Throughout history and around the world, men and women have always sought status and recognition. But in the modern era, the yardstick is almost always the same: economic success.
More bluntly, money.
The benefits of money and status are obvious: freedom, resources, comfort, time, attention, and deference. A lack of status, on the other hand — even if it is only perceived — can lead to sadness, anxiety, and even depression.
Our capitalist system thrives on the pursuit of status. Entrepreneurs take elaborate risks in the pursuit of great rewards. Consumers buy superfluous products — especially luxury brands — they believe confer prestige. The pursuit of status motivates us to develop our talents, work hard, demonstrate excellence, and achieve worthy goals.
In today’s increasingly affluent society, however, our ideas about what are “essential” constantly change.
For example, consider the percentage of Americans who believed the following items were necessities in 1970:
If these were nonessential to Americans 45 years ago, why do hundreds of millions consider them necessities today?
It’s not just that these things make our lives easier and more comfortable. Many folks would feel embarrassed or ashamed to be without them.
Our sense of happiness is based on comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, that is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness.
The problem with making economic success the foundation of personal happiness is that a) you cannot control the economy and b) most companies eventually fail. Needless to say, this undermines job security and financial well-being.
While life will always be uncertain, there is a simple and effective cure for status anxiety: changing the way you think.
Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, however little that may be, we can count ourselves rich.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau insisted there are two ways to make a man wealthier: Give him more money or curb his desires. Or, as Socrates declared as he passed the expensive goods on sale in the Athens agora, “How many things I can do without!”
As for other people’s opinions, whether you get the recognition you believe you deserve is out of your control. But if you haven’t done anything that deserves contempt or disrespect, what difference does it make what someone else thinks?
An obsessive pursuit of status may not just be a waste of time. It could be a waste of a life.
About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.
BY ADAM FRIDMAN
Empathy can be your biggest persuader when it comes to making a customer believe in your brand?
Many marketers spend a great deal of time citing facts and figures that argue the benefits of their amazing widget. I’d argue they’re missing the one thing your audience really needs to connect with your brand.
What are they missing? It’s empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to share what another person is feeling; it’s what connects audiences to your brand’s story. It persuades them to identify with the story you’re telling, and change their behavior in desired ways. It’s what literally makes them “buy what you’re selling.”
Empathy and Narrative in Brand Storytelling
As marketers, we are storytellers. Telling our brands’ stories effectively and persuasively is at the core of what we do. But what makes a story persuasive? Persuasive storytelling creates an emotional response — empathy — in the mind of the customer, helping them to understand the benefits of a brand, make decisions and take action.
But not all stories are equally effective at creating empathy. There are two broad categories of storytelling, advocacy and narrative, that most stories fall into. Narrative differs from advocacy in its method of persuasion, relying less on facts and figures and more on “transportation,” or engaging the reader in the narrative.
According to a school of psychology thought called transportation theory, transportation occurs when the reader is fully engaged in the story, absorbed in the thoughts, images and feelings created by a narrative. The experience of being transported affects the reader’s real world beliefs.
Empathy is one of the feelings that can transport a reader. Persuasive narrative elicits empathy, engaging audiences on a social, human level. The ability to identify with a character, in this case, your brand, is what makes persuasive narrative so powerful.
Why is empathy, or connecting at a social level, so powerful? Because humans are social animals, social information matters to us than in facts, figures or logical arguments. Scientists have even discovered a specific type of neuron in the brain, called mirror neurons, that fire when mirroring an activity performed by another.
Humans are literally wired for these kinds of connections. That’s what makes empathy such a powerful tool for brand storytelling. For brands, narrative storytelling is as persuasive as argument, but more memorable. It relies more on feelings than on facts and figures that are easily forgotten, making it a more efficient way for brands to connect with their audiences. In essence, empathy is a social connection that is created between your brand and an individual fully engaged in your narrative.
Eliciting Empathy in Brand Storytelling
Empathy speaks to us at the most primal level. But how do you go about creating empathy in your brand’s narrative?
Tell stories in the first person – First-person narrative helps audiences suspend disbelief and transports them into the story. It’s about giving the audience a chance to peer “behind the curtain” and connect at a human level with the storyteller. First person narrative is one of the reasons that blogs have become so popular — usually written in the first person, they create a sense of identification in the audience.
Understand your audience – Engagement in story depends on how well the narrative serves the needs and goals of the audience. What does your audience want from your stories. Are they seeking to be entertained? Informed? Do they seek to make a human connection? Audiences seeking information engage best with well-researched content that speaks to their interest. Those that seek to be entertained respond to engaging storylines. Audiences that seek human connection will respond to stories that allow them to identify with your brand.
