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7 posts from March 2011

March 30, 2011

Fergitabout Healthcare Privacy, Check this out.

When Telcoms merge and partner with other big businesses, we have a problem with that. They can already track every step of your life to every door. This will make you think about leaving your cell phone at home before taking off for the day. 

If we had the same x-ray vision into how companies function, it would be a fair market, but we don't.

Click on the video and watch it follow a person moving through his life in Germany. It's one thing to know it and another to watch it in detail. 

What do you think, is this much transparency good?



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March 23, 2011

Leading Change One Buy At A Time

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Why did my gal pal, Kat, pick Credo for her new phone service? Was it the low cost? The cell phone reach? The family's group plan?  Nope, she chose her phone plan based on politics.

Kat's a teacher and after feeling like a target for decades, she has decided to stop fighting conservatives with her ballot and start fighting them at their funding level. She's going to use the services of companies who support her values. In essence, she's cutting out the middle man of politics and supporting companies who work for a safer and more just world. Who needs politics when things are going well?

What if a world of women started voting this way? Would corporations feel it? What if we blogged, tweeted, Facebooked, and emailed our friends like what Kat just did to me? What influence would we have? 

Aileen Lee gave us some fresh stats over on TechCrunch to see that impact. [thank you Aileen!] 

A snapshot of online impact:

Facebook - 600 million users
Twitter - 25 billion tweets
Tumblr - 1 billion page views a week
Zynga - 100 million user on Cityville in just 6 weeks

Facebook - 71% of daily fan activitity is driven by women. 
The majority user of Facebook, Zynga, Groupon and Twitter are women. 

The Metrics:
 - Women are the majority users of social networking sites.
 - Women spend 30% more time on these sites.
- Women use social media 55% more.

Women's Market examples:
Groupon - $760 million -- 77% of customers are women. 
Gilt Groupe - 70% of their customer base is driven by women.
Chegg (college rentals) - 65% of renters are women. 
Amazon launched "Amazon Mom" (sort of says it all doesn't it?)

Even gamers, who you think are all young boys are actually wearing a dress, 60% of gamers are women.

The point is - women are now the leaders of the conversation and that has market determination power in the same way that Congress (dominated by men) determines how policies are made.

Aileen tells how the majority of Yelp and Open Table reviews are put up there by women. If I owned a restaurant, I'd be treating my female customers well. And if I owned a corporation - I'd be treating women far better than I have been and support the policies that they support. 

Go here for the full article. Or go to the TED Talks for more proof how consumers (72% of the Gross Domestic Products) are driving this next change.

So what influence doe this carry? For me, I'm switching from Sprint to Credo Mobile, even though I would LOVE to have an iphone which uses AT&T or Verizon -- and I'm telling my friends.

March 17, 2011

This is What Green Economic Co-Creation Looks Like

When companies get it right and customers are happy, then the testimonies and word-of-mouth advertising begins -- Seventh Generation is one of those companies and Women's Voices of the Earth is one of millions who talk them up. 

We wear green on St. Patrick's Day to be part of a tradition; by sharing green all year long we start a new tradition that rewards companies who are doing it right and ignoring or starving out those who just-don't-get-it. Thanks Women Voices, for all you do for promoting the right products and companies. For a full list of their accomplishments, go here. 

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March 10, 2011

Change the World with Service Learning

Screen shot 2011-03-10 at 1.22.59 PM Katy Faber who authored Non-Toxic Kids and Why Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus has added another solution for the world's ills with her new book, Change the World with Service Learning

"Service learning is a learning tool to empower students to solve problems in their own communities, or even globally. It is a student-driven process, where students learn about a particular issue, place, or problem, then figure out how to take action in a positive way. Then they actually do it." [emphasis mine] Katy goes on to tell how students do the research, make calls, write letters, and solve problems... ultimately sharing the outcome with their communities.

What business person wouldn't want to hire a kid who came to them with those skills? I told a friend recently that I wouldn't hire someone with a four year degree because they have no real-world skills even after four years!

And that's the point, service learning teaches a wide range of functional skills while at the same time instills empathy, compassion, and confidence. As a potential employer, I want that in my employee as well -- someone who doesn't have to be micro-managed because I know they'll make the right decisions. 

And yet too many schools don't offer a program like this or if they do, it's as an elective afterthought. Katy is taking the stand that service learning needs to be an embedded part of public education. 

A young neighbor of mine attends a school with "service days," a full day for the kids to go out into the community and help others. Each time she comes back from one of these experiences, you can see the change. Think about what kind of citizens we could grow if all schools carried the full program that Katy outlines in this book.  

