


Ironically, I think the answer to BS is not less stuff. I don’t believe less is more. I don’t think we can actually have, do, and be less. Instead, I think the answer is choosing the right stuff.


A counselor of mine used to say, “Empty places long to be filled.” You’ve got 24 hours in your day today. You can’t bump that down to 23 so you won’t have as much to fill. You’re going to spend 24 hours on something. The answer isn’t doing less. It’s doing the right things. What if one of the things you chose to invest in today was something that restored you rather than drained you? What if you engaged something sheerly for its beauty and not for its utility? What if you went for a walk?


I’m not condoning laziness. I’m from the Texas Panhandle. Farm country. We believe in good old fashioned American work ethic. But we also understand fallow and Sabbath.


The problem with fallow is that it requires sacrifice. That land could produce a crop one more year. Letting land lie fallow, letting your business take a Sabbath, seems like throwing away money. And maybe it is, for the short term. But another friend of mine likes to say, “Every time you say ‘Yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘No’ to something else.” The cure for BS is identifying the best things to say “Yes” to.


The good news is that corrections can be made gradually. Our course in life is determined by millions of tiny choices we make day-by-day, hour-by-hour.


Is your schedule full of BS? Do you have trouble getting out of the right column on the busyness chart? What is one choice you can make this week to throw off the tyranny of the urgent (say “No” to something unimportant) and give yourself to what’s important?

Diagnosing B.S.

In Tips, Trends on November 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

For Part One of this three-part series of entries on Busyness Syndrome, click here.

So how to you know if you’re infected? How do you diagnoses Busyness Syndrome (let’s call it BS for short)? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What gets your first attention – urgent things or important things?
  • Count the number of people who are expecting something – product, presence or communication – from you today. I don’t mean blog subscribers, employees or Facebook friends. I mean how many people do you need to talk to or work for one-on-one today in order to be caught up?
  • When was the last time you were caught up?
  • How many requests for your time have you denied this week?

I think what happens with BS is similar to what happens to addicts. The addiction escalates until what used to feel good (important, successful) doesn’t work any more. The addict needs more drug to reach the same high. We need more production, more awards, more success to feel good about ourselves.

The next thing that happens with BS has been defined brilliantly by Charles Hummel in his book Tyranny of the Urgent. Divide your life’s tasks and relationships into four quadrants:

The healthy person spends most of his time, resources and care in the top half of that chart, but also takes time to tinker with unimportant stuff occasionally. But the BS victim can’t get out of the left column. His time, thoughts, energies, resources and affections are sapped by the urgent. Urgency becomes the only trigger for action. Importance becomes an afterthought.

This is why men build great empires, but raise lousy kids. It’s why pastors grow megachurches, but let their fidelity to personal commitments crumble. It is why politicians manage approval ratings rather than spending. It leads them to be followers, not leaders. It leads us to be reactive, not proactive. It leads us to look at next steps (or worse – the last step) rather than new horizons.

Too Busy to Be Productive

In Trends on November 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm
For me, the holidays are a time for slowing down, refection, evaluation and planning for the new year. If that’s true for you, consider the question I’m mulling in my evaluation of 2010 and plans for 2011:


Are you too busy to be productive?

I am. I work late hours, skip meals, rush and race all in the name of getting more done. But the irony is that my quest to cram more in is the very thing that keeps me from actually producing what I set out to produce – the best quality work I can deliver.


I’m not alone. How many times this week has someone told you they’re busy? We’re all busy. Even when the economy is slow and orders are sparse, we find ways to make ourselves busy – to fill our schedules with busy work.


We Americans wear our busyness like a badge. After all, if someone is busy, they must be important, right? If they have a lot of people wanting to get on their schedule, they must have something to offer those people. Our entire culture has bought into this idea. It’s a social axiom that no one dares deny – the busier you are, the more important you are. Who is the busiest person in America? The president, of course.


This week, Newsweek released a story about just how busy the president is. How much does the president have on his plate? So much that he needs 469 employees to help him.


What’s more, busyness spirals. The more important a person gets (translation: “higher ranking” – we also confuse rank with importance, but that’s another blog entry), the more that person is expected to weigh in on various matters. And the more matters he’s expected to address, the more busy he gets.


Busyness is an epidemic. And while we all acknowledge that we’re too busy and should probably slow down, none of us seems to be very serious about actually doing it.


