Be still my beating NYC HeART

I lived in New York City for a few short-but-long-enough years in the “early 2000s”.  My renovated-but-still-affordable apartment was on (as we told my girlfriend’s conservative suburban mother) the “upper upper upper East Side.  Otherwise known as east Harlem.

I was in anthropologist heaven but quality-of-life hell.  While I appreciated joining a neighborhood (even if it was as a friendly and respectful interloper) with a vibrant and sometimes very dark culture, I also spent much of my time keenly aware that I had no business being there.  It was the kind of place where most people growing up there strive to get out and then see well-meaning but naive “upwardly mobile” young white folks moving in BY CHOICE and just can’t understand.

My brother lived (and still does) near Union Swuare and so I spent a lot of time commuting to the “bottom half” of the island.  When I lived there I rarely took the time to look up and out from my immediate mission of self preservation.  But now when I visit (often for work but this most recent time for “liesure”) I was focused on allowing the outside in and making a point to see all the writing on the wall (or wherever else the writing is).

What I found on this most recent expedition to the concrete Empire State jungle was a lot more love than I had seen before.   I think I had chosen not to experience the city as a place that required armor to keep the darkness out.  But lately (and maybe it’s been there all along) I have been finding the light.  Here are some of the “not so scary” pieces of art and life that I spied on my weekend trip in late June.  Somewhere near Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and some pavement in between:

IMG_1964 IMG_1978 IMG_1966 IMG_1965 IMG_1967 IMG_1989 IMG_1983 IMG_1991 IMG_1906

Categories: Anthropology, Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Beer Lovers Guide To Travel

This post in it’s original form can be found on Let’s Grab A Beer’s Tumblr Page, where I contribute content as “The Beer Behaviorist” to help the world appreciate beer through a culture-focused lens.  Points of view are based on ethnographic fieldwork i have conducted / am continuing to conduct among beer lovers!

beercation

As a professional anthropologist who studies popular culture and brands, traveling to a new locale and getting to know its people are part of the gig. Since diving into beer culture, it dawned on me that among the best, most rewarding travel experiences, there was a common denominator– grabbing a beer at local bars and brewpubs.

Whether traveling for work or play, exploring a new city from a beer lover’s perspective can lead to great experiences. Why? Because beer lovers are innately social adventurers who make a point to stay positive and connect with communities. So, do as local beer lovers do with these three simple and fun tips.
1. Bond with locals over a beer.
A great place to start your travel adventure is at a neighborhood pub – because let’s face it, everything is better with beer. There, you can get a flavor of the local scene and its inhabitants to get the inside scoop on their city. The best thing about beer appreciation is that it’s always a great conversation starter.
According to my cultural research, beer lovers are social types who are often more open and generally down to earth. That means they’ll usually be more than happy to oblige in conversation about favorite local beers and best beer styles. Not only will you have an instant friend, but you’ll have the opportunity to experience your vacation destination like a local, adding a layer of connected authenticity not found on Yelp.
2. Swap wine with beer for a new foodie experience.
Experiencing the local flavors is one of the best parts of traveling. From my conversations with beer lovers, they like to experience all what life has to offer. So, instead of asking your waiter (or even better, a cicerone) for wine recommendations to go with your locally-sourced meal, kick off your experience with a beer pairing instead. Beer is just as versatile as wine to complement a meal.
Another option is heading to the local brewpub for a great culinary experience. You’ll be hard pressed to find a brewmaster that doesn’t also take pride in his or her culinary palate. Local brewers tend to source their influences from a variety of places that relate not just to their local culture and seasonal influences, but the heritage of beer brewing in their location. Chances are those influences are present in both the beer as well as the food.
3. Learn the history of a city through a beer lens.
The traveling beer lover is more inclined to go with the flow as their natural curiosity always drives them to dig a little deeper to get the most out of their experience. That’s what makes the historical pub crawl a perfect way to round out a city visit. There, you can get a unique perspective of a city’s history and hear tales connected to the social drinking places, all while enjoying a cool brew at the same time!

