Inspiring work on the Fast Company top 50 ("World's 50 Most Innovative Companies"). Keep it up, across all mediums. It's a great benefit — I read the magazine in print, on Pulse on my iPad, and follow on Twitter.
John J. Toner
Not too many companies share Madécasse's commitment to putting others first. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach have made a positive difference in Madagascar for the families that own the land and create one of the best chocolates anywhere. Thanks to them for staying true to their hearts.
Northport, New York
If Trader Joe's is so innovative, it should be able to figure out how to open a store in the state where I live — the nearest location is 634 miles away. Apparently this has something to do with its distribution network, which I guess is not so innovative.
Brian J. Knoll
You can't be serious. PepsiCo ranked No. 33? It has a 10-year plan — 10 years! — to reduce problematic ingredients and receives recognition, while companies that already offer tasty, healthy food don't garner a nod. It seems as if someone is asleep at the wheel.
Opening Ceremony ahead of IBM? Just because it's cool doesn't make it the most innovative. Let's put things into perspective.
Maybe Jennifer Aaker would like to offer snippets of her class online — I would take it ("The Business of Happiness")! Of course people will criticize companies for "exploiting" happiness to sell products. However, if the emotion the product creates is genuine, the revenues will pour in. Deep down, we all want to be sold.
I'm so glad corporations are helping me be happy by selling me Coke, Converse sneakers, and convertibles. How very altruistic.
Laugh if you must, but the blending of psychology and marketing to understand what motivates people to become brand loyal (whether as an employee or as a consumer) is powerful.
Durham, North Carolina
Funny this article should mention Coca-Cola's "happiness machine" — the company just revamped that campaign in February with its "happiness truck," the video of which has already received more than 700,000 views on YouTube. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the original.
Giving and Getting
A radical change of trust is happening in the digital community (Life in Beta). As the Internet becomes the preferred method of communication, walls of worry break down as open conversations show that, indeed, the majority of people are kind. Does my 68-year-old father in Iowa still fret about online predators and buy every McAfee update available? Of course. However, he is also learning to love our family's shared Tumblr, where we post personal stories and pictures from around the globe.
Brooklyn, New York
I just returned to the States after backpacking around the world for 13 months with my two young daughters — we couch-surfed through 19 countries. In my own home, we have hosted more than 70 people over the past few years. As much as I'd like to profess to altruism, we really get so much more from being a part of this community than we could ever give. Fascinating people deliver themselves right to our doorstep for the low price of having an open mind and an open heart.
Maybe the Internet's enabling contribution to this exchange was not on the incentive side, but on the transactional. Without the Internet, columnist Anya Kamenetz probably still would have wanted to give the misdelivered prescription drugs to those who needed them, but she might not have been able to realize her inclination. There's a proposal in microeconomics called the Coase theorem; it states that "in the absence of transaction costs, an efficient or optimal economic result occurs." In other words, when there's no cost to give away items of little personal value, they're much more likely to end up in the hands of someone who values them. The Internet's enhanced memory for and broadcasting of reputation might add an incentive to do good, but perhaps just as valuable is its ability to help us realize the charity to which we already aspire.
Aaron M. Bornstein
Brooklyn, New York
This column serves as a reminder that in any endeavor, it is good to have a long-term perspective (Made to Stick). Positive business results cannot always be expected to materialize instantaneously, like a quick software download from the Internet. In any era, true grit is the equivalent of the three Ps — patience, persistence, and perseverance. This timeless approach will always be good strategy, and may even get your efforts into Fast Company.
Rego Park, New York
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A version of this article appeared in the May 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.