Find and Create Meaning.

March 8th, 2018 by dewprocess.

Each day that we awake should ideally be a day in which we find and create meaningful impact. Ideally. Of course, some days seem to dictate that deadlines, workloads, and other impediments mitigate our efforts to accomplish even one of these two.

So, today, as we celebrate those individuals who somehow seem to get it all done, and for less pay and often less credit, it behooves us to make that extra effort to find and create meaning.

Who was that one woman, other than your mother, who influenced you so positively that your debt of gratitude remains unpaid? Name her today.

Who is that one woman in your life, professional or otherwise, who you know deserves more than she gets? Whether it is in your power directly or not, may I suggest you make every effort to ensure she finally gets that credit, and – if possible – that pay raise, that promotion, that thanks.

Looking For Answers.

August 13th, 2017 by dewprocess.
I often get push back from a few urban residents and business owners, whenever I speak at events and propose the idea of widened sidewalks, increased tree canopy, and raised, marked, and/or buffered bicycle lanes. My campaign is not merely in support of a changing streetscape, but for an evolution in how we coexist.

A mixed-use sidewalk in Lisbon, Portugal – comfortably accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

The resistance to my proposals is almost always borne of an innate fear of change. There exists in many of us an unconscious aversion to change, perhaps founded on a sense, however mistaken, that the status quo is always safer. Let’s be clear: it is only safer for those who benefit from that structure, and that structure is always perilous if it sits on unstable foundations. The pillars of fear, untruth, greed, and violence are made of the weakest mortar.
 
While it is true that the “evil we know” may be more predictable than an unknown and unquantifiable alternative, our evolution is based on a drive to innovate and disrupt. How do we reconcile these instincts that seem so diametrically opposed? We must become living testaments to the notion that oil and water can coexist. It seems a silly suggestion, until you look around at the turmoil that is escalating in otherwise developed communities.

So long as we respond to the “other” with fear and aggression we will never advance our society. We won’t evolve. We must, therefore, offer proposals for change and improvement that are tenable. Proposals tend to work best when they offer opportunity and options.

  • It might be something as relatively innocuous as getting a town to accept a plastic bag ban; offer them compelling and creative alternatives, such as reusable bags branded with their favorite store. The consumer gets a quality freebie, and the store gets the best sort of marketing possible: free grass-roots brand evangelism!),
  • convincing your community to finally accept that urban infrastructures require multimodal transportation options, and the streetscape is no longer the exclusive domain of the single-driver combustion fuel vehicle, but rather a vital part of our urban landscape that must be shared and managed with thoughtful consideration for all (develop a well-planned and comprehensive network of multimodal transport options, including pedestrian, bicycle, and public; ensure these options function efficiently and are well-signed; enforce the law for *all* stakeholders; and provide follow-up metrics to prove the merits of the model: social, safety, environmental, and economic);
  • or encouraging a society to accept and adapt to the often complicated but unavoidable complexities and nuisances of the present world in which we live, with a view to improving the future *together*, as opposed to yearning for a yesteryear that only existed for an entitled few.

How do privileged individuals such as myself support positive change, without injecting our own ignorance or arrogance? How do POC, women, the disabled, and other underrepresented constituencies secure their overdue rights, without feeling that they must do it all alone? Societies do not advance by fragmentation. Lasting change works best when we are all invested. How do we acknowledge the nuances that comprise every individual, so we each feel empowered and represented? How do we, ourselves, practice this inclusivity when we’ve perhaps never had to exist in a constant state of powerlessness and underrepresentation?

The questions will be many, and embedded with complexity. I worry that the portal to a stronger society, which can only be unlocked by the many keys of a truly enlightened and unified community, will remain locked longer than we hope. I fear we’ll struggle: pushing angrily against each other, instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder, confronting the obstacle together.