Here are some examples of historic bar crawls in popular travel destinations:
Boston:
http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/book-tour/group-pub-crawl.shtml

Chicago:
http://chicagohistory.org/planavisit/groupvisit/history-pub-crawls/

Greenwich Village New York:
http://www.cityroverwalks.com/ny-tours/greenwich-village-pub-crawl-walking-tour/

So remember, when you travel, travel like a beer lover and seek them out as well. To quote one of my new bar friends, “A beer lover will never steer you wrong.”
*Jamie is a professional anthropologist who has been studying consumer culture as a strategy consultant for brands and businesses for the past 15 years. Lets Grab A Beer is sponsoring her deep dive in to the social life of beer so she can bring beer lovers and newbies alike points of view all the interesting and fun ways beer has become a part of our culture.

Categories: Consumer Culture | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Getting Down To Business By Letting The Love In

Framed-Art Print-11707-Business Love-Urban-Giclee Paper-A

I originally posted this article on LinkedIn
but felt compelled to share here as well, since the Narcissistic Anthropologist in me is certain you will want to read it.  ;)

Most humans will readily admit to wanting people to like them. While it’s a mild demonstration of vulnerability to do so, it’s one a good amount of people are okay with disclosing, even if they never say it out loud.

All we have to do is look to social media. We affirm one another with “thumbs up” on status updates, selfies and pictures of our dinner. But we all know that this is a more surface-level way of engaging with the world: toe-in-the-water assimilation to norms and mores in hopes of ensuring we belong.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Humans are social creatures. It is encoded in to our DNA to belong to one another so we can ensure our survival. But in a big world that seems to keep on growing, with so many people who focus on differences more than similarities so we can more easily define “us” versus “them, it’s difficult to go really deep with our social relationships. After all, we have been trained not to let the “wrong” person in lest one rotten apple spoil the bunch. Better to be liked so we can ensure we belong somewhere safe and feel a sense of social security.

But why do we want so badly to belong? Why is our security as part of the social structure so terribly important? Not so shockingly, it is because ultimately what we actually want is to be loved – not just liked. We know deep down that it is our highest calling to truly belong to one another in a way that makes a deeper commitment our common good; to sustaining momentum on the journey to finding our potential and embodying our highest visions of success in this world.

We are beginning to awaken to the idea that maybe there is no such thing as a “them”. We have begun to consider that, as mother Theresa said – “the problem with our world is that we draw our circle of family too small”. It’s a testament our evolution as humans that we are seeking to own the responsibility we have to one another. It’s time to move past the “like” phase and really start sharing the love.

So then, if we are to seek to be loved versus just liked, what does that look like? What does that really mean? What is the difference between “like” and “love”? I recently “liked” a Facebook post that shared the following response as attributed to Buddha:

“When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily. One who understands this understands life”.

Essentially, love means paying attention. It means acting in the best interests of others as you would your own. It means caring enough to be present and experience the world on common ground. It means accepting that it is our responsibility to tend to the care and feeding of all of our humans and not just pluck the ones we think are pretty.

That’s a lot of work. But labors of love are the ones that bear the most fruit. We see it in the relationships that stand the test of time. We see it in the success of die-hard entrepreneurs. We see it in the rapid growth of those companies and businesses that operate from the basis of ideals.

As an anthropologist and sociologist who works as a cultural strategist in the business world, I also see it in the way my clients internalize the deeply human insights around their best customers’ highest common denominator values and light up when they begin to see the possibilities for evolving their brands, products and their business strategies. On a regular basis I see executives make powerful reconnections with their “human” side in a business context in ways that always create change for the better.

Love belongs in business. Love belongs in strategy. Love should be a core competency in our work. Because our work – especially in businesses that have a global footprint – has a profound impact on people. It touches more humans every day (especially in the global brand space) than we can even fathom and in a number of ways we may not even be aware of.

So, consider this a call to action to all those who don’t just want to settle for “like”. If you really want your career, your brand, your company or even just your “self” to achieve its highest potential then you absolutely must remember: we have unrivaled power to succeed when we make a choice to belong to one another and let the love in.

Photo credit: http://www.wallart-direct.co.uk

Categories: Business and Culture, Consumer Anthropology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Humans of The Willamette Valley: A Celebration of Life

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Portland, Oregon for the very first time and take an unexpected “side trip” about 90 minutes north to a town called Jefferson – which is located in the Willamette Valley.  To the hipster-come-borgeois bohemian “metro area” dwellers (not unlike myself), the Willamette Valley is the place where “those awesome Pinot Noir’s” come from.  A haven for wine lovers.

