Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Andy Sernovitz’s Word-Of-Mouth marketing Manifesto

As found in John Kremer’s newsletter from earlier this summer.

This is in very close alignment with the principles I discuss at length in Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First. All of it rings true, and I particularly like the truth and humor in #6 and #10.

Excerpted from Andy Sernovitz’s Word of
Mouth Marketing. As CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association,
Sernovitz excerpted the association’s manifesto. Here it is:

1. Happy customers are your best advertising. Make people happy.

2. Marketing is easy. Earn the respect and recommendation of your
customers. They will do your marketing for you, for free.

3. Ethics and good service come first.

4. You are the user experience (not what your ads say you are).

5. Negative word of mouth is an opportunity. Listen and learn.

6. People are already talking. Your only option is to join the conversation.

7. Be interesting, or be invisible.

8. If it’s not worth talking about, it’s not worth doing.

9. Make the story of your company a good one.

10. It is more fun to work at a company that people want to talk about.

11. Use the power of word of mouth to make business treat people better.

12. Honest marketing makes more money.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fabulous Article By Vaclav Havel: Moral Imperative of Climate Change

Playwright and former Czech President Vaclav Havel has a fabulous op-ed in the New York Times on addressing climate change as a moral and ethical imperative.

He calls for each of us to take personal responsibility, makes the analogy that human damage to the environment is an unpaid loan, and finishes with dire predictions if we don’t move forward on this issue NOW.

As someone who writes regularly on both ethics and the environment, all I can say is read it. And then read it again. And then think about what actions YOU can take.

Van Ostrand: Washington’s 22 Most Corrupt Politicians

Columnist Maggie Van Ostrand usually writes humor–good humor. I often send her columns to my humor list.

This week she showed a much more serious side: a penetrating column on political corruption, jumping off from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics annual list of Congress’s 22 biggest crooks (a list which includes Republicans and Democrats–including, to my surprise, John Murtha, D-Penn).

CREW has also formally requested an investigation of (quoting Van Ostrand)…

“Ignite! Learning,” a company founded and headed by Neil Bush, younger brother of the president. Neil Bush, CREW tells us, “has no education background, [and] is best known for his role in the failure of Silverado Savings and Loan, which cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.”

Quite a bit more about this in Van Ostrand’s article.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Proportional Representation: Why I Disagree with Gov. Howard Dean

I may make some enemies among my liberal friends for this one.

This is most of an e-mail I got from the Democratic party yesterday, with the subject, “They’re Already Trying to Steal the White House:

Dear Shel,

If you can’t win, cheat.

Apparently that’s the Republicans’ answer to our work in California. If they have their way, this reliably “blue” state won’t be so blue in 2008.

Faced with a strong Democratic presence, Republicans are campaigning for a new election system instead of their own candidates.

If they get what they’re after, it could cost us the White House.

In California, Republican operatives — including some of the 2004 Swift Boaters — are working on a proposition for the June ballot that would essentially hand over 20 of the state’s electoral votes before the elections even begin next November.

Electoral reform is a good thing — but this proposition doesn’t even come close to an honest effort. It’s designed for just one thing: to make California the only big state in the country to break up its electoral votes, handing the White House back over to the Republicans. We need election reform, but let’s do it for real — and let’s not pick and choose which states we do it in.

We can’t let this proposition get on the ballot. Reject the Republican power grab in California: (link removed)

California, like 47 other states, awards all of its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes. In the last four elections, all of California’s electoral votes have gone to the Democratic nominee.

Republicans want to change the rules to award one electoral vote for each Congressional district a presidential candidate wins. In 2004, that would have given George Bush 19 of John Kerry’s 55 votes.

These so-called “reformers” aren’t proposing to do this in Texas, or Florida, or Ohio, or any other large state that the Republicans won in 2004.

Only California.

This isn’t electoral reform — it’s a blatant power grab. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is against the proposal, saying:

“I feel like, if you’re all of a sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules, it’s kind of odd… It almost feels like a loser’s mentality, saying, ‘I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.’”

