Chris Brogan on How to Win at Planning

This is an excerpt from Chris Brogan‘s email newsletter this morning—used with his permission. I’ve been reading Chris’s stuff for at least a decade; it’s one of the few newsletters I make a point of reading regularly. You can subscribe at the link in his name.

Chris Brogan, author and thought leader

Chris Brogan, author and thought leader

He managed to boil down the whole planning process into just three questions. I think that’s awesome, and am pleased to share it with you. The three bullets are Chris’s writing (and then I pick up again afterward):

  • What’s the story? – What are the elements I need to be thinking about in this moment, including the big and small picture, the players, the interactions at hand.
  • How do I play? – What are the rules and mechanics that guide me? This is important because this is where you subtract all the “extra” stuff. How you play often has simple rules in any situation.
  • How do I win? – This is strategy and approach. What will fit your time available? Where are you strongest? What’s the fastest thing you can do to accomplish the goal?

Is business success really that simple? Well, let’s just say you could spend quite a bit of time answering those three questions and then analyzing your answers. I’d see it’s at least a might good jumpstart.

Posted in Business-general, Entrepreneurship Tagged with: , ,

I DID Give Him a Chance…And That’s Why I March

I’m starting this post at 2:30 a.m. on January 21, as I prepare to board a bus to Washington, joining the Women’s March for human rights that will greet the newly sworn in US president on his first full day of office. Hundreds of thousands are expected in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and many smaller communities. Post-event note: at least 3.3 million to 4.6 million demonstrators came out around the US, plus hundreds of thousands more elsewhere in the world in more than 600 events. I’m finishing it the next day.

Several people have asked me, “Why don’t you give him a chance?” And my father-in-law, a liberal, shocked me with a different question: “He won. Why are you still marching?” Later, someone else asked me the same question on Facebook.

Marching at the Women's March on Washington with my wife and children

Marching at the Women’s March on Washington with my wife and children (from left: son-in-law Bobby, daughter Alana, wife Dina, me, son Rafael)

The Chances DT Has Failed to Take

I have given him not one chance but many, and he has failed to take them. I feel it is my patriotic duty to speak out against his agenda, to remind him that he not only has no sweeping mandate—he lost the popular vote “bigly”—and to remind my fellow Americans that his election was not clean and his behavior has not met any legitimacy tests.

This was already abundantly clear during the campaign. Back in August, I wrote an open letter to DT that called him out for his racism, misogyny, and bullying.

Despite my harsh language, when he eked out his narrow victory, I was still willing to give him lots of chances. But here’s what happened, just to name a few:

I don’t want to make this blog into a book, so I will stop there. I would love to have been wrong on this. I would have deeply delighted in the emergence of a new and different DT, one who really was trying to “make America great.”

My Patriotic Duty
One final reason why I marched: the most important one of all! As a patriotic American who believes this country is already great and that DT’s and/or his surrogates’ policies on the environment, women’s rights, minority rights, education, freedom of the press and other freedoms in the Bill of Rights, and a whole host of other issues are not just the wrong path, but take us down the ugly (and utterly unacceptable) road that Germany and Russia took in the 1930s. I not only refuse to be part of that takedown, I feel it is my duty as someone who cares about my country to stand up and say NO. When my as-yet-unborn grandchildren ask me, decades from now, what I did to protect our country and planet at this critical time, I will be able to stand proudly, as my mother did about her role in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and say that I was there. I stood up for what’s right.

Posted in Activism, Business Ethics, Democracy, Ethics in Government, language, Politics, propaganda, Protests and Crackdowns, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , ,

New Uses for CO2? Elkington’s Latest Out-Front Thinking

It’s always fascinating to see what John Elkington is thinking.

In this profile in Ethical Corporation magazine—which calls him “CSR’s leading thinker”—Elkington restates his view that regenerative business models could create at least $12 trillion in opportunity and add up to 380 million jobs by 2030.