To my friend E and her family – it’s home.   That place she grew up playing in the blackberry bush brambles, living in a kid-paradise of both tamed and untamed nature and watching her Mother tend to the many plants and flowers in her greenhouse while her father worked in his.

E puts together a living as an Artist who does freelance design work.  She is an introvert by nature but you can tell she is retaining an intense light no doubt nurtured by the natural beauty she grew up in and parents who took great pride raising all kinds of living things – from plants and flowers to children – to bloom bright in whatever way nature intended.

E’s mother passed about 4 months ago; several months after E had moved back out there from the East Coast with her partner to care for her in her final battle with Cancer.

When I arrived in Portland for my conference (The World Domination Summit – which will absolutely be featured in another blog entry) – I got in touch to see if it was possible to get together while I was in town.   As it turned out – E’s entire family (all the brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins) would be arriving in just a few days for a planned Celebration of Life that Sunday to honor her Mother.   They hadn’t had a memorial service and – as it turns out, in the true spirit of her family – the preferred method of commemoration was that of a joyful gathering in the place and with the people her Mother loved most.

E and her partner extended an invitation for me to join them Saturday afternoon and evening for a family BBQ in advance of the big Sunday celebration – to let the Anthropologist in me see some more of Oregon and experience ” the native way of life”.  I think she actually used that term. :)  But I was just happy to see my friend and also secretly excited to see E’s Dad’s farm – where he has been growing organic medical marijuana among his other crops.  I had never seen anything like that except for on television and my curiosity was beyond peaked.  I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to the subject matter of  anything related to deviance (i even got a degree in it – of sorts and even if Marijuana is now technically Legal in Oregon and therefore no longer defined as “deviant” by law).

What I experienced that night was nothing off-the charts on an “indigenous ritual” scale.  Just a collection of loved ones grilling dinner and catching up – enjoying the comfort and discomfort of family interaction in anticipation of what would surely be an emotional day to follow.  But I did experience off-the-charts love oozing out of every person I encountered.  They welcomed me  – a stranger for all intents and purposes – in to their home with so much warmth during a very special and private time in their family’s journey together.

I am grateful for the reminder of my love for humankind and the reason why I chose this calling of observing, capturing and trying to make sense of the human experience.  Over the years I have learned that despite our many differences based on geography, demography, ethnicity, etc. that we have so much more in common than we know.

So I would like to share a celebration of life via a photo journal of  E’s family’s big heart-space in a relatively small part of the world.  As a gesture of gratitude to Honor E’s mother and the love in all of us, here are some captured images and moments from my “native experience” in Jefferson, Oregon:

IMG_1679 IMG_1779 IMG_1672 IMG_1755 IMG_1742 IMG_1733 IMG_1752 IMG_1765 IMG_1777 IMG_1776 IMG_1738 IMG_1689 IMG_1684 IMG_1691 IMG_1696 IMG_1734 IMG_1699 IMG_1756

 

IMG_1758

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

It’s A Revolution! The Resurgence of Vinyl and Being Present

Diego-Maradona-listening-to-records-1980

I was raised on great music. Music we listened to in our “den” – usually on vinyl or cassette (once my older brother became a teenager and got a “Boom Box”) but still mostly on Vinyl.  My parent’s collection of Jazz and 70’s rock and Folk was a university course in music appreciation.

I was actually recently the lucky recipient of the entire collection, which my Mother has been looking to get rid of for years so she could redecorate her spare bedroom.

My wife also has a sizable record collection that includes everything from Disco Mickey Mouse to Prince to the entire musical score of Oklahoma.

We actually built out a room in our home to serve as both her teaching studio (she is a voice and singing instructor) as well as our “listening room”.  Since we finished the renovations last summer we have spent countless hours gathered around the turntable, whether with guests or simply alone with one another on an impromptu “date night”.  We comb  through the stacks of cardboard sleeves,  reminisce about the first times we’d heard those records and the moments in our lives they reminded us of and get our ridiculous “groove” on.

These are some of the best times I’ve had in years.  Why?  Because I had no idea where my iPhone was and didn’t care.  Because I’ve learned so much about the lives of my friends and loved ones.  Because i was unequivocally present in every moment, enjoying music as the energy that brings us all together.