Don’t let the Republicans cheat to win the election. Make your voice heard now: (link removed)

For Republicans, it’s not Iowa or New Hampshire that matters most in 2008 — it’s California.

Tell them to play by the rules.


Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.

Waht’s wrong with this picture? Just this: I have been saying for years that the winner-take-all system is blatantly unfair, that it completely disenfranchises up to 49.9% of the electorate in a close vote. Both Nebraska and Maine apportion their electoral votes, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them. In Europe, the various Parliaments are composed of proportional blocks, with parties gaining strength according to the proportion of the overall vote. The strongest party gets to name the Prime Minister.

So, rather than criticizing California for doing the right thing–I’d like to see that spread to Florida, Texas, Ohio, and a lot of other states (like all of them).

The reality is there’s no such thing as a red state or a blue state. If you look at any state map broken down by party vote, you’ll typically see blue areas around major cities and liberal college communities, and red in the rural areas.

That would be a step toward *true* democracy

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Final Word from Xing–And It’s Good!

One day after Xing’s not-terribly-satisfactory preliminary response to my original letter, I got this from Xing:

Thanks again for your email. I am glad to have more feedback for you regarding your inquiry. Our Terms & Conditions are designed for an audience of millions and are, for this reason, very general. I would be happy to clarify Clause 12 for you.

A XING member absolutely always has full rights to every article that he or she posts on XING. Members have the right, of course, to publish anything that they post on XING on any other medium they chose. You would, for example, have the full right to post something that you wrote on XING on your own blog.

Furthermore, XING would never use articles posted on XING without the authors’ permission. If XING, for example, were to publish a book about groups that includes forum articles, we would contact the author to ask for their permission and, of course, would not publish their work if we did not receive their permission.

Finally, the reason why this Clause is in our Terms & Conditions is to avoid the situation in which a member who cancels their membership demands us to return, in hard copy, all of their group posts and/or erase them from the platform. While a member has the right to work with a group moderator or with a Community Relations member to erase their posts, we ask, in general, that posts remain on XING even after a member is no longer with us.

I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if anything is unclear and I can provide more feedback.


And this is exactly what I was hoping for. Now I can post away, knowing that I have a paper trail showing the integrity of my rights ownership.

Bravo! And hmmm, maybe they’ll reword it to cover what they really need without appearing to make a rights grab.

Those links to the two previous posts again:

My original letter (and the overall context)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Great Article on Using Metaphor

Master copywriter Gary Bencivenga is always worth reading. I particularly liked his latest, on how to persuade with metaphor. The example of his own lawyer intervening on Gary’s real estate deal with “You want to sell Gary and Pauline a toy store on the day after Christmas. No fair!” is worth the article by itself.

Someone who’s great at combining metaphor, cliche, and a fresh twist is Sam Horn, author of Tongue Fu and other books–and that book title is a perfect example of the magic she works. If I ever need help naming a product, I’ll hire her. Meanwhile, click here if you want her free report on “how to POP! and STAND OUT IN ANY CROWD” (capitals in the original)–the offer is on the left side, a bit hard to see.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Xing’s Response

Wow, they’re fast! Points for customer service, for sure. Less than an hour after I posted my query.

But the response was ambiguous, if polite:

Thanks for your message. We appreciate your thoughtful insight into our Terms
& Conditions and will take your comments into consideration. Apologies if your
reservations prevents you from becoming a member.

What this means is that I may join, but I’m not going to post anything useful on the forums until the TOS is changed.

A Xinger from Xing: I’ll Keep My Copyrights, Thanks Just the Same

I got an invitation to join a social network called Xing. It’s a business-oriented group based in Germany.

It looked promising, so I started the sign up process. Got all the way down to agreeing to the terms of service. I do give these a quick scan, because sometimes there are unfriendly clauses. This was one of those times.

First, a thank-you to Xing for making the type nice and big and legible. I have no patience with TOS agreements in 8-point type and have bailed on some, or if I was really in a position to need the service, taken the extra step to copy into Word and blow it up big enough to read.

The first thing I saw that made me say “huh” was one of the grounds for termination:

If the User is a member of a religious sect or a denomination that is controversial in Germany.