John Elkington, CSR thought leader

John Elkington, CSR thought leader

Elkington has some very cogent things to say about the shocking changes in geopolitics last year, from the Brexit vote to today’s change of US president.

But maybe the most intriguing thing is this little snippet:

…He is travelling to Germany to meet with Covestro, a spin-out from the German chemicals giant Bayer, which has just opened a plant using CO2 in place of polymers in mattresses and upholstered furniture.

If we can turn CO2 into a valuable asset instead of a climate-change accelerant/pollutant, that could be world-changing. And there’s no reason it can’t be possible. I’ve known for years about turning wastes into input. See for example this article about another visionary, John Todd, that I wrote all the way back in 2002.

So why not turn carbon dioxide into a salable product?

Insatiable curiosity about the world has always powered my writing and speaking. I wanted to know more about this. A few seconds of searching led me to Covestro’s page about this technological and environmental breakthrough. While the writing shows distinct signs of a non-nartive-speaking author, the information is quite cool.

Posted in Abundance and Prosperity, Corporate Social Responsibility, Eco-friendly, Energy & Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Green Business, Green Marketing, Innovation, Socially Responsible Investing, Technology Tagged with: , , , , , ,

A committed author is always looking for book promotion opportunities

Despite many commitments around the holidays, several client projects, and all the time-consuming organizing work I’ve been putting in since the election, I’ve been constantly, actively promoting, promoting, promoting both my personal brand and my latest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (published in April).

Learn more about the powerful new book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn more about the powerful new book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

I will keep promoting it for a long time, but right now as its life as a “new” book (current-year copyright) is ending, I’ve been pushing especially hard. This is some of what I’ve been up to:

  • Wrote and distributed a press release November 9 (as soon as I knew the election results) on how social entrepreneurs can still thrive under a Trump presidency
  • Wrote a letter to his campaign making the business case for keeping the Paris climate accord (no answer from his people, but I modified it slightly and got it published on
  • Arranged to submit a guest blog and started writing it
  • Got myself cited/quoted in at least five other published articles in November and December, including Entrepreneur,, and Huffington Post—most of these because I actively go after journalists looking for story sources; I pitched 32 journalists in December and 20 (a more typical number) in November
  • Secured two new reviews and one minor award (the first for this book—making it the 7th of my 10 books to win at least one award and/or be republished in a foreign country)
  • Scheduled interviews on a telesummit and four more podcasts in the next few weeks
  • Continued fleshing out my role as co-host of a new weekly radio/podcast show, which I expect to get rolling in the spring
  • Applied for several speaking gigs and am on the shortlist for at least two
  • Expanded my personal network with several get-acquainted calls
  • Finished the 3rd (and likely final) draft of a corporate sponsorship proposal I’ve been working on all fall, and began looking for a researcher to generate the email addresses I need to distribute it to about 200 companies mentioned favorably in Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World


And how have you been building your career this holiday season?

Posted in Activism, Branding, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, Networking, Publishing, Shel's Personal Life Tagged with: , , , , ,

10 Reasons to Resist Nonviolently, Chanukah, And Barbara Kingsolver’s Message

For many of us, we are one month away from the greatest threat to democracy in the history of our country. The incoming administration presents a threat greater than the Alien and Sedition Acts under John Adams…the persecution of antiwar activists in World War I and the Palmer Raids that followed that war…the McCarthy witchhunts…the George W. Bush coup and the illegal, immoral wars that resulted.

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. The word “Chanukah” means “dedication,” and celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after throwing out the occupiers. I am dedicating this blog post to all those who feel threatened by a president-to-be who has repeatedly spoken out in hatred and incited violence against Muslims, immigrants, people of color, women, even people with disabilities, and who has done nothing to quell the violence of his supporters against these groups as well as people who identify as LGBTQ and Jews.