Katy's research has discovered that service learning can increase standardized test scores, improve GPA and attendance, reduce drop out rates, increase civic responsibility, create community connections and even (gasp) improve teen angst. Again, what's not to love. 

This isn't an awareness book, however, this is a step-by-step workbook as the subtitled says showing how to organize, lead, and assess service learning projects. 

Katy puts out a call-to-action to her teaching peers to get this program started in their schools. I would add that this is a program in which local businesses and non-profits should also read and partner with the schools. 


March 08, 2011

Changing the World, 100 Years at a Time

Screen shot 2011-03-03 at 2.10.14 PMGo ahead, take your shoes off and spin around a couple of times, today is the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day celebrating the work that women are doing to change the world. Today is a day to reflect back and advance forward. [art from Art and Spice Creations] 

This morning on a pier in Oceanside, CA,  women are stretching their muscles and getting ready to walk across the United States. Dubbed the  Sole2Soulwalk.com, it will be an ever-evolving crowd as it journeys to Washington DC arriving sometime in September 2011.  Along the way they hope to bring women's issues to the attention local and national papers. Anyone can participate, go here for the map then get your shoes and attitude on. 

Since the 60s women are now "seen", but we are still not "heard"... 

Attitude isn't enough going forward, we need to get our voices involved. This past Sunday I participated in the Op Ed Project which educates women to speak out and help get articles placed in high ranking newspapers and magazines. Katie Orenstein launched the Op Ed effort after learning that only 15% of op ed pieces are contributed by women. Watch her below and see if it doesn't fire up your keyboards.

"The op ed pages of our nation's newspapers are 85% written by men. These pages are extrodinarily powerful and are also theaters for all other media. So for example, 84% of guests on morning talk shows are men, 85-95% of radio and TV producers are men, and it's not a very big leap to know that 85% of congress is male..." Katie Orenstein, founder of the Op Ed Project.

Are you ready to dance to a new tune and lead others?

 Take training from www.theOpEdProject.org, start a blog, or simply begin leaving your comments on newspaper articles and show your gender by giving your real name. Be brave. Put it out there for all to know what you think is just as important as what anyone else thinks. We won't need another 100 years before change happens, 10 years of persistent writing can change the world if more women put their opinions online and in print. We have 15% now, Katie thinks 30% is a tipping point. That's doable.

A big shout out for all the women who took the first step -- Chardonnay Vance,  Carol Kim, Talia Inlender, Bonnie Samotin, Tracie Morales, Umbreen Bhatti, Edina Lekovic, Melina Baray, Christine Kwok, Sarah Schuh, Tabby Biddle, Pia Guerrero --I'm looking forward to reading what you think. My thanks also to MC Sunglaila and Becca Frucht for their insights during the day. 

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March 07, 2011

Women Leaders Break the Silo Ceiling at the Same Time

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For the first time, women lead the top Organic Food organizations announced a press release this morning, "With Maureen Wilmot named to the executive directorship of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in January, four leading U.S. organic food and farming advocacy organizations are now headed by women for the first time. Joan Boykin is the executive director ofThe Organic Center, Christine Bushway is the executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), and Peggy Miars is the executive director of the Organic Materials Review Institute.

"Because women are the backbone of most families in America, it is not surprising that women lead key organizations in the organic community. Women have led the way in buying organic for our families, advocating for production practices that protect the environment, and ensuring that organic laws and regulations uphold the integrity of organic products. As a baby boomer, I remember when women's rights were still young, so it is very gratifying to see this leadership transformation in organic," said Ms. Miars."

This is an historic event to have all four organizations run with a women's touch and priorities. It will be interesting to track and see if having women leaders will make a difference in how the movement moves forward. They'll be meeting together on March 10th to begin that conversation. 

Congratulations to you all!


March 01, 2011

There are "Embracers" and "Cautious", Why not Mention the "Prompters"?

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 10.54.05 AM Ladies, our voices on the web and eco-purchases are having an massive impact on big business.
Every word is being captured and measured, every purchase recorded and tracked. The problem is, we still aren't getting the credit for our work as Prompters or thanked enough as Buyers.  And yet, big business spends a growing amount of ad dollars trying to court our good favor to earn free word-of-mouth marketing from us and our friends and families. A public and sincere, "thank you" goes a long, social way.

Look at the links at the end of the following quote taken from Joel Makower's recent Green Biz e-newsletter - which gender is buying these things, men or women? 

"Revelations of toxic ingredients in consumer goods reached a crescendo during 2010, elevating the topic on the agendas of companies, activists, and regulators alike. Toxics, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and other chemical evils seemed to be showing up everywhere: baby bottles, fast-food toys, celebrity-branded jewelry, mattresses, wallpaper and flooring, food packaging, even cash register receipts."