I don’t have the answers. Our politicians believe they are supposed to provide solutions, and we reinforce that sense with our demands and complaints. Perhaps our political system and its representatives are only supposed to provide thoughtfully crafted legislation and infrastructure. Then, We The People, are obliged to manifest the sustainable solutions that will advance our society, through our daily actions and interactions. Whatever the best option may be, it will not be discovered, let alone developed or deployed, unless we work together. At this juncture, this may seem an unrealistic and possibly untenable option. Do you have a better option? One which recognizes the humanity in each of us? One which respects and supports our equality, even though it may not yet be realized? One which refutes hate, social fragmentation, oppression, and exclusion? If we are only willing to listen to or read opinions that conform to our pre-existing beliefs and values, the status quo will be maintained, until it falls apart – a victim of its own internal frictional forces.

The challenge is in putting that change into action in a way that recognizes the urgency of the need, the diversity of given circumstances, and the enormity of the baggage we each bring to this journey.  How do we bring about positive change – inclusively, enthusiastically, intelligently, sustainably, meaningfully, realistically?

What Lies at the Heart of a Business?

June 21st, 2016 by dewprocess.
Businesses all too often find themselves pulled by powerful gravitational forces into the black hole of “quarterly prosperity at all costs”. The vision becomes about paper profitability, and the true core value is lost in the mists of market competition.
 
Great business is, however, always tied to great community, great innovation, and great people. Without those ingredients, the heart of a brand fails, and all the remnant frantic activity is little more than life support, performed on a gradually failing entity.
 
No matter the size of your venture, be it startup or multinational, always remember your people, your vision, and your community are your core.

Women who changed the world

March 8th, 2016 by dewprocess.

Women who changed the world.Women who changed the world. Literary mastery, pioneering science, life-saving discoveries and actions for peace and human rights – achievements of women around the world awarded the Nobel Prize. Learn more about the impactful work of these Laureates at Nobelprize.org.#InternationalWomensDay Photos: Ulla Montan, Alexander Mahmoud, Nobelprize.org. Music: Epidemic Sound.

Non-Refundable Fare Paid

October 18th, 2015 by dewprocess.

Your presence in the Universe is infinitesimally small, bordering on non-existent. How that strikes you, and what you choose to do with your relatively sub-atomic situation, is the marker of your true and lasting worth. Will you fall prey to the vicissitudes of modern mankind, and limit yourself to the pursuit of personal financial wealth, and perhaps a pompous executive title or two? Does the illusion of power suffice to appease your sense of self-worth? Do you want your life to amount to nothing more than what you alone can sense of it? Do you desire something else from this one-way trip, the destination of which we are all too well aware?

Artists, scientists, inventors, a very few politicians, and their ilk pursue that “something else”. They have – often unconsciously – discovered that acquisition is a reductive enterprise, while contribution is the most sustainable expression of power within our grasp. How much we give to our communities, large and small, determines our place in the Universe, and its longevity. You possess an uncommonly awesome ability to replicate and enhance your presence: through your creations, contributions, influence, and inspiration. The composition of a lovely poem will prove more lasting than most lucrative IPOs. The hours spent preemptively undermining that competitor business would have been much better spent exploring ways to merge your mutual capabilities, in service to even more exciting innovations. Of course someone will exploit your good will for their own selfish ends. They only get to do so once, though. You don’t have to be an idiot to fulfill your greatest potential, but it helps to have a bit of the fool within you. The longer we promote distrust, avarice, self-absorption, and fear; the deeper we dig ourselves into a darkened pit of history that will all too soon be forgotten amidst the vast expanse of space and time that renders all of us to the dust from whence we came.

Who made the mistake of telling you that you were the main character in your narrative? Who told you there was a statute of limitations on dreaming big for others? Who gave you permission to give up on the wonderful plans you had for a better world?

The results of this quirky experiment that is your life will be determined by your willingness to catalyze the elements around you. The greatest leaders are not the most powerful, but the most empowering. The greatest innovations are not the most profitable, but the most fulfilling. Your accomplishments will, in the long term, never be tallied in dollars and cents, but rather in the actions and aspirations of the generations that instinctively perpetuate you, whose all-too-short span of life could prove directly responsible for the more rewarding manifestation of theirs.