It also happens to be my 60th birthday. I made my first action for social change at age 3, and became serious about activism at 12. I’ve been doing what I can to create a better world ever since, and I will “not go gentle into that good night

I have personally been actively organizing ever since the morning after the election. I’ve attended meetings on how to be an ally for people facing hate crimes in the streets or ICE agents on their doorstep. I’ve written to DT making the business case for keeping the Paris climate accord and I’ve written on how social entrepreneurs can still thrive in the coming years. I’ve signed what feels like hundreds of petitions, made dozens of phone calls, reached out to dozens of activists to show a path of hope and action, attended a “where do we go from here” mass meeting with about 800 people, and marched in front of the nearest state capital while the electors voted—and in the streets of nearby cities for several rallies.

Demonstrators at the Connecticut State Capital as electors voted December 19, 2016. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

Demonstrators at the Connecticut State Capital as electors voted December 19, 2016. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

I’ve just read two different articles that I wish I’d written.

First, in the Washington Post, a great analysis by Erica Chenowith of the power of nonviolent action, with links to excellent primary sources. She lists 10 different ways nonviolent resistance out-accomplishes violent resistance—with examples including the tens of thousands saved by nonviolent resistance to the Nazis. This is a tiny fraction of the total. The brilliant nonviolence historian Gene Sharp listed 193 different nonviolent activist tactics, decades ago. By now, the number is probably much higher.

And second, an essay by Barbara Kingsolver on why we cannot sit back in paralysis, how we have to act. She recognizes that many of us are grieving. More importantly, she recognizes our tendency as liberals, to make our accommodations and be good citizens, just as we were under Reagan and both Bushes.

But, she says, this time is different. We have no obligation to cooperate with a president who:

  • Trumpets an agenda of repression, completely at odds with the wishes of most Americans (even many who voted for him)
  • Has no mandate (having lost the popular vote by the largest margin of any “winning” presidential candidate in history)

“We went to bed as voters, and got up as outsiders to the program,” she writes. And provides a nice list of ways we can agitate and organize, even if we see ourselves as polite Boomers who long ago left behind the 1960s-70s politics of the streets.

Personally, I never left the streets behind. But it’s been nice, in recent years to march as often to celebrate victories as to protest injustice. We may not have that luxury very often in the next few years. But that doesn’t mean we crawl into a hole and give up.

Its perhaps fitting that I found both of these stories through Mary Jane Sullivan, whom I met on an activist bus to an organizing conference in 1978, and who was my housemate for my last year and a half in Brooklyn, 1979-80. Like me, she has spent her whole life fomenting positive change. There are millions of Boomers like us, and millions of Millennials like my kids, who still see activism as a key component of our lives.

We will NOT be silenced!

Posted in Activism, Democracy, Ethics in Government, Politics, Protests and Crackdowns, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Why I Found this Democratic US Senator’s Survey Unethical

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

I have been a fan of your since you took office. However, after following your Facebook link to the Planned Parenthood funding survey, I have to say I felt tricked, deceived, and betrayed.

I’ve used this blog to call out unethical marketing from various companies over the years. And even though you and I share many political views (including a strong commitment to women’s rights)—I have to call you out on this.

The initial question that led to the dead end

The initial question that led to the dead end

I had no problem with the initial one-question survey. But then I opted in to the follow-up questions.

First, as a survey instrument, the questions were useless. Each had only a yes or no option, written in language that showed a clear bias toward one answer. Yes, you’ll be able to prepare a press release that could cite a number like 95 percent of respondents—but it’s meaningless. You’d be laughed off the page, or worse, publicly shamed, by journalists who bother to look at the source data.

Second, after I checked off my answers and tried to submit, my phone took me to a page demanding money. I say demanding rather than asking, because there was no way out except by giving money. My submit button was refused when I left the field blank and refused again when I put in a zero. And when I exited the page without contributing, it tried to post to my Facebook page that I had just contributed to you. I have no way of knowing if my responses were actually counted—but I can tell you I did not appreciate being trapped and manipulated like this.