I’m assuming this is to keep hate groups out, but it’s very strangely worded. What isn’t controversial, after all? But I’m not a member of any terrorist orgs so OK, I’ll let it go.

But then, I found this:

When the User posts his or her contribution to a forum, the User grants XING an unlimited, irrevocable and assignable right of use for the respective contribution, which XING is entitled to utilize for any purpose. In particular, XING is entitled to keep said contribution on the forum, and on its Web sites and the Web sites of its partners, or use it for marketing the forum in any other way.

Consequently, XING has a right of use over all contributions to discussion forums it operates. Duplication or the use of these contributions or their contents in other electronic or printed publications is prohibited without the express written consent of XING. Copying, downloading, dissemination, distribution and storing of the contents of XING and/or third parties, with the exception of the cache memory when searching for forum pages, is prohibited without its express consent.

Um, excuse me, but no. I make my living as a writer. I want the ability to repurpose my own posts without crawling to Xing for permission. I certainly recognize Xing’s need to display and desire to have the option of parading my stuff around–but not if they don’t let me do the same. So this is what I submitted on the contact form:

Question About Terms of Service

I have a question about Clause 12, and I can’t really complete the signup until this is answered. As currently written, this transfers all rights to you from the poster. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the nonexclusive rights you claim i the second paragraph, and then in the second paragraph after the words, “Duplication or the use of these contributions or their contents in other electronic or printed publications” INSERT “by anyone other than the original author of the forum post”

As a professional writer, I am quite concerned about my intellectual property rights. If I were to join under the current language, I would not contribute any forum posts (and I’m someone who posts extensively to Internet discussions)–because I wouldn’t want to ask permission to use my own words in a blog post, article, or book at some point.

I’ll let you know their response.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Naomi Wolf: No-Fly List as a Weapon Against Dissent

Journalist and political analyst Naomi Wolf, a trenchant critic of the bush Administration’s attack on civil liberties, has shown up with four Ss on her airplane boarding passes since 2002. Which means delays, searches, and a whole lot of annoyance, just to go about her speaking in support of her books.

She is eventually allowed to fly, since she’s actually on the “watch” rather than the actual “no-fly” list. But needless to say, she finds this frustrating.

And she looks further–to the way the Bush Administration uses this list as an instrument of social policy–to harass its obviously harmless critics such as herself. A chilling step toward totalitarianism, she believes–and I tend to agree.

So far, luckily, I haven’t gotten the dreaded four Ss. But I have noticed, as everyone has, how humiliating and unnecessarily inconvenient flying has become, and I, for one, don’t feel safer because “terrorists” can’t bring a water bottle on board. I was even prevented early one morning from bringing my lunch on a plane–leftover rice noodles and broccoli–because I’d made the mistake of putting it in a cottage cheese container! Yeah, my noodles were such a security risk that I had to choke down a few forkfulls at 5 a.m. and throw the rest away, so I was pretty hungry when I arrived.

Travel writer Christopher Eliott has suggested replacing this inane policy with making passengers prove the safety of their foods and drinks by eating or drinking some. That, apparently, is too much common sense.

My local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, ran Wolf’s full op-ed under the title “Kafka Revisited. This link is subscription-only, but you can see the article at Alternet.

DOD, DHS Flunk Audit AGAIN!

It’s been ten years since they were ordered to comply with basic accounting practices–and still, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Homeland Security–two of my least favorite government entities, as it turns out–can come close to passing an audit.

It’s downright embarrassing–and it has major consequences for the safety of our tax dollars.

An Associated Press review shows that the two departments’ financial records are so disorganized and inconsistent that they have repeatedly earned “disclaimer” opinions, meaning that they simply cannot be fully audited.

This is an open invitation to “waste, fraud, and abuse.” To squandering our money, in other words.

I’m old enough to remember the Reagan-era $800 toilet seats and $500 coffee makers.

Our tax dollars at work. It’s been decades.