It has not always been so. In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt started forming the first presidential cabinet – six aides to help him handle the workload imposed by the New Deal. Before 1936, President of the United States was a one-man job! What has changed? Is the growth in White House busyness from six to 469 staff simply a function of population growth? Of faster and better communications? Of trickier political and policy challenges? I don’t think so. I think White House busyness is spiraling out of control for the same reasons our personal busyness has spiraled. We don’t recognize it for the threat it is. And we don’t have a model for slowing down.

Ogilvy On Tracking

In Tips, Trends on November 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm


A friend tweeted a link to this video from the legendary David Ogilvy this week. It’s worth a look. Even if you don’t agree with everything he has to say, it’s refreshing – in a world of constantly changing media platforms and seat-of-the-pants marketing approaches – to hear from someone who is “all in” with their marketing philosophy.


While it’s hard to disagree with David Ogilvy, I do. I think he’s right that direct response, targeted marketing is indispensable. It should come before brand building, public relations or other forms of promotion. I agree that marketing should be tied closely to sales. But I also think there’s a place for unmeasurable, un-trackable, free-for-all, brand-building marketing. The trick is to know the difference. Don’t try to measure responses or impressions from TV ads or Super Bowl halftime shows. It’s tempting to try because the numbers are there (for instance, 106 million people watched the Super Bowl last year). But those numbers are mostly meaningless. They could be much too low because the ad or halftime show was so phenomenal that it got discussed and replayed hundreds of times. Or they could be much too high because (as is usually the case) there was nothing in the presentation to keep people in front of the set instead of in front of the fridge. (You can see why, regarding unmeasurable media, the quality of the creative product has such a great impact on the campaign’s success.)


This paradigm applies to a smaller scale as well. Don’t expect direct returns on the golf tournament sponsorship or the newspaper ad. On the other hand, don’t neglect to build in tracking mechanisms (like unique phone numbers or landing pages) for campaigns that are measurable like email, display ads or direct mail.


The lesson here is simple. Know what to expect. If you’re not sure what to expect, try some things out. Or, better yet, talk to a marketer who has experience with the medium you’re considering. If you can find someone as smart and charming as 1950s David Ogilvy, all the better.


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What’s your take? Have you had success with direct response media? Have you tried?

Creative Thought

In Tips, Trends on October 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Our level of creative success may be tied to what we can forget. As new models emerge our tendency is to layer them onto old models rather than jettison old things and start over. It’s much harder to face the the stark kernel of a new model. We wind up retrofitting our old models w new baubles instead of building sleek efficient new models.

A recent article in Newsweek highlighted one aspect of this problem. According to researchers interviewed for the article, students can learn creativity. At least, they can exercise the creative sequences in their brain. They do so by following this pattern:
  • Divergent thinking to learn and explore
  • Convergent thinking to select and synthesize
The first step involves identifying the problem, learning about its causes and aspects and then researching and brainstorming related topics, themes, ideas, solutions. Note that brainstorming isn’t creating a list of possible solutions from which to choose in the next phase. The best brainstorming chases a lot of rabbits, veers and detours and dives into minutia of situations only tangentially related to the problem. In fact, the most creative people tend to be those who can venture farthest afield from the issue at hand and still make it back home safely.

 

The second phase involves shifting through all of the data, knowledge and ideas generated by the first phase. Some will indeed be irrelevant. But some information that seemed unrelated on the surface may hold a key to enabling a new solution. Creative thinkers can take their far-flung fact-finding and combine or cut out its pieces to arrive at a new, original idea.

 

Newsweek describes the process this way.

 

When you try to solve a problem, you begin by concentrating on obvious facts and familiar solutions, to see if the answer lies there. This is a mostly left-brain stage of attack. If the answer doesn’t come, the right and left hemispheres of the brain activate together. Neural networks on the right side scan remote memories that could be vaguely relevant. A wide range of distant information that is normally tuned out becomes available to the left hemisphere, which searches for unseen patterns, alternative meanings, and high-level abstractions.

Having glimpsed such a connection, the left brain must quickly lock in on it before it escapes. The attention system must radically reverse gears, going from defocused attention to extremely focused attention. In a flash, the brain pulls together these disparate shreds of thought and binds them into a new single idea that enters consciousness. This is the “aha!” moment of insight, often followed by a spark of pleasure as the brain recognizes the novelty of what it’s come up with.