I don’t have a problem being asked for money at the end of a survey, when it’s my choice whether to give or not. But this felt like a shakedown, quite frankly. It left a very bad taste.

I would find this unacceptable from any politician and any charity. But since you were “the very first member of Congress to put her official daily schedule, personal financial disclosure and federal earmark requests online” and cited by The New York Times for your commitment to transparency, I find this an especially bitter pill.

As a marketer, I am saddened to see you resorting to Trumpian tactics based in dishonesty and lack of transparency. You’re better than this. In Michelle Obama’s famous line, “When they go low, we go high.”


Shel Horowitz, marketing strategist and copywriter


Posted in Branding, Business Ethics, Copywriting, Democracy, Ethics in Government, language, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, Politics, propaganda, Transparency vs. Secrecy Tagged with: , , , ,

Top 10 Reasons Why the Electoral College Should “Just Say No” to Trump

On Monday, the US Electoral College will be officially deciding whether Donald Trump will be president of the United States.

Caricature of Donald Trump by DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons License:

Caricature of Donald Trump by DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons License:

Alexander Hamilton had several reasons for proposing this convoluted structure. Some of them were not so noble, like giving more power to slave states. But one is worth noting: providing a check against the office going to someone unfit to hold it.

And just because that body has never found a winner unfit doesn’t mean it can’t. This time, there are a whole bunch of reasons why it might want to exercise that power. Some of them are about his complex financial empire, some about his personal actions—and some about the questionable integrity of this year’s voting process. Any one of these should be enough to say, “Hey, wait a minute, this is not OK.” Here are ten among many.

  1. Refusal to divest of investments that could influence policy
  2. Unlike every major party presidential candidate in decades, refusal to disclose his taxes
  3. Probable intervention by a foreign government (Russia), according to the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)—and the request by some Electors for a briefing on this
  4. His opponent winning the popular vote by an astounding 2,833,224 votes
  5. Trump has been named in at least 169 separate lawsuits—for fraud, antitrust violations, discrimination, and sexual harassment (among other issues). One is especially worth highlighting: A consolidated fraud case (including two class action suits plus one filed by New York State’s Attorney General that Trump settled for $25 million alleged that his Trump University was a scam
  6. Interference in legitimate recount efforts in three states where exit polls showed a Democratic victory but the state was called for Trump
  7. Refusal to accept intelligence briefings, a daily part of every president’s morning since forever
  8. Threats to the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, press, and assembly
  9. Threats and incitements to violence against a vast range of people, from Hillary Clinton to an 18-year-old college student
  10. Insults both to whole classes of Americans and to individuals who disagreed with him

This, unfortunately, isn’t even the whole story. I haven’t discussed the ludicrous lack of government experience among his Cabinet picks…his own inexperience in any government position…the consistent lying…the well-documented cheating of vendors…the lease he has with the federal government for his new Washington, DC hotel which bars any government employee…his insistence on remaining Executive Producer of Apprentice, as if running the country were a side hustle…the extremist agenda he has embraced…his refusal to meaningfully condemn the hundreds of hate crimes in the aftermath of the election…and on and on it goes.

I hope the Electors in the Electoral College do their patriotic duty, and (in the words made famous by Nancy Reagan) “just say no.”

Note: dozens of petitions to the Electoral College are circulating. Here’s one I like. It allows you to write your own letter (be polite!)

Posted in Business Ethics, Democracy, Ethics in Government, Ethics-International, Politics, propaganda Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

The Most Important Question to Create Eco-Friendly Technological Leaps

Stumbling across this article on bicycle-powered-everythings (bicimaquinas) in Guatemala—grain mills, water pumps, nut-shellers, blenders, and more—I’m reminded once again of the key question to ask if you want to spark innovation while keeping an eco-friendly focus on using fewer resources.

Too often, we focus on the tool: asking questions like “how do I get a new tractor?” But what is a tool? It’s a means of accomplishing a task! So the real focus should be on the task: “How can I get this done?” Asking “how can I get harvestable plants” might lead to plowing with draft animals—or to no-till farming techniques.