In a recent post on my “business” website, my partner and I co-authored a blog about The Return of Vinyl: A Movement in Music and Presence.   In it, we marvel at the return vinyl and listening to records as a cultural trend gaining steady momentum.  We link it to the idea that, as a first-world culture where we spend an increasing amount of our  time and attention on things happening in the digital world, we have lost the art of making human connections “here on earth.”  We literally crave a respite from technology in favor of being present and enjoying simple pleasures – like listening to music, or having a conversation, or appreciating art just because it is there and evokes an emotion.

Records bring us back to a time before the digital when, if you wanted to enjoy music, you went to your local record store and poured through the stacks, had conversations and made connections with the other humans around you, however different, based on your shared love of music.

The act of listening to a record is one that forces us to be present.  It’s good medicine for a world that can seem sometimes detached and bitter.   Sharing the music means sharing the love – and sitting down to listen to some vinyl for a while means you allow yourself to let life revolve around the music.

Categories: American Culture, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Motherly Advice from an 82 Year-old Beer Lover

The original post for this article can be found  here:  http://www.letsgraba.beer/post/118477180588/motherly-advice-from-an-82-year-old-beer-lover, a Tumblr page dedicated to the love of beer. I have been conducting anthropological research on the culture surrounding beer and will be contributing regular content to their page as a result of this sponsored fieldwork.  I couldn’t be more thrilled that the first blog up is this one – in honor of Mother’s Day.

I quite literally fell in love with Rita after spending a half day / evening with her – learning about her life and experiencing all the love she has to share with the world.  I felt lucky to have the experience.  Rita is an accomplished Antropologist in her own right – having taught Contemporary studies in a university setting, published a number of books, articles (and participated in documentaries) about the Delaware Indians – who were the previous residents of the Catskill Mountains where she grew up.  She told me that her parents, who “came to America from Europe to avoid becoming gingerbread in somebody’s oven” told her that the only reason they have the opportunity to live where they do is because the Delaware Indians got kicked out – and that she should make a point to give back.

She certainly has – but not just to the native populations of upstate New York.  She is also an accomplished playwright (her latest just opened two weekends ago) – focusing on stories that give a voice to marginalized populations.  She has committed her life to using the arts as a forum to shed light on humanitarian issues.   More about Rita can be found here: http://members.authorsguild.net/rkohn/

In addition to the many life-long accomplishments (including being a proud mother, grandmother and great grandmother) she is also an expert on beer!  She’s written a couple of books on the topic and is the beloved by the brewing community in Indianapolis for her commitment to the craft and the community.  She is truly the “Fairy Beer Godmother” of that town and I am proud to call her a new friend.  Cheers to Rita Kohn and here’s to some wisdom through a beer lens!
IMG_8220

Rita Kohn is the Craft Beer Editor for the Indianapolis weekly alternative newspaper Nuvo Magazine and author of beer-centric books including A True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana. She’s well-known and adored by many in the thriving Indianapolis beer scene. Oh, and did I mention she is 82 years young?
I met Rita Kohn while conducting anthropological fieldwork exploring American beer culture. Over some brews of course, we talked about the role of beer in her life and discussed its social significance as well as beer culture.
With Mother’s Day upon us, I wanted to share some life lessons as seen through the eyes of the Mother of Indy’s beer scene (and newly appointed great grandma) – who loves good beer and has lived what is above and beyond a good life thus far.

Choose Lace in Life: Beer lovers know that the sign of a quality beer is the lace – the beautiful foamy formation left on the glass. Despite living in the depression era, Rita’s parents always chose to enjoy quality food and the best beer over quantity.
Rita advises others to be choosy about what’s put into your body. “You get so much more out of enjoying quality food and drink in moderation than you do by over indulgence.

Beer is one of those life choices – a beverage well suited to be appreciated for its characteristics and enjoyed best when savored,” says Rita.

