Friday, January 30, 2009

Catchy Titles and Vegetarian Love

I've written about vegetarians. I've written about strategic persuasion. And I've written about PETA.

So it was fun to see this...

I read about it and first watched it here after linking from a weekly newsletter, a newsletter I would have deleted immediately and maybe even marked as spam had the subject not been:

Hiding the Homeless; Sex and Vegetables; Inauguration Inspiration

I couldn't resist opening it. Which was good. Opening it was the right thing to do.

Anyway, I think we can walk away from this little episode having learned a few lessons:

A. If you send out email newsletters, give them awesome titles.

2. Sex and activism are a tricky combination.

d. There must be a very weird group of people working for PETA. I want to meet them all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Liking the Words More

Moments after posting the first video to the Carrot Project Blog, I got this from my sis:

i don't keep up with your blog when you do videos. the seven minute time commitment is too much - even the four minute time commitment. i can't skim it, then go back, then focus on little parts. think about sentences one at a time. i guess i'm a weird blog reader/viewer - rarely reading right through on the first go and rarely watching a video. screens mess with my focus. i need to put headphones on that are falling apart. i like the words more.

Worth considering.

I like the words more too. And, when the right inspiration strikes, which it will, they'll be back.

But videos are sticking around. They're quick and revealing. They save sleep. And they tell extra truth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Legal Advice and Not Taking It

Be nice to friends and family investors. Even if the lawyers think you're crazy. I think. I hope.

I might need to do something about my hair in these videos. I feel like Clifford Stoll but without the mad professor excuse.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Attitude and the Brink

Success is a powerful thing psychologically. I guess tetering on the brink of success is too.

I'm excited to keep in touch with these guys. I want to see if they really truly do make a slam dunk movie. And I want to see how they respond. As people. However things turn out.

And, just in case, if you want to experience that "unbelievably awesome underlying message," watch the movie. You'll probably think I'm crazy. But you never know.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Carrot Chronicles

Apparently, two blogs and a Twitter account isn't enough for me. Apparently, I'm over my fear of multivoicedness. And, apparently, I can't resist linking to Gabe and Max at every opportunity.

The Carrot Project Blog, as of a couple of hours ago, is happening.

And that means I'll be reorganizing a bit. Thoughts about The Carrot Project there. Intermittently coherent rambling from a rookie social entrepreneur on A More Perfect Market. Music and rumors about Himalayan dams on Radical Transparency. Observations that fit into 140 characters on Twitter.

Or something like that. We'll see.

Posted via email from Radical Transparency

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cooking in the Shower

Might as well follow one incomplete thought related to Van Jones with another.

Van wants to solve two problems at once. He wants to employ one at risk resource, poor people, to heal and protect another, the natural world.

And one naysayer is getting metaphorical:

Let’s say I want to have a dinner party. It’s important that I cook dinner, and I’d also like to take a shower before the guests arrive. You might think, Well, it would be really efficient for me to cook dinner in the shower. But it turns out that if I try that I’m not going to get very clean and it’s not going to be a very good dinner. And that is an illustration of the fact that it is not always best to try to address two challenges with what in the policy world we call a single-policy instrument.

That's Harvard professor Robert Stavins, quoted in last week's New Yorker.

And, as much as it hurts to disagree with a good metaphor, if Van has the versatility, as the article reports, to charm both a roomful of high school dropouts and the leaders of the liberal elite, I say turn the water on, bust out the pots and pans, offer to help, and see how it goes.

If it fails, it fails. Van'll learn. We'll all learn.

I feel a little irresponsible dismission Professor Stavins before I really understand his opinion and counter-recommendations, but the fact that "it is not always best to try to address two challenges with what in the policy world we call a single-policy instrument" doesn't mean the right people in the right crisis given the right support can't and won't kill both birds with the same stone.

And I'm ready to bet that Van is the right people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another First Ever

My friend Tom is writing a novel, and, apparently, when you're writing a novel, you also do things like interview your friends about their early stage startup projects and send the results to the editors of socially responsible travel sites.

Late last night, Tom published the first ever article about The Carrot Project.

And, speaking of first evers, in 2006, the same Tom invited me to make my first ever blog post. And, still speaking of first evers, one year ago, the same Tom made the first ever comment on A More Perfect Market.

Hopefully, when the time comes, I can read fast enough to write him his first ever book review.

Posted via email from Radical Transparency

Late Night Video Update

Tried to slow things down a bit with this video. I think my sleepiness level helped.

More understandable and thus more useful than the crazy stuff? Or too long and disorganized?

And, as for my sweatshirt, I don't know anything about Under Armour. My guess is that they're not nearly crunchy enough. But who knows. We'll find out soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Participation and Dignity

I read the New Yorker article about Van Jones yesterday. It made me think about dignity.

Long before The Carrot Project became The Carrot Project, I went to talk to a wise and mumbly friend of mine about the website with which I was planning on saving the world.

I talked about educated and purposeful consumption, about corporate social responsibility, about demand and support and a race to the top.