International Relations – A Personal Undertaking

December 4th, 2014 by admin.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

(Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167)

When we are confronted with something or someone influential or disruptive, it is perhaps unrealistic to expect that person or thing to completely, immediately, and profoundly change us. There is much within each of us that is already great and wonderful, so why must we transform, when a tweak might suffice? Nobody can rightly expect another to become a rabid evangelist for post-impressionist art, just because they saw and enjoyed Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”; one isn’t bound to become a born-again Christian by dint of the fact that one reads a verse of the Bible, and admires its social logic, inconsistent as it might be. Shakespeare’s quote above applies on so many levels, not least of which being how the largely Christian West and mostly Islamic Middle East view one another. How are we to build and maintain truly sustainable and meaningful business relations if we don’t believe that we can relate to one another, on a personal level?

The world within which we live is much larger than the world in which we might be each choosing to live. It’s high time we embraced the opportunity to explore and recognize the shared truths that thrive behind the facade of the “other”.

Chinese philosopher Laozi once wrote “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (Tao Te Ching, chapter 64). I wonder how many blessings we might extract from this journey of a million smiles…

Next time you travel abroad, assume that the similarities between you and your counterpart are greater than the differences, and work outward from that core position. You may be surprised to find that the result is more profitable for all concerned.

Facebook Embedded Posts Are Available To Everyone As Of Today

August 21st, 2013 by admin.

Facebook never intended for its brand to represent a single site called Facebook.com. So, when everyone and their Media auntie started moaning about how Facebook was losing users, simply because a few people were no longer going to Facebook.com to check their newsfeed, the folks at FB HQ just smiled quietly. Why? Because Facebook is not in the business of hosting a global chat-room. It’s mission is to connect everyone around the world, wherever they are, and however they choose. Thus, we have Facebook Connect, whereby your FB identity follows you all over the Web, and brings your friends with you. It also represents Facebook’s underlying play for ubiquitous presence across the Interwebs.

Facebook has deployed other platform and channel agnostic tools and utilities that integrate their brand more firmly in to your daily Net activities, not least of which is today’s release of Facebook Embedded Posts. Now bloggers, site builders, and other content publishers have been advised they can embed Facebook Page content in to their distinct destinations:

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As of Wednesday afternoon, it wasn’t quite working. Even the Facebook Developer blog posting on this subject only shows links:
What is supposed to happen is that FB Page posts are directly embedded in one’s blog posting, and you, the reader, can interact with the post directly, without having to be redirected to Facebook. You can Like my Page (please Like me! Pleeeaaazzzze!!), add a comment, and share the posting, all without leaving the comfort of my site! When and if it works, this will certainly be one more rung in the ladder of Facebook’s climb to ubiquity across the most used and most inhabited ecosystem in the world, the Net.
Until then, as is often the case with Facebook releases, some iteration is required. I’m not complaining, since everything Facebook has given me has been free (if aggregate data  collection is not seen as some sort of tariff). However, many users don’t like this “Release then iterate” model of feature rollout. I wonder how they’ll react this time.

How To Innovate Invention

July 24th, 2013 by admin.

Innovation is alive and kicking! Crowdfunding is going strong! As long as funders keep in mind that they are essentially giving their money away to unproven concepts that offer no guarantees whatsoever, this continues to be an exciting facet of product development. Every time I worry there might be a backlash against the latest failed initiative, along comes something reinvigorating.

Yesterday the Tile App raised 13406% (yes I wrote that correctly!) of its crowdfunding goal, using an open source platform developed by a company rejected by Kickstarter.

