Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekly Spotlight: To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her Arms is a modern non-profit organization "dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and to invest directly into treatment and recovery."

This non-profit has a unique story. The organization started when 5 friends helped detox Renee, a 19-year old girl addicted to cocaine and hurting herself by cutting. When a treatment center refused Renee treatment because she was high-risk and needed to detox, these 5 courageous and loving friends took her life into their own arms for 5 days.

This organization started as a MySpace page dedicated to Renee and her story while trying to raise money for her treatment by selling To Write Love On Her Arms t-shirts. Today, almost 3 years later, the organization continues to help victims of depression and addiction by offering support, hope, and providing a forum for discussing these problems openly. The organization has used non-traditional forums such as MySpace, Facebook, SocialVibe and the use of street teams to raise awareness about these often hidden problems.

This organization targets teens and college-aged adults by involving music, poetry and forums that speak directly to this target. The organization took a serious problems and made it contemporary and progressive to speak to this young target and market their message in a form that would reach young adults. Each year, the organization sponsors a TWLOHA day at colleges, universities and high schools around the country. Students are asked to write love on their arms inspirational messages with markers to show their support and raise awareness for the cause. The organizations also sponsors concerts around the country to bring communities together to help with the TWLOHA cause.

Click here for more information, pictures, videos, and to check out the To Write Love On Her Arms store.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008 Holiday Donation Season

With a significant downturn in the American economy, many people are wondering what their financial future will hold. The stock market has taken record breaking falls, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930’s. Business failure, independent wealth, retirement funds, and housing foreclosure are main topics of discussion beingheard around the country. The ensuing economic recession has many people safeguarding their wealth and cautiously spending, especially with the upcoming holiday season fast approaching. Does this mean non-profit organization donations, which usually spike at this time of year, are going to decrease?

Unfortunately, non-profit organizations are familiar with financial suffering due to a weak economy. The recession that started in 2000 and peaked with the 9-11 attacks caused financial strain to the charitable sector that took years to overcome. Ironically, now that many non-profits are again starting to turn profits and recover from deficits they will again undergo financial loss. After the 9-11 attacks of September of 2001, the number of mid-sized non-profit organizations that operated in a deficit rose 20%, totaling over 40%. These organizations did not see relief until 2005. Many of these non-profits saw an increase in expenses and a decrease in donations, suggesting that while revenue was not coming in the need of services these non-profits provided increased. These numbers only increased if the organizations were government funded. Though the current economic situation looks bleak, many not-for-profits learned valuable lessons during the last recession on how to operate with lower expenses and cut costs. President and CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund, Clara Miller gives advice,
“Nonprofits that choose to learn from the challenges that the sector experienced during the last recession will be well positioned to deal with a new one. What nonprofits do now will have consequences that resonate far beyond the bottom lines of the organizations. The expected economic downturn will pose serious challenges for clients that rely on the services of nonprofits, particularly those in low-income communities. With fewer dollars flowing into the sector, nonprofits face the possibility of being forced to cut services at a time of increased need. Philanthropists, government, and nonprofit organizations will need to work together much more closely to ensure ongoing services for at-risk populations."

With experts calling the immediate financial outlook for non-profits the “perfect storm” situation, here are some statistics and survey results:
• 51% of adults plan on donating this holiday season.
• Only 33% of donators polled say they will donate less for the 2008 holiday season, then they donated for the 2007 holiday season.
• Non-profits that provide faith-based, social, and health/disease services are most likely to receive donations of all levels.
• 27% of donators say that the organizations website is the best resource and most helpful in their decision about donating.
• $3 billion is the estimated donation amount for the 2008 holiday season.

