Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trend Watch: B Corporations

When Nancy Goldstein over at Compass(x) turned me onto B corporations, I knew the concept had momentum. Nancy has a great nose for sniffing out what ideals brands should embrace in order to lead in their category. It’s a new organizational hybrid that has a for-profit brain and a non-profit heart.

Look to see more of these, especially among start-ups led by Millennials. Lucy Bernholz sees the trend, as well, and wrote about it for the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
Trend Number 5: B Corporation
For entrepreneurs trying to run businesses with a social purpose, corporate structure has been one of the persistent challenges.
Organize as a nonprofit and you’ll be forever capital constrained, organize as a commercial enterprise and you risk losing your mission to investors. Since 2006, a group called B Lab has enabled B corporations (the B stands for benefit) to gain traction around the country and lead a revolution in corporate operations. Corporate code may not be sexy, but these new efforts stand to attract billions of dollars in new investments in social businesses.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trend Watch: Unplugging from too much technology

Photo by nige_mar
My radar is up, way up, for this “unplugging” trend. Last week, I accidentally silenced the ringer on my cell phone. I could see it light up when calls came in, but somehow, the visual cue was less arresting than the ring tone.

I’m telling you, it was blissful.

Here’s what I noticed about myself:
-I was able to stay focused for longer periods.

-I missed a few calls and the world did not end, I just got back to people.

-Rather than anticipating contact ("He/she should’ve called by now!") I could group up communications during planned periods, thus improving my efficiency.
I see that JWT also spotted the unplugging trend. They’re dubbing it “de-tech-ing” which is a bit of a tongue-twister, but no less apt.

More about what marketing trends they’re seeing.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Philadelphia is a RenGen City on the Make

Photo by DoctorWho
Things are bubbling up in Philadelphia. A few years ago, I dubbed the city a RenGen city. It had so many important attributes:
Many ways to learn: great schools, universities, museums and libraries

Friendliness factor: The Romans called it “civitas” which means that all the tribes that co-habitate are friendly and strangers are welcome

Great circulatory system: It’s easy to get around using many forms of transportation

Art for the common man: Philly is a city of murals, making art a public birthright.

Affordable housing: Cities that out-price their creative class from the housing market become hollow staging grounds for art created elsewhere. Witness New York. Retaining a creative class within the population generates energy and enterprise.
Check, check and check. Philly is now starting to tout its RenGen-ness. Under the leadership of Gary Steuer, the city’s Creative Economy Initiative is gathering stories about creatives—artists, makers, entrepreneurs, cultural hackers—who are launching new businesses and projects. We are eager to see what he uncovers simmering below the surface.

To learn more, check out the website and Gary’s Creative Vitality Report (pdf).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Build a Cultural Brand--Knowledge is Power

Meet Girl Talk. He’s a DJ extraordinaire. As you will see in a minute, his live show captivates young audiences. But what the New York Times does in this short concert video is something essential when communicating with cultural consumers—it's called a knowledge transfer.

It’s a good guess that cultural consumers are The NYT’s core audience-regardless of age or ethnicity. Thus, they love learn. So the NYT gives a sneak peek at a run-through with Girl Talk before the audience arrives. Blink and you’ll miss it. Ooops, I blinked. Have to hit replay.

In a flash we learn something more about the artist’s process. We get insight we otherwise wouldn’t have. Thanks, New York Times—we love you and will visit you and tweet you up and oh…yes…post a blog. You follow me?

Why are knowledge transfers so sticky?

As learning becomes more about lifestyle (experiential learning) and less about school (seat learning), people want to learn in lots of places in lots of ways.

Why is this such a powerful tactic for a brand? Because research shows that cultural consumers are also radiant. They generate lots of content. They're mavens. Because they thrive on information and ideas to fuel their creative self-expression, they will reward a knowledge transfer with buzz--digital and otherwise.

Want to learn more about how to master authentic knowledge transfers? There are more easy tips on how to achieve knowledge transfer that will make your communications hot, sticky, and viral in my eBook. No worries. It’s free. No strings. And it’s chock full of useful advice and examples.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trend Watch: Millennials "Unplugging" from Social Media

This is Emmet. He's a senior in college. At the moment this picture was snapped, he was deleting his Facebook page. Full disclosure: he's my son, which is why I was privy to the shot of him in the first place. Never mind that he's in his PJs. What's going on here is serious. He's cutting away from his digital tribe. He's unplugging a carefully-crafted online persona. Because let's fess up, aren't all our social media profiles small fictions?