Establish an appropriate voice – One challenge that exists in brand storytelling is choosing the right storytelling voice for the audience you’re trying to reach. Empathetic response differs between various audiences, storytellers and appeals. Some individuals are more inclined to engage emotionally than others; this is called “need for affect.” How individuals engage with certain characters varies as well. Women, for instance, may identify with and be more persuaded by likable opposite-sex characters, whereas likeability is not as important to men. Carefully consider what voice or character will be most appealing to your brand’s audience.
Pay attention to quality – Quality issues such as overly complicated storylines, multiple narrators or lack of a consistent voice, can impede the development of empathy with a reader. Unreliable narrators or lack of research and fact checking can also make a brand story less empathetic. “Narrative dissonance” — when the stories a brand tells don’t align with how it conducts business — can also impede empathy. These are quality issues that good storytelling seeks to avoid.
Empathy and the urge to connect may, in essence, be the very thing that make us human. Leveraging empathy for your brand with effective storytelling allows you to tap into this most basic human desire.
by Lawrence Powell
I can do this! Those are four little words, but they carry a lot of weight when you choose to do what is right in God’s sight. For instance, Matthew 5:44 tells us to “love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Those commands may seem hard, but 1 John 5:3 tells us, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Let that sink in a moment: His commandments are not burdensome! In other words they are not irksome, oppressive, or grievous!
God does not ask us to do hard things; He asks us to do impossible thingsthings that cannot be done outside of Jesus Christ. But whenever God asks us to do something that is impossible, He also anoints us to do it. He provides the will, the means, and the grace to do everything He commands us to do. His anointing will break through every obstacle we may encounter.
Wayne Stiles said this: “We won’t experience the joy of God’s power if we keep running from impossible situations.” If God asks impossible things of us, He plans to do the impossible for us. God will lead you and guide you in such a way that transformation is the end result. God may allow you to go into a fiery furnace, but you will come out with a testimony, fireproof and triumphant!
What happens when we avoid hard things? The answer is, hard things come to us. Have you ever tried to escape something that was difficult only to run right into it? There’s a class that you’ve got to take in the school of the Holy Spirit, and that is Hard Knocks. But look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do this!”
Difficulties arise because we need to learn to confront life from a different perspective that comes with a new set of values. When we walk contrary to the way of the world, there will be difficulties. Our friends won’t understand us. It’s as if we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re talking holiness; they’re talking ungodliness. We’re talking righteousness; they’re talking unrighteousness.
Difficulties also exist for our growth potential. God will stretch us: This can be painful at times, because it requires leaving our comfort zones.
Scripture is full of examples of people who didn’t want to do what God told them to do. Moses struggled with God’s command to confront Pharaoh about freeing the children of Israel. And Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he purchased a ticket to somewhere else. He ended up in the belly of a big fish until he repented. Then God delivered him, and he went on to Nineveh.
Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Note: “My yoke is easy”…but it’s still a yoke. “My burden is light”…but it’s still a burden. The good news is we don’t have to carry it alone.
Here are five things you can do through Christ, when faced with difficulties:
1. Be determined to do God’s will: When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46), He struggled in regards to the bitter cup, wrestling with the purpose that the Father had set out before Him–so much so that blood, like drops of sweat, poured from Him. Yet He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done!”
2. Obey the Lord, no matter how silly or difficult it may appear: In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read about Naaman, a valiant man, a champion among his people. The Bible says Naaman was a leper. He was also a proud man. He had heard about a prophet in Israel and decided to go to him for a healing. So he left with his entourage to see Elisha and when he arrived at the place where the prophet resided, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead, he sent his servant who told him, “Go down and dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” When Naaman heard those words, he was insulted! Dunk in the dirty Jordan? Are there not better, cleaner waters? He was doubly insulted that the Man of God had not come to him personally. But thank God, He always has someone with good sense in the midst! As Naaman turned to depart in his anger, some of his servants said to him, “This is a small thing that the Prophet asks of you, to go, dunk in the water. What have you got to lose?” So Naaman humbled himself and did as he had been instructed by Elisha…and he was healed!
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Everything within you might be fighting to do the right thing, while everything that is wrong is pulling at you: Tell that person off! Lie to your brother! Cheat on your taxes! But just declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will never go astray!
4. Expect God’s grace to do what God requires: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, a problem that troubled him night and day. He went before the Lord three times and asked, “Take this away from me!” But, instead, the Lord gave Paul a revelation. And that revelation is just as valid for you and me today. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s got grace for everything you and I might encounter in life. And that grace, my friend, is all sufficient!
5. Enjoy the blessings of faith and obedience: James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes not just by hearing the Word, but by doing it. And when you do the Word, you will enjoy the blessings that come from the Lord!