Find Your Barley: Often referred as the ingredient that brings “soul” to great beers, Rita says finding your barley – what moves you and drives a passion – is key to a good life.
She points to her appreciation of local brews that feed her soul. “When you enjoy a glass of good beer, you’re experiencing the love and passion that went into its creation.” It’s an inspiring window into what living up to one’s potential can do to add value to the lives of others.
Throw in Some Hops Every Day: Hops add the spice and flavor to beer. Rita’s “hops” comes in the form of immersing herself in new cultures. Rita grew up in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York – land previously occupied by the Delaware Indians, whose culture she came to greatly respect and appreciate – having written books and participated in documentaries about their lives and culture over the course of her career.
Appreciating different cultures is a big part of that adding spice to life. She points out that every time you taste a new beer, the history, heritage and culture is apparent in its flavor.
Take a “Beer Your Mind” Approach to Making Magic Happen: Great things happen over a beer from novel creation, songs and historical documents. Beer is the eternally great social equalizer. Rita says when you order a beer, you “take down the veil” and open yourself up to conversation and inspiration. It’s almost a universal symbol for “talk to me.” There’s no better conversation starter than “tell me about the beer you’re drinking.”
*Jamie Gordon, is a professional anthropologist studying consumer culture as a strategy consultant for brands and businesses for the past 15 years. Let’s Grab A Beer is sponsoring her deep dive into the social life of beer.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Honoring America’s Love of Beer

il_fullxfull.95840093

As with most things in a narcissistic anthropologists life, our emerging passions become contextual obsessions of sorts. We believe that if we have an affinity for something, then there must be a rich cultural significance around it – and we will stop at nothing to find and share that anthropological enthusiasm with our fellow humans. Because they deserve to know and love the things we hold dear.

You’re welcome.

It is no secret from those who know me that I enjoy a well-timed and finely crafted (or sometimes just cold – or sometimes just in a glass) alcoholic beverage. I developed a passion for the craft cocktail during some fieldwork on spirits trends (I know, life is hard) several years ago. My wife introduced an appreciation for wine. Well, really mostly wine drinking while she does the more serious “appreciating”.

Over the past few years, however, another benevolent spirit has entered my world. Beer has been finding it’s way into my restaurant and bar patterns – from cocktails made with beer, to food pairing and ultimately a refreshing addition of variety into my imbibing and social routine.

So it’s only appropriate that I have now been engaged as a professional social scientist sponsored by Lets Grab a Beer http://www.letsgraba.beer to do what I do best and “dig” in to the cultural history and present social context of beer.

I hear you. I keep getting the really tough gigs.

But here is what I promise. I will continue to periodically share my findings along with my anthropological perspective on the interesting topics surrounding beer drinking behavior and why you should care.

Again, you’re welcome.

So lets start with a few fun things I have learned thus far in my social exploration of beer:

Perhaps the most affirming cultural context of beer is this fact (or what some might call a convenient data coincidence) that I found recently: neatly packaged in the infographic below connecting beer to the founding ethos of our American way of life: Democracy! That’s right – in most free (or at least partly free) countries, you also find that the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage is our freedom-loving foamy friend, Beer. At least according to the sound logic presented in the comparative “beer” an “democracy” maps below:

beer-democracy1

Then there’s my favorite quote about our fine fermented friend, which comes from one of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, who said: “Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.”

But wait, I have one moreexciting fact! did you know that April 7th  is National beer day?! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Beer_Day_(United_States? That’s right. Our great United States and the powers that be recognize this national treasure as something to be honored with a day of focused appreciation.

In light of this context that is no doubt worthy of celebration, I have decided, in my narcissistic wisdom, that I ought to write a toast to honor our sudsy buddy in appreciation of its irreplaceable place in our lives and on our bar tabs. So here it goes:

An Ode to Beer

 In our hearts and minds

Traditions bind

Of rituals we hold dear.

Like finding friends

When the workday ends

To share an ice cold beer.

 In any season

For any reason

Be you rich or poor

Taking time to stop

We pop our tops

And enjoy just one more.

To suds with class

We raise a glass

For a spirit tried and true.

Whether lager or ale

We say “all hail!”

To America’s favorite brew!

Be sure to incorporate this as a toast when you buy your first round of beer on National Beer Day.  Or tonight.

And thanks again to my sponsors at http://www.letsgraba.beer !

keep-calm-it-s-almost-beer-o-clock-5

Categories: American Culture, Consumer Anthropology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Customer Social Responsibility The New “CSR”?

rocky

Sometimes work and life go together.  For Narcissistic Anthropologists like me, this phenomenon happens more often than not.

For the last several months I have been building momentum as a partner at Culture Agency in Atlanta, GA.  In the new year we made an official commitment to, at all costs, only work with clients and on projects that we feel will move human culture forward.

