Two years ago this week, the 7 Graces Project was born. We didn’t realise it at the time, mind you, but it began sometime on Sunday June 24th, 2012, on the final day of the first-ever 7 Graces Global Conference in London and live stream. Something magical happened on that day – a community was born. Since then, the community has billowed and blossomed into a formidable international group of changemakers who all seek to ‘heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell’.
We went on to establish the nonprofit social enterprise called the 7 Graces Project CIC in February 2013. We created and ran two pilot courses: one called Foundations of Ethical Marketing, and another for our elite certification programme called Applications of Ethical Marketing. Now that we’ve completed the pilots and are reviewing the courses, we are aiming to launch these programmes to the public in autumn 2014.
One of the key components of the Applications of Ethical Marketing course is to create and deliver a collaborative project with a ‘pod’ of other members on the course. The purpose of this was to teach the Grace of Collaboration in the most practical way possible – by having participants do something in collaboration with others.
I’ve written lots of articles on the topic of Collaboration, but at the end of the day, the only way we learn about it is to experience it for ourselves. This is something my co-director Nancy Goodyear and I learned firsthand when we did the Co-Active Leadership Programme together in 2007/08. Working co-actively with others does NOT always go in a straight line (actually, it almost never does), but when you get to the other side, it’s the most amazing ‘rush’.
We wanted to facilitate this kind of unique experience for the people on the course, so we embedded the collaborative project into the course content. During a six-month window, their task was to create, develop and LAUNCH a collaborative project, utilising collaborative marketing strategies. Other than that, the details were completely up to them.
Our pilot group, comprising five brave souls – Callie Carling, Laura Martinez Galera, Lisa Christie, Paula Tarrant and Simon John Pimenta – are now getting ready to launch their collaborative project, which they call The New Story of Marketing, to the world. The New Story of Marketing is a short movie telling…well…the new story of marketing. Other than that, I can’t tell you much, because even I haven’t seen it yet (the official launch is on Friday June 20th at http://newstoryofmarketing.com).
Today, I thought it would be interesting to have a virtual interview with our fearless fivesome to find out about their project – what it is and why they chose to do it the way they did – and what they learned along the way as a result of working in collaboration with their pod and marketing partners. Each person in the group has answered one of five questions I recently put to them. I hope you find it interesting and informative, especially any of you who might be thinking of embarking on a collaborative project of your own.
LYNN SERAFINN: You call your project The New Story of Marketing. What do you mean by that? What’s the ‘old story’ of marketing? How is this ‘new story’ different from the ‘old story’?
PAULA TARRANT: For the longest time, marketing was a means to an end. It was a tactic used to sell stuff and ever more stuff. It became a tool for accustoming people to the idea that it was normal and right to want more stuff and to have more stuff. The old story marketing told was focused on the product.
That marketplace is becoming a thing of the past.
There’s a new story of marketing that’s beginning to be told. It’s the story of how you create difference for your customers. You create difference by finding ways to create meaning that your customers experience when they do business with you. They know shopping with you keeps money circulating in their local economy, which keeps it strong. Or that purchasing your services means their dollars get paid forward to contribute to economic sustainability in underdeveloped communities. Or that you believe that paying your employees a living wage, unlike your competitors, means your business prospers that much more.
People are after a feeling when they choose your product or service. Perhaps it’s the feeling of being better informed, or more at ease, or more connected to their neighbourhood, or having increased vitality and health. We are no longer in the business of selling stuff. We’re in the business of connecting people with the experiences they want to be having.
You create difference for your customers when they feel connected – to an idea, a community, a place or other people who, like them, care about your product or service.
When marketing was product-centric, the intense pressure to “sell more” meant that, often, profitability became synonymous with persuasive sales tactics that sometimes felt manipulative, coercive and heavy handed.
Personal integrity was often marginalized.
The new story of marketing, which focuses more on the customer, brings to the marketplace an expansive, relationship-driven process. When we spend more time and resources on making sure our customers know who we are, our customers are sure to find us. The focus shifts to long-term growth rather than just sales.
So, in the new story of marketing, instead of you feeling compelled to give up your ideals in order to compete in the marketplace, your ideals become a requirement for success.
Your customers want a reason to care. They want to know that you have ‘skin in the game’ too – that you care yourself.
The 7 Graces of Marketing is a platform for facilitating the new story of marketing. In tandem with the Graces, this new story makes it possible for marketing to be profitable and fun as well as ethical and meaningful.