How many "daddy bloggers" are talking about toxic ingredients in their blogs compared to mommy bloggers? How many are buying baby bottles, toys, jewelry, mattresses, wallpaper and flooring, groceries... not many, not enough for big business to court them for word-of-mouth marketing.  The post mentions companies, activists and regulators, but where are the Bloggers and Buyers in this line up? Why aren't the critical Prompters given some credit?  

I cited Joel Makower, because he started Green Biz. He deserves credit for his joint efforts. In the same way, isn't it time to mention Prompters not only as a group, but by name? It's the nice thing to do and it's the smart thing to do if companies want more eco-consumers to help build market momentum. 

In January, MIT Sloan put out a report on " Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 9.03.51 AM Sustainability: The Embracers Seize Advantage." In it Beth Springer, Clorox executive vice president of international and personal care products said...

“… the big growth opportunities relating to consumer megatrends have prompted the company to reposition and reinvigorate the Brita water pitchers and filter line.” 

 At first I burst out laughing, because I love irony and knew the story behind the story. It's ironic that Clorox and others in this report, claim the credit for being "Embracers" when they would not have been so embracing if Prompters didn't get the fire going and seed thesus eco-market first.  

Another executive in the report said, "Consumers want to buy brands that are good for them and also good for others." No kidding -- and when did consumer NOT want products that are good for both? And yet, there is a reason toxic cleaners are still being made. That is changing because of Prompters.

That said, we can't put all consumers in a pile, not all consumers are Prompters, just like not all big companies are Embracers of sustainability; but isn't it time we started to marry our co-creating efforts? And shouldn't we be engaged before we get married? Shouldn't both names of the couple (or group) be announced in the press? Marketers are working over time to "engage" their consumer more, why not start at the beginning when the spark of the idea is fresh? 

Consumer Prompters

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 10.26.23 AM In 2008, Beth Terry advocated for the end of plastic bottles filled with water. But you don’t just end one thing without providing a replacement, so Beth also advocated for her readers to use water-filtering systems, Brita being one of them. While using the system would eliminate the need for expensive water in bottles, it didn’t address the leftover plastic filter. Beth learned that in Europe, the Brita filter is being recycled, why not in the U.S.?

Beth isn’t an activist by trade, she’s an accountant, but she knows how to put a website together and a widget. She launched the Take Back the Filter campaign and asked her blogging buddies to sign her petition to Take Back the Filter and to put the petition promotional widget on their blogs. (I was one of them.)

The Result?

On her own site, Beth's petition was getting 10-20 signatures and 100 hits a day. Then the NY Times ran an article "Pressure is on to Recycle Water Filters" and the 530 more signatures arrived from 690 hits. The tipping point happened with Ideal Bite (now part of Disney) posted Beth’s story. That one post added 7200 signatures and 1200 hits bringing the total up to 15000 signatures.

[Hummm NY Times, 530 signatures, two-woman blog, 7200 signatures -- who has the real power to influence a megatrend?]

When the signatures crested 16,000 Brita decided to work with the Sierra Club to put a plan in place to take back the filter. Would they have done that without Beth’s prompting? I’ll let you answer that one.  

Business Prompters

Today a big announcement was made by the Eco Textile Industry. 

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 10.45.55 AM A group of over 30 leading apparel retailers and brands together with a selection of suppliers, academics and NGO’s have today launched the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which aims to share work, research and use an industry-wide index to reduce the environmental and social impact of textiles and clothing.

Who is in this group?

Founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which in 2011 is by invitation only, include: Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp. and Walmart.

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 10.40.56 AM "And Walmart" -- it's almost an also-ran mention, but here's the story behind this gathering -- it all started with one women -- Coral Rose. While a Sr. buyer at Wal Mart Coral purchased 190,000 organic cotton yoga outfits that sold out in 10 weeks. Her later Prompting increased the purchasing of more organic textiles across the Walmart world. Unlike the consumer buyers, her story was covered here.

As the largest distributor of retail goods, Wal Mart's impact on the eco-textile world can't be dismissed, without Walmart "Embracing" this eco-movement we would still be stuck in the 60s of good intentions and most likely the above group would not have formed. At the same time, without the Prompting of one Sr. female Buyer and 190,000  female consumer buyers, WalMart and the others wouldn't have a market then or now.

Ultimately it take two to co-create this next market -- Buyers and Sellers.  Prior to that, it takes a different two -- Prompters and Embracers -- to start the fire. If companies were smart, they would start highlighting both Prompters and Buyers and publicly thank them by name. We do it in the B2B world all the time, why not the B2C world? 

Thank you Beth. Thank you Coral. And a big thank you to all the Prompters who ignite better ways to do business.