Here is a breakdown of WHO is donating this holiday season:
• 54% of women and 48% of mean plan to donate.
• 64% of people with household income of more than $100K plan to donate online.
• 46% of 18-24 year olds and 50% of 25-34 year olds plan to donate online.
• 53% of 55-64 year olds plan to donate online.
• 46% of the group who said their financial situation became substantially worse during the past 12 months still plan to donate online this holiday season

Here is a breakdown of planned donation amounts:
• >$100 – 42%
• $100 to $1000 – 20%
• <$1000 – 4%
• Undecided – 35%

Though this holiday seasons outcome looks promising experts say the next couple of years might be skeptical. John Havens, an authority on wealth patterns, predicts that the current economic crisis might affect charitable giving for more then a year. This prediction comes from the real value of wealth. From past recessions, net household wealth did not directly impact giving, though does play a significant part in donation levels. Household income does directly affect donations; therefore, with income holding steady donation amounts for individual households should remain even with the household donation history. A decrease in average income levels would most likely prove disastrous for non-profits. Large-scale donations, often planned a year in advance, should not see a decline until 2009. Consequently, non-profits are preparing to react accordingly to donation amounts received. With services needed more then ever and donations expected to decline, efficiency is necessary for the future of non-profit organizations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Non-Profit Resource List

There are many cheap but effective ways for non profits to implement their marketing strategies efficiently. The following is a list of online marketing resources; some are free and others cost a small fee though all help give non profits a voice in the market.

  • is working to encourage philanthropy as a business strategy. They have implemented a free checkout system that allows non-profits to use this free system to secure donations through the charity website. This free checkout system allows easy log in and makes giving simple for donors worldwide!
  • gives non profits a forum for their voice through their Nonprofit Program. Now partnered with Google, the free checkout system can also be applied to an organizations uploaded videos. YouTube even provides a tip sheet that teaches non profits how to effectively use the website to help their cause.

  • is a website dedicated to "democracy in action." This non-profit organization helps other non-profits lobby for political change by bringing both small and large organizations together from across the country. The organization provides software that helps ease the complications of lobbying.
  • provides a great learning center on technology for non-profit organizations. Registered members can also use TechSoup to download or purchase discounted computer software and hardware that has been donated to the organization.
  • allows users to access fonts, shareware, freeware, drivers and demos for every product you might need for your organization. This website is a great test run for organizations that are looking to invest in computer software but would like to sample the product first.
  • is a non-profit organization that provides consulting services for other non-profits.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekly Spotlight: The ONE Campaign

The One campaign is a revolutionary movement of over 2.4 million people and over 100 non-profit, humanitarian and advocacy organizations; it is the largest anti-poverty campaign in history. With this coalition ONE is dedicated to raising awareness to fight global poverty, hunger and disease and raise monies in an effort to eradicate poverty and fight the global epidemic of AIDS. The ONE campaign believes that providing help to countries in need would transform an entire generation in the poorest countries at a cost that equals one percent of the U.S. budget.

ONE PERSON. ONE VOICE. ONE VOTE AT A TIME. is the ONE campaigns slogan, and the organization believes that each person that voices their concern will eventually lead to a better and safer world for all. The campaign does not ask for monetary donations, but a person's voice and vote.

This campaign absolutely amazes me because its reach is outstanding. The simple fact that the campaign brought over 100 non-profit groups together to work simultaneously to fight for a common cause is ground breaking and should be an example for other causes to work toward.

Click here for more information about the ONE campaign.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Spotlight: Central Asia Institute

The Central Asia Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to building and supporting community-based education is Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially education for girls. Greg Mortenson, co-founder and Executive Director, started the organization in 1996 after he met the Balti people of Pakistan during a climb of the world's second largest mountain, K2. Inspired by his warm welcome into the village of the Balti, Mortenson promised to build the village kids a school. Today, 78 schools have been built and are supported by the organization, along with 520 teachers, and 18,700 students (10,980 are girls).

Each school built by Central Asia Institute takes extreme risks and involvement due to the remote areas of the organizations reach and the general location. The organization is operating in one of the most volatile areas of the world where outside influence and help is not always welcome.

The organization also operates the Pennies for Peace program that teaches American school children about the world beyond their experience and how their help can make a difference to schoolchildren on the opposite side of the globe. Children are taught the giving can make a difference, even if it is one penny at a time.

The Central Asia Institutes formation and Greg Mortenson's story can be found in the novel titled, Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I read this book in 2007 and even today I remain awed by the sheer determination and risks that Mortenson took to keep his dream alive. Mortenson is truly a inspiring hero and a great example of what a giving heart can achieve.