Your customers want to feel that difference and be connected to it. Begin to tell your new story of marketing by asking yourself the question: ‘Today, how can I create difference for my customers?’
LYNN SERAFINN: Why did your pod decide to use video as the means to communicate your message? What other types of projects did you consider, and why did this one win your vote in the end?
SIMON PIMENTA: Paula came up with the idea that our collaborative project could be a video telling the story of the old and new ways of marketing. This idea, as I remember, was universally accepted as what we should do.
In truth, we really didn’t consider other mediums, and all agreed that a video was the way to communicate the message. In pondering why the idea was so readily accepted, the following thoughts occur to me:
- The story of the old and new ways of marketing has been told in Lynn Serafinn’s book The 7 Graces of Marketing. So it already exists in written-word format. At nearly 400 pages long, it requires a time investment to read it.
- We could have used audio format, but I think that a video can grab your attention more: it is easier to listen to an audio and do other things, whereas a video compels you to give your full attention.
- We figured that we could give people who are unaware of the 7 Graces of Marketing book and movement an introduction to some of the core concepts in a fun way by creating a short video – around five minutes long. This may encourage people to want to find out more and invest in the book.
- We all like a good story.
- Video is an incredibly popular format! YouTube is currently the third-most-popular website, based on a combined measure of page views and unique site users, beaten only by Google and Facebook.
- People share videos a lot on Facebook, so if we do a good job in creating the video, then hopefully we will reach a wider audience.
I think that these may have been the main reasons why we opted, perhaps unconsciously, to create a video rather than use other formats. There may be others!
LYNN SERAFINN: What were some of the major lessons you learned doing this project in collaboration with others? What were the challenges, the advantages of collaboration? How does collaboration fit in the new story / new paradigm of business and marketing?
CALLIE CARLING: Having worked as a solopreneur for over seven years, the collaborative element of the course was a completely new experience for me. The idea of working closely with five relative strangers was exciting but also fraught with feelings along the lines of ‘Am I good enough?’, ‘What if we cannot work together?’, ‘What on earth can we create?’, etc.
Thankfully, with some clever steering from Lynn and Nancy, we worked out where we sat on the energy axis as individuals and as a group energy. Over time, the collaborative adventure has had a major impact not just on how we worked together but on how I grew as an individual.
Three major lessons I learned from creating this project in collaboration with my amazing SuperPodStars are:
- Connection – This beautiful state of be-ing comes from, first and foremost, a connection to our very essence. Once we are connected to who we are, what we stand for in this world, we then can move gracefully towards others, connecting at a deeper level and really sharing our vibrant authentic Self. Working in collaboration with our SuperPodStars has shown me how we support and nurture each other with such ease through periods of disconnection (even when we may not be aware of that state in that moment) and move forward in harmony, connected to our lives both personally and professionally.
- Leadership v. Facilitation – Leadership was beautiful summed up by Lynn Serafinn in her article ‘Taking a Collaborative Approach to Business Content Creation’: “Just as the leader of a traditional tribe must hold the protection of the tribe’s safety, culture and way of life, in new-paradigm tribes, the leader must be the person who protects the tribe’s common values and holds the vision for the entire tribe”. I take great pride in my facilitation skills, but leadership put me into a total tailspin. I found my role as Pod Leader very challenging for the first three or four cycles of the course, and found myself wishing I were a different type of person – until I realised that I did have it in me to be a very good leader, I just needed to stop dwelling on what ‘people may think’ and just get on with it! I hope we all feel comfortable as leaders now, eight months after the course began.
- The Art of Being v. The Busyness of Doing – Nancy Goodyear wrote, ‘If collaboration feels hard, then it’s time to stop doing and look at how you are being together’, in her article ‘Being Versus Doing in Collaboration’. Yes, we hit that wall! It is such a difficult thing to open up to a group and feel you are the sole voice of discontent (or not, as the case may be) – but when you learn how to be in the group, to listen to each other and stop burying yourselves in busyness, that’s when (as Nancy says) the real ‘magic’ happens! ‘Your relationships will deepen; you will start to see new and exciting ways of working together; you will start to see the contribution that each of you brings to your collaboration’ … and we truly did! So much so that we now, individually, see ourselves as our collaborative partners see us – as truly gifted individuals with a desire to create change in the world.
