I lived in the corporate world for 40 years. I currently live in the church world as a consultant, training pastors and leadership teams. In the corporate world, I needed my foundation of faith; in the church world, I need an understanding of good leadership principles. We all have much to learn from each other, and I am grateful that Willow Creek and its Global Leadership Summit offer that learning opportunity to anyone who will listen ("What Would Jack Do?"). Jesus asked his disciples: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?" It's an important question, even in 2011. Jesus answered, in part, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." There is more to life than things, stuff we accumulate, and having a position of authority.
Coral Gables, Florida
Jeff Chu's story left me wanting a ticket to the Global Leadership Summit! He raises an interesting point about "umbrellas of grace" being available so people feel reassured that candor won't be punished. In my work with corporate leaders, I find these umbrellas of grace are rare; people still operate with fear and have learned to keep their mouths shut. Consequently, great ideas and solutions are not shared with key leaders. I commend Pastor Bill Hybels for recognizing that the church and the business world have plenty to learn from each other.
I reluctantly attended my first Leadership Summit two years ago. Today, I would not miss one, and I schedule my summer plans around it. It is one of the most educational and inspirational events I have ever attended.
In "iCitizen," Anya Kamenetz compares Code for America with Teach for America. This is not an accurate comparison. Code for America hires experienced game developers to write code and develop applications to help neighborhoods and communities. Teach for America hires people with no teaching experience to instruct our nation's children. The comparison would be accurate if Code for America hired people with no background in code. The idea sounds absurd, yet Fast Company supports just such an approach to education with its repeated accolades for Teach for America.
Excellent article ("I Want My Twitter TV!"). It captures a big part of what is wanted by TV viewers who are eager to become TV participants. Shouting at the TV is a private experience, but when I tweet, I know that others can (and will) see it. It forces me to draw upon my creativity, and it becomes a brainstorming session around the viewing experience.
It is the very nature of the lens and the screen to be interactive. This is nothing new. Look to early TV — Miss Barbara on Romper Room listed the names of boys and girls, and we viewers listened for ours. The new media allows us each to have our own channel to broadcast on. Primitive ideas as they may be, the possibilities are fascinating.
Barbara CohenMonsey, New York
The Age of Advertising
For years I have spent several mornings a week at a local Starbucks, enjoying the company of two prominent players in the advertising world. Both refer to themselves as "recovering ad men." On those rare occasions when they have commiserated on the sorry state of their business, I paid fleeting attention — there was no way for me, someone outside of the ad business, to have a quantifiable understanding of the steadily deteriorating state of the ad industry. That is, until I read Danielle Sacks's article ("Mayhem on Madison Avenue"). What rocked me to my core was realizing how most folks in my business are guilty of the same crime: sitting unchanged for the last half-century, "like a beetle preserved in amber." Truly scary was the clueless nature of the creative types — if ad people are clueless, where does that leave the rest of us? However disturbing, Sacks left her readers with hope: "Many in the business do realize that this moment of unsettling disruption is filled with possibilities." To say it was well done doesn't begin to capture the gratitude Fast Company readers should have for this invaluable article.
An important part of this story is the issue of strategic application when it comes to social media. So much of the conversation is about the tactical uses of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, all of which have been written into more failed marketing plans than successful ones. Social is an attitude and a culture more than a channel. In the current environment, traditional media can play a big role in creating engagement and dialogue. Channels will come and go, but the requirement to engage with and listen to your customer is here to stay.
The media landscape will continue to change and become increasingly complex as technology progresses at its mind-warping speed, but there is a constant that we use with clients from Bounty to Secret to Carlsberg. It's called purpose. If you have an authentic purpose, you have magic goggles through which to view this digital landscape. It will help you create, edit, and make decisions, because you'll know why you're here. And if you know your why, you can deal with any what, who, where, or when.
A not-for-profit is not just the recipient of an IRS certification (Do Something). It is a team of professionals. Nancy Lublin uses the March of Dimes as an example, and it's a great one: The organization cured polio. Why on earth should it have then disbanded, as she suggests? It was right to take on the next challenge. If the Parkinson's Disease Foundation cures Parkinson's, I would not want to see it disband; I would want to see it use its skills to cure another neurological disorder.
New York, New York
If the March of Dimes were not in existence, my son, Joshua — who was born four months early and weighed only 1 pound, 11 ounces — would not be either. The March of Dimes funded the research and treatments that saved his life. My second son, Alex, was born healthy and nearly full term, thanks to infor-mation provided by the organization to my doctors and me. Because of the March of Dimes, Alex was spared the surgeries and years of therapies Joshua underwent. Because of the March of Dimes, my husband and I have a family.
As a high-school science teacher, I look forward to reading each Fast Company issue and sharing with my students exciting applications of science, technology, and design in business. I love the reality it brings to teens who wonder what they can do with a science education. "Corps Values" emphasized that one-third of Teach for America teachers are still teaching, yet did not profile any of them as "influential" veterans. This was disappointing, both as a reader and as a teacher. In a time when teachers are expected to do the work of Superman, it's rare that good ones are recognized in the public eye. There are excellent teachers behind every innovator. Perhaps sometime you could show off their hard work on the pages of your magazine.
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A version of this article appeared in the March 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.