Green entrepreneurs (or frugal ones) refine that question. It morphs into “How can I accomplish this with the fewest resources?” Money and time are resources. So are raw materials, energy, water, plant seeds, animals, and so forth.

The people at Maya Pedal, the organization profiled in the bicimaquinaarticle, understood this. They looked around and realized there were a lot of junk bikes out there that could still do plenty of useful work, just not as transportation. They’ve come up with 19 different models so far.

Bicycle technology is cheap, accessible, understandable, and versatile. In fact, my latest book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World mentions a number of creative bike technology uses, even including a bike-powered trash hauling company. I also know of a fitness center that harnesses the energy of their bike-pumping clients to light the room.

We can ask this question in many situations—and it creates abundance. Asking “how can I power my electronic devices easily and cheaply without negative environmental consequences” might lead to developing something like the amazing Blue Freedom frisbee-sized hydroelectric plant (no dam required).

This blender is one of 19 different types of bicimaquinas—bike-powered equipment—developed by Maya Pedal in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala

This blender is one of 19 different types of bicimaquinas—bike-powered equipment—developed by Maya Pedal in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala

Back when laser printers were retailing for $7000 and I had only a dot matrix, I asked myself how I could offer laser quality to my clients without spending that kind of money. That led me first to rent time on a nearby laser printer for a dollar a page, and later—when I spotted a remaindered model for $2500—to organize a co-op of four local business owners who chipped in $700 each to buy the printer and a sturdy stand for that very heavy machine. Since I organized the co-op, the printer lived in my office.

Amory Lovins, founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, asked himself how to build a really energy-efficient house  that could fund the energy improvements out of capital savings. All the way back in 1983, he built a near-net-zero-energy luxury home that didn’t need a furnace or an air conditioner (in the snowbelt outside Aspen, Colorado, where the biggest industry is skiing). I have a detailed study of Lovins’ work in Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, by the way—including the energy retrofit of the Empire State Building that saves $4.4 million per year in that building’s energy bills.

What’s the second question you might ask? How has nature already accomplished this task? But that’s an exploration for another time.

Thanks Heath Dannis, @dannis_heath for sharing the great story about bicimaquinas.

Posted in Abundance and Prosperity, Eco-friendly, Energy & Sustainability, Environment, Frugality/Frugal Fun, Green Business, Green Living/Green Lifestyles, localism/locavore, People Helping People, poverty, Technology Tagged with: , , , , , ,

$10 Million to Charity—Another Cheer for Patagonia!

As someone who is decidedly NOT a fan of the annual Black Friday shopping orgy—and who participates instead in celebrating Buy Nothing Day (like Black Friday, always on the day after US Thanksgiving), I just love this!

Patagonia had pledged to donate all of its worldwide online and offline revenues on Black Friday to environmental causes.

Patagonia's fish/mountain range-shaped logo

Patagonia’s fish/mountain range-shaped logo

Here’s what happened, as reported by ABC News:

The outdoor clothing maker previously announced it would donate 100 percent of its global retail and online sales on Black Friday. It says it expected to reach $2 million in sales, but instead generated five times more. Patagonia says the fundraiser “attracted thousands who have never purchased anything from Patagonia before.”

Mind you, that’s not the profits from its $10 million in sales. It’s the whole amount, the gross revenue. Nothing set aside for product costs, operating costs, or anything else. I hope this generates many loyal new customers and lifelong fans. May the company’s generosity be a source of continued abundance, and maybe next year they can repeat and do even better.

All I can say is BRAVO and WOW!

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Patagonia for decades. I even profile the company in my latest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. I didn’t happen to hear about this ahead, but might have actually moved from participating in Buy Nothing Day to making an online Black Friday purchase to support the environment. That would not have felt like the crass commercialism that seems to fill every moment of airspace in November and December, and feels especially extreme on Black Friday.