Isn’t it time to say, enough is enough? Isn’t it time for the GAO to shut down these behemoth agencies, the same agencies that are so cavalier with our and Iraqi civil liberties, until they comply with at least the most basic standards about whee all the money is going?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ethics of Altering Existing but Obsolete News Stories

The always-fascinating has an article on the ethics of altering old news to reflect current realities, and how the New York Times search engine strategy is bringing up a rash of complaints from people profiled unfavorably in old stories.

Interestingly enough, I was recently listening to part of Orwell’s “1984″ on tape–the part, as it happens, that profiles Winston Smith’s typical day at work–altering old news stories to fit the current politics of the dictatorship.

I’d forgotten that’s what he did for a living. Yet this is one of the most chilling parts of that whole very chilling story. I have to re-read it–it’s been decades!

the Grok story generated quite a few comments (16 so far). The most cogent, in my opinion, was from David Meerman Scott, a well-known PR writer–here’s an excerpt:

My opinion is that the news should always be maintained as originally written. However I do see wide applications of social media tools to amend news, much like a comment or trackback does to a blog post.

News happens and then things change. It is inevitable. Imagine a story about, say, “Czechoslovakia.” But then the country disappears into the “Czech Republic” and “Slovakia”. That does not change the opinion of the reporter or what was said when it was first published. A comment–style addition saying that Prague is now the capital of the Czech Republic would be helpful to a story about Czechoslovakia but I would not advocate a search and replace strategy to make wholesale changes to pre-existing news.

I agree with David. It’s fine to annotate old news stories to reflect current realities/correct errors–but it’s definitely not OK to alter stories and claim they were in the original. I also agree with Brad Waller’s comment that the Times could benefit greatly by adding updated links and corrections, making the story fresh and relevant again.

Shel Horowitz, author, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and founder of the Business Ethics Pledge,

Today’s Clueless Customer Service Award to…Best Buy

It’s not an honor to “win” this award.

In my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, I discuss the idea that a company brand is not the slogan, the logo, the corporate colors…but the customer’s experience and perceptions. While the above details may help shape those perceptions, they pale in comparison to the real world experience he customer has in the store, on the website, over the phone.

Here’s my experience of Best Buy. It started off on a very good foot. I found a hard drive on the company website after playing around with Froogle and some other tools. When i went to the store, I had only a few minutes and went directly to a staffer–who, amazingly enough, showed me a better, more modern, higher capacity drive with an extra interface for compatibility with newer machines–at the same price. The buying process was smooth, and after less than five minutes at the store, I was on my way home. This was Tuesday.

But then it all fell apart. This morning (two days later), I tried to set up the drive. The disk mounted, but it was locked. I couldn’t write new information, create a folder, or copy anything onto it.

Usually, a locked disk is something easy to reset in software, but I couldn’t figure out how–and the manual loaded on the disk required some unfamiliar program to read it.

So, after poking around a while, I called the store. Where I was told I had to call the Geek Squad, toll-free. Presumably this team of expert computer sharpshooters would have the answer.

After several minutes on hold, I got a techie on the phone. She didn’t know anything and offered me three options: bring the disk back to the store for “repair” or have me pay $99–what I’d paid for the drive!–to either get support over the phone or have a tech come to my office.

Excuse me, but when I buy a product, I expect it to work–and if it doesn’t, I hardly think it’s fair to double the purchase price in order to get it working. I was flabbergasted. I explained to her that a locked drive was generally dealt with through a simple software command, and suggested to her that she could locate that command and send me on my way very easily.

So I asked to speak with her supervisor. “There’s no supervisor available right now.” This, I think, is a first. I don’t believe I’ve ever called customer service at a large company before and been told no supervisor could take my call.

Then I left my phone number, impressed upon the tech that this was something I really needed to have dealt with this morning, and requested that the supervisor call me within an hour. That was 10 a.m. I’m still waiting for that call, over 12 hours later.

When the call didn’t come, I went to the Seagate (manufacturer) website and fairly quickly determined that to make it work with a Mac, I’d need to reformat the drive using a disk utility. I had the utility on my computer, but it was four years and several operating systems old, and I wanted to make sure it would work. so I called Seagate. Still had to wait a while on hold, but once I got a tech, he talked me through the set up in under five minutes. Utterly painless, the disk is working perfectly, and I didn’t need the $99 “help” from Best Buy.

