Brand Promise Real World Satire

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Portland Thorns Core Values

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Elon Musk does it again

Sometimes people complain about product announcements as “vaporware” because they’re just concepts, not ready to ship. If not for Elon’s track record, this promise of traveling to any city on earth in less than an hour would certainly qualify as big time vaporware, but the thing about Elon is: he delivers (often late, but he does deliver).

This rocket is designed to send people to Mars, and Elon says a cargo mission could go in 2022 and a crewed mission in 2024, which is totally amazing! And, imagine what it does to Mars mission costs if we’re using this on earth as well, and imagine what it does to global business and relationships if total time in the air is less than an hour to go anywhere? That’s like people fly for business meetings today from Seattle to Portland, from Boston to New York, from Detroit to Chicago, from London to Paris. Imagine if that’s New York to Dubai? San Francisco to Melbourne? Holy crap! That’s a big vision! And yet only a few years away, not a pie-in-the-sky long-term future.

What’s your vision?

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Weekly Report Format

Mark Cuban’s weekly format:

 The format is easy

I want all bad news first

Challenges and issues you need my help with second

That’s it

For a strong relationship with high levels of trust and connection, this sounds great, especially when both people are very experienced and short on time. If more time is available, the relationship is newer or either person is newer in that job, I’d add a “good news” item up front to build connection.

Bad news is critical for actually solving the problem. “Thinking positive” or whatever else we do to try to please people hides what’s really going on and is thus counter-productive.

“You need my help with” is highly focused both on action and on what the superior can actually do to help, plus emphasizes desire to help.

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Purpose, People and Culture

Salt & Straw is a company we can all learn from. Not only do they have an amazing product (see a portion of their May menu below), they really care for their people, their culture and their community.

Salt & Straw May menu

This Forbes article goes into more detail. I love the health care even for seasonal staff, the extensive training (Salt & Straw University) they give everyone, and how committed they are to relationships with their suppliers.

What can you learn from them?

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Autism as a gift

It’s easy to think of brain differences or disabilities as a problem, or something to overcome. What about difference as a strength?

Complex problems require unique minds | Alix Generous | TEDxABQ

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Visiting My State Representative

I went to visit my state representative last week, a 5 hour trip (including lunch) for a 15 minute meeting, and totally worth it. Why, you ask? I was inspired by what Michael Moore said at the Women’s March in Washington, calling on those of us living in blue states to work with our state officials to pass legislation that’s both good for us and can be a model for the nation. He specifically praised California and New York for legalizing abortion and paving the way for Roe v. Wade.

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I picked health care. What would it take to get universal health care in Oregon? I didn’t and don’t know, but my state rep seems like a good place to connect. Turns out he’s vice chair of the health care committee. Nice!

Four of us went down to Salem, took in the grandeur of the building and grounds as well as the colonialism and racism implied in the art. The 5 of us sat around a round table in his very modest inner office (the outer offices for all the reps on that floor are in an open corridor with half-walls).

He opened asking us what we were there to talk about. When we said universal health care he grabbed his pen and started drawing. Employer and government self-insured, employer-purchased insurance, medicaid (Oregon Health Plan), medicare, etc. So many details driving home the magnitude of the problem.

Also taxes. The sales tax has been voted down 4 or 5 times in the state’s history and more or less seems off the table. How are we going to pay for the OHP expansion we chose with the Affordable Care Act. We’re proud of now covering more people and a further expansion of OHP might be a viable path to get everyone covered, but how to pay for that?

Next steps: Invite him to our new monthly neighbors gathering. Join a larger coalition such as Health Care for All. Keep learning and talking, especially to residents of districts represented by republicans.

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Best in the World

From How to Grow Beyond $10M:

The one thing we will do better than any other company in the world is _____________.

You’ve seen this before, yes? Jim Collins hedgehog concept, etc. And yet, do you do it? If I were to ask your employees individually, would they be able to fill in the blank? If not, you’re going to hit a ceiling on your growth, if you haven’t already.

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Video: We Must Talk About Race to Fix Economic Inequality

Very thought-provoking video.

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Mixing Business and Politics

There’s been a long and sometimes contentious conversation in the United States about the role of business in society generally and politics specifically. In 2010, for example, the US Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision explicitly applied the 1st amendment’s free speech provision to associations of citizens (companies, non-profits, unions, etc).

Because companies generally do not want to offend their customers, they tend to limit their political activity to behind-the-scenes donations rather than public pronouncements. One exception was a 2012 controversy involving Chick-fil-A, the result of which appears to be a change in Chick-fil-A’s policy and actions due to consumer and local governmental backlash.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have a couple of very interesting examples of companies taking actions in the political and social realms.

Grady Britton

Portland-based agency Grady Britton recently published Engaging in Political Action as a Brand: Rising Above the Noise Without Alienating Consumers. Some key quotes:

In this extremely politically charged climate, can a brand like Kellogg’s take a stand for what it believes is right without excluding specific audiences? How do you avoid a Breitbart-style boycott while explicitly choosing not to affiliate with any groups who don’t share your values?

You have the choice between standing for a cause or standing against whoever disagrees with you. One choice may result in a boycott. The other can build a bridge.

Ben and Jerry’s

Ben and Jerry’s has podcast ad reads pointing listeners to Their site also has an article titled 7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real and another Why Black lives matter. Some quotes:

We’ve come to understand that to be silent about the violence and threats to the lives and well-being of Black people is to be complicit in that violence and those threats.

…it’s become clear to us at Ben & Jerry’s that we have a moral obligation to take a stand now for justice and for Black lives.

All lives do matter. But all lives will not matter until Black lives matter.

Let’s be clear: systemic racism is a corrosive and widespread problem in our society, and we all need to do a better job of confronting it—in our towns, in our neighborhoods, and in ourselves.

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel

It is true that while we may have fewer overt racists, racism is still deeply embedded within systems like our schools, workplaces, the criminal justice system and hospitals, to name a few. Think about it: because white people occupy a disproportionate number of positions of power in our society it comes at the expense of people of color.

Muslim Ban

Over 100 tech companies have filed a friend of the court brief with the 9th Circuit in opposition to the recent executive order that suspends immigration from 7 majority muslim nations. Amazon was a witness in the initial filing from the State of Washington. While these actions may be seen as self-serving as the executive order affects employees of these companies, they could have supported their own employees quietly instead of publicly.


We can actively work toward the world we want to live in, individually and through our companies. In fact, to be our best selves, we have that responsibility.

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