When my dad was in hospice he asked me out of the blue, "Do you know what today is?" Before I could come up with the calendar date he answered his own rhetorical question - "One month since I had my last cigarette."
My dad wasn't dying of lung cancer. He had melanoma. He'd started smoking as an adolescent and smoked into his early 40's. He and my mother quit for a decade. Their divorce sparked up the addiction all over again. And dad battled the coffin nails, as we called them, for the rest of his life. Even into his dying. Of cancer. But my dad was proud of this achievement. He highlighted it from his deathbed, literally. That spoke volumes to me. I was proud of him.
Over the years I struggled with my own college born tobacco addiction. But I was lucky enough to leave it behind. I wanted the same for my dad. And I tried all kinds of angles, "arrogant coach", "disappointed son", and probably "do it for the grandkids you selfish old bastard." But I wasn't up against my dads lack of motivation. I was up against his addiction. And I didn't get that at all. Working in branding and communications I was fortunate enough to interview the former CEO of Legacy, Cheryl Healton. In between questions she told me about her own family's epic battles with tobacco addiction and the loss of life that ensued. She herself was a multipack a day smoker that quit for good. She is also a PHD in public health. She cautioned me from my prior tactics and urged compassion above all else. Wow. I wiped away a small tear from the corner of my eye in that moment. I knew I had been dead wrong in my approach with my dad for so many years. I was just operating from fear.
Relative to other addictions smoking is very accepted. But that doesn't change its dynamics at all. It still kills its addicts. It still defies logic and reason from the perspective of the loved one trying to beg the quit. And we all have the question – what can we do? There are many well considered answers. But one simple answer that we have proof actually works is to love and encourage your addict in their quit attempts. It takes smokers an average of 11 attempts to quit for good. So if you think you've been 'generous' for 'tolerating' four failed attempts then you may turn off the faucet of goodwill. That would be a mistake statistically speaking.
Recently Legacy's new CEO Robin Koval asked her marketing team to make a short film that would build real empathy for smokers while encouraging smokers to quit at the same time. My agency The Butler Bros was fortunate to get this brief. We created the video above to spread some love to everyone involved in this drama of quitting. We hope it breeds compassion for addicts of all kinds and gives all the players the inspiration to stick together until the quit sticks for good. It's not easy on anyone involved. But love kicks ass. #LoveYourQuitter
The gift-giving edge you may need this holiday.
The race to find holiday presents is underway, and there's both good news and bad news for the shoppers out there.
Let's start with the bad news: Gift giving is a competitive sport - a contact sport, if you watched any online videos of Black Friday bargain hunters. And while finding just the right thing is hard enough, there's also the pressure to outdo your 2012 performance. 'Tis the season, after all, for occasional bouts of panic.
But here's the good news: Getting to the top of the gift-giving podium is as easy as spelling U.S.A.
When those three letters follow "Made in," they instantly elevate your gift to the status of conversation piece. A simple shirt is transformed into a symbol of resilience. A simple toy becomes a statement about safe products. And a simple "thank you" becomes a conversation about American jobs and helping to put food on your fellow citizen's table.
But wait, you thought. Buying American ignores costs and the realities of a globalized economy. We don't make anything anymore.
Not so fast.
While it's hard to argue that American consumers face a shortage of Chinese imports, it isn't hard to argue that we face a shortage of jobs. So why not support more of them by purchasing from companies that make products here?
Doing so is easier than it seems. These days, shoppers have more Made in America options than they've had in years.
Toys? America has got you covered. Kitchenware? Lots of choices. Clothing? You bet. Electronics? Yes, we make those too.
From athletic footwear to flatscreen TVs, there are companies manufacturing in America today. And while you may expect to pay a premium for American-made quality, you'd be surprised at how easily those on tight budgets can find gifts at competitive prices.
So here's a personal challenge to consider this season: Give just one more Made in America gift than you had planned.
Here are five tips to help you achieve (and surpass) that goal.
