A few days ago I posted a blog article entitled ‘Goodbye Old Economy — Enter the New Era of Social Enterprise’ where I talked about how our current economic models have become obsolete. In it, I offered my view that our current economic problems could not be rectified by trying to ‘fix’ our old economic models (like Capitalism and Socialism), and that it was time we considered creating new models altogether. I suggested that social enterprise was one type of new paradigm business model that addressed the call of our times.
Today, I’d like to go even deeper into the subject of the New Paradigm by looking at 7 significant social influences of our current era. As you’ll see, these influences are already acting as catalysts to break us away from the old models of business and marketing, and are calling upon us to create new, more relevant paradigms for today’s world.
As you read through this article, I invite you to take a moment to reflect upon how each of these 7 catalysts may be influencing and impacting your own life—both personally and professionally. I also invite you to see how they are showing up in the world around you, as you might be surprised to discover how far into the shift towards the New Paradigm we already are.
Catalyst 1: The current economic crisis
Throughout the 20th Century, many of us in the western world believed that seeking employment with an established company was the most responsible route in life, and the most guaranteed pathway to stability. For decades, we mapped out our lives as a systematic progression from education into long-term employment, finally to retire on a pension we had built up over the years.
But over the past decade, we have witnessed the gradual collapse of economies all over the planet. Financial institutions, major businesses and even entire governments have gone bust. Millions of people have lost their jobs.
The trouble is, when disasters strike, we humans tend to try to ‘fix’ whatever it is that has broken, rather than examine the integrity of our unconscious belief systems. For example, as unemployment has risen, many politicians have been putting pressure on the jobless by telling them to ‘do the right thing’ and find a job. But the trouble is, as more and more companies go under, there are more people who are looking for work but fewer jobs to be had. The end result is that the public not only feel helpless in the face of a collapsing economy, but they also feel angry and resentful that the government is implying that they are behaving irresponsibly.
Summary: This series of events has become a major catalyst for us to rethink our pre-conceptions about our dependency upon big business and employment as a way of life. In other words, it’s shaking up everything we ever believed about earning money and financial security.
Catalyst 2: The widespread movement towards self-employment
Because there are not enough jobs to be had, unprecedented numbers of men and women have made the shift towards self-employment. For many this will have been the first time they’ve ever run a business of their own. With so many novices entering the entrepreneurial arena, there is both a need and an opportunity. While these people will need to develop entrepreneurial and marketing skills quickly so they can make a living, they also bring us the opportunity to redefine the world of business through their fresh perspectives. This rapid increase in new solopreneurs also creates new business opportunities for more experienced business owners and marketers to offer help in the form of consultation and other services.
Summary: In addition to representing a major change in the way we earn money, the movement towards self-employment is creating entirely new types of jobs and is a major catalyst for entrepreneurial innovation.
Catalyst 3: Changes in modern technology
Fifty years ago, anyone who owned a TV became a passive sponge for advertising every time they switched on the set. In this new era of remote control, digital recording and on-demand streaming, advertisers have no choice but to rethink the way they deliver their message to the public. No longer can advertisers treat their audience like passive recipients; they now need to engage with them as active participants.
Summary: Changes in technology have become a catalyst for marketers to rethink the way they do marketing. Unfortunately, many of these changes have resulted in marketing becoming more aggressive and attention-seeking. But catalyst #4 is already starting to shift this as well.
Catalyst 4: Changes in the way we communicate
Changes in technology have also created many fundamental changes in the way we communicate with each other. Few of us could have imagined how the Web 2.0 revolution would change our lives. RSS (such as blog and news syndication) has enabled us to define precisely how and when we wish to send and receive information. Mobile communications, webinars, live streaming and (most of all) social media have changed communication at a business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C) and even consumer-to-consumer (C2C) level.
This C2C level is a particularly powerful catalyst for change. Customers are now able to publish online reviews and speak with one another in forums and comments threads. This means businesses can no longer hide poor product quality or unacceptable customer service. Customers have made Transparency a mandatory practice in today’s business world.
These changes in communication have also generated huge opportunities for the small to medium enterprise (SME). Through social media, SMEs now have the potential to reach a massive online audience without the prohibitive expense of television advertising. This means there is more opportunity for SMEs than ever before. It also means larger companies have more competition and that there are more options available for the consumer.
Summary: Changes in our communication systems have kick-started the shift towards greater Transparency in marketing and business, and have helped level the playing field between large business and SMEs.
Catalyst 5: Greater awareness of social justice issues
People are becoming increasingly aware of the injustices of large corporations who, in an attempt to keep down production costs and thus increase profit, set up so-called ‘sweat shops’ in poorer countries. These people (often children) are forced to work extremely long hours for little pay, and are often subjected to hazardous environments and dangerous working conditions. In recent years, increased global awareness of such social injustices has forged the idea of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR), wherein companies become accountable for their impact on people and planet.
