Tag Archives: poverty

One More Reason to Love Newark NJ Mayor Cory Booker

Not many politicians, even progressive ones with a strong sustainability commitment, would try to live on today’s food stamp budget. Hats off to Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker for this bold step–showing his colleagues what it’s actually like to be poor.

Of course, he can go back to his regular life any time he wants. An option not open to very many of those who live on SNAP assistance.

A Marketer Analyzes Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech

As a professional marketer and speaker, I look at speeches differently from a lot of other people. I look not only at what the speaker says, but at how effectively the ideas and emotions are communicated: how it impacts the listener. Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention [link to a transcript] gets an almost perfect 9.9 from me. I think when people remember the great speeches of the 21st century, this one has a good chance of making the list. Just as we remember 20th-century orators like Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Maya Angelou, we will remember Michelle as an orator alongside Barack. People are still talking about Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 National Convention, and about his speech in Cairo early in his presidency. I predict that people will be remembering Michelle Obama’s speech [link to the video] years from now. Why?

  • Without ever calling the Republicans out, she made a clear distinction not only in the candidates’ values, but also in their origins; Mitt Romney constantly struggles to connect with people less fortunate than he, while Michelle Obama gripped the audience with the unforgettable images of Barack picking her up in a car so old and rusty she could see through the floor to the pavement…of his proudest possession back then, a table he fished out of a dumpster.
  • She reminded us over and over again of the hope and promise of the 2008 campaign, and connected this year’s campaign to that same hope, even while the youth who were so inspired four years ago are disappointed in what Barack Obama has accomplished. Her message to youth was clear: we are not done yet, and we are still here for you—but you need to get out there and vote (italics are taken directly from Michelle Obama’s speech):

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights—then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights. Surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day. If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire. If immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores. If women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote. If a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time. If a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream. And if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love—then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country — the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.

  • As my wife, D. Dina Friedman, pointed out immediately afterward, she positioned some of Barack’s liabilities, such as his insistence on building consensus with Republicans who not only won’t reach consensus but who are actively sabotaging his efforts, as strengths:

I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” — he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above. He knows that we all love our country. And he’s always ready to listen to good ideas. He’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.

  • She reached out to many constituencies: veterans, teachers, firefighters, poor people working class people, those with disabilities, single moms, grandparents, dads, people facing serious illness, those in the struggle for women’s reproductive rights, recent grads under pressure of student loans or other crippling debt, those who remember the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, gays and lesbians and those who stand with them in the struggle for marriage equality. And time after time, she reached out to moms and identified as a mom.
  • Above all, her delivery was from the heart. She connected to her audience as a person, a mom, and as an advocate for the best of American values. She was both sincere and enormously likable. Even her little hint of a stammer came across as endearing. She didn’t need props or PowerPoint. My guess is she didn’t even need the teleprompter that no doubt was in her view.

So why do I give a 9.9 and not a 10? I deduct one tenth for staying behind the lectern. That is much more distancing; when I speak, I stand to the side of the lectern, so there’s no barrier between me and my audience, yet I can still see my notes. However, she was able to overcome that distance and connect personally and viscerally with the live audience and those watching from afar. If Barack Obama does win a second term, I think Michelle Obama will deserve some of the credit.

Panera CEO: Corps Can Use their Strengths to Right Wrongs

“Imagine Walmart doing distribution for food banks…in which The Gap runs thrift shops…in which The Home Depot is involved in rebuilding.”

This challenge comes from Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera, as he closes a wonderful talk at Sustainable Brands about Panera Cares, a series of pay-what-you-want stores aimed at alleviating hunger. So far, his first charity store, in St.Louis, is more than self-supporting, and they’ve opened a second location in Dearborn (metro Detroit)—both in economically diverse neighborhoods. The idea is that some who can afford it will pay more than the suggested amount, subsidizing those who pay less. And so far, it seems to be working.

Great to see this sort of abundance-based thinking from the CEO of a major restaurant chain.

Cell-Phone Pricing Model Makes Solar Available in Deep-Poverty Pockets

This is quite exciting: solar systems for remote, off-grid areas in developing countries, set up with near-zero upfront investment and a pay-as-you-go model, converting to full ownership when the system is paid for.

If you’ve read The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, this will make sense right away. If you haven’t read it, you might want to grab a copy. This is the future: bringing technology to the poorest of the poor, not as charity but as a profitable business model that maintains affordability even among customers who have almost nothing.

Pope Benedict XVI Addresses Financial Meltdown, Environmental Issues, and Poverty

Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical is a sweeping, 144-page document addressing and interlocking a wide range of social issues. He calls on the financial industry to tame its greed and turn to ethics, asks the United Nations and individual governments to address deep-rooted poverty issues–not only from economic development perspectives but also making sure these countries have a voice and a seat at the table of power–a political shift, in other words.

Good coverage in the Washington Post (see above link). And a shoutout to Allan Holender of the World Wide Association of Zentrepreneurs, for bringing this important document to my attention.