But Best Buy has lost a customer. This whole experience left me very sour.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Want Something? Just Ask: The Power of Prayer

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for over a month, but it deals with some big concepts and I wanted to let it roll around the back of my brain until it was ready to come out. And Erev Rosh Hashana, the night beginning the Jewish New year, is the perfect time to do it.

As a teenager and young adult, I was very skeptical about God in general, and about prayer in particular. Over time, and especially the last few years, I’ve made more space for God in my life. Not the beaded and fierce old man of my childhood, but a spiritual force, a higher power. And in the last year or so, I’ve begun actively communicating with that higher power, asking for advice–usually about little things.

On July 30, I was bicycling the hilly state highway I live on, coming back from the post office in South Hadley, Massachusetts. I was just coming out of one of the downhills, going at a good clip, when I got caught in a pothole I hadn’t even seen. I remember hitting the pothole, and the next thing I can remember is lying on the ground, unable to get up, bleeding from 19 different places, and in acute pain.

Somehow, I managed to flag down the next car. The driver, and another car coming the other way (Peter Edge of South Hadley, and thank you so much), helped me to sit on the guardrail and called my wife to come get me. My wife took me to see our regular doctor, who prescribed some Percoset and a sling and told me to get seen by an orthopedist.

But I couldn’t get an appointment until the next day, and even though it was strong enough that the pharmacy had to follow narcotics procedures, the Percoset did absolutely nothing for my pain.

I spent the whole rest of the day in severe pain, barely able to move. Shortly before I went to bed, I decided to ask for help. I sent this email to several hundred people:

Dina is typing for me because I can’t. I had a bicycle accident, broke my arm, and am in severe agony. Couldn’t see the orthopedist until tomorrow afternoon. Please send healing energy to me.


My wife checked the e-mail just before she came upstairs for the night, and reported that there were over a dozen responses. Just knowing that they were there lightened my load, and I was able to get some sleep.

In all, I got and responded to 30 messages–which means, probably, somewhere between 50 and 300 people actually held me in their prayers for a moment or more. An abundance of positive energy.

And I have to tell you, it worked a heck of a lot better than Percoset!

Happy 5768!

Rosh HaShanah Sameach–a very happy new year to those of you who, like me, will be celebrating starting at sundown.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Anita Roddick, R.I.P.

I just learned that Dame Anita Roddick died yesterday, at the young age of 64.

Roddick was a woman of great principle, one of the leading lights of ethical and socially/environmentally conscious business. The founder of The Body Shop, Roddick embodied the idea I write about in Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First that doing good in the world, through business, is a pathway to doing well financially.

Starting from almost nothing, she built an international chain of socially responsible cosmetics shops, and she never forgot her commitment to the earth and to justice.

Not that she didn’t have her own blind spots. The obit in the London Daily Telegraph offers a thorough resume of her life in both business and activism, from the rough childhood to becoming the fourth-richest woman in Britain. Many of her causes are listed, and so are the many places where purists found her lacking or even hypocritical. It makes fascinating reading.

Speaking of reading, Roddick wrote several books. I read Business As Unusual, which was done in copper-colored ink and a bizarre layout. I think some of her other books were easier to read because the design didn’t get in the way.

Dame Anita, you will be missed.

Hillary: Let’s Do Lunch–Uh, Wait a Minute!

Am I the only one who finds it deeply ironic, after the Lincoln Bedroom scandal during her husband’s administration–essentially selling off sleepovers at the White House–that Hillary Clinton would raffle off a personal lunch to her contributors?

This is the e-mail I got last week (I deliberately waited to post it until after her deadline):

Dear Shel,

Let’s do lunch. Let’s talk, you and me — about whatever you’d like. Our hopes. Our goals. Our work. The weather. Maybe even politics.

I think it would be fun to have you over for lunch, at my table, in my home in Washington. You and I both know that we need a serious change of direction in this country. So let’s sit down for a meal and talk about exactly the best way to make that change a reality.

