Sunday, November 18, 2007

Can't Talk Your Way Through A Paradigm Shift., Especially With Your Foot In Your Mouth

Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends left a kindly worded comment to my post "You Can't Talk Your Way Through A Paradigm Shift". The full comment is at the original post.

First, I want to thank Anita for taking the trouble to respond to my post. She wasn't responding to a comment that I had made on her blog but still went to the trouble to write me. She does take me to task for a few things but does it in a very cordial manner, making a number of valid points and perhaps giving me more credit than is warranted.

One issue she has is with my lack of perspective in my writing. She wrote, "I'm wondering who is this person, an activist? A student? A corporate employee? A PR flak?" I can understand her confusion because I can't claim to have a perspective that I am trying to communicate to the world. I am a bit of all of the above, now going through my own mid-century paradigm shift trying to come up with new perspectives to face the future. She does try to understand my lack of perspective, “Probably because you just naturally assumed that anyone reading was coming at it from your perspective." In truth, its more like I just naturally assumed that nobody was going to be reading it.

Now I may have disagreed in my post with what Anita wrote in her article, but I should be clear that her articles have been a very important resource for me in creating my own new paradigms. I am not a small business person (actually small government), but I can take insights from her writings that can be applied to a positive means of creating beneficial change in the world. As I have said before, the social change activists need to start doing this more.

I may not even be in full accordance with her in general, but then I'm not really in full accordance or agreement with any of the blogs I connect with, Seth Godin, Tyler Cowen, Entrepreneurial Mind, or even TED. I do, however, find them all far more useful, because they challenge my thinking more than reading blogs that I might agree with more.

She then explains that "from the perspective of a business owner, I wanted to point out that business owners may be trying to do good. But they need to make sure their own house is in order. You can't be hypocritical as a business owner. You can't for PR purposes take on some cause if in reality you are doing something adverse to the cause. And not only can't you whitewash, but by taking on some cause you make your business a bigger target because there are groups out there that won't let you get away with it." I have to confess that I did always suspect that this was true from my other readings of her writing. I took unfair advantage because it made a good contrast with the BusinessPundit article. Actually it was only the term “anti-social responsibility” activists”, that I had any real issue with.

As to the question. "Are they for or against social responsibility causes? I honestly can't tell what your position is from your article." I am for it. My criticism, in truth, was not directed at business owners. I have seen some rather superficial attempts at social responsibility from government and from activists and was really going after all of them. I was also going after myself, continuing to vet what my position is. Anita however makes it clear, " I write for small business owners, not for individuals." and is obviously successful at it. It is I, who should have been clearer. I probably did sound too judgmental and preachy.

I do find Anita's discussion of trends informative. This one in particular about activists who call out companies for hypocritical cause-based practices was of interest because I could put myself on both sides of the fence. Anita says, “Some blog posts are mere observations and don't necessarily argue a position. My purpose often is simply to observe and by observing, it gives people a nugget of information.”. Though I am trying to take a position, it is often more times than not formulating a position and her blog whether I agree or not as been an important resource, and again I thank her. This is actually one of the highlights of this endeavor.

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