Why did he do it?

He found that maintaining a "shadow self" on Facebook was getting tiresome, he said. It's hard enough managing one identity in real life, I guess, let along another in cyberspace.

Then there's the bottom-line to be factored in here. He'll be looking for a job soon. Emmet never friended me. Deadly for a dude to friend his Mom, methinks. So I have no idea what horsing around pictures ended up on his Facebook wall. I do know this. He's graduating with a liberal arts degree in a cut-throat job market. Despite being published at 20, and attending a notable college, entering the job market right out of college is daunting in these times. He doesn't need the extra burden of his Facebook history telling his story for him to a potential employer.

So, is "unplugging" a trend worth watching?

Will more Millennials unplug to protect their real identities from scrutiny from potential employers?

Or are we witnessing burn out from being "always on"?

And then again, maybe it's just my kid.

What are you seeing?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gen Xers in the Middle

Last week, Esther Cepeda from the Washington Post wanted a brain rub about Gen X. With Boomers turning 65 nearly en masse, it made her wonder about Gen X. Would they take over? How would they lead? More here....

Esther's view on the matter is, as always, smart.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Leading a Double Life Can Be A Good Thing

Thanks to Beth Kanter’s invitation to guest blog, I’ve been put back in touch with the electricity that sparks when nonprofit passion meets social media connectivity. Change seems scalable. Look at what Colin Beavan has done for green lifestyles. He’s also sold a lot of books. Colin is doubling down—doing good while making a good living.

It’s the dawn of a new year. Who knows what life has in store? I cling to the research that proves people who believe they are lucky tend to live a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I believe that if I set my mind to it, for every good intention I can set for myself, I can also improve something in the larger world. Presto change-o.

For example, I want to brush up my vocabulary in 2011. Can I do that AND change the world? Turns out, yes. Check out Free Rice. This online word game donates free rice to needy families for every right vocabulary answer. No huge deal, right? But when it gets blogged by the ubiquitous Ree Drummond, the homeschooling movement picks it up and usership scales up dramatically.

My personal trainer told me about “doubling down”. But I think he meant reading AND doing the elliptical when I balked about time constraints. (He has me in the gym for 90 minutes a day, yikes!). That’s also on my list for 2011. Be more fit. I’m trying to figure out how to do that and benefit a cause like Girls in the Game. Got any ideas?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Using Social Media to Share Research

Beth Kanter is one of the pioneering people who manages to get lots of people to try new things. I like Beth. She’s smart and has deep expertise in social media. I was honored to be invited to guest post over at Beth’s popular blog. She asked me to write about my own experiment with Tipping the Culture. Check it out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Life as an Infographic

Photo by jakeprzespo
A few months ago, I was working on the idea of an app that would let people create and track life’s events like a book. Theoretically, it would help people work toward a memoir in tiny increments by capturing the little wonders and moments of their lives.

The first step was to set up a table of contents. But when we tried this in the lab, we found that people really struggled to create the table of contents for their lives. Turns out, people tended to overthink it.

Seems that putting one’s life into words triggers deep reflection. Bad news for an APP. The whole purpose is to lighten one’s load, add humor, whimsy—not invite long bouts of navel gazing.

So I was geeked to come across this life-tracking app by designer Nicholas Felton. It lets you capture the daily tidbits of your life and then turns them into charming little graphics. Just think, a pie chart for your work-outs and a saw tooth for your moods. Love it! Check it out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Human Connection Fuels the Flash Mob

Flash mobs may be eclipsing parades in the remix culture. They’re becoming more popular because they deliver a human connection. Face-to-face, hand-to-hand interactions offer what online communities can’t.

It was a pleasure to chat about the flash mob trend with Gloria Goodale at the Christian Science Monitor. Flash mobs may be less spontaneous and more choreographed, but they still surprise and delight onlookers.

Surprise is a key ingredient for communicating in the digital culture, especially for younger audiences--download Tipping the Culture for more on how to use the element of surprise.

And if you want to know more about what’s underneath live community expressions like flash mobs check out Gloria Goodale’s useful article.

Monday, January 3, 2011

RenGen Rises in Reno

Image by Reno News & Review
I don’t know about you, but I completely unplugged for much-needed downtime during the holidays. Maybe it's because I had a several heavy deadlines to meet right before Santa dropped down the chimney. One was a feature story for the Reno News & Review about the RenGen (renaissance generation). The journalists who cover the Reno scene are seeing more and more evidence that Reno is becoming a RenGen City. Check it out.