Of course, that change can’t happen if we don’t win. So I’m asking you today to demonstrate your commitment to real change by supporting my campaign with a contribution. We’re going to choose one supporter to come to my house in DC, along with a guest, to share lunch and talk. And if you contribute between now and midnight Friday, September 7, it could be you

It keeps going, but let’s cut to the bottom:

I’m really looking forward to this conversation. I’ll pick up the groceries before you get there. Let’s sit down and talk about how to change America!


Hillary Rodham Clinton

A day later, this follow-up e-mail, from none other than Bill Clinton. Here’s a chunk of that one:

I hear you might be having lunch with Hillary — do you mind if I drop in?

I’ve met some of the greatest people of our time from every walk of life. But of all the people I have ever shared a table with, I still learn the most when I sit down to a meal with Hillary.

There’s no one smarter, no one better informed, and no one whose conversation I enjoy more. So if you have the chance to sit down and talk with Hillary — like you do right now — you don’t want to miss it. That’s why I’m going to join the two of you.

I know Hillary would be the best president, and you know she’s ready to change America. So why not help her win today? The campaign will choose one supporter to have lunch with Hillary and me — along with a guest — and if you make a contribution by midnight tonight, it might just be you.

Now let me get something straight: I would personally enjoy having a meal with the Clintons. They are two extremely intelligent policy wonks with a strong grasp of issues and the intellectual ability to explore them fully. They are also people who can demonstrate that they’ve had a big effect on the world. It would be fun to challenge them, to learn from them, and to push them to consider some additional slants. And to see if they could convince me to voter for Hillary even after she repeatedly sold out progressives, not just on Iraq but on the Patriot Act and other issues.


Given the history here, this “invitation” leaves me feeling more than a little queasy.

And given her politics of appeasing the Bushies, I am not actually disposed to vote for her. Living in the safely Democratic state of Massachusetts, I have this luxury. If she is the candidate, I expect to vote for a third-party candidate.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Liberals vs. Conservatives: A Response to Charles Hayes

Charles Hayes is one of my favorite commentators. Coming from a very conservative background, he nonetheless has a very progressive slant. He first came to my attention as a client several years ago, seeking publicity help for his brilliant book on self-education and liberalism, Beyond the American Dream.

I’ve just read two of his essays posted here: “Liberal vs. Conservative: Peace at Last.” and “Did the Cold War Condition Us to Fear Democracy?”

Like everything I’ve read by Charles, these are very thoughtful pieces. Not an easy read, but certainly within all of our grasp, and worth the effort.

Charles sees five pillars holding up society, but the liberals lean on two and conservatives on the other three, causing a great deal of friction. In typical Charles fashion–a brilliant and very well-read self-educated man–he quotes many sources, including George Lakoff (whose analysis I think is vital for an understanding of the liberal vs. the conservative mind.

And Charles’ perspective on this is especially fascinating because he was raised a southern conservative, is a veteran (Marines), and came to liberalism much later in life. Personally, I think liberals have at least as much need for community as conservatives, but they seek a *different kind* of community. And both liberals and conservatives can support caring communities; evangelical churches and fundamentalist Muslims have often been actively involved in homeless shelters, feed-the-hungry, and other social service ventures.

I’ve been having a correspondence this week with a very conservative Muslim friend who’s active on a publishing discussion list that I frequent–a retired state trooper who now runs a press that publishes American Muslim fiction, especially by women. She and I value many of the same things, but the expression of those values takes very different forms. Yet we have a great deal of respect for each other. Today, she proposed an Israel-Palestine peace idea that would make any liberal proud. And yet she repeatedly razzes on a listmate who is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, accuses him of hating America, and tells us that we have a great deal to fear from radical Muslim extremists, even though she sees them as violating key precepts of Islam.

One of the things I’ve learned to do well is to seek common ground with people who are different from me. They can hear me a lot better that way, and perhaps some part of my message of peace and social change gets through. My dialogue with this woman is an example of that, the sort of dialogue that Charles says is entirely too absent from the discourse.

