Showing posts from August, 2012

What Do Women Want? Not To Be Told "What Women Want"

If I see one more person "standing up for women" I believe I am going to throw up.

Women's rights issues are as old as time. The struggle for them - for us, for me, for my daughters - goes back to the beginning. It is largely not men who have fought this struggle, but women. So I am very suspicious when all of a sudden the cause becomes popular.

The exploitation of women is so common and takes so many forms. It's easy to point in horror to physical abuse, like female genital mutilation, rape, and domestic violence. But it's not so easy to clarify other more subtle ways that women are used and then tossed away, along with their "rights."

For example, women (currently) have the right to choose abortion - but that right can easily be used by men who impregnate them and then don't want to deal with the responsibility.

Women have the right to dress however they want, too. But they are bombarded endlessly - endlessly - with marketing messages that tell them t…

Rebranding Cultural Conflict Through Music: "Israeli Singer Tops German Charts"

"Any time you have a problem you are in contracted awareness....As you move into a higher level of awareness, solutions will start to emerge." - Deepak ChopraYou can't solve a problem by thinking the same old way. In the end no matter how much brainpower you apply, it is a spiritual exercise. Problem-solving means you get out of yourself, go higher, cross boundaries.

Armed conflict (war) is one of those seemingly unsolvable problems that people keep trying to solve from the inside. The Middle East conflict is just one example. One can view it from the lens of defense, or diplomacy, or development, or even purely PR. 

But as most of us realize, the answer is not going to come from any one individual perspective and it won't come from a selfish striving to be "the winner." Nowadays there really is no such thing - killing only leads to more killing, hatred to more hatred, on and on ending in a vortex that eventually sucks us all down the drain.

Music may seem &qu…

Life Imitating "Zohan"

In a small, nondescript kosher restaurant in Rockville MD, peace.

Cafe Shawreen is certified by the local rabbinic authorities. It is owned by a Muslim woman from Iran, and two people work for her, including an Orthodox rabbi and an African-American woman.

We went in, got our Shwarma and the drank the best lemonade on planet Earth. It was calm and welcoming there. Everybody did their thing, and respected everybody else.

Like "Zohan" said, America is a country where people from every nationality, religion, race and culture can coexist.

If only the entire world could be like this place. Social marketing of retail establishments and products could make it happen.

Fundamental Social Change Can Avert The Looming Crisis

In a previous post ( I tried to provide some indication of the seriousness of the current economic crisis. When you aren't directly affected it can be hard to see, because life seems to go on "as usual."

But something is terribly wrong. And if it gets to a tipping point the economic crisis can easily turn into social breakdown - chaos.


1. Accept that the time for fundamental change has arrived. Stop trying to fit new answers into old paradigms, like political parties.

2. Accept that the well being of all people on the planet is interconnected. There is no Us and Them. Either we are all better off or we are at risk. What this means is the transition to a society where the basic needs of life are easily available at no charge.

3. Accept that there is an Omnipotent Being who gives us life, sustains it, takes it. No atheists in a foxhole as they say.


1. Shift power to the individual level. People working alone or together…

Facing and Overcoming The Looming Social Crisis

Chart from Phil Bartle's Community Empowerment Collective web site
In the United States, right now, we are seeing an economic breakdown that can potentially lead to social breakdown and chaos. Yet other than political finger-pointing, there is a lack of national dialogue in a sustained way about the problem. Everything is not OK, but we as a country maintain the veneer that it is, fueled by ivory-tower debates about the definition of "poor." Consider that:
The Financial Edge: According to various statistics posted at, 43% of American households' spending exceeds income; 42% don't have enough available assets to support themselves for at least three months; and 52% of employees are living "paycheck-to-paycheck." In a survey, 85% of self-identified middle-class Americans say they're worse off than a decade ago. Joblessness: According to the most recent figures (April 2012), the nationalunemployment rateis 8.2%.The Housing Edge: The number of pe…

Stop Innovating

The little-known fact about innovating is that you only need a little to get the job done. The rest is hard work and teamwork.

Yet it seems all people want talk about is innovation.

My daughter said to me the other day, "Our generation doesn't respect your generation because we already know technology."

Well, OK. I heard on the news that a 15-year-old developed an early test for pancreatic cancer. I get it.

But the downside of innovation is excessive individualism. There is productivity in following. In admitting that you don't always have a better way but are happy to help the team.