These principles will help you live victoriously in whatever situation you face. When difficulties come–and they will–stand on the promises of God. Declare “I can do this!”
There are a number of contributing factors that make it challenging to be taken seriously in the professional world. It can be something irrational like your age, sex, height, or even voice that cause others to incorrectly assess your worth. Sometimes it can even be certain behaviors you exhibited that were misperceived by others and now you’ve been pigeon-holed and deemed less-professional or adept than you really are. However you’ve been misunderstood, change the attitudes of your work colleagues by committing to a certain way of carrying yourself and living by a clear value system that earns respect.
Inc. recently listed powerful moves you can commit to to influence how you’re seen in the eyes of others and ultimately be taken more seriously. We’ve highlighted our top choices here so you can begin implementing them in your interactions today.
Always be informed. It is better to be silent than to speak when you don’t know what you’re saying. Communicate effectively and knowledgeably on every subject. If you need some brushing up, put in the time to make sure you have all the facts before saying words you can’t take back. Being intelligent is not enough.
Keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something, you better get it done. Never promise something you can’t deliver on 100%. It is always better to be honest than fall short of what you’ve committed to and disappoint your colleagues.
Dress well. You’ve heard about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. The way you show up to work is an indicator of the respect you have for yourself and the company and the kind of success you’re after.
Be mindful of your tone. In addition to the way you carry yourself, how you speak can communicate beyond the words you’re actually saying. Speak with confidence but also respect, always keeping your ear out for the tone you’re using.
Always be on time. Showing up late is a sign of disrespect and disorganization, two traits that have no place at the office. Practice punctuality and you’re communicating you can be counted on.
Life Without Black People
A very humorous and revealing story is tobld about a group of white people who were fed up with African Americans, so they joined together and wished themselves away. They passed through a deep dark tunnel and emerged in sort of a twilight zone where there is an America without black people.
At first these white people breathed a sigh of relief.
‘At last’, they said, ‘no more crime, drugs, violence and welfare.’
All of the blacks have gone! Then suddenly, reality set in. The ‘NEW AMERICA’ is not America at all – only a barren land.
1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.
2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Mils, a black man, invented the elevator, and without it, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.
3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a black man,
invented the traffic signals.
4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black man, Albert R. Robinson.
5. Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper..
6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain pen, and Lee Barrage invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love invented the
Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it, Black.
7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the Postmarking and Canceling Machine, William Purveys invented the Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.
8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.
9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis
Lattimer later invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern, and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch. Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the Mop and Lloyd P. Ray the Dust Pan.
10. Their children met them at the door – barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter Sammons invented the Comb, Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board, and George T. Samon invented the Clothes Dryer.
11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black Man, John Standard invented the refrigerator…
Now, isn’t that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of Blacks, as African-Americans?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘by the time we leave for work, millions of Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.’
Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther Kinbg, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey & W.E.B. Dubois.
PLEASE SHARE, ABUNDANTLY
|Even if you seem to “get” what you want in the short term, the motivation and manipulation behind it will circle back to bite you. Immediately following your “get” will be a wave of buyer’s remorse, followed by feelings of anger and betrayal. This is not how you want to build a living. It is not how you want to build a brand or a career. It is not how you want to build a life. Walking around constantly trying to figure out how to “get” people to do things.
A far better, more sustainable, conscious and elevating approach, one that is steeped in longer-term relationships, generosity and value, is about not “getting” people to do something, but rather creating an experience of such generosity, value and delight that they “yearn” to participate in it. To contribute, to connect, to consume, to share, to stand in the story you’re telling and help bring others into it.
Not because you “got” them to do something, but because you created something so appealing they couldn’t not do it.
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So, when you’re writing copy for launches, subject lines for emails, brand stories for products, services and companies and descriptions for offerings…
When you’re crafting positioning, marketing, advertising and sales. When you’re developing values, missions, visions, structures and process…
Take the word “get” off the table and lead, instead, with “give, delight, invite.”
By the way, part of the reason it’s fresh in my mind is because I realized that a small, but alarming bit of “get mentality” had found its way into my own creation and marketing efforts. When you’re creating vast amounts of language, launching new things and making decisions under unforgivable time-constraints, that tends to be when the siren taunt of “get” most easily lures you in.
It’s easier to yield to the pull of smallness when you’re in the distorting heat of the cauldron.
When everything’s on the line.
But, that’s also the moment it’s most critical to hold fast to your values. Because, the pressure of any given situation may not be optional. But, whether it deepens or dissolves your commitment to integrity, that’s where the work lies.
I just keep reminding myself, in business and life, in the way I contribute to the world, I want to live from a place of generosity and grace, not grasping and greed.
That’s my work. Our work. The work.
I hope you’ll join me.
About the Author: Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.