I sit here today, typing out my point of view,  in awe and gratitude for the response we have gotten from our community of clients and fellow strategy practitioners.  It has been amazing to the see the shift in momentum in corporate and “consumer” culture and couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it.

I wrote the blog below for our company page- but life and art are one so I felt compelled to share here.

Empowering a New Era of CSR: Customer Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility has been a mainstreaming trend in business for the past decade or more. The intentionality of corporations to make it a point to use their resources as a source of social good is a direct reflection of evolving cultural values. To quote Ryan Honeyman from the B Corp Handbook,

“Business is, for better or worse, one of the most powerful forces on the planet. At its best, business encourages collaboration, innovation and mutual well-being and helps people to live more vibrant and fulfilling lives. At its worst, business and the tendency to focus on maximizing short-term profits – can lead to significant social and environmental damage, such as the BP Deepwater horizon Oil spill or the loss of more than $1 trillion in global wealth in the 2008 financial crisis.”

In reaction to a string of global phenomenon of the aforementioned “for worse” part and thanks to the powder keg of awareness and transparency that has been sparked by connectivity, we have seen the responsibility for creating positive social change become distributed with a new balance of power that is fueling significantly stronger momentum. Where the world once relied on the power of governments and their peacekeeping forces to reactively defend (or keep at bay – depending on the government) human rights and try, in the midst of the constant struggle, to carve out room for progress, we now see corporations and civil society realizing both their influence and their obligation.

Three sociological spheres that used to orbit one another, accessing the light of truth separately and unequally depending on their position, are now traveling on a shared path. Civil society has asserted its power to drive social change. The growth and impact of NGOs like the Human Rights Campaign and 350.org have made great strides in areas like marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples and battling Climate Change. Crowd-sourced movements like Occupy raise voices and awareness around income inequality.

When it comes to directing change in the corporate sphere, people are exercising their influence by exercising their wallets – being choiceful about purchases based on their values. People who are passionate about reclaiming the food supply and eating with sustainable health in mind might seek out only those food brands and products that are certified organic or certified non-GMO. Some who care about solving problems related to income inequality might choose one brand over another because they know a portion of the profits (or products) from that company are given to humans in need.

If one trend is clear, it is that more and more “customers” are putting on their “human” hat when they choose how to spend their money. Transparency and corporate social responsibility play an increasing role in our evolving social contract. But as corporations and civil society are finding synergies, new innovations in brand-to-human engagement are arising.

In particular, civil society is realizing that money is not the only powerful force driving social change. Sure, it helps and is a great start and an energetic catalyst. But momentum isn’t driven by bank accounts. It’s driven by action. Change can’t happen unless human hands take those resources and do something with them.

Many businesses leaders in industries across the board have been seeing this light as well. Here’s a little secret about how that’s coming to bear…. lean in closely…

…business leaders are also “customers” and “humans!”

I know. I just blew your mind (insert wink here).

But the other plain fact is that business leaders are the ones who have the power to change the world for the better. Not only do they know it, but they are feeling more and more empowered to embody it the more civil society raises its voice.

According to the co-founders of B Lab, quoted from the same book mentioned above:

“Business leaders are the rock stars of our time. But the rock stars of the next generation will be different from the rock stars of today. These rock stars will build companies that are both high growth and high impact. These rock stars will make money and make a difference – at the same time.”

I tend to think that the trend in better business is heading to a new era of CSR – evolving from Corporate Social Responsibility to a shared ownership rooted in Customer Social Responsibility.

I’ve mentioned a couple of examples of this sort of kindness-in-action before, with Airbnb’s One Less Stranger campaign and Unilever’s Project Sunlight.

I bring them up here again as an example of corporations truly engaging their customers to do something above and beyond using their wallets to affect change. Rather, these two programs encourage customers to get out there and DO something that makes the world better, whether it be a small action like sharing some hot chocolate and a conversation with a “stranger” or downloading a toolkit to help provide guidance on how to start or participate in food sharing programs for the hungry.

This is good news for both businesses and their customers – because it means that we have an opportunity to make life better by reminding us of our power to make this world the caring place we all want it to be by not just putting our money where our mouth is, but also our energy and our time.

