Monday, June 2, 2008

People power

Making the world a better place one person at a time feels like simple commonsense to me. It is a lesson I learnt from my early days in business. When I was selling stuff, we figured fast that if we could get one box of product into a store, we had the fantastic opportunity to create a partnership for life. It is the same with our current environmental, cultural and social challenges. If one person shifts their attitude, you can count on that shift rippling through their family and friends. From there, it is a short viral hop to workplaces, local communities and out into the wider region. What we have to have is that first bunch of inspirers who take the message to heart, set it alight and share it with the world.

This philosophy is why I am increasingly concerned by how apathetic and hopeless many people feel about the challenges we face. They feel apathetic because they don’t feel they have any control – and this in an era where markets and marketing are being transformed by the shift in control from manufacturers and retailers to the people who buy and use products. Now, while I’m glad Al Gore got the world to sit up and take notice of the threat of climate change, I believe it’s time to move on and focus on what we can each do as individuals. Knowing about a problem is an important first step, but knowing and then simply feeling bad about it, makes no difference at all.

If you think this one-person-at-a-time approach is too low-key, take heart from work Saatchi & Saatchi S did just before they joined us. Working with people from Wal-Mart, they developed what they called PSP (Personal Sustainability Projects). Some of these projects were as small as walking to work. Others involved community clean-ups. All represented a shift in attitude toward sustainability and people power. I’ll post more on this remarkable program as it begins to take hold in Saatchi & Saatchi, but let’s remember that even when doom and gloom surrounds you, one step can be the beginning of a journey towards rejuvenation and change.

Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die today.