OK. Let’s stop there and review:

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are probably the two best known crowdfunding sites. Conventional wisdom would suggest that if you are trying to fund your latest invention, you strive to secure Angel investment, VC funding, or a place for your fundraising campaign on one of these sites. Otherwise, you risk wallowing in the shadows of conceptual anonymity. Kickstarter has done much to validate the concept of crowdfunding, but there exist limitations to the concept, some unforeseen, and some self-imposed. Cameron Robertson and Paul Gerhardt, the co-founders of apigy, a small startup with one product, discovered this when they tried to launch their invention, Lockitron. Kickstarter rejected the product as not conforming to its parameters of eligibility, and many inventors have already reacted to this setback by giving up. However, apigy adopted the age-old formula of “Mountain, Get Out Of My Way”, and promptly developed their own independent crowdfunding campaign and platform, successfully raising in excess of 1000% of their goal in less than 24 hours. The parameters they set for themselves, and communicated to prospective funders, promised a more transparent and accountable productization flow, and Lockitron units began shipping this week.

Stop. Rewind yet again:

So far, we have a company that could not benefit from the emerging model of crowdfunding, as it existed, and therefore opted to secure their own crowdfunding by developing their own platform. Brave and resourceful! Yet why stop there? Once apigy saw how successful their campaign was, they determined that everyone should have the opportunity to tailor-make their own crowdfunding campaign, and thus was born Selfstarter, “an open source starting point for building your own ad-hoc crowdfunding site”.

Fast Forward:

Tile is billed as “the world’s largest lost and found” and the info video on its funding page (developed using the Selfstarter solution) ably clarifies its value proposition, if perhaps leaving certain gaps unfilled.

Extant the obvious questions such as “will this drain my phone’s battery”, “can my account be hacked or disabled, in much the same scenario as a car alarm?”, or “what happens if my dog swallows the damn thing?”, this is a compelling innovation, and the swift and overwhelming response from the netizens has underscored this. Is this, however, an anomaly? A unique small square solution in a world of convoluted and half-baked concepts? Not if the Kite Patch has anything to say about it!

A small Riverside CA company recently raised well over 200% of its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, in only 4 days. It’s product? Another small square solution, though addressing a completely different “lost” constituency: the millions who die from malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.

As I consult to organizations around the world, I am often straining to convince more conventional NPO development officers to rebalance their fundraising resources away from their current 90% foundation/corporate support models, and more toward the massive grassroots funding ecosystem that always swells up when human beings are forced to recognize how close we all really are to one another. Strained and shattered economies are effective if painful unifiers (though admittedly not 100% unifying!), and the success of crowdfunding campaigns, both commercial and NPO, clearly supports my long-espoused belief that individual donors, sponsors, and funders represent a far more powerful ecosystem of fiscal support than previously believed, and the tools developed by Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and now Selfstarter are greatly facilitating the connection between a given product or solution and its prospective supporters. Indeed, while the economy may be strengthening somewhat in certain parts of the globe, the infrastructure established by these sites and tools does not seem to be dissolving, as it may have in the past, but rather is strengthening and expanding. There will undoubtedly be hiccups and disappointments along the way, be it for the developers or the backers, or both. The opportunities far outweigh the challenges, however, IMHO, and I am excited to see what comes next, and interested to see how the VC and brand sponsorship communities manage to accommodate and adapt to this model.

If All The World’s A Stage, Why Do So Many People Keep Missing Their Cues?

May 15th, 2013 by admin.

The Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and one of its initiatives is to provide members with fancy new gold credit card style membership cards, replacing the former paper-based version. My reaction, when I heard this, was one of disappointment. Every initiative taken by an organization today has consequences and implications that reverberate across multiple sectors. In this case, the AEA failed to take advantage of a priceless opportunity to enhance member services, increase member engagement, and exhibit a very simple but impactful degree of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

More than 7 years ago, the Census Bureau determined that there were nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space — and be almost as tall as 13 Mount Everests. If this number of credit cards were thrown away every three years, the stack of credit cards would reach almost 43 Everests high after a decade. These plastics do not biodegrade in landfills. Not so fancy.