Here at Culture, we are proud to work with a number of such business leader “rock stars” who inspire us every day by their willingness to find ways to engage both their organizations and their customers to connect with our shared core human values and make the world a more “human” place for everyone. After all, the first step toward “Customer Social Responsibility” as a part of any business is understanding what drives those customers at their very core and choosing to connect with the highest order values and beliefs that give us permission to share the love.

To see this content in its original form or to read more “Culture” perspectives, click the following link: http://www.culture-agency.com/blog/

Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, CSR, sociology | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Kindness As Cultural Currency

kindness

The other day I was having a chat with a few “fellow travelers” – one of whom is a C suite executive for a pretty big global company. He had been dealing with a lot of management stress and in-fighting amongst his leadership team and was talking about a call they had over the holiday break and how he made a conscious decision to take the reigns and change the tone of the conversation. He decided to react to stress and angst with an unlikely maneuver: kindness. He said the experience that followed was nothing short of amazing. It shifted the entire tone of the conversation – diffusing the tension and allowing the team to get down to work and see the light at the end of the tunnel so much more clearly.

As I was stuck in traffic this morning, recalling this story it occurred to me that I finally understood the phrase “kill ‘em with kindness”.   What it meant to me in that moment was that kindness is the antidote to our darkest shadows. It literally neutralizes our demons and gives humans who receive it permission to access their own light – and share it with others.   So, kindness – in a very direct way – equals death – which ultimately is an opportunity for renewal and rebirth.

So lets stop and reflect for a minute on the frame we are trying to bust here. When we think of words like kindness as a counter to aggression, some might conjure images of pacifists – draft dodgers, pot smoking, acoustic-guitar stroking hippies and a sort of weak, vapid resistance rooted in disconnected idealism. But what is hidden beneath the surface is a strength that rarely gets recognized.

That strength is knowing the power of love as a force for positive change. It is the courage to use something stronger than weapons of war to connect to our most basic human values and needs and the wisdom to know that squeaky wheels might get grease but ultimately get worn down.

After all – we wouldn’t exactly call someone like Gandhi weak, would we? But he represents the epitome of leading with kindness and love – and in so doing moving mountains of human culture toward progress.

We have seen this shift in the culture of marketing and brands as I elaborated on in my last blog post. And it’s looking like the culture of the C Suite may also be moving in that direction – if my friend’s aforementioned experience is any indication. This also has strong implications for the way corporations and brands will need to engage their customers to develop winning strategies – which I talk about in more detail on my business blog

So, I say today is a good day to die to the “greed is good”, cola-wars culture as we usher in a new era of kindness. Let the army of the amiable advance!

Categories: Consumer Culture, Culture | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Creating The Culture That Will Change The World

Superhero kid

 

I’ve had a bit of an absence from the blogosphere lately.  Not for lack of inspiration and desire to pontificate on the quirks of consumer culture – but because I have been busy trying to figure out a way to save the world.  Okay, so perhaps it’s a bit Narcissistic to think that a humble cultural strategist can save the world.  Then again, I resemble that remark.  But here’s the thing – so do the swelling ranks of consultants, brand strategists and corporate leaders who have been awakening to realize the power of business and brands to create positive social change in the world.

I have spent the bulk of the past year whilst in a bit of career transition trying to figure out how to more overtly begin applying my skills as a brand strategy consultant and cultural researcher more directly to the practice of helping my clients make the world better through the power of their brands.   I’ve always had a secret superhero identity under my blazer, t-shirt, jeans and Converse.  It’s the wonder girl who sneaks the “better for you” customer values vitamins into the “how do we sell more soda” strategies for my clients.  But it’s time to bust through the costume and wave my true colors.  I’m officially coming out as a  do-gooder!

But I’m not the only one.

 

Anyone who doesn’t live underground in a bubble devoid of communication with the outside world has seen the turning tide in global brands and purchase behavior.  We have seen the rise of small players like Warby Parker and Tom’s Shoes whose purpose from inception as ideals based brands was to help provide resources to those in need.Web-based entities like Etsy and Kickstarter provide platforms for individuals to live their dreams and establish their own small businesses instead of succumbing to life in a cubicle cage.

Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, formerly co-founders of the And1 basketball lifestyle brand, in a quest to find a way to serve the world through creating a better way to do business, established B-Lab and  the The B Corporation Certification of which there are thousands of global companies (among them brands like the aforementioned as well as  Patagonia ,  Ben and Jerry’s and Green Mountain Energy ) that have been proven via rigorous metrics that they are contributing to a better for the world.

b-corp_logos

 

Even global corporations have begun to see the light of the “Triple Bottom Line” and  retool their business and brand strategies to keep up with the growing imperative placed on big corporations by their customers to use their powers for good.  A great example is Project Sunlight, an initiative spearheaded by  global packaged goods giant,  Unilever, to empower youth to help youth activate their power to solve some of the worlds biggest problems – like eradicating hunger.

So what’s an anthropologist got to do with it?  Well – I’ve teamed up with another superhero cultural strategist and we have relaunched our cultural strategy agency with a very distinct purpose in mind.  We will use our powers for good – and help our growing roster of global clients do the same.  Because as it turns out (and it’s about time to let the secret out of the bag), doing business that makes the world better is actually better for business.

Companies who are run based on ideals and who employ sustainable and socially forward business practices actually grow faster and are more profitable.  Don’t believe me?  Read the studies.  Books like Grow by former Procter and Gamble General Manager, Jim Stengel show proof based on rigorous research that ideals-based brands who apply rigorous socially forward standards are those who reap the fastest rewards.

In an excerpt from B Corp Handbook, the authors play hardball, citing the following for those who are more motivated Wall Street:

        “For example, Goldman Sachs reported that ‘more capital is now focused on sustainable business models, and the market is rewarding leaders and new entrants in a way that could scarcely have been predicted even fifteen years ago.’ Goldman Sachs found that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of investors seeking to incorporate sustainability and environmental, social and governance factors into their portfolio construction.

In a report that echoes this sentiment, the International Finance Corporation found that the Dow Jones Sustainability Index performed an average of 36.1 percent better than the traditional Dow Jones Index offer a period of Five years.”

Therefore, pardon the recent conspicuous absence while my partner and I have been in “Pinky and The Brain” mode. But rest assured I have been on a worthy mission in my mouse-house.

1386453142142092

Look forward to more blogs that focus on those elements of enlightened consumer culture.  The ultimate form of Narcissism is, after all, enlightened self interest.  So lets all get interested in how we as individuals can use our power to make the world a better place.

If you would like to know more about what I’ve got going on when I’m busy not writing blogs, you can find me here.

 “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” – Albert Einstein

 

 

 

Categories: Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, pop culture, sociology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Abigail S. Holbrook, MSW, LCSW, LLC

Counseling and Consulting in Athens, Georgia

theBeerAuthority

The only authority for all things beer...

Millennials at Work

Coming of Age for the Millennial Workforce

Creativenauts

Personal, design, inspiration, interests.

tumsen

Just another WordPress.com site

Echague

fotografias

ThePopularitéBug

Being a popular kid isn't easy,you have to be cautious about every move of yours because you know that all eyes are on you.Not just the eyes that look up to you but also the eyes that love to see you in pain.You might have your own list of followers but with this list there exists the "popularity starved crowd" who wants to replace you.But when reality bites these morons and they're back to square one,hurt and angry with themselves they try to make you the victim of their moment of high adrenaline,just to make you suffer because you're better.They try to clean their head by ruining your perfect life.What's more is right then you realize that none of your "friends" are what they appear to be.You're broken,depressed .You feel the need to talk to someone of your own kind,someone who won't judge you and that's when you can find me at thepopularitébug,I promise to do anything and everything to help you out of your problem!Amen.

Working Self

Creating Meaningful Work with Rebecca Fraser-Thill

AMERICAN MALE

Often described as a blog, an online magazine, a journal when examined further the description changes and it becomes a project, an objective, a mission. American Male is one simple thing. It is a collection of different thoughts and experiences so come share yours and be part of the narrative.

nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

signals, signals everywhere / and not a thought to think

france leclerc

Travel and Documentary Photography

franceleclerc

World travel and photography

entitled millennial

"any man can handle adversity; if you want to test his character, give him power"

Thought-Dream Guillotine

A Brain Unfiltered

The High Heel Gourmet

Authentic Thai Dishes Reimagined for the American Palate

this man's journey

my past , present and dreams for the future.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,529 other followers

%d bloggers like this: