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posted by Teresa Coles Jul 31,2012 @ 05:37AM

Spotting the Social Entrepreneur

We’ve got to change the system.

We’ve got to address the root cause.

We’ve got to start doing things differently.

How many times have you heard it? Be it a nonprofit board meeting, a business gathering or a legislative assemblage, everyone’s talking about social change — real, quantifiable, exponential change. Meanwhile, lots of good people in nonprofit organizations work to provide relief and assistance to people who are caught in spirals of poverty, malnutrition, abuse and countless other forms of personal grief. Their work is grounded in social good, and there will always be a need for it.

But what of social change?

Enter social entrepreneurs. Highly creative, energetic and focused people who have a passion for stripping away symptomatic layers, assessing and articulating the truth behind an issue, and leading others to work together toward transformational change.

You may have met a social entrepreneur if you’ve met someone who:

  • Hungers relentlessly for the betterment of the world condition
  • Understands that no one nonprofit or group of people can solve the problem
  • Has the creative chops to develop a big social idea and build scale around it
  • Can bring public, private and nonprofit sector resources to bear
  • Has the ability to recruit and mobilize local change makers
  • Is disciplined enough to align strategy, financial management and pr/marketing
  • Embraces the use of fiscal metrics and performance benchmarks
  • Uses these social ROI standards as the basis for fundraising and development

These are the kind of people — those who think far and wide and without regard to personal or political agenda — who can bring about the change our world so desperately needs. Look for them. Aspire to be one of them. Most of all, believe.

For more good stuff on social entrepreneurship, spend some time at Ashoka, then check out ForbesImpact 30 list of social entrepreneurs.






posted by Apprentices Jul 27,2012 @ 03:30AM

On trading places.

Who would you trade places with for a week?

Teresa Coles

Oprah Winfrey

Maria Fabrizio
A Farmer – I'd like to be away from the computer milking cows, baling hay, and eating biscuits.

Kevin Smith
Ferris Bueller

Julie Turner
During the work week Jon Stewart and P!nk on Friday and Saturday night.

Ryon Edwards
Elon Musk

Will Weatherly
Bill Goldsmith –

Cathy Monetti
Eckhart Tolle

Kevin Archie
Bill Murray's best friend

posted by Julie Turner Jul 25,2012 @ 09:42AM

The real fear isn’t social media; it’s real-time communication.

The past few years have been all digital and social all the time. Traditional methods of push marketing have fallen out of favor to cross channel marketing programs that concentrate on helping consumers find companies. It turns out tried and true methods of communicating at consumers — surprise! — offer them little to no value.

Inbound marketing is a vastly different way of marketing and one a lot of professionals and companies fear for a litany of reasons.

Social media means talking with customers, not at them.
In Why Companies Are Afraid to Use Social Media, Jason Falls and Erik Deckers get into reasons companies opt to give social media the hand rather than incorporate it into their annual marketing plan. But whether the resistance is to Facebook (What if people post negative comments?), to Twitter (Who uses that anyway?) or to Foursquare (Is that some kind of tracking device?) those are just vehicles.

The heart of problem is tricky. Social media is in effect direct, real-time communication with customers.

No one likes to belabor mistakes.
Let’s face it. Having someone call out a mistake, bad service at a restaurant or a cruddy experience with someone at your company is not fun. In the past, you might have never known about it. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Real time communication with customers gives you a chance at service recovery. You have an open communication line with customers. I really can’t think of anything more valuable than that in a marketing plan.

Blocking bad comments means blocking out good ones, too.
One of my favorite stories is once working with a client who locked down their Facebook page. No comments, no posting by anyone who was not an administrator. When the day came that they finally allowed comments to appear on their page, I held my breath. Within hours they got their first wall post — from a mother preparing to celebrate her child’s third birthday later that week. She commented that she always thought of the hospital’s NICU personnel who helped the family in those first scary days and simply thanked them for everything they did three years ago.

You have an opportunity — take it.
To know exactly what your customers like, think and feel is one of the biggest opportunities to ever hit marketing. Take a look at your marketing plan. Do you have an open link with your customers and prospects? If you don’t, make it a priority. Those direct conversations may lead to new insights or an emerging competitive edge for your brand or company.

Not a bad start, after all.

posted by Kevin Smith Jul 23,2012 @ 09:54AM

Set It and Forget It

Infomercials, if only seen in small bits and parts are incredibly memorable. Ron Popeil used the slogan “set it and forget it” in his infomercials for the Showtime Rotisserie Oven more than 20 years ago. The phrase still renders first in a Google search today.

It’s been a week of marketing planning for several business-to-business clients, and I’m reminded just how organic marketing planning has become. It wasn’t long ago that most plans followed a “set it and forget it” model. Not that we didn’t care or follow up, but relative to now, things moved slowly, and plans stayed fairly set.

Inbound marketing has quantified traffic, trial and conversion. In doing so, it has marketers in a permanent “wait and see” mentality. This needn’t be paralyzing, but do consider the following:

  1. Realize up-front that some tactics will deliver and others won’t. So budget with a depth of execution in mind.
  2. Understand not everything is instant. Don’t be satisfied with a click through rate of 1.5 percent for three months, but do allow time for repetition to let a program build.
  3. Remember that communication has never been more instant, and the shelf life of what you put out there is brief. Just put it out there.

I now believe that best practices adjust every 90 days. So a perfect program will likely elude all of us. We’ve just got to get better, and faster, at constant course correction. After all, even Ronco’s rotisserie oven eventually came in three sizes.

posted by Apprentices Jul 13,2012 @ 03:30AM

On summer songs

What song says summer to you?

Cathy Monetti
Grapefruit — Juicy Fruit by Jimmy Buffett

Kevin Archie
Summer 2012 = Gold Canary by Cloud Control
Any given summer = Naive Melody by Talking Heads

Maria Fabrizio
Boys of Summer by Don Henley

Julie Turner
Every drop of 5150

Kevin Smith
Too Hot by Kool and the Gang

Will Weatherly
Hey Man! Is That a Ninja Up There? by Minus the Bear

Ryon Edwards
Saturday Nite by Blitzen Trapper. Fun, funky, pop-ish in a good way.

posted by Teresa Coles Jul 11,2012 @ 03:00AM

CreateAthon at the White House

How revved up can you get walking into the White House and being seated alongside the nation’s most influential leaders in corporate social responsibility? Just ask Peyton Rowe, who joined me in DC recently for A Billion + Change’s national forum on the power of corporate pro bono. We were totally spent after a day of meeting and hearing from people who, like us, believe that talents honed in the workplace have a higher calling: to help meet social needs.

This was our third meeting with A Billion + Change, organized as a joint intiative of the Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Led by Senator Mark Warner as Honorary Chair and Jean Case of the Case Foundation, A Billion + Change is on a mission to raise $2 billion in pledged pro bono service from corporations by 2013. Corporate executives, nonprofit leaders, and White House administration officials gathered at the White House to celebrate the milestone of 200 pledge companies. Riggs Partners, on behalf of CreateAthon, is a charter pledge company.

Our agenda was filled with an impressive array of speakers, many of whom left us with comments that spoke volumes to the power of pro bono:

Gene Sperling, Director, National Economic Council

“Skills-based volunteering is about long-term vs. short-term, about defining the kind of company you want to be.”

Senator Mark Warner, Honorary Chair, A Billion + Change

“The campaign's move to 500 pledge companies can be transformational, and can reinvigorate the notion that the private sector has a positive role to play in society and in our economic recovery.”

Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

“Pooling our resources together, we will make the greatest impact. Just imagine engineers serving as STEM tutors.”

John Finneran, General Counsel, Capital One

“90% of our managers tell us employees perform at a higher level after having been involved in a pro bono project.”

Joe Echevarria, CEO, Deloitte

“The best learning comes from the most difficult assignment, and pro bono is not for the faint of heart.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, Special Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation (and founder of Ethos Water)

“This President believes many of the answers to issues affecting our communities are already out there. It’s our job to identify what’s working, lift them up, and build the human and financial capital around them to provide scale.”

While these events are quite grown up, Peyton and I inevitably leave every convocation with a feeling of wonder and enthusiasm befitting a pair of teenage girls. Did you meet him? He’s awesome! Did you hear what she said? They knew about CreateAthon! Can you believe that?

It’s not often in life you get to look at your little idea through the eyes of very big thinkers. When you do, it’s like looking through a pinhole and seeing the light open up before you for as long and wide you can imagine.

For CreateAthon, we believe the light is just beginning to shine.

posted by Kevin Smith Jul 02,2012 @ 06:14AM


The past few days have offered nonstop prognosticating and political posturing around healthcare reform. It’s worse that the banter that lead up to the Supreme Court’s actual decision. (Then, I thought, the discussion might finally end.) What makes it frustrating is that amidst the roar, I believe we’ve all become more confused.

The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as some call it, is a classic example of more communication failing to result in better understanding or more engagement. “It’s complicated,” they say. Or, “the explanation is confusing.” Well, when consumers are confused, they simply tune you out. That’s what I’ve done — stopped listening.

Many of us see our marketing problems as complex. So I’d like to offer this: if your problem is complex, the solution isn’t.

The best products are the simplest. The best food often has the fewest ingredients. The best communications are likewise pared down. Here’s my advice for today. The next time you examine your business plan, marketing strategy, home page content or anything else; simplify. I promise your customers will have a very simple response: thank you.




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