Actor’s Equity is not a lone offender, though. When SAG and AFTRA merged, the new union had an opportunity to revisit its longstanding use of plastic credit card member IDs, but opted to stick with the short term functionality of plastics, long-term sustainability be damned. The Producers Guild and other industry organizations are equally guilty. My frustration would be less justified if there existed few alternatives. However, companies such as Discover Financial services are offering cards made of BioPVC™ and other biodegradable alternatives; well-established technologies such as mobile apps present a plethora of creative and operational opportunities; and other technologies such as NFC offer yet more potential, as their adoption becomes more widespread. So why the lack of innovation or sustainability best practices? Is it an absence of imagination? Aversion to change? Financially motivated obduracy?

As current Chair of my city’s Sustainability Commission, I have benefited from the past four years, learning about the negative consequences of unsustainable practices (both in business and personal life), as well as about the positive implications of Green and other more sustainable commercial and community options, be it through renewable materials sourcing, alternative energy programs, commercial district redesigns, and many other areas. Many initiatives in sustainability offer up more than a single-pronged benefit or solution. It’s not just about environmental conservation, or clean air, or recycling. It’s about positioning ourselves, our businesses, and our communities for a more environmentally, socially, and financially robust future.

Had the AEA decided to explore options for member identification, other than the current plastic card tradition, all sorts of exciting avenues to member engagement and empowerment might have been revealed. Imagine a mobile app (what actor does not have a mobile phone?) that represents not only the individual’s union identification, but also a resource for direct connection to their credit union, membership affiliate discount programs, health insurance tools, personalized pension and 401K insights, dues status (and mobile payment processing), and much more, besides. The cost savings to the AEA and their members alike would be enormous, the raw materials no longer needed (plastics, papers, etc) would be mountainous, and the ability to connect more dynamically with membership would elevate the usefulness, value and – by extension – collective bargaining power of the AEA.

To those who would argue that they would not wish to entrust such data to a mobile device that might lose power, break, be stolen, or otherwise be compromised…I suggest they note that more wallets are stolen and lost than mobile devices. The Baby Boomer generation may not be able to acclimatize themselves to the notion of a cardless society, but I personally am quite excited by the idea of saving money, time, and materials – simply by aggregating the contents of my wallet into a well-protected, institutionally insured, cloud-based ecosystem that poses no more risk to our identities than we currently face today. The promise that lies in such innovation far outweighs the risks, and I can think of no better collective to act upon this promise than Actors themselves. This opportunity seems to have been missed, but I sincerely hope that other organizations might think a little more expansively about each initiative they take, going forward. The smallest tweak might offer far greater rewards (and savings) than they might imagine.

Something New To Muse Upon

March 19th, 2013 by admin.

My parents rock.

Here below is an excerpt from a recent news publication:

“Miss Porter’s School, a college preparatory school for girls established in 1843 and located in Farmington, Connecticut, is about to become the new home for a large work of art by famed sculptor Andrew DeVries: Calliope (1¼ life-size torso; see photo).
Harold and Julie de Wolff? commissioned Calliope in 1998 for their home in Portugal. Some time ago, they decided to return to the United States and began downsizing for their retirement years. They have generously arranged to donate Calliope to Miss Porter’s School to honor her family members who were graduates of the school (the first was in 1875, Julie graduated from there in 1953).”

Graduates of Miss Porter’s have gone on to prove the inescapable truth that well-educated women in leadership roles are just as capable and accomplished as their male counterparts (and, in many cases, better). I pray that, by the time my daughter grows up, the only differences between the sexes will be those worthy of mutual celebration.

The beauty of this work is unquestionable. So is the fact that the absence of a head and arms, while reminiscent of many antiquities damaged over the course of time, also elicits in me a strong desire to know more about the face, head and mind that is not seen; to learn of what those invisible hands may be capable. The strong chin that is visible suggests a proud and visionary woman, and my imagination will imbue her with far more worthy grace and strength than bronze may ever capture. This is not a static work of objectification, but a question posed in metal. I look forward to the challenge and invitation it presents to the generations of women (and men) who will pass it by.
Read more about Miss Porter’s School history here.
Read more about the muse, Calliope, here.
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