Click here for more information about the Central Asia Institute and the novel Three Cups of Tea.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Non-Profit Marketing: Being Charitable to the Charity

The Problem:

If a product can’t create “buzz” then it’s not going to sell. If people don’t talk about your product, it’s labeled not good enough. Now substitute this product for a charitable cause and put it in the same problematical situation. This little equation shows the problem 99% of non-profit organizations are trying to battle. They are told by the communications industry to find a voice, to brand their unique cause to make it marketable, but they are having problems finding their loudspeakers. Often, when they do, the volume is stuck on low.

The (non)Competition:

Many people will not agree with above. Breast Cancer, the new “green” movement, AIDS, the Children’s Miracle Network and a thousand others are splattered onto our television screen and computer monitors, chirped into our ear by that “guy” in the radio, and even seamlessly integrated into many of the consumer products we buy. These popular kids within the non-profit class have worked hard for their status and corporate giants have adopted many. Cause marketing has grown exponentially in recent years, and admittedly its nice to see some good among the 4,000 some-odd advertisements a consumer is exposed to everyday.

“What’s the problem?” you may be asking. If donations are up and word is spreading there isn’t one, right? Wrong. The problem is for every one (1) non-profit organization that receives media time, publicity, or donations, 99 are ignored. In a market where the service can’t be considered superfluous, this is a sad statistic.

The Possible Client:

How about the Pamunkey Regional Library? The Firefighters Association? Americantowns? Or Sergeant Santa?

These four organizations are all local non-profit causes in the Richmond area, and all are desperate to find a better way to collect contributions besides calling and begging. No one wants to live without a local fire department or tell our children we couldn’t afford Santa this year. Noelle Weaver explained this situation in her article, “‘Do-Gooders’ Are Brands Too” (AdvertisingAge) by saying, “Nonprofits and foundations are still treated like orphan children in the advertising and marketing industry.” The problem for these organizations is not that people refuse to donate, but that they don’t know the need to donate.

Or more simply, these organizations have no voice.

The Evolving Situation:

The advertising and marketing industry holds the key that can unleash these suppressed voices. Most agencies have a non-profit on their client list. Some work pro bono, others are paid, but 99% (the key number) of non-profit clients are massive causes. This means money to spare, a developed brand and media exposure around the country: basically a win-win situation for both charity and agency.

Weaver and Gary Mueller, author of “Cause and Effect” (AdWeek), explain the attraction agencies have to successful non-profits and the difficulty agencies face by taking on “underserved causes” as Mueller calls them. First is that the agency gains nothing but the “warm-fuzzy” when working with non-profits. No agency press coverage, no awards, and rarely any money. Another is that non-profits are unable or unwilling to take creative risks, which leads to “formulaic” work explained by Weaver.

Mueller, quoted in “Advertising for a better world: The nation’s only nonprofit ad agency crafts messages with a mission” by James Diers (, says, “Many [agencies] don’t even develop a strategy or a plan; they just come up with a creative poster or PSA, pitch it, and don’t worry about its effectiveness.” Mueller thinks differently about the subject, emphasizing the importance of working at the same level of thinking, strategy, and production to create the same outcome for non-profits as agencies do with “real” clients.

Mueller has found an effective and rewarding solution for this problem. Though still working as creative director for BVK in Milwaukee, he also started his own agency, Serve Marketing. Serve is the first and only non-profit advertising agency, a breakthrough in both the ad industry and non-profit world. Working with the “underdogs” of non-profits in the Milwaukee area, Mueller applies the same strategy in developing a message at Serve as he would with BVK, often with very aggressive and unusual creative outcomes.

With only three full-time employees and around 75 volunteers from the industry, Serve donated about $3.8 million in services and media space in 2005. Imagine the impact if for-profit agencies could donate even a fraction of this to local non-profits in their respective cities.

Agencies could also allow employees more volunteer freedom. Serve account executive Sarah Salzer talks about the struggle that industry people encounter when trying to volunteer in Diers article. “It’s not always easy to [use volunteers] because a lot of agencies don’t want their creatives to work outside for anyone else. But people are starting to know us and what we stand for.”

The Simple Solution:

Here are some choices:
1) Become a maverick, start your own agency and have the freedom to take on whatever client you choose *(such as Mueller).
2) Push your agency to break the mold and allow more lenient volunteer opportunities.
3) Work for an agency that puts pride aside and “adopts” a local cause.

