South By Great Ideas

A day at South by Southwest can be overwhelming, exhilarating, and offer some paradigm shifts.  A quick recap of some of best ideas  from yesterday’s presenters (I have included the Twitter hashtag so you can read the tweets from attendees at each presentation).

Ramez Naam discussed Infinite Resource (#SXInfinite) 

    • Knowledge is not depleted by usage (unlike other comodities).  It can accumulate over time which actually increases the value of knowledge.  Consider the difference between a 1950’s computer and the iPhone.  Knowledge allowed us to shrink the size of the device thousands of times, it uses thousands of times less material, is more powerful, and more people can have their own.
    • The real race for the future viability of planet earth is between consumption and innovation.

Felipe Matos, Heather Cronk, Jackie Mahendra, and Joe Sudbay presented on Waging a War with Social Media (#SXStoryPower)

    •  People on the ground are often willing to go much further in confronting a situation than the organizations who have a mission to solve the same problem.
    • Confronting the moral authority of the White House was the turning moment for their campaign against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Cheryl Contee, Claire Diaz Ortiz, Ramya Raghavan, Robert Wolfe introduced 21st Century Giving: Social Philanthropy’s Rise (#SX21stgiving)

    • YouTube just launched a livestreaming platform to its nonprofit members
    • Twitter has only 2-3 third party platforms for people to give online (TwitPay is one).  This is an area that will expand.
    • Crowdrise has a mission of making fundraising fun.  It has created crests (badges) for donors and fundraisers who reach specific levels.

Brian Seth Hurst, Dina Benadon, Lance Weiler, and Tracy Fullertone discussed Multiplatform Storytelling (#SXfrontline)

    • 10 tips to developing a story:
        • Take time to evaluate the story you want to tell.
        • Ask the hard questions: why would anyone care? Ask this five times.
        • Let go of a single point of view.
        • Consider how to show rather than tell.
        • Make it easy for your audience to become collaborators.
        • Don’t let the world get in the way of your story.
        • Consider something local before you jump to the global.
        • The number of screens doesn’t equal a better experience.  It is much harder to design with simplicity.
        • Fail quickly- you learn more what didn’t work than what did.
        • Keep it simple.  If someone cannot explain it then it will die.

Random great quotes
  • If you are overworked, just do better and higher quality work
  • Optimism is the ultimate weapon, ultimate revolutionary act because it propels people into action
  • In order for people to start a revolution, people have to experience almost hysterical optimism
  • Celebrities should add to the conversation for the causes they support but being too proactive can turn people off.
  • Each technology platform has its own turn-around time for a response (consider the difference between a text message, email, and a comment on a blog post).


I have yet to successfully navigate the Express Self-Checkout line at an Albertsons store.  Each time I place more than one of my own bags into the bagging area, the screen locks-up and I need a supervisor to clear the warning.  So today I asked about the problem and I was told it is easier if I use one of the store’s plastic bags.  This policy does not seem very environmentally friendly to those of us trying to be sustainable. Albertsons even sell reusable bags to encourage a more sustainable approach, which seems like a mixed message after today’s conversation.

I also noticed that my Preferred Card fuel credit expires after 30 days if it has not been used.  So if you happen to drive a fuel efficient car, walk, bike, or use public transportation on a frequent basis your discount is deleted.  The current program rewards drivers of vehicles that gets fewer miles per gallon than those who use less, regardless of how much business you do with Albertsons.

The sustainability message and actual practices are not compatible.  The walk has to meet the talk and with a few adjustments a broken system could be one that is consistent with the message.  The good news is just a small amount of effort would deliver a greater sense of trust and authenticity, two things that cannot be faked or delivered in a marketing message.

Does your enterprise’s systems meet your sustainability values?

Values and Actions

ESPN Game Day is visiting Boise State University with the live show starting at 5:30 AM this morning.  The day continues with BSU vs. Oregon State in the evening.  I just received an email from the local bike community.  There is free and secure bike parking starting at 5 AM and lasting until the game is over and everyone departs.  It is one think to say your organization is sustainable or values alternative modes of transportation.  It is another to show-up at 5 AM.

Mixed Message

I caught a couple minutes of an National Basketball Association game on television this weekend.  During the broadcast a commentator highlighted the environmental sustainability steps taken by the NBA.  I thought, ‘good for them.’  As I held this thought I watched a commercial jet take-off from our local airport and I began to wonder.  After a little time on the internet I discovered that a couple of NBA teams are working to incorporate carbon offsets or green architecture into their franchises to mitigate their carbon footprint. What I could not find was a program to address the impact of the NBA’s travel schedule.  82 games a season with 41 away games equates to 82 at least segments in a private/leased jet (before you account for preseason and playoffs).  Thirty teams play in the league which totals 2,460 take-offs a season.  Just focusing on the air portion of the travel I could not discover any specific initiative to schedule games in a manner that prioritized efficient air travel.  If the NBA wants to incorporate a real statement about its commitment towards sustainability they might focus on scheduling games using the same strategy of a small company.  If you put a sales associate in New York, why not continue to New Jersey, Boston, and Philadelphia instead of flying back to Denver or Los Angles between visits to each city?

Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Hockey Association, and collegiate sports all have an opportunity to make an remarkable statement about their environmental sustainability commitment.  It is a positive step to see conservation and sustainability programs in place but if this is a core value for a league, address the largest sources of your environmental impact.

If Walmart started charging five cents for each plastic bags at checkout, it would give license to many stores to match their lead.  If one professional sports league addressed their carbon footprint caused by air travel it would put a spotlight on all the other leagues.

Is your organization living its core values?  Do you need to show-and-tell all the steps you have taken or is it self-evident?