How Social Entrepreneurs Use Inspiration in the New Paradigm

Lynn Serafinn discusses the ‘Grace of Inspiration’ and how it differs from more traditional, persuasive marketing techniques. Click the audio clips to hear stories and insights from our 7 Graces community on using inspiration in your business, marketing and networking.

The verb ‘to inspire’ literally means ‘to breathe into’ or, perhaps more accurately, ‘to breathe life into’. The root ‘spir’ in ‘inspire’ is cognate with the word ‘spirit’. It comes from the Latin word ‘spiritus’ which means both ‘breath’ and ‘life force’ as the concepts of breath, spirit and life force were viewed as being one and the same back in the ‘old days’.

In The 7 Graces of Marketing, the Grace of Inspiration is described as being the antidote for the ‘Deadly Sin of Persuasion’. Persuasion is at the cornerstone of old-school marketing, and it comes in many guises. Two of the primary tools marketers use to persuade their audience rather than ‘inspire’ them are fear and sex. If marketers can make you afraid in some way–fear of financial or personal loss, fear of illness or death, fear of being left out, fear of rejection, etc.–they then can more easily persuade you to buy something they have to (supposedly) alleviate the fear. The same is true of sex. If marketers can make you feel sexually insecure, undesirable or in some way inadequate, they can more easily persuade you to buy something they have that will (supposedly) make you feel less inadequate.

Persuasion-based marketing is the opposite of Inspiration-based marketing because, far from ‘breathing life into’ our audience, we are sucking the life out of them. It uses disempowerment, rather than empowerment, as the vehicle for sales. The problem, of course, is that it works. As long as audiences are kept ignorant of the fact that they are being emotionally manipulated, persuasive marketing can be highly effective in encouraging sales. This is why so many marketers continue to use it, even if at a very subtle level.

My personal conviction is that using persuasion as a marketing tool is highly destructive at a societal level. Not only does it create anxiety (as if our society needs more stress!) and potential health issues, but it also encourages over-spending (and hence debt) and over-consumption (and hence, ecological imbalances). Basically, to test whether or not we are falling into the old-school practice of persuasion, all we need to do is ask ourselves one question: ‘Are we FEEDING society through our work, or are we FEEDING UPON it?’ If we are not feeding society through our marketing and business practice, we are not serving anybody.

Fortunately, more and more marketers and business owners are waking up and responding to the negative impact of unscrupulous marketing strategies. The members of our 7 Graces community are leaders in this arena. Our community include a wide variety of members from all over the world–from SMEs to corporates, from creatives to environmentalists, from community leaders to CSR specialists. But no matter what their background may be, they all share something in common: they are all social entrepreneurs. Whether or not they actually run an official ‘social enterprise’, their businesses are all value-based and socially focussed. They are all driven first and foremost to make a positive impact not only upon individuals, but also upon society and the planet at large.

To test whether we are practicing ‘persuasion’ or ‘inspiration’ in our marketing, we only need ask ourselves: ‘Is my marketing message FEEDING society, or FEEDING UPON it?’

Every month, our 7 Graces community meets, both in London as well as online via Skype/webcast. This month, we explored the Grace of Inspiration, and discussed how it can be applied on a practical level in our business or marketing to help foster the ‘new paradigm’ that is gradually emerging in social enterprises and other ethical businesses around the world.

Three members of the community came forward to share how they were implementing the Grace of Inspiration in their business and networking. Susan Hayward from East London spoke about how she uses Inspiration at meetings she conducts with the local Residents Association, and how it opens the door to greater and deeper levels of communication. Kate Griffiths, a leadership and communication trainer from Hertfordshire, talked about how she uses Inspiration when she goes networking. Rather than ‘pitching’ her workshops trying to make a sale, she speaks from the place of Inspiration, and has been successful at attracting full houses to her workshops as a result. Finally, Meg Montgomery from New York (speaking over Skype) shared how she uses Inspiration to develop the innovative business projects she has created, such as her new ‘pay it forward’ programme she calls ‘Idea Bash’.

Below is a recording of my introduction to the Grace of Inspiration, followed by stories from these three members. Just click to listen.


After our members shared their stories, we did a short visualisation about the Grace of Inspiration and how it works. Just click the player below, shut your eyes, and let your thoughts flow for a few minutes:


At the end of the visualisation, I asked the group 5 enquiry questions:

  1. How would you act if you were living and walking in the Grace of Inspiration every day?
  2. What would you be able to give the world if you lived and expressed the Grace of Inspiration through your work?
  3. How would the world look and feel if everyone were embracing this Grace in their personal and professional lives?
  4. What would YOU gain from the world if everyone lived according to this Grace?
  5. What one small thing will you do this week to start bringing this Grace into your personal life OR professional practice?

I invite you to share your own responses to these questions. Listen to this audio as many times as you wish (or download it) so you can have time to reflect upon this beautiful Grace of Inspiration. Then, go ahead and submit your responses to the 5 enquiries above (if you aren’t ‘inspired’ to reply to all 5, just send what comes naturally) by typing them into the comments below OR sending them to us via our contact form.

When I receive a good selection of nice, chunky responses, I’ll compile them into an eBook through our new publishing company Humanity 1 Press, so we all can distribute it to spread the good word. Be sure to include your full name and website, so I can cite you properly. Of course, we’ll let you know before we publish it, so you can help and any proceeds that may come from it will go directly into the ‘kitty’ for our emerging social enterprise 7 Graces Project, so we can build educational alternatives for a new generation of community and planet-focused social entrepreneurs.

I look forward to receiving YOUR contribution!

After the enquiries, I delivered a 15-mini micro class on ways you can use Inspiration in your social media marketing (with specific focus on Twitter, mainly because that’s the topic of my upcoming book). The audio to that micro class will be available to you totally absolutely free in just a few days. Be sure to subscribe to this blog if you’d like to be sure you receive it via email when it comes out. Otherwise, watch for my Tweets about it on Twitter @7GracesMarketng or @LynnSerafinn.

Come join our 7 Graces Community on Facebook or on MeetUp and continue this monthly dialogue with us!

‘The 7 Graces Project’ is a new social enterprise whose aim will be to provide an educational alternative and business incubator for a new generation of ethical, community-focussed businesses. The 7 Graces are a set of values and principles for a new paradigm for business, marketing, media and indeed our lives in general:

  1. CONNECTION – to aspire to unity with Self, people and planet
  2. INSPIRATION – to give value, express generosity and share wisdom freely
  3. INVITATION – to practice openness, engagement, hospitality and respect
  4. DIRECTNESS – to embrace simplicity and straightforwardness in our communication
  5. TRANSPARENCY – to express who we really are and what we value most in both personal and professional life
  6. ABUNDANCE – to aim towards sustainable wealth through ecological and economic balance
  7. COLLABORATION – to continually seek ways to create truly innovative projects together

Please be part of the 7 Graces community:

Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of MarketingLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestsellerThe 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell’ and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive future news about the 7 Graces Project (see sign up box in upper right hand side of your screen).

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