The industry needs to realize the importance for small, unrecognized non-profits to have a little marketing guidance, and that they have the ability to help. Every prevalent cause today started out in a low-man-on-the-totem-pole position. Rotation in popularity is necessary to keep consumers interest peaked and donations flowing.

If for no other reason, everyone can use a little boost in the giving sector of his or her life. Feeling needed and knowing your helping a meaningful cause can only be positive, especially in an industry that can be stressful and overwhelming.

As for creative talent, just because it’s not within work boundaries should not mean you cannot use it. Being creative is a way of life, not a work attribute that should be shut off outside the office.

Take the masters advice:

“What would you get out of it? If you’re like me, you’ll get the joy of knowing that you used your skills and your creativity to make a difference- to give a little-known cause hope, a strong identity and the ability to make an impact. It ain’t easy work. But it comes with satisfaction that no paycheck of any size can bring.”
-Gary Mueller, Founder and President of Serve Marketing, evp, cd BVK Milwaukee, author of “Cause and Effect”.


Cause And Effect

March 27, 2006

By Gary Mueller

Breast cancer. AIDS. Heart disease. Drug addiction. Land mines. What creative person wouldn't jump at the chance to work on any one of these well-publicized, well-funded causes?

But what if the local crisis nursery called? Or the shaken baby association? Or the local epilepsy chapter? How many of us would line up to create awareness for Hmong advancement? Or develop a brochure for the Chrohn's & Colitis Foundation? Or brand a small, intergenerational day care?

There are more than 1.4 million registered nonprofits in the U.S., the bulk of which are nothing more than tiny organizations with little funding, staffed by passionate, committed volunteers who dream of creating greater awareness for their causes. But because they lack the professional marketing experience and star-studded boards, they have little hope of registering even a blip on the public's radar screen.

I must admit that, after 15 years in the trenches as a copywriter and creative director for a wide range of regional and national brands, it's still not easy convincing a dozen inexperienced volunteers of the value of marketing their cause—let alone getting them all to agree on a provocative communications strategy and often very untraditional creative approaches. But there is something exhilarating about being on the side of the underdog, standing by the little guy who doesn't seem to stand a chance against the big, well-managed and well-oiled nonprofit machines. There's something especially satisfying about helping an orphaned cause gain support, or a silent organization find its voice.

Don't get me wrong—I have nothing against large, successful nonprofits. It just seems that while the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. And we advertising folk have a lot to do with that.

Imagine what we could accomplish if every agency donated time each year to one or two relatively unknown nonprofits. Imagine the impact we could have if we chose organizations based on need rather than popularity.

There are 1.8 million Americans who suffer from epilepsy. But nowhere will you see a national campaign to raise awareness or contributions. Every year, more than 10,000 children in the U.S. are injured in riding-mower accidents, but do you think there's ever been a campaign related to that cause? Endometriosis. Gang violence. Living kidney donation. Imagine the change we could effect if we chose to help the most difficult causes.

More than 40,000 women in the U.S. die of breast cancer every year. While that is a very worthwhile cause, there are more cause-marketing campaigns built around breast cancer awareness than any other five causes in America combined. But more Americans die each year from colon cancer. More than 1 million people are devastated by Chrohn's disease, and another 1.5 million by lupus. But how could you know this? Those causes do not have a strong voice. They don't have the biggest and best creatives beating a path to their door.

I must admit that I myself have been guilty of jumping on the bandwagon. Our agency recently created a campaign for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's Race for the Cure, as well as the latest Partnership for a Drug-Free America campaign. I am proud of that work. But I also know that, had we not done it, there would have been a raft of agencies lining up for the assignment. That is why we also have made a conscious effort to help less-popular causes.

Imagine if the best and brightest of our profession got together, in every market, and decided they could do more. Then imagine if they acted on it. Here in Milwaukee, a group of creatives, account and PR people and I have started our own nonprofit, called Serve Marketing. The goal: bring the most talented individuals together, volunteering their time to create public-awareness campaigns that elevate the voice of tiny nonprofits, many of which have nowhere else to turn. With support from our agency, more than 75 Serve volunteers last year donated $1.3 million in time and money helping Serve's clients. Media outlets, production and music companies, talent agencies, printers and photographers donated another $2.5 million in media space and services.