CSR is gradually becoming part of our consciousness; more and more we see examples of it being regulated by governments and demanded by the public at large. Just this week, India announced that CSR is now a mandatory part of their new Companies Bill for all companies turning over a certain amount every year. Not restricted merely to ‘corporate’ responsibility, the ethos of CSR is coming into practice in the SME world as well.
Summary: Increasing awareness of social justice issues is radically changing the way businesses of all kinds and sizes are operating and will operate in the future.
Catalyst 6: Greater awareness of environmental/ecological issues
Over the past generation, more people have become aware of the negative environmental impact caused by big business, waste and over-consumption. However, whereas most people find it easy to understand issues around human rights and social justice, being well-informed on ecological issues such as global warming, peak oil, new energies, fracking and other environmental topics can prove much more challenging. Apart from the technical and scientific complexities of these subjects, the biggest challenge we face is that we are constantly being fed conflicting information, depending on who is speaking.
Even so, the change-makers of the past decade (such as the Transition Network and others like them) have helped increase public awareness about the connection between big business and environmental stability. Slowly, we are coming to the understanding that there is no possible justification for companies to rape the Earth in order to over-produce, or to use perceived and planned obsolescence in their marketing to encourage us to over-spend and over-consume.
Summary: While many corporates still resist (or deny) the severity of many of these environmental issues, awareness is increasing amongst smaller businesses. The institution of the social enterprise is a clear example of how independent business owners are including environmental responsibility in the foundation of their businesses.
Catalyst 7: The increasing integration of masculine and feminine in the business world
At the turn of the 20th Century, business was a decidedly masculine enterprise. All the great entrepreneurs in the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ were male. Then, in the 1960s-70s women started to become equal partners to men in the workplace. However, during that wave of feminism, many women adopted a ‘masculine’ approach to business in order to fit in (and survive) within what was still a predominantly masculine environment.
Now, two generations later, the balance between male and female has improved significantly in both the personal and professional world. When I look at the relationship between my grown daughter and her husband, I see a radically different balance between male and female from what I saw in my parents’ marriage. Many businesswomen have learned how to bring their femininity into the workplace, and significant numbers of women now run their own businesses. Businessmen have become more balanced in their ability to work side-by-side with women, and they have also begun to understand the value of bringing traditionally ‘feminine’ emotions and perspectives into business dealings.
Sometimes when I speak on the subject of the 7 Graces of Marketing, people try to ‘reframe’ it by saying it’s a ‘feminine’ model of marketing. It’s not. It’s an integrative model of marketing. If the so-called ‘masculine’ business model—stereotypically thought of as being aggressive and competitive —created economic, social and environmental imbalances in our world, the answer is NOT to swing 180 degrees in the opposite direction. If the Universe has given us two genders, the only logical way to restore balance within society, within the business world or within ourselves is to integrate both sides of our humanity in a functional, harmonious way. At least, that’s what I believe.
Summary: It is my observation that the general trend in society is moving towards this integrative perspective. As the social perspective is changing, more and more business owners—male and female—are seeking to create practical alternatives to ‘old school’ business and marketing.
Answering the Call
At no other time in history has there been such a powerful and diverse convergence of influences impacting our ideology, our lifestyle, our personal identity, our communication, our economy, our legal system and even our natural world. Two years ago, when I wrote The 7 Graces of Marketing, I was definitely influenced by this social shift, although at the time I was unaware of how these catalysts had played a hand in guiding me as I wrote.
Since then, my understanding of the 7 Graces has evolved and my work these days is focused on developing The 7 Graces Project, CIC, as we create training, mentoring and support programmes in ethical marketing and new paradigm entrepreneurship. This past month, I have been working with my co-director Nancy Goodyear to develop the business plan for the project. In addition to developing practical strategies, it was extremely important to dive into the vision behind the Project—the reason for its existence.
During our visioning, these 7 catalysts emerged. As we explored them, it became apparent that The 7 Graces Project is a response to social changes taking place throughout the world right now. I have never felt so strongly about my work being ‘in synch’ with the world as I do with this project.
The World is calling for a new paradigm of business and marketing. It’s not my idea. The 7 Graces Project is simply one of the many initiatives around the globe that are heeding the call. I’m sure many of you reading this are also engaged in answering this call in some way. I do hope you will take a moment to share your own perspectives and experiences on this subject in the comments below.
I fully believe that, together, we will create what Paul Hawken once called a ‘Wiser Earth’.
29th August 2013
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The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 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 is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s 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. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)