Let’s Stop Talking and Start Doing

This past weekend, I heard an interview with a lady named Cindy Gallop who has had a highly successful career in advertising. 

If you’ve read some of my older posts you know that I don’t have a very high opinion of marketing and advertising, so I settled back to listen.  I prepared myself for the onslaught of sound bites and neologisms and consume-at-all-cost philosophies that usually come from the marketing world.  And when I heard that Ms. Gallop had worked in a high power ad agency in London, New York and Singapore I figured we were in for the deluxe treatment.

Wrong again.

Ms. Gallop has left the world of marketing and is now focusing on the antithesis of the typical advertising mantra.

Most of us know that we should take most advertising with a grain of salt the size of Mt. Everest.  I agree with the person who said “advertising does not aim to reach our better selves, but our inner idiot.”

 It’s gotten so bad that companies gleefully lie to us.  And we know it. Airlines tell us that they are whacking our frequent flyer miles “in order to serve us better.”  And companies lay off double-digit percentages of their employees while proclaiming “people are our most important asset.”

We’ve also heard a lot about branding and how important it is for businesses. 

So I was pleasantly surprised when she introduced the concept of “action marketing” in which companies (and people) brand themselves through their actions rather than their words. 

Now there’s a novel idea.

In a surprising twist on what we are used to hearing from marketing people, she said that what is important is “doing, not saying.”

That by itself would have made for an interesting interview, but she really got my attention when she went on to say that it’s about time that we “strip out everything not having to do with action.”

As a naturally slow moving person, I needed some time to process that, but it makes a lot of sense.  How many times do you hear an interview where everything the person says starts with “I think . . .” or “I want . . .” or “I suspect.” 

Not many people say “I will . . .” or even better, “I have done . . .”

And that’s where Ms. Gallop’s real contribution comes in.  She said that too many people, by spending time on things like Facebook and Twitter, end up “doing nothing in the virtual world,” and consequently doing nothing in the real world.

With that in mind, she has started a “crowdsourcing” project called “If We Ran the World.”  Her idea is that everyone has good intentions about how to make the world a better place, but few of them are ever acted on. 

For example, maybe you go to McDonalds and become shocked at the amount of packaging waste they produce.  You say to yourself “the world would be a better place if there was less packaging littering the landscape and ending up in landfills.” 

But you don’t do anything about it. 

For one thing, you rationally say to yourself that there is no way that little old you can go up against McDonalds and get them to change their evil ways.  For another, the minute you get back into your car and into your “real” life, every day activities will dissipate your passion about packaging.

Ms. Gallop’s view is that we are what we do, not what we say.  Ifwerantheworld.com is a place where you can register your good intentions and act on them. 

You can say “If I Ran the World . . . there would be no litter from McDonald’s packaging.”  If you are serious and join up, you are encouraged to break your intention down into “micro actions” which are things you can reasonably accomplish and you use the site to network with other people who have similar concerns and wishes.  That way you can share successes and build up momentum to achieve larger goals. The end result is that you are actually doing something constructive rather than just talking about it.

Who can say if this is just a feel good alternative to mindless social networking, but it certainly has more noble goals than meeting beautiful people. It will bring together people who are bonded by action, rather than a mouse click to be “friends.”  And it may bring about positive changes in our world through one micro action at a time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go start ruling the world.

And you better watch out!

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19 responses to “Let’s Stop Talking and Start Doing

  1. The irony, oh the irony, of the string of words, words, words that will now follow this post!

    OK, here is something I DID this year (I assume you don’t mind that I post it here): I got a rainbarrel. It collects enough water for all of my gardens. Plus, there is something sweet and old-fashioned about the look of a rainbarrel. How do these ideas get lost over time?

    Perhaps some of your commenters will have other ideas that I can adopt.

    • Thanks Jenny. Your rainbarrel idea is great. In fact, a suburb of Auckland rolled out a program last year to subsidize homeowners who wanted to install systems to harvest rainwater.

  2. In my world as a small business owner in a very small town (pop. 400) you are what you do everyday. If you do not do things differently than the “big box stores ” people have no reason to do business with you other than the fact that you do what you say you will do.

    Our pricing is no less than other places but we take a hands on approach with our customers. There are no flashy suits, lavish words, or fancy showrooms to get people to do business with us. We follow through and take care of our customers even at times when they don’t deserve what they are requesting of us.

    Actions really do speak louder than words.

  3. Take action? Yes, let’s do it! But you have to pick your fights. You would become paralyzed if you felt compelled to do something helpful at every point in your day where you saw that such an action might be possible. I’ve picked out a couple of areas where I think my abilities can be put to good use (the main one being doing volunteer maintenance work on hiking trails). Other than that, I try not to do any harm. For instance, I recycle my own trash, but I don’t bring all the loose cans I see over the course of the day home for recycling. Is this a rationalization for laziness? Could be. I have my limitations.

  4. You do have to pick your fights and it works best to work within your own abilities to be most effective. We have too many people that won’t even start to do something because of the “It’s not my job attitude.”

    We have a mechanic that when asked to empty an overflowing trashcan nearest to his hoist respond with “I hope you know that it’s not all my trash!” “It doesn’t matter, it still needs to be emptied” replied my husband as he was taking another trashcan out to the dumpster.

  5. Um, nothing is more noble than meeting beautiful people.

  6. Love this post, she sounds like an inspiring woman. Especially as all be entering into the world of Advertising, as a writer, myself (don’t hate me!)

  7. Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es. (Old German saying)

  8. This was a very interesting post Thomas. I’ve studied and worked in advertising and marketing since I started college and they both still fascinate me.

    I absolutely love this idea and I’m going to check out this site and join. I’ve always harbored the notion that every human being on the planet can have enough resources to live comfortably if we’d all simply share a little bit. All we have to do is convince people to share a little bit. Time. Money. Thought. Anything.

    Amazing, inspiring and awesome!

  9. Dear Thomas,
    Just a quick note (in the middle of my night) to thank you for your words of encouragement at this time.

    With regards to our blog theme that was demolished (can you find it under themes?), I never could get the widgets to work. Maybe you will have better luck.

    This article causes me pause. What can I do around my little rancho? You have me thinking about possibilities.

  10. Hmm. If we are all saying what we intend to do and not doing anything, why is everyone pressed for time? I do agree that facebook and twitter are a total waste of time and yet, MARKETING people have a tendency to make us feel like dinosaurs if we are not taking our business to the next level by twittering and being on facebook. My brain hurts.

  11. I used to work in a school and, like most, we had plenty of extra food at the end of the day that just got thrown out. We were small enough that we were able to save the food ourselves and distribute it to local churches and senior centers. I’m talking about a tray of salad, a couple of loaves of bread, a few tupperwares of veggies. It worked very well- for about a week. By then, the red-tape-o-crats got wind of what we were doing and forced us to comply with dozens of food handeling regulations that, as a very small building with a relatively small amount of food, did not apply to us. It then became impossible to follow the procedures they imposed on us, and illegal to give out the food we saved. Bottom line- we threw the food away.

  12. I like the micro action idea. I think a lot of people aim for big lofty goals they dont have a shot at and it keeps them from getting anything done.

    I know so many people who act as if they’ve accomplished something by clicking the like button on facebook.

  13. I was thinking that if we could somehow harness all those clicks on facebook and somehow make them into an exportable product that other countries would purchase our economy might actually improve.

  14. Thomas – thank you so much for this post – I really appreciate the coverage and your and everyone else’s comments. Please do email me at cindy@ifwerantheworld.com – would love to discuss how we are working to get IfWeRanTheWorld operational in NZ and get your input. Many thanks.

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