Posted in Abundance and Prosperity, Branding, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Eco-friendly, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Green Business, Green Marketing, Innovation, Marketing Trends/News, People Helping People Tagged with: , , , , ,

Standing Rock Protector Accuses Other Side of Chemical Warfare

NOTE: You’ll find several action steps at the bottom of this post. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, please scroll down to that section and take action before leaving this page.

Watch this video made by Standing Rock Water Protector Candida Rodriguez Kingbird on November 14.

Read a transcript by clicking this link. She claims that a crop duster was spraying the encampment, and only the encampment. Kingbird’s video, or commentary on it, has appeared on many progressive sites and social media profiles.

We know the level of repression against Standing Rock Water Protectors has been consistently shockingly high. There are numerous reports of the authorities using water cannons, tear gas, and even rubber bullets against this peaceful group of Native people fighting nonviolently to protect their water—from a project that was originally to go very close to Bismark, but was rerouted because of worries about what it would do to the water supply.

The link in the paragraph above is to a Christian Science Monitor story with video. The Monitor is a respected mainstream news outlet known for its good journalism over many decades.

We know that the temperature has been in the 20s (Fahrenheit) at Standing Rock—well below freezing—and we know that both demonstrators and journalists have been injured and are being deliberately soaked: a clear recipe for hypothermia. It’s all-too-reminiscent of the tactics used by police departments in the American South against black nonviolent civil rights marchers in the 1950s and 1960s.

I see no reason to doubt Kingbird’s account.

Although a search for “chemical weapons standing rock” didn’t turn up any video of the spraying or any reportage based on a claim by someone else—or coverage in mainstream media, I find Kingbird’s testimony thoroughly believable. I found her a credible witness, someone clearly not used to being a public figure. I didn’t feel she was acting, just reporting—and speaking from the heart.

Brookings Institution researchers felt the job-creation benefits of the pipeline were only half of what pipeline backers have claimed. Former US Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich says the entire project is economically unsound and will “go belly-up” (scroll back to his post of November 16, 2016). But Donald Trump stands to gain financially by its completion and is an outspoken advocate of tar sands, fracking, and other highly destructive fossil fuel extraction technologies. If Reich is correct, there is no economic justification for the project. In any case, there’s no excuse for the violence. And even if the project were financially viable, it’s been long-acknowledged that one way to avoid climate catastrophe is to STOP extracting fossil fuels, especially those extracted in the most environmentally destructive ways—like the tar sands at issue in the Dakotas and Western Canada.

There is the (faint, IMHO) hope that Obama will protect the area either by revoking the DAP permit or protecting the land as a National Monument in his final weeks, but I am personally not optimistic that either will happen, or that it will survive a near-certain overturn attempt form the new administration.

Actions You Can Take

Petitions (click the marked text to sign, then share them widely):

Stop the violence (Really American)

Declare the area a National Monument (Bernie Sanders supports this approach)

Of course, personal letters count much more, so if you’re inspired, go for it!


Phone Calls (with script)

Call the Morton County, ND Sheriff’s Department to tell them to stop attacking. Call the Army Corps of Engineers to tell them to revoke the construction permits. And call the US Department of Justice demanding an investigation into police violence at Standing Rock. (Single action page for all three, via Daily Kos—be sure to click “Not Dina?” if that text shows up on the right)


Donate Moneyor Goods to Standing Rock Water Protectors
These organizations were recommended by a friend who was recently out at Standing Rock.

Standing Rock Healers Council: website and Facebook page

Indigenous Youth Council Facebook page

Postal and Paypal addresses for donations :


Checks or cash may be sent to:
Oceti Sakowin Camp
P.O. Box 298
Cannon Ball, ND  58528

List of MATERIALS they are seeking

Posted in Activism, censorship, Diversity, Energy & Sustainability, Ethics in Government, Politics, propaganda, Protests and Crackdowns, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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