Imagine the same model duplicated in city after city. We could lead a renaissance in nonprofit marketing, one that evens the playing field.

What would you get out of it? If you're like me, you'll get the joy of knowing that you used your skills and your creativity to make a difference—to give a little-known cause hope, a strong identity and the ability to make an impact. It ain't easy work. But with it comes satisfaction that no paycheck of any size can bring.

Gary Mueller is evp, cd at BVK in Milwaukee and founder and president of Serve, which helps underserved nonprofits. He can be reached at


'Do-Gooders' Are Brands Too
Nonprofits, NGOs Are Spending Big Bucks to Get Message Out in Face of Corporate Cause Competition

May 29, 2008

by Noelle Weaver

Hollywood actors, rock stars and corporate titans are all embracing cause marketing and increasing our perception that we need to act now to "save the world." To do it, we need to buy something. Create something. Use something.

Never before has the world of corporate brands and consumer pop culture been so closely linked to cause marketing and the philanthropic world. But if corporate America is all about effecting change, what about the millions of nonprofits, nongovernment organizations and social foundations that have made it their sole focus to "do good" instead of pushing this season's SKUs off store shelves?

Nonprofits and foundations are still treated like orphan children in the advertising and marketing industry.

Sure, within our industry, agencies have historically adopted causes and helped people in need for a year or two at a time, and maybe lent some creative talent. Too bad if the search consultants won't consider the creative as part of a submission. We know we won an award or two -- and it makes us look good. It also makes us feel good. And isn't our creative, one-off public service announcement helping them generate a little buzz and a spike in donations? But we know deep in our hearts that these organizations could never really be clients.

You know the excuses. As an agency, one could argue that there's no solid business gains to be made. Nonprofits don't feed the bottom line. You won't get press coverage for all your hard work. They're thick with bureaucratic things that never get approved or are focus-grouped to death. Nonprofits don't have the guts (or willingness) to break from the pack. The work is formulaic. And as organizations go, many struggle with the fact that marketing is seen as a dirty world in the nonprofit sector, a necessary evil that no one admits spending too much money or time on. To nonprofits, agencies don't "get" the intricate nature of their brands. Their ideas are too risky for conservative audiences. "Our work and creative strategy is formulaic, and it's always worked for us before," they seem to say.

But lately, things have started to change.

It's simple. In today's market, brands matter. In fact nonprofits, NGOs and social organizations are starting to spend big bucks on marketing, advertising, public relations, research and brand identity to drive awareness across the consumer and philanthropic landscape -- over 7.3 billion by some estimates. And they have to. There's calls to buy green. Support this cause. Threats of a recession. Weekly natural disasters. It's no wonder that donor fatigue is setting in. Organizations have to move beyond mailing out a cute, fuzzy brochure when 223 other nonprofits and corporate cause marketers are competing for the same dollar.

Crispin's rise to fame was through the work they did for the American Legacy Foundation. This past summer, Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Change launched an agency review in which big agencies competed for big ad dollars. And let's not forget brand names like the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who know who they are, what they stand for and how to capitalize emotionally on their brand.

Many of the successful nonprofit organizations in today's marketplace are recognizing that it is more important than ever to follow the laws of branding. They need to create their point of distinction or risk blending in with their competitive set. They need to know how to better tell their story and who to tell it to. Powerful nonprofit brands and social foundations will raise more money, attract more volunteers and help more people if the public better understands who they are and what they stand for.

While work for these organizations may not be game-changers, as small agencies, we offer the speed, flexibility and strategic insight many nonprofits need. Today, creativity and creative thinking is a powerful driving force (look at the success of UNICEF's Tap Project). More and more nonprofits are using the web and other "new media" tools to find new ways to raise funds, build communities that create lasting relationships, tell their stories and compete against the corporations that are spending three times as much on marketing for that special pink limited-edition whirly-bob.

For nonprofits and foundations, it's all about the "brand." Just like the big consumer giants, their success is determined by the perception consumers have about their products and services.


Advertising for a better world: The nation’s only nonprofit ad agency crafts messages with a mission.