And I think he’s right. We spend so much time shouting at each other and so little time listening., Yet we make big progress when we do engage, and listen, and talk.

My greatest successes as an organizer/activist always come when I’m able to help people find unity. It gave me huge satisfaction back when I did Save the Mountain (2000) to drive around the neighborhood and see our lawn signs sharing lawns with signs for Gore, Nader, *and* Bush. We had found the common ground–and we involved thousands of people and won a nearly complete victory. And I find, over and over again, for 30 years, that when we listen respectfully to each other, we not only find common ground, but we grow in our thinking a our analysis is challenged.

Guest Blog by Chris Bauer: Mission & Values

Note from Shel: I’ve been reading Chris’s ethics blog for a long time and he’s listed in my blogroll. i liked this enough that I asked for permission to post it here.

The Mission of Your Mission Statement vs. The Value of Your Values Statement
By Chris Bauer

A frightening number individuals and companies say they really don’t need a values statement because, after all, everything is covered by their mission statement. That’s a sure sign that either the mission statement or its application needs some serious work. Both are frequently the case.

Mission statements are intended to be a summary statement of why your organization exists and concisely let the world know what your purpose is. That is, after all, what a mission is.

A values statement, on the other hand, should equally concisely tell your employees, along with the rest of the world, the essentials of how your business runs. Among its most critical functions, a values statement needs to:

Make clear to employees the values that are to inform their job behavior all day, every day. In other words, when there isn’t a rule for something, or when there are multiple possible ways to make a decision, your values statement should effectively guide their choice regarding what to do.

Allow employees to unambiguously judge the appropriateness of every action in their working day by discerning whether or not those actions or are not aligned with your stated values. (This should simultaneously be a great tool for helping employees judge the ethics of their actions or intended actions.)

Accurately tell the public what values they can expect to see brought to life when dealing with your company.

The value of a well-written values statement is enormous. It not only creates an easily-applied guide and gauge for the appropriateness of any employee’s behavior at any time, but can equally easily be used as the foundation for building better management, leadership, and customer-service at all levels of your organization. After all, if each of these functions were to be constantly driven by your most important values, wouldn’t that necessarily assure both significant and positive changes?

Could your organization use help in developing a values statement that will drive better management, leadership, and customer service all while simultaneously helping assure ethical conduct at all levels of your business? Contact Christopher Bauer by return email or by using the electronic comment card found by clicking here. Thanks!

copyright 2007 by Christopher Bauer - all rights reserved

(Information on Bauer Ethics Seminars is available at

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Persuasion: How to “Ju-Jitsu” a Core Belief

As a marketing consultant and copywriter with a focus on global social/environmental change, I read a ton of books and articles on persuasion. It’s a crucial skill for me to be able to understand what our brains, hearts, and bodies really want in order to move forward–whether it’s to buy a product, pick up a free report, or take an action to change the world.

As a result, I read a lot of e-mail newsletters from marketers–one of them is Harlan Kilstein, who’s been sending a very powerful and useful series of e-mails outlining the principles in his NLP copywriting course. Today, he told a story about an incredible act of persuasion by the famous hypnotist Milton Erickson. His patient was a deeply religious Christian who had farted loudly in a very public situation (while presenting to a room full of people)–and was so convinced she had committed some absolutely unpardonable sin that she became a recluse, fleeing from all human contact and hiding behind grocery delivery service so she never had to go out.

Rather than trying to beat her head against the metaphorical wall trying to convince the patient that this was crazy, Erickson went right into her core belief and used it to leverage change:

He opened up an anatomy book and told her no human engineer could make a valve that let out air but contained liquid and solids, and air.

He told her she needed to respect God’s creation.


Wow, indeed! That is about the most powerful harnessing and flipping of a core belief I’ve ever come across–and if it had been up to me, even though I’ve studied persuasion for years, I don’t think I could have ever taped into that powerful belief in a way that completely turned this woman’s life around.

Erickson went on in the therapy to actually train her to fart–all because he structured it in such a way that she totally had to accept
the truth of his statement, within her own belief system, even though it contradicted all her behavior since the farting incident.

Wow, wow, and wow, again!