Now the brain must evaluate the idea it just generated. Is it worth pursuing? Creativity requires constant shifting, blender pulses of both divergent thinking and convergent thinking, to combine new information with old and forgotten ideas. Highly creative people are very good at marshaling their brains into bilateral mode, and the more creative they are, the more they dual-activate.

 

For me, the crucial part of this process is the turn-around. It’s an intuitive decision to say, “I’ve done enough research. Any more time invested in divergent thinking is not going to yield any better result.” And it always feels like there’s a backlash at the instant of turn-around. My mind is thinking outward, forward, divergently. When I turn around to head for home, I get the impression that the inertia of my ideas are continuing outward without me. I find myself scrambling to lasso them – write them down, take a picture, sketch something, leave a voice recording – anything to help herd my ideas toward the finish line.

 

Which creative trap are you most likely to fall into?
  • Sticking too close to home so that your solutions tend to be repackaged version of old methodologies?
  • Venturing far afield and never bringing your thoughts back together?

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?

In Trends on October 5, 2010 at 9:51 am
In the last two days, I have seen the truth of my favorite marketing model played out in an arena completely unrelated to REACH. Actually, I’ve seen it in my neighborhood.
Tonight is National Night Out – a day for neighborhood block parties to promote public safety and neighborly goodwill. (Actually, the nationwide National Night Out happened in August, but a few years ago Texas figured out that no one was participating because no one wanted to have a block party in Texas in August. Go figure. So we’re celebrating the “National Night Out of Texas” tonight. We can do that. We used to be a country.) As we’ve done for the last three years, my wife and I have volunteered to organize the block party for our cul-de-sac in Valley Ranch. We’ll have about 25 people from our block come out for burgers and a bounce house and a lot of fun.
What does that have to do with marketing? In the last two days, two organizations have come contacted us asking for permission to pass out literature or present their platform at our party. One is a community group supporting an HOA referendum. The other is a neighborhood gardening club promoting their own event. Unwittingly, Christine and I have organized some customers in the target market for these groups and now they’re asking for access.
As long as there are marketers who know how to bring together customers, there will be companies willing to pay for access to them.

Socially Responsible Debate

In Trends on August 24, 2010 at 2:46 am

I just read an article in today’s Wall Street Journal by Aneel Karnani, associate professor of strategy at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Before I finished the second paragraph, I knew it needed a rebuttal from the REACH Blog.

Our loyal readers (thanks, Mom) know that REACH is focused on two things – helping our clients and helping people in need. We think helping others is kind-of a good thing to do. We do it at home. We do it at church. And we just figure why not do it at work too?

But the professor from Michigan has different ideas. He has in mind huge global corporations where corporate citizenship is much more politically tricky. With so many people involved – shareholders, employees, customers, public opinion – what’s a company to do? Too much of the greater good could endanger profits and sour shareholders. Too little could drive away socially-responsible customers and employees. Plus there’s the question of how. Should Starbucks support fair trade or clean water? Which is more important? Which is more urgent? It’s impossible to please everyone.

But since these issues are difficult, Karnani seems to suggest that the best solution is to avoid them altogether. His recommendation instead? “Let the government do that.”

I’ve chosen the most egregious sections of the column to rebut, but out of fairness, I encourage you to read his entire article because not all his points are as ill-conceived as those highlighted below. Granted, the professor is weighing the merits of models rather than individuals. He’s thinking macro. Global economics. But some of his points are poorly-presented or just plain wrong. So much so that it’s hard to parse what of the macro-level logic carries weight.

“So now what? Should executives in these situations heed the call for corporate social responsibility even without the allure of profiting from it?

You can argue that they should. But you shouldn’t expect that they will.

“Executives are hired to maximize profits; that is their responsibility to their company’s shareholders. Even if executives wanted to forgo some profit to benefit society, they could expect to lose their jobs if they tried—and be replaced by managers who would restore profit as the top priority.”

This point would make perfect sense if we assume that “profit as the top priority” is the mantra of every company on Earth. I think that’s assuming too much, partly because I know several companies who aspire to greater goals. What if a corporation and all its shareholders (it might help to imagine a smaller company) agree that their highest goal is not profit? What if a group of shareholders, in fact, hired and promoted executives because they chose not to sacrifice social welfare for the sake of money? What if a company did expect more of its executives? What if a company wanted a CEO who would lead them well into something richer than cash? Those companies exist. Let’s hold them up as shining examples rather than unrealistic expectations.

“Managers who sacrifice profit for the common good also are in effect imposing a tax on their shareholders and arbitrarily deciding how that money should be spent. In that sense they are usurping the role of elected government officials, if only on a small scale.”

I have two observations about this paragraph.

1. If Professor Karnani isn’t used to submitting to this kind of arrangement, he really should join the majority of Americans in supporting a charity. This is exactly what happens with almost every nonprofit organization in the world. Supporters agree to live with less, and trust leaders of their chosen charities to make decisions about how to spend their donations. It really is a freeing thing to give away money. The professor should try it.

2. I understand from this paragraph that the professor sees it as the government’s role to impose taxes and then arbitrarily decide how the money should be spent. That approach turns democracy and capitalism exactly backwards. Of all organizations on the planet, government is the one that should be allowed the least autonomy in “arbitrarily deciding how money should be spent” for two very obvious reasons: A. Elected officials are exposed to less risk than corporate leaders (before you protest, professor, consider your point from the preceding paragraph about the tenuousness of executive tenure), and B. Elected officials have done nothing to help earn the money they’re spending.

“The ultimate solution is government regulation.”

This is the part of a well-written article where the author would support his point with examples of markets where government regulation proved to be the ultimate solution and brought about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Oddly, those examples are missing here. Another tack may be to detail the reasons why government regulation is the “ultimate solution” – logical arguments as to why, even if it doesn’t work now, it “ought” to work sometime. But Karnani can do none of that. Instead he supports his point about the “ultimate solution” with a laundry list of flaws and failures – inefficiency, cost, incompetence, lack of funding, opposition by industry groups, and corruption. All of these are cited and explained in the article. It’s like saying, “She’s got half a million miles, she won’t pass inspection, she only starts about half the time, and I think there’s a body in the trunk. But I think she still ought to bring blue book.”

Again, to be fair, the professor has in mind economies from around the world to include developing countries and societies much different from our own. But I suggest that to the extent that those markets cannot reasonably police themselves, they are not ready for capitalism. America’s second president said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

I’m a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal and as a former newspaperman myself, I appreciate the paper’s continued success amid troubling times for journalism. I can even applaud their commitment to present a wide range viewpoints. Unfortunately, I think they might have done well in this case to find a viewpoint that made more sense.

PS: I know it’s pretty easy for me to take pot-shots at Professor Karnani when there is little chance he’ll ever read this. So I’ve emailed a copy of this essay and a link to this blog to the contact information listed for him at the bottom of his article and on the University of Michigan website.

Of Agencies, Old Spice & Expectations

In Trends on August 5, 2010 at 1:09 am

A client recently asked us to “create something really viral.” We declined. If there was a formula for creating viral video, we would certainly offer it to our clients. There isn’t. Ask Nationwide Insurance or Jack In the Box or any of a hundred other companies who have made obvious attempts to create the next viral video. You can’t orchestrate viral.

Neither should you judge content by the extent to which it “goes viral”. A marketing colleague was reviewing TV spots with me last month and disagreed that this year’s version of a certain campaign was better than last year’s. He said, “Creatively, you’re right. But the number of copycat videos on YouTube from last year’s version is staggering. Very viral.” I hope YouTube spoofs have not become the measure of an ad campaign.

But if there ever was a best practice for creating viral buzz, Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy found it with the Old Spice Guy web video campaign. That project, which included dozens of creatives hunkered down in a studio round the clock producing and posting videos at the rate of one every seven minutes, has become the touchstone of successful social media campaigns. To read all the behind-the-scenes details about how they pulled it off, go here.

The other brilliant element to that campaign was its price tag. While it certainly cost a bundle to set up the video-making “war room”, hire the right talent, etc. those costs are minuscule compared to national TV campaigns, pro sports sponsorships, and other avenues traditionally used to peddle mens’ hygiene products. And that from a company who has plenty to spend. Proctor & Gamble consistently competes with General Motors for the largest ad budget in the nation.

While REACH (or your current ad agency) probably won’t have the desire or the resources to illuminate the next Old Spice Guy, there is something about those viral videos that REACH can offer – value. Videos (or images or forwarded emails or any other content) that go viral do so because they have some intrinsic value – something about them that is beautiful or funny or poignant. Agencies love to create that stuff. We dream of clients who will ask us to “create something really beautiful”. A lot of times the company brand or message gets in the way, but occasionally we get to work on a project that carries the marketing message AND some intrinsic value. Those are the sweet spots. That’s what we love to do, whether it goes viral or not.

Of iPhones, Apple and Branding

In REACH News, Trends on July 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I held off as long as I could, but I had to to it. Here it finally is … THE iPHONE RANT!

I am among the millions of Americans who have invested large parts of their lives into the hunt for the ever-elusive iPhone 4. My journey toward wireless phone nirvana has been a long and treacherous one filled with clamshells and candy bars, Missing Sync and eternal contracts. Fully four years after the release of the first iPhone, I was finally in the perfect position to bag one. My Verizon contract expired in May; the new release was due in June. I was as giddy as a geek at WWDC. Little did I know my quest was far from over and I would have to endure retail travails not seen since Tickle Me Elmo before I could pierce the Apple veil and lay hold of the sacred circuitry.

I won’t detail all of those hardships because to do so would produce a tome worthy of Tolkien and probably crash WordPress servers. But I will mention that it would have been handy for Apple to let people know that Family Talk plans cannot be ordered via their website. And to the manager of the Southlake Apple store who sought to reassure all 200 of us by saying that his team had almost gotten the duration of each transaction down to seven minutes: Sorry man. You looked cool in your cargo manpris. But we were not reassured.

All of this has got me thinking (and now writing) about Apple, iPhone, Steve Jobs and Just Bieber. And I’ve come to the following conclusions about the (now) most valuable technology company in the world.

1. Apple: if they weren’t so dang good, they’d be bad.

Apple is on the verge of making a classic branding blunder and the only thing, in my opinion, keeping them from shooting themselves in the PR foot is that they’re so good at what they do. The problem is, they’re losing sight of what they do.

Five years ago, if you had asked any random man on the street (henceforth to be referred to as “Streetman“) what Apple does, he would have said, “Oh, they make iPods.”

Ten years ago, Streetman would have said, “Apple? You mean like IIe? Yeah, we had those in school. I dunno.”

Twenty years ago, Streetman would have said, “They make computers.”

Today, Streetman might say, “They make and sell gadgets.”

The devilish detail Streetman has given us is not in the ever-shifting Apple product line. It’s in the subtle insertion of the words “and sell.”

(Thank you Streetman. You may put your unmistakable white earphones back in now and continue on your way.)

I understand the reasons Apple decided to get into the retail business a few years ago. Namely, no one wanted to sell their stuff and no one who did sell their stuff could answer questions about it. But now that Apple has seemed to clear those hurdles, I think staying in the retail business only hurts them. After all, what can you do at an Apple store that you can’t do at other stores? (Save for getting ideas for where to get your next body piercing.)

We spoke in the last post about a company’s heart. Apple is not a retail company at heart. At heart, they are a technology company. By launching into the retail marketplace, and then Bogarting product launches to the point of overwhelming themselves, they are moving dangerously close to messing up the heart of their business.

Apple makes the best consumer electronics in the world. They should stick with that. They don’t make the best retail machine in the world. Wal-Mart has that one cornered.

Now, I am not one to just point out problems without offering solutions. Here’s my solution: Apple would be wise to seek out the best retail partner to help them with sales and delivery. A big one. One with a stellar logistics machine. One that can handle product launches with 1.7 million sales the first weekend. After all, the best of both worlds would be to purchase the best product in its class (iPhone) from the best store in its class (Best Buy?).

2. Steve Jobs: has just taken a bite of hot chili

My high school ag teacher (yes, I went to a school with an “ag” class) used to say that certain mistakes were like taking a bite of hot chili: whatever you do next is wrong. Jobs has backed himself into a similar corner. Based on the blundered release of iPhone 4 (not to mention the “just don’t hold it that way” issue), I see only three possibilities:

  1. Stevo and his friends are enormously humble. “Oh, we had no idea so many people would like what we make. I mean, we just do it for the love of the game. We weren’t really expecting people to line up like that to buy this stuff. We’re humbled and thankful.”
  2. Steve and company are enormously short-sighted. Maybe they rushed the launch? Maybe they had production delays they didn’t want to make public? For whatever reason, they might have just decided, “Meh, we’re going to sell out and make people wait, but who cares? We’ll be alright.”
  3. They are incompetent at retail. A friend of mine tried gamely to come to Apple’s defense in this iPhone4 bungle by saying, “Can you imagine what would happen if millions of people started lining up at Office Depot to buy toner? They’d sell out too.” I think a lot of Apple defenders take this view. But the effective rebuttal is obvious. If Office Depot had four years to figure out their toner supply chain, I guarantee they would figure out a way to stock enough, sell enough, and deliver enough so that people weren’t asked to order online and wait three weeks for shipping. The difference, of course, is that Office Depot has to compete with other stores who carry toner. Apple can afford to be laissez faire about sales because no one can compete with their product. And by hoarding the launch for a week, they ensured that no one was allowed to compete with their stores.

I guess the bottom line is that they flubbed up, but they can afford to. I and millions like me are sticking with them because for all of the headache involved in the delivery of their product, I’d rather endure the headache to get a phone and then enjoy it than get a phone easily with a BOGO coupon and then spend the next two years screaming at it. That’s why I paid more for the Mac I’m using to write this. It’s why I’ll wait two weeks for an iPhone.

If you’re waiting with me for you online order to arrive in seven to 10 business days, may the force be with you.

Taking On Harvard

In Kindness, Trends on June 15, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I’ve been following the growth of a new business model called social entrepreneurism. While it really isn’t new (remember all the “corporate citizenship” talk of the 80s and 90s?) there seems to be a renewed desire to use the free market for good, and a willingness to take the “doing well by doing good” model farther than before.

The standard-bearer for social entrepreneurism (or at least one of its most visible success stories) is Project 7. Tyler Merrick has used his run-of-the-mill company (he sells t-shirts and breath mints) to help thousands of hungry, poor and homeless. Tyler and others like him are proving out this new model with varying levels of success. A lot of that success, I suspect, depends on how little owners or investors are willing to accept in salary or return. And a good entrepreneur may be able to squeeze more efficiencies out of the business to deliver some level of both profit and philanthropy.

Today, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that shocked me with its approach to this trend. While some schools (Clark University is a good example) are adding curricula and resources to stay abreast of these changes, HBR panned the idea and said, fundamentally, all entities have to fall into one of two categories. They’re either for profit or for good. Not both.

I couldn’t disagree more.

While I realize that profit and kindness are sometimes at odds in a capitalist market, I also reject the idea that entrepreneurs can’t use their business acumen to help those in need just as they use their spare time or personal resources. It comes down to heart. Companies have hearts – the collective souls of people who work there. And this issue, like any issue that matters, is about heart. It’s about motive. The article is right. We certainly don’t need any more corporations whose philanthropic goals don’t reach any higher than checking a box. If a company’s motive for supporting a charity is to generate some good PR and therefore increase revenue, then maybe they should rethink their business plan. There are more efficient ways to sell.

But outside the ivy-covered walls of Harvard there exist thousands of businesses whose people care as much about causes as they do about coin. And who’s to say that those companies aren’t just as legitimate resources for social change as any other forces? Who’s to say that capitalists can’t change the word? Much of the problem is that we just haven’t seen it. We’re used to seeing churches and the government help people. So we tend to think of charity (or welfare) as their bailiwick. But you know what churches and government are? They’re people. And I suspect (though I have zero research to back this up) that the groups of people who are most effective at helping others are not the ones who memorize catechisms or practice Lean Six Sigma. They are the ones who are most passionate about it. And the ones who most closely approach one-to-one relationship to those helped.

As an agency, we have recommended community and philanthropic initiatives to our clients in the past as a way to network with like-minded community members and grow a company’s influence while supporting worthy causes. But there have been companies we’ve worked where we didn’t pursue such an initiative because it didn’t fit their ethos. Some companies are only concerned with making money. I don’t find anything wrong with those companies. I appreciate their honesty in making that their primary goal and not pretending it is anything other. But there are companies who have both charity and profit in their core values, as crazy as that sounds. Harvard should look into it.