When you look at the meaning of collaboration in a dictionary, you will see two main ways the word is used: (1) the action of working with someone to produce something, and (2) traitorous cooperation with an enemy. The challenges of collaboration have been (for me) mainly managing my workload and time zones with grace and ease! At times I felt time was a great ‘enemy’, being totally uncooperative and zooming up on us at great speed when our backs were turned! Patience – or rather, impatience – with the process, and occasionally during pod discussions, also reared its head. I’m not renowned for my patience, but over time we have developed a tight collaborative group of wonderful individuals who work well together, picking each other up when we need support, and reining in lovingly when SuperPodStars go racing ahead.
The advantages of collaboration (for me) have mainly been achievement and strength: we have accomplished so much together that we could never have achieved on our own, and fuelling those achievements has been each of our strengths, as individuals and as a tight-knit team. Together we have created a remarkable collaborative pod who – after a well-earned summer break – will reunite to continue our good work as the New Story of Marketing posse!
LYNN SERAFINN: What advice would you give to other business owners when they enter into a collaboration with someone else? What kinds of things do they need to be most mindful of? What should they be ready for?
LAURA MARTINEZ GALERA: I would tell them to expect the unexpected – and learn to embrace it. When we start a new collaborative relationship, we usually have great expectations and personal ideas that not will always come to pass the way we have first imagined. So it is important not to be 100% attached to them, but to let them mingle and flow organically with the needs of all parties – and the purpose of the collaborative project itself.
In my personal experience during the New Story of Marketing movie creation, I´ve learned to be aware of what´s going on for me in each moment – emotionally and professionally – and communicate it instantly to the group, as a way to create a more transparent and easy relationship with the people involved.
As members of a team, we need to be ready for periods of storm, in which chaos will come in and encourage us all to speak our truth. This chaos is an invitation to remove what´s not needed anymore and step into a new dimension of the relationship so we all can better meet our needs, just as sometimes happens in our personal relationships. So communicating gracefully – by using primarily the Graces of Directness and Transparency – is essential in order to move forwards with ease and structure the team – roles, tasks and responsibilities, systems in place, deadlines, etc. The good news is that the storm will always be followed by a period of calm, in which things will return to order and flow more gently and smoothly than ever before… until the chaos chooses to come in again and we start a new cycle.
Becoming a ‘7 Graces practitioner’ by being aware of the existence of the 7 Graces of Marketing – Connection, Invitation, Inspiration, Directness, Transparency, Abundance and Collaboration – during our communications is very useful when learning to dance together in periods of calm and storm and thus to create long-term stronger relationships that will enrich the experiences of all participants – through having fun and feeling fulfilled by the work they do as individuals – and to ensure the achievement of the collaborative relationship.
LYNN SERAFINN: What are your hopes for this project? What impact would you like it to create? Whom will it help? How?
LISA CHRISTIE: Many of us participate in marketing in some way, and virtually all of us are exposed to marketing messages on a daily basis. Presently, we would argue – in earnest agreement with you – that modern marketing is making us, our planet, and our culture sick. We would love to stimulate a broader conversation around ethical marketing and conscious consuming.
It’s our hope that many people will watch the movie, download the bonuses and share it with others, to help raise awareness of the negative impacts of modern marketing and the growing movement of people taking a more ethical and heart-centred approach to marketing. Whenever we lend our attention to something or spend our money, we are supporting that thing with our life energy. By being more selective with our energy, we can be part of a shift to something much healthier – more life-giving.
We are inspired and humbled to participate in this big cultural conversation.
~ END OF VIRTUAL INTERVIEW ~
Like Lisa, both Nancy and I are inspired and humbled to have been able to facilitate this beautiful group of people on the pilot run of the 7 Graces Applications of Ethical Marketing course. I really hope you’ll take a moment this week to check out the fruits of the collaboration by watching the short film The New Story of Marketing at http://newstoryofmarketing.com on June 20th. If you head over there now and register to receive a personal invitation for the online premier, you will also get access to an abundant library of free gifts from their ethical and graceful partners. I’ve got a special 7 Graces gift there for you too, so be sure to check it out.
AND…if you’re inspired by the wonderful work they have done, perhaps YOU would like to be part of the next wave of ethical entrepreneurs when we launch the 7 Graces courses in autumn 2014. To stay on top of when they’ll be launching, just subscribe to this blog via the form at the top of your screen and/or come over to our Facebook community, the 7 Graces Global Garden.
17 June 2014
P.S.: Oh, and please do leave some comments below for our five SuperPodStars and let them know what you think about what they had to say. See you at the premier!
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
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
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
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)