The wise friend listened. She paced and pondered. And she finally mumbled. I think the essence here is dignity, she said. People need dignity in their work.

She went on. I listened. And thought. And wondered. And asked questions.

And dug for an understanding of that dignity. And only made it partway there.

But maybe Van Jones can help me get me closer.

He wants to solve two problems at once. He wants to employ one at risk resource, poor people, to heal and protect another, the natural world.

He wants the government to invest in energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, and clean energy production. And he wants the investment dollars to train a new workforce and pay them to build windmills, lay transmission cables, and weatherize buildings.

He wants take a huge piece of the most important work to be done and entrust it to forgotten people in economically stagnant communities. He wants to walk into those communities, ask those people if they want change, and then give them the tools to meaningfully participate in the creation of a new world.

And maybe that's the dignity my friend mumbled that day, the dignity she connected to my desire to support the crunchiest businesses. Maybe dignified work does more than just earn a paycheck. And maybe the next generation of dignified workers will wear Van Jones's green collars.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

One Down

I've been blogging for a year.

During that time I was named the 67th most important clean coal blogger.

Strange world these internets.

Here's to year two.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On Listening and Making Taste

Wiley sent me this link late last night.

I love that it puts pained human faces on the characters that spend big chunks of their lives trying to trick people into wanting and needing and buying things.

The tastemakers are hipsters, almost all White, almost all male, in their 30's or younger, and far fewer of them are gay than you would think. They are voracious, almost desperate consumers of popular culture and are nearly all filled with self-loathing because they work in advertising instead of producing any of that popular culture.

I love that it digs a bit at a fundamental problem with our economic culture, a problem The Carrot Project hopes to contribute to solving.

The corporations of the world, at least the ones more than 20 years old, still want to live in a top-down, command-and-control environment where they call all the shots. They want to produce goods and services that people will pay for, but they do not want the rabble to actually talk back to them.

And I love that Wiley is still, after close to three years of unsuccessful nudging, trying to make a Slashdot reader of me.


There's something big and important in that comment. And I don't think I'm even close to all the way to figuring it out. But I keep going back to that self loathing.

Wouldn't your average caricatured tastemaker be much less desperate and insecure if he were advertising the truth?

Maybe? Hmmm. I'll keep thinking.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bowie, Neckties, and Intuition Listening

In addition to dropping the always useful reminder that people that don't feel right wearing ties shouldn't look for jobs that make them wear ties, Gary Vee hated on advice addiction today.

I'm really tired of people asking me this: Dear Gary, Can you give me five things I should do to start my company? What are three tricks that you did to build Wine Library? What are seven ways you built up your Twitter list? What are nine things I should do for my brand?

Here's what you should do. You should listen to one person in the world. Yourself. The intuition listening that we are doing, as human beings, on a business level, is atrocious.

I love the passion behind what Gary says. And I can totally appreciate that an entrepreneur has to trust his heart first and everything other than his heart only if his heart approves. But I wonder what Gary would think about a ten tips for entrepreneurs list clearly comes from its author's heart.

A friend sent me this link in an email today: ten things startup entrepreneurs can learn from David Bowie.

It's a fun article.

Good Bowie stories:

Bowie has been criticised for being a cultural magpie, dabbling in various genres and cherry picking themes and styles for his own purposes. To me, this is one of the things that makes him interesting. As Oscar Wilde said, “talent borrows, genius steals”. To the uninformed, Bowie’s career during the 70s looks like a series of huge artistic leaps, but Seabrook [the post is written largely in reference to a book called Bowie in Berlin by Thomas Jerome Seabrook]
shows that at every stage, he was assembling and building on influences in other people’s work. What sets him apart from more predictable artists was a restless curiosity that led him to explore different genres.

And what might be good advice:

Explore and test different business models. Invest time and effort up front to create business systems that will take care of you - and your creativity - in the long term.

Thanks to Lateral Action and Mark McGuinness, whoever you are. I see a lot of rock and roll on your blog. I'll be checking back.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cows, Ambition, and Unembeddable Videos

While we're thinking about resolutions...

A long time friend of The Carrot Project told me last time I saw him that we ought to set ourselves an unlikely goal for 2009. Something simultaneously ambitious and silly.

He suggested we shoot for getting on Oprah. And I've already made a prediction involving Gabe and Max. But I think I have something even better.

We need to make friends with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Seen Stuff Happens? It's good. Good and funny and accessible and important.

I'd post a video clip right here, but the only place I've been able to find substantial Stuff Happens content is on Planet Green's website, and I can't figure out how to embed from there. Bummer for sure.* But, if you're up for linking away, click here, and learn about cows, methane, and garlic.

*Note to Planet Green and the Discovery Channel: Please don't insist that people watch your videos on your site and your site only. I want to promote your awesome educational content. I want to tell people you're doing great work. I want to help find you fans. Please make it easy for me to do that.

(And sorry about that last post. It was meant for the Posterous blog. I must have emailed it to the wrong Posterous address. I took it down from here, but it lives on on Radical Transparency.)