Friday, April 2, 2010

"So Shines a Good Deed in a Naughty World"*

In the news and on TV these days are an increasing number of messages that focus on philanthropic activities by companies.  We're in a new age, a technology age, and it seems that doing good to engage and retain customers has become a best practice.  Karma is all the rage.  

Loosely defined, Karma is the idea that the beneficial or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself.  The short version is: "what goes around, comes around."   My good friend, Louise, paraphrasing the Bible, explains it's like casting your bread on the water and it will come back to you.  Not talking about soggy bread here, Louise's 'bread' is a good deed or a talent you share that makes the universe a better place. 

Personally, I think this is a good thing.  Even if  my motivation is still selfish - I'm motivated by my desire to not be alone but be part of a community (**see Seth Godin's video link below) - this new philanthropic agenda resets the benevolence standard while the technology makes it possible.  We focus on what others are doing for others and what we might do too, because we want to be part of it.   When I donate to relief in Haiti using my mobile phone, I connect with a community of like minded people who also want to make the world a better place.  

The cartoonist and marketer, Hugh MacLeod***, developed this simple and impactful visual that communicates this idea well.

Notes:  
*"How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a naughty world." (The Merchant of Venice, V, i, always worth a read) 
**Video:  Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the past, tribes.  Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change.  He urges us to do so. 
***Hugh MacLeod's cube grenade case study:  karmamedia
Photo of Louise by Jenny Zwarg!