1. Web searches are your friend. Typing in key phrases like "Made in America" or "Made in USA" along with the gift you are searching for can narrow the field for you. Plus, many online stores like REI and Nordstrom let you search by "made in America" too.
On December 10, the Slow Money Gatheround live-event crowdfunding platform offers an affordable way for every person—not just accredited investors—to contribute to the funding of local food systems. Gatheround catalyzes the flow of capital into small businesses vital to healthy local economies and a more resilient food system.
Gatheround is a great first step for people interested in sustainable food and local investing. We hope the rotating themes and speakers will keep experienced investors and repeat users coming back for more.
Each online Gatheround offers a deep dive into a different topic—such as live foods, heirloom seeds and grass-fed beef. After hearing from a thought leader in the field and listening to pitches from entrepreneurs putting the ideas into action, participants decide which business to fund.
The focus of the Dec. 10 Gatheround is how to nurture the soil, featuring Eliot Coleman, a 40-year veteran of organic farming, author of “The New Organic Grower” and former executive director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
For those new to Gatheround, here’s how it works: Sign up through the Gatheround.org website with a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more. Check out details on the website—you’ll find information about guest speakers and presenting entrepreneurs. Then log on to the live webinar-based show just before 7 p.m. MST on Dec. 10 to view, engage and decide where you’d like your contribution to go. Gatherounds take place every other month and soon will be monthly.
There are no rules in business or entrepreneurship. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either lying, has no idea what they’re talking about, or is just about to pitch you their "How to succeed in business" e-course.
It's not a bad thing to learn from those who have gone before you, but it's more a matter of applying their knowledge abstractly instead of mimicking it.
Success isn't an if/then statement and if it was, everyone would start successful businesses simply by copying the first successful person's blueprint. The only direct path to getting anywhere in business is by doing lots of (good) work, and even that doesn't guarantee anything.
So many of us have this vision of starting a business, making six-figures with just a blog and then becoming a location-independent minimalist who takes photos of the 18.5 items they own. (There are lots of coffee shops and conferences somehow involved as well.)
I've ran with dozens of business ideas. But I couldn't teach you a thing about entrepreneurialism that'd be worth a damn, other than "stop thinking, stop learning, start doing". Do this before you feel you are ready. Do this before the idea is perfect. And then keep doing that until what you're doing actually works out. If it works out. It might not.
There have been wins and losses for me. Both have been great, even if I thought the losses weren't great at the time. The wins have been sweeter because they were on my own terms. The losses made sense eventually because I failed at trying things my way.
I learned each time that there's no magic in "making it", you've just got to keep throwing darts at a board and hoping one lands in the middle (and subsequently, doesn't fall out). Formulas work on spreadsheets and chalkboards, but rarely do they work in real life.
If you do things your own way, people will potentially call your ideas stupid. This either means you're onto something, or that they are in fact, stupid. But you won't know the answer until you've actually tested them. The world is also full of stupid ideas that have turned into gold mines (case in point: circular robots that vacuum).
I can guarantee you that decades ago if you told someone you wanted to start a company that sold water in bottles for far more money that it cost to simply pour a glass from the tap, most people would have called your idea stupid. Or that later, you were planning to sell stainless steel bottles to hold water because people didn't like the environmental impact of those plastic bottled waters. Stupid can make serious bank.
Times change. Paradigms shift. Markets are created or destroyed faster than we can blink. Perhaps I’ll start selling an e-course on how to stop listening to advice from successful online entrepreneurs...
There are no rules. And even if it seems like there are, they can change before you have a chance to put them into practice.
Make your own. Or make none at all.
Without the financial resources of private or government funds, the non-profit space has often been seen as a laggard when it comes to the adoption and creation of new technology. But as more startups launch as mission driven businesses and online activism continues to rise, we're going to see rapid advances in how tech affects the social impact space. The following is just a tiny glimpse into some of the categories you should be paying attention to, and hopefully becoming a patron of.
Money isn't everything
Many non-profits believe they can squeeze more efficiency out of your dollars than they can out of your time/stuff, but technology is rapidly changing the logistics around giving. ZealousGood is a prime example of how an intermediate organization can reduce a lot of the workload for donor and recipient.
While donation centers are a great place to find inexpensive goods and at the same time contribute to causes, it's difficult for them to manage the cost of sifting through items that have value versus things that are going to be thrown in the trash. Companies like ZealousGood help match up both sides of this marketplace BEFORE any of the transportation takes place, thus wasting less of everyone's time. You mark down what you have, causes mark down what they need, and voila, waste is minimized.
Although Kickstarter has essentially become THE verb for crowdfunding, the reality is that the market has exploded with hyper-specific platforms that will suit cause related endeavors more effectively.
Their communities may be smaller, but tapping into more niche marketplaces can help increase conversion and the chance of social sharing. Just to name a few: Crowdrise excels at disaster response fundraising, GiveForward helps people with medical expenses, and ioby focuses on localized, citizen-driven projects.
Outsourcing done right
Unlike the sweatshops we hear about across the world, networks like Samasource help bring labor to people in desperate need of work, at a fair price. For-profit and non-profit organizations alike often waste a lot of time and money working on tasks that they can't possibly scale effectively. This means budgets aren't being used effectively and core-competancies aren't getting enough attention. Microworkers are a powerful solution and Samasource specifically is mission driven compared to some of the other options out there.
Pairing Social Good with Daily Habits
You'll notice that at the bottom of every Fearless post there's now a CentUp button. It's similar to the Facebook "Like," except it lets you show appreciation for content with a small donation instead of just a social media share. Whenever you make a contribution via CentUp (here or elsewhere) half the money will go to your favorite charity, and half will go to the author of the post. Fearless has opted to give its half to the amazing organization: Pencils of Promise. So please show some love! (Disclosure: I am one of the founders of CentUp)
Much like Newman's Own, Warby Parker or TOMS Shoes have done offline, the internet has made it very easy to spend our money or time on things that simultaneously do good for the world. CentUp is among many other platforms that help migrate everyone's digital experience towards positive action. Be sure to also check out SocialGoodNetwork which helps you easily spend money with charitable retailers, and GoodSearch which rewards charities when you search for things you want online.
What technology have you seen in the last year that has helped spur social good?
The Green World Campaign mourns with the people of Kenya and the world the slaughter of the innocent. That this terrible, still-unfolding event occurred on the International Day of Peace--a day devoted to, as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes, "teaching our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect"--is bitter, heartbreaking irony. People everywhere are working in so many ways to overcome, through compassion and brave opposition, the forces of ignorance that tear at the fabric of the world. Planting trees in Kenya is one way we daily strive to make tangible the inevitable triumph of hope over fear. Among those senselessly killed in a Nairobi shopping mall was the Ghanian poet Kofi Awoonor, whose words--words rooted deeply in African soil, yet transcendent of cultural chauvinism--will never be silenced. Mr. Awoonor's poems mourned the despoiling of the world venerated by traditional cultures, a world where nature and humanity were intricately and creatively entwined: "On this dirty patch/a tree once stood/shedding incense on the infant corn/its boughs stretched across a heaven/brightened by the last fires of a tribe..." In another poem, he wrote, "There was a tree which died in the desert/Birds came and built their nests in it." We dedicate our programs to "ReGreen the World" to this eternal ethos of life succeeding death--planting trees that will serve as shelter and sustenance, growing tall as living symbols of harmony and regeneration, restoring land and communities. The dark era of unthinking, unfeeling, even normative malice--against each other, against nature--has reached its culminating dead-end. The terrifying body of ignorance may yet writhe, but its frantic motions are the last throes of a way of being and doing on the wrong side of history. Whether capitalist or socialist, Muslim or Christian, no matter what compass points we hail from, we today know we bear a tender responsibility for each other's thriving, and for the fragile beauty of the planet we share. In Kenya, people use the Swahili rallying cry harambee! to join together for a greater good. Let us all affirm harambee as we redouble our efforts to create the peaceful, green world that is humanity's only true destiny.
