Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back to work....

Well, rapture is all well and good, but in the immortal malaprop of our soon to be ex-president, it doesn't "put food on my family". One friend's comment on this end of the world was "but we're still here!" I said, "That's precisely the point. We're still here but the world is different." As the rabbis said, "When the moshiach comes everything will change but almost imperceptibly." Most Jewish notions about the messiah are very different from most Christian theology, btw. For us this is not a divine figure w/ superhuman powers. Just (JUST!) a rightful and righteous ruler who redeems the nation. Within the realm of the possible but still quite remarkable. But if we really want the 21st century to be a bridge to a millennium of peace and justice we’ll all have to be moshiach for 15 minutes!

A world has ended & with it an ocean of blood money has disappeared. That ugly, accrued American reality that stood in direct contradiction to our ideals. The land stolen from the Indians is now facing foreclosure. The fortunes made from slaves, whale oil, beaver pelts, opium, sweatshops, mines, oil- gone gone gone. Or at least marked down 50%. The miracle is that the reality is going & the ideal remains, stronger and brighter than ever before. Very good for the soul but not so hot for business.

Time to get back to work & try to save my company from this shit storm. Sure is a hard rain that's falling. So are sales. I'm running out of time & money & bright ideas. What would Obama do? Take stock of the situation for starters. What hasn't changed is the enormous mess to clean up, which includes sweatshops, so there's still a good reason for my company to exist.

What has changed is many people's awareness of the consequences of centuries of abusive labor practices and unsustainable consumerism. There's a new generation that feels its power to change the status quo & how easy that can be. No sweat. They don't want their parents' brands- not the Clintons or the McCains. Why should they want the GAP or Nike either? No, they want to be the change they want to see in the world. they want to feel it & breath it & taste it & wear it. Most of all, they want to make it happen.

A big part of Obama's appeal was the way he empowered a generation to make him possible. All the really successful brands of the 21st century - Google, MySpace, Youtube, Facebook- share this quality- they were created by their own consumers. It was what my company tried to do from the start via word of mouse. Necessity was the mother of this invention- we had no budget to advertise & wouldn’t- not if we wanted to pay a living wage & sell a competitively priced product. Before we launched in 2001 we ran a survey asking people if they would forward info about the company to their friends & family. We sent the survey to 1000 email addresses. 12,000 people sent us emails back saying YES we can & will. Then came spam & our marketing medium was shot to hell. New media & social networks- logs, MySpace & Facebook – cropped up in part to shelter their members from spam, at least somewhat. So that’s our medium. The $64,000 question? How to reach out to them w/out spamming them.

Step one. Ask our blogger, MySpace & Facebook friends & affiliates for advice and assistance. Step two? Follow their advice. Comments, anyone?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

With God On Our Side

Forty years from King’s assassination on 4/4 to 4/11 & we get our 44th president. A long march in 4/4 time. From Grant Park in ‘68 to last night, once again, the whole world was watching. The commentators didn’t recognize the orchestral flourish after Obama’s victory speech. It’s Dylan’s great antiwar anthem, with God on Our Side. 1st verse is uncanny on many levels. This & Michele’s black & red rising & setting sundress is a good signal, however cautious a general election campaign they ran, that the Obama presidency will be just as audacious as conceived. So we’ve paid an emperor's ransom to redeem our republic. Good deal. Lost the world to regain our own soul?  That’s my idea of manifest destiny.

"With God On Our Side" (complete lyrics- http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobdylan/withgodonourside.html)

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.