Archive for the 'aspiration' Category

The Audacity of Hope

(Photo courtesy of Bastian Groove, Flickr)

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”
– John F. Kennedy

Over the last two weekends, the discount store parking lots have been packed like its Christmas.  Harried clerks rush to manage long lines at the checkout register as shoppers vie for bargains.

5 new job openings have crossed my desk in the last 4 days.

We have signed four new accounts in three weeks.  Some are venture capital firms preparing to raise funds and make new investments.

After a significant dip in December, my company’s new business pipeline is as healthy as ever.

And yet……..

Two of my family members have lost their jobs.  The eldest of these (my mother) has decided to take a few months off instead of bang her head against the wall trying to find a job in the NYC economy.

So what’s happening?

Those of us who were children in the 70’s and have spent a career in technology have been here before.

We remember long lines at the gas pump as children. We remember the total technology collapse in 2001.  Guess what?  We survived and eventually thrived.  We learned to work smarter, faster, and better.  We don’t measure our personal value or worth by big bonuses, 401K accounts or pension funds.  We’re still out there, quietly toiling away in a way that adds value to our economy every day.

Certainly the manufacturing and banking sectors are taking it “on the chin.”  I’m sorry, but I think we might all agree that a correction is long overdue.  However, I reject the notion that there’s shame in success.

What the heck happened to “the audacity of hope?”  Why is it embarrassing to be working hard and doing well?  Is it so appalling that there’s no such thing as free rent or free rides.  Are we not strong enough to reinvent ourselves?  Have we become a nation of people who think we are owed a living because of where we live?  Should we protect ourselves from other nations that have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps?  I credit my fellow Americans with being able to do so much more than seek entitlements and protectionist policies.

We can and should be the greatest generation, but we must turn the tide of pessimism and not be afraid of optimism.

We are slowly emerging to forge a new economy and a new way of thinking.  Old yardsticks like the Dow Industrial Average might never again be reflective of success.  We need new yardsticks and new thinking.  Above all, we must go boldly into this night and not be afraid.  Success is nothing to be ashamed of – your success might be the very thing this economy needs to get back on its feet.

What can you do today to offer optimism and help reshape our economy?

— Posted by Alison Moore


Confessions of a Frequent Flyer

I’ve become a frequent business flyer this year, and I’ve started bringing my notebook with me again, like I did in design school, for those moments when a thought might hit me or I might want to sketch something. Although I am a self-described techie, and keep my to-do lists in the notepad app on my G1, I confess that I savor the moments when technology fails, or 3G networks cannot be found. I look forward to the time spent jetting out and back on the runway, when my approved electronic devices are not allowed. Away goes my Macbook Pro and my G1. Out comes my trusty pen and paper. I often get more done in those 20 minute spurts, than I do in hours spent staring at my monitor, distracted by all the widgets and alerts I love so much.

So if you aren’t leaving the grid anytime soon; I encourage you to just shut your laptop, and turn off your phone (gasp!) for 20 minutes and sit at your desk…and write (or draw). Let your brain process thoughts in a more organic format, outside the confines of google docs, wordpress-formatting boxes, or tweetdeck tabs. Try it! Who knows; you might even get a blog post out of it.

— Posted by Liz Moise

Brand marketing and power of aspirational messaging

(Photo credit: Flickr DJBrianE)

As a marketer, I have been watching the development and execution of Obama marketing campaign with awe. This presidential campaign was the first in my memory to be marketed as if it were a corporate brand. Everything from the backdrops on stage to the well-chosen typeface on the signs held by fans has been just right. The use of the Obama logo was also powerful. In fact I didn’t realize I had been seeing a logo, until I saw it spray-painted on someone’s lawn with no supporting text, and immediately knew its meaning.

Another key to the success of this campaign, as a brand, was their aspirational messaging. The Obama campaign sold hope and change, not a man or a simple solution. They aimed to inspire others to look higher and dream big. The sign I saw held by supporters most frequently read “Change we can believe in”, with a subtle “Obama 08” at the bottom.

It’s often hard to build aspiration into a marketing campaign, and we can often get lazy and just settle for “motivational” or “actionable”. This success story, while perhaps not directly applicable to your work, should motivate you to get back to basics. What are you marketing, what is the value? Is there value? What does your brand aspire to be or to provide? How can you communicate that effectively? Does the name you just chose for your client’s new company really aspire to something? Can you back that up?

I have to admit, in full disclosure, that my interest in the Obama campaign reaches far beyond marketing. To me, this election represents a shift in the American psyche; it represents new opportunities for my husband, and his family in Haiti. Most of all, it represents an America that I’ve always hoped was possible for my 6-month-old daughter. My vote was for her.

— Posted by Liz Moise

The Time (To Get To Work) Is Now!

No matter how you voted, no matter what you thought of Obama and McCain’s campaign strategies and tactics, no matter the color of your skin or your state and no matter how you are feeling this morning about whether “your guy” won or lost, you have to feel energized, excited and blessed about being part of history last night. Not since 9/11 have we witnessed such patriotism and pride among our people.

Here’s hoping for a few things.

1) That race relations can take a quantum leap forward under the Obama administration.
2) That the leaders – and the common men and women – of this country can be galvanized and that America once again find its sense of urgency to win and regain and retain its position of global leadership.
3) That the engine that drives not only the U.S. economy, but the entire world will get a boost, not for a few hours or days but for the foreseeable future.
4) That the sense of fear, uncertainty and doubt – and paralysis –that has gripped this great nation the past few months will be swept away by this New Day in America.

There’s no doubt that many serious social, political and economic challenges remain, but if last night’s election tells us anything, with a lot of faith, commitment and hard work they can be overcome. Onward!

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