December 2006

By James Diers

“I flail around so much—I spill a lot of coffee.”

Gary Mueller sits in his office chair, briskly applying pen-stick stain remover to a fresh coffee blotch on the cuff of his khakis. Tall, tanned, and athletic, he wears a plain gray T-shirt that complements his salt-and-pepper goatee, trimmed extra-close like his hair. What Mueller, 42, self-effacingly calls “flailing around” could be more gently described as restless enthusiasm, evinced by busy hands and a constant readiness to speak. As president of Serve marketing, the nation’s first and only nonprofit advertising and marketing firm, he’s got plenty to talk about.

Based in Milwaukee, Serve provides nonprofit groups—what Mueller refers to as “underserved causes”—with marketing strategies and creative services. While causes such as breast cancer research, AIDS prevention, and drug abuse education enjoy celebrity endorsements and high media profiles among America’s charitable concerns, Serve caters to smaller, more obscure, lesser funded, and sometimes local groups. The Wisconsin-based Shaken Baby Association, the Family Violence Partnership, the Peace Council, and the Brain Injury Association of America are among its clients. Mueller says the agency is a revolutionary vehicle, not only for leveling the playing field among philanthropies, but also for challenging the advertising industry’s uneven approach to nonprofits.

“Every big ad agency handles some level of pro bono work,” says Mueller, who also works full time as creative director at the for-profit firm BVK. “But not all agencies put the same strategic criteria into developing those campaigns. Many don’t even develop a strategy or a plan; they just come up with a creative poster or PSA [public service announcement], pitch it, and don’t worry about its effectiveness. We need to apply the same level of strategic thinking we would give to any paying client, and the same level of insight and creativity.”

On a late summer Monday in Serve’s sparse downtown office, Mueller is leading a presentation to members of a local group dedicated to thwarting teen pregnancy. He excitedly shuffles through a series of mocked-up ad campaigns. In one set of print ads, photos of shirtless teen-age boys have been manipulated to give them enormous pregnant bellies. An alternate guerrilla-marketing concept involves leaving swaddled dolls on the doorsteps of the city’s most influential civic leaders. As with most of Serve’s portfolio, the key messages are delivered with provocative, attention-grabbing imagery and direct language.

“Because we work with underserved causes trying to get on the radar, we tend to go edgier. It breaks through the clutter,” says Serve account executive Sara Knoll. Currently, she and executive director Heather Aldrich are Serve’s only full-time staffers; the bulk of the agency’s creative work comes from a wide web of volunteer professionals who donate their time, expertise, and production resources. As Serve has garnered more attention within the industry, the number of calls from would-be volunteers has jumped.

“It’s not always easy to [use volunteers] because a lot of agencies don’t want their creatives to work outside for anyone else,” Knoll says. “But people are starting to know us and what we stand for. We’re not trying to hire their people away.”

Mueller’s bosses at BVK provide a solid chunk of funding and support for Serve, but as with any nonprofit venture, there are ongoing struggles. “It’s a big undertaking,” Knoll says. “We don’t look for big salaries. We constantly have to be fund-raising four ourselves in order to pay rent. But it’s always for good causes, and our hope is that other agencies will be inspired to do similar things.”

As for what inspired Mueller to create Serve in the first place, he proudly points to his work with the Shaken Baby Association, a small Milwaukee-area group dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of shaking infants and small children. When her own son suffered severe brain damage after being shaken by a sitter, Shaken Baby Association cofounder Margie Stelzel decided to team with other mothers in hopes of raising awareness about a largely unpublicized problem. They eventually sought help from Mueller.

“Here was an organization that had no money, no well-heeled board, no connections, and there was this terrible epidemic in Milwaukee, this rash of shakings,” Mueller recalls. “I thought, if you had only one chance to get the message out, what would you do?”

The resulting campaign focused on a bold radio spot: A baby cries uninterrupted for nearly 60 seconds, followed by a concise admonition that, no matter how tired or frustrated you are, you “never, ever shake a baby.” Mueller helped to organize a so-called radio roadblock in which every major station in Milwaukee broadcast the spot at the same time. Not only did the event generate media coverage for the cause, but it also captured the attention of a state senator who subsequently introduced legislation to mandate education on the topic.

“What Gary is doing is saying, ‘I’ve had a good life and now I’m giving back,’” Stelzel says. “It’s not because of money; it’s trying to make this world a better place.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Radical Truths

My Radical Truths

Analysis of Sally Hogshead’s “Radical Careering”

Radical Truth 02: Revolution is the new Status Quo (Change)

Change seems to be an all-important idea these days. From the ’08 Presidential election to Main Street, the common outcry seems to be “CHANGE!” Our older generations are still extremely weary of the concept, implementing tried and true (though dangerous) business practices when they should be tapping out, while us young guns are willing to flip upside down to see if change can bring about a better solution. Remember: Each generation will one day become the future leaders of our country. This fact is my Prozac for unpleasant work situations and a boss who thinks alphabetizing a Rolodex for a work project translates into a meaningful experience. I’m better and more educated then that simple task requires, but I’m willing to put in my “dues”, play the game, and secretly plot my revenge. Ok, so the revenge part I’m kidding about (sort-of) but I understand that change is here, NOW. Though I’m currently at the bottom of the food chain, I know how to adapt to that six letter word and work my way upwards and onwards. We’ve been told that business as it was known is obsolete with no guaranteed raises and nice martini lunches; well I have one word for that, DUH! Though it could be nice, screw martinis and screw comfort. I don’t want to practice the same type of business my father did, I want to CHANGE it for the better.

Radical Truth 08: Work is hard

I wish someone had told me this four and a half years ago when I started college. If I had known then what do now, I would have gone for my MRS. degree and not my bachelors. Seriously, work is hard, I agree. Not only is it hard in the sense that your actual responsibilities are daunting, but the relationships you must make and upkeep, looking presentable, pleasing other people and being on your best behavior in any situation is exhausting. I learned my lesson at PowerPact, LLC during my first internship. Not only was I not used to working ten hour days (most days around lunch time I could have seriously taken a nap on my desk), but the high pressure atmosphere, demanded perfection and the fact that my supervisor was in Ohio and didn’t have much time to direct me was just plain difficult. I learned hard work translates to good outcomes. The internship taught me an extreme amount of self-reliance and gave me the self-confidence to do so. The days that were slow, when some pressure was released, were not as rewarding.

Radical Truth 12: Luck is for wimps

I could not agree more with this radical truth, mostly because I just simply don’t believe in luck. Everything that is labeled as luck has a reasonable explanation behind it. Vegas. The Lottery. They are all statistical chances. I consider luck as what you make of a situation, not what the situation makes of you. People often brand potential opportunities that present themselves as luck, but we have to recognize the potential and act on the opportunity. I think luck is a crutch that people use to explain situations they cannot explain themselves. Friends say I’m lucky to live the very comfortable life that I have. My parents support me financially, I’m about to graduate, and I don’t have a true need in the world. I look at it as my parents were smart with their money, and it was important to them that I had the opportunity to go to college without having to worry about money or graduate in huge debt. I realized that I had this opportunity and acted on it. I’m not lucky; I just have extremely amazing parents who want me to be the best person I can be. Not everyone can say they have it easy, but I also didn’t take advantage of the situation. I’ve worked throughout college to give me a head start when I’m on my own, while maintaining good grades. That wasn’t luck, it was me fulfilling my potential and acting on opportunities.

Radical Truth 15: Aspire to be the dumbest person in the room

This is my favorite Radical Truth from the book. I compare this truth to being a fly on the wall, and who hasn’t imagined or wished to be a fly on the wall in certain situations? It’s not that I’m not smart, I am. I am an avid reader. I am educated. Simply, I was blessed with brains. More importantly I was blessed with street smarts and common sense. This still does not make me the smartest person in any room; it means that I have the potential to be. I think this truth can be taken in many different ways. One is that you should choose a work environment that has the potential to allow you to grow, learn and expand your experience through your co-workers. The other is that you can sit back in any situation, be it work or social, and learn from other people. You might not always learn something new, but a different perspective or thought process to get to the same idea can be an excellent learning experience. I try to do this where my active participation in a conversation is not necessary. You would be surprised what you learn from listening to people converse. I always remember: Surround yourself with greatness and you too will become great!

