Thank you, Lady Liberty
Every day, I find in my belly a growing righteous anger. I guess that’s what happens when you’re stone sober. The world gets sharper. Your elbows keep nicking its edges. After the fifth bloody scrape, you yelp, “Cut me a break!”
“Jules I don’t get it,” I said. “This guy was incredible. But all that creative energy. Wasted on what? Convincing people to buy and buy and buy. Seems so…”
“Consider,” he said in his usual I’m-a-super-smart-economics-major-and-I’ll-soon-be-at-MIT-to-change-the-world-with-my-masterful-knowledge-of-it, “would this energy exist were it not for the lucrative incentives?”
Ah ha. Isn’t it the truth. We only work if there’s a carrot at the end of the stick, and the rest is distraction. I sighed and said “you’re right” and slept away the afternoon to forget my naivety.
Later, my friend Cici arrived. I had convinced her to see an anarchist writer speak, and while we walked, I told her about our visitor guy. By then, I had digested what he’d said. Felt his CEO principles could be applied beyond marketing.
Sure, I’d heard the shop talk. Learned the differences between a brand promise and a tagline. Found out what advertisers and public relations people do, along with the essential truth, which is not as complicated as its name implies.
But more importantly, I was reminded about the building blocks. Rules so basic they transfer from paid work to art genre to plain old living—like the concept of flooding the pool. I do this all the time. A weekend is approaching and I want to do something. First, I think about someone who’d be interested. (i.e. I’d never ask Jules to go to a dive bar, but he’s the first I call when I want to play tennis.) Then, I contact interested parties, “What are you doing this weekend, want to play mixed doubles?” Some say yes, others say I’m busy, and the rest don’t pick up their phone. I end up with a good game and a fun time with my friends. Same thing went when writing grants, getting people to come to a performance, anything that involves involvement, really.
Point is, people are so distracted (busy, lazy, apathetic and I’m not exempt) that you’ve got to be realistic about your odds. Comfort is, once you stick your foot in the door, it’s a whole lot easier to pry open.
Last night, Susan and I got delicious cheap pho. Really good stuff. Limes and basil and soaked in hoisin. Anyway, over our steamy bowls, we chatted about the business of doing good work and our pesky morals and the possibilities of freedom in this restrictive capitalist system. Susan, who works for a successful non-profit book press, spoke about one of their board members, a wealthy corporate guy.
“And yet,” she said, “he spends his time reading our books and giving his money to our cause—how am I any better? He likes to sell sports equipment and I like to support artists.”
I agreed and we concluded that unless we totally drop out of the system—practically impossible in this era of globalization—we are its willing participants. I like my cozy fleece pants that keep me warm during spring cold snaps. There however might be a distinction between mindless consumerism and necessary clothing items, especially when the landlord refuses to turn up the heat.*
She continued, “maybe it’s just a matter of priorities. Attempting to live a life aligned with your values.”
To this, I slurped more pho, and panicked a little, thinking about my coming plunge out of the institution, which has so comforted me with its seasons and rigid structure and compartment notebooks. I love nothing more than the first and last days of school—they fit like perfect spoons. The tingly excitement of starting fresh, and the breezy whir of a few months freedom. Knowing you’ll be back to see everybody again.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Start with what you know
- Give intangible gifts
- Anchor, then fly
- Break through the clutter
- Sell emotions
- Don’t trust conventional wisdom
- Reorient yourself into someone else’s shoes
- To get in their mind/footwear, RESEARCH
- Then think as they think, see as they see
- Watch your world grow
- Sell them stupid products like Nike shoes
- Flood the pool
- Only court those with interest
- Distill them to a powerful elixir
- Be careful how you present your product
- They will think what you offer them (i.e. money deep)
- Knowledge based creativity
- IE::: If you want to respond via art, do ten times more research you think is necessary, and then speak your piece. Otherwise you look like a fool.
*Among other ethical matters.