- Marc Barasch
Green World Campaign
A couple of years ago, I was reacting to some news of factory worker suicides and I started thinking about how I could better avoid buying products made by underpaid workers working in unsafe conditions. Oh, and I guess while I was at it, how could I better know if a product had a smaller carbon footprint and was free of lead paint and whatever else I needed to watch out for.
Suddenly, I flashed back to those old "Buy American" ad campaigns and thought, "oops." Looking back it seemed to me that those campaigns not only failed in their mission to protect American jobs but we failed to consider all the ramifications of shipping so much American production offshore.
We not only lost jobs. We lost control, and every day we see companies and individuals trying to regain a sense of control with apps, new certifications and corporate promises.
There's an "app" I use that provides some assurance that a product was made in a way that supports:
1. A smaller carbon footprint,
2. The rebuilding of the economy and jobs for my community,
C. Keeping toxins and pollutants out of the water and air,
D. And a workforce that's not exploited.
This "app" is sewn into every garment and printed on every box. It's not perfect and it's not always possible. And it shouldn't be because this is a global economy, after all. But it's one of the best ways I've found to shop with my values.
The millionjobsproject.us focuses on just one of the upsides of checking the provenance of what we buy. Jobs. If we get the time, it would be nice to make some videos about all of the other benefits. In the final analysis, looking for and buying American-made goods is just one way to buy with intention. If we are all willing to put in a little more time and attention we will buy the change we want to see in the world. Whatever that might be.
It's a cliche family moment: My wife opens the credit-card bill and screams when she sees the iTunes charges. Over a thousand freaking dollars.
Instantly, a family meeting is convened to hang the guilty party. Suspicion quickly falls on our son who can consume vast amounts of music. But, no. He has an airtight alibi and quickly shows that the charges are in-game charges. It must be our daughter who loves to play "FREE" games on her iPad. More digging finds the source of the charges mostly from 3 games she was playing on vacation. We're angry. She needs to understand the value of money. We ask her to remove all the games from her iPad and spend the afternoon making a list of the cost of things so she won't make the same sort of mistake. After all, the game surely let her know she was being charged and she ignored it. I'm ashamed to say we trusted Apple more than our daughter at first. But she was adamant that they didn't let her know she was being charged. Not even once.
With a sinking feeling I reloaded one of the games. It was a word scramble game and it allows players to ask for clues. Each time you ask for a clue it's 2 bucks. What's a clue worth? A couple cents? For 2 bucks I want a really significant clue and for a thousand dollars I'd like something like a clue to the nature of the universe. That's outrageous enough but what's really larceny is that they don't alert you that they're about to charge you. No pop up. No cha-ching sound. Nothing. Not even the first time.
I thought surely there was somewhere that they let you know they were about to fleece you. And I finally found it. But to be fair to my daughter and everybody else out there, I was looking and it was still difficult. Before you click the big "FREE" to download the game look below under the tab "Details" and under that tab click on the tab "Top in-game purchases" and you'll see a list of the outrageous bills you'll be getting if you are naive enough to ask for a clue.
Now I was really angry. This game had stolen from us. Not just our money but our trust in the entire Apple ecosystem. When would I get another $1000 dollar bill for opening the wrong app from an unscrupulous developer? It felt like the game-makers had somehow slipped though the cracks and had put into jeopardy all the trust that Apple had earned from me over all these years. How did they get away with it? Surely, Apple was about to crack down.
Digging some more we found out that these "in-game" charges have been a point of contention for a couple of years now, and Apple had recently changed the rules. But not in the way you might expect. In 2012, Apple sent a memo to app developers letting them know that in-app would be allowed, even in games targeted to children but Apple's cut of such charges would be increased to 30%.
(Insert long string of profanity here.)
First, I trusted Apple more than my daughter. Then I trusted Apple more than the sleazy game developers. Now I'm left searching for some way to get the trust back. Indications from Apple seem to be that for the short time this might be too rich a source of new revenue at a time when earnings are struggling to just turn it off.
In my opinion, their bean counters better start doing the math on the costs related to destroying that famous Apple brand loyalty.