Resume culture, Hollywood movie culture, etc. encourages the innovative, the rebellious, ingenuity. But really most great organizations succeed because a group of basically anonymous people work as one.

This isn't a particularly innovative thought, that we should celebrate teamwork and followership more. But as long as we waste time reinventing a wheel that already works 80 percent well, w…

10 Ways To Fix Up Your Personal Brand With LinkedIn

Photo via Flickr; no endorsement of this blog expressed or implied

Maybe personal branding is egotistical, dehumanizing, or otherwise bad. Still, everybody needs a resume, everybody uses LinkedIn, and it's free.

The platform can be daunting for people who aren't used to it. But you don't have to be a technical wizard to fix up your profile.

Here are the first 5 things to do, when you have about half a day of quiet time:
Professional headline: Describe yourself briefly and uniquely in a way that will make sense to your target audience. Do not put your job title here. Example: "Seasoned Knowledge Management Professional." Photo: Use a good close-up photograph of yourself looking happy and businesslike. You should be wearing corporate attire. It does not have to cost you money to get a good photo. You do not have to be a model or a movie star. The key is the genuineness of your facial expression. Summary: This is a short bio written in the third person. Start it off wi…

"Marketing Is Dead": Good Headline, Wrong Conclusion

In a blog post at Harvard Business Review that so far has drawn 300+ comments, consultant and author Bill Lee argues that "traditional marketing is dead" based on the following:

Empowered consumers ignore advertising and find products/services on their ownCEOs think CMOs (chief marketing officers) don't understand how business works - e.g. that when you say marketing is a good investment you have to prove it. (Cites a study)Marketers are unlike customers and don't understand them.He says instead that we should: Use social media more, specifically peer networks on social mediaLocate customers who influence other potential customers and give them a platform
I agree with Lee's premise but disagree with the conclusions:

There is a difference between marketing and branding that he conveniently disregards. Branding is the holistic act of establishing a unique position that appeals to the customer, that adds value beyond a commodity. That will never, ever go away because &q…

Transparency—where good government meets smart public affairs.

This is the paradox of government public affairs: the professionals who work in this field must work to create a positive relationship between the government and taxpayers, yet without resorting to propagandizing.
This seeming dilemma may lead public affairs officers (PAOs) to fall prey to any number of traps. They may avoid mentioning bad news entirely unless forced to by the press. Similarly, they may avoid discussing controversial issues internally just in case the press obtains and distorts their comments. 
Or, they may turn out crisis response documents that are so bland and meaningless that, although they have no value for real-world guidance, they also cannot be damaging if held up one day before the cameras on Capitol Hill. More subtly, they may conduct strategic planning verbally, to avoid leaving a “paper trail”, and in doing so leave important options unexplored.
In my own experience, I have found that public and private sector organisations alike address the paradox by being …

Brand Processes, Not People

You brand the process. You NEVER brand the person. Branding people offends their humanity. Nobody wants to become like the brands they purchase. What a loss of power.

'Nobody's going to turn ME in to a robot.' And yet - there is no escaping it. To have a strong brand in a service economy, you need human beings to deliver.

How do you get that to happen? Let's take a step back before we answer that.

What makes a brand strong in the first place? If you think about it, a fundamentally paradoxical thing: the consistent personality.

Personality is uniquely human. People have personalities.Consistency is artificial. Only a machine can be the same all the time.
Now read this:


So you go into, let's say, the Nike store because you will experience a certain "personality." Every single time. 

But it's also nice to know that you can leave the store without any commitment. Leave Nike, go to Reebok. Nike doesn't care. BECAUSE NIK…

Why Branding Needs Organizational Development


Brands depend on people to deliver them, especially service brands, where one's impression of the 'product' is often reduced to a telephone conversation with a customer service representative. The people charged with delivering the brand image have to understand it, and have to be fully committed to conveying it as well.

In light of this reality, a sub-discipline called 'internal branding' (I call it 'organizational branding' to incorporate both people - and process-related change) has developed. This sub-discipline aims, in effect, to create an artificial society inhabited by people who act calculatedly, yet seemingly spontaneously, in the best interest of the brand.

Organizational branding is a potentially powerful way to transform a workplace culture so that it is more positive, more focused, and more productive. Yet this strength also makes it a potentially dangerous weapon. An ethics-blind company can easily see such a programme as a justific…