Radical Truth 18: Invent option C

This truth is one that I must learn to remember. I tend to look at things as pure black and white. I often forget that there are different shades of gray in the middle. In the past, I’ve found that the gray is often the best option with the most creative outcomes.

Radical Truth 21: Honor the karmic circle

What comes around goes around. It’s true. I believe in it wholly. You do not mess around with karma. I may not believe in luck, but karma will always come back to get you. This is why I always try to do the right thing. I strive to do one good deed a day, even if it’s small (like holding the door for someone). Good deeds create good vibes! This is especially true in the workplace.

Radical Truth 23: You “job” is not your “career”

My job right now might be a marketing intern, but my career right now is a higher-learning devotee in promotions. My current job is working towards building my career. Hogshead is correct; a job is a means to and end, while a career is your unique impact on the professional world.

Radical Truth 30: Live in Verbs

My Favorite Action Verbs: (The ones I’ve used today are highlighted)

Solved. Achieved. Executed.

Improved. Led. Motivated.

Organized. Scheduled. Strengthened.

Produced. United. Developed.

Researched. Arbitrated. Defined.

Addressed. Edited. Negotiated.

Promoted. Inspired. Attained.

Spoke. Wrote. Prioritized.

Clarified. Analyzed. Evaluated.

Studied. Communicated. Facilitated.

Informed. Presented.

Radical Truth 33: Work ethic trumps talent

Work ethic is necessary in business. Talent is nice, but unnecessary. I always joke that advertising is the “rockstar” of the business world, and that is one reason I choose it as my major. I’ve found out I might not have much talent, but I do have work ethic. Yes, the business can be glamorous, but at the end it’s all work. Having a work ethic is the key to becoming successful. Without work ethic you have nothing. Some are given talent; I was taught principles.

Radical Truth 34: Applause is approximately .003% of success

Many people think that success is material, monetary, or status related. Each person asked to define it can define success differently. In my version, I have been successful in the obstacles that I have taken on, but others might not think so. The song, “Three Wooden Crosses”, by Randy Travis has a great line that puts a meaning to success for me…

I guess it’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,

It’s what you leave behind you when you go.

Radical Truth 40: Go for nervous

I am probably the most nerve-wracked person right now. I am twenty-two, about to be a college graduate and about to get cut-off financially (all scary situations), now add a horrible economy with failing businesses. Needless to say, I’m nervous. I have endless questions about the future, but with those questions also come endless possibilities. I have my goals to guide me; the rest is just a leap of faith.

Radical Truth 52: It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice

Kill ‘em with kindness. This truth is important to me. I think being nice is the key to good business, and niceness leads to other great traits in people, such as fairness and an even temper. This truth goes hand in had with truth 21: Karma. Wilson Mizner says it best, “Be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet the same people on the way down.”

Radical Truth 67: Mistakes are tuition

I will be the first to tell someone that I make mistakes everyday. No one is perfect, and I though I try and put my best foot forward I still slip up, but I learn from those mistakes. I bet there are still mistakes in this post even after I spend an hour proofing it (I apologize). Everyone is human.

Radical Truth 68: The most powerful catalyst for success is failure

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Failure is the ultimate kick in the butt. I found this out when I didn’t graduate as planned last semester. I felt totally worthless, even ashamed. Friends who did graduate were moving on to exciting new jobs, different cities, making money. I stayed exactly where I was. I now have myself back in gear and I WILL graduate and move on with everyone else.

Radical Truth 73: Lose early

There is nothing worse then watching someone try to hold on to something when it is already escaped his or her grasp. Again, I did it last semester. Backing away from something for a while does not mean you can never explore it again. I’m now back at school, and making progress.

Radical truth 81: Buck routine

This is one truth that I have mixed feelings about. I am a person that needs some resemblance of a routine everyday. This doesn’t mean I meticulously plan and time my every waking moment. Each day of the week has a different routine, but I get distracted and unbalanced if I don’t have an outline for the day. My need for a loose routine also does not mean that a curveball can’t be thrown and I won’t hit it. I can be spontaneous, I do not follow the same paths everyday, but I do plan my path before I take it.

Radical Truth 94: You are a work in progress

I’ll leave this one to Churchill…

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

-Sir Winston Churchill