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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Undermining Dialogue

Throw the other guy off his message, define the narrative, so on and so forth.  It's brilliant, really - because at the end of the day, no policy gets discussed, people are left with the impression all politicians are potty-mouthed, so on and so forth.

So yeah, don't talk to me about vote suppression when "black ops" gets more focus than actual dialogue does.  If you're going into politics to make your name for yourself (and let's be honest, that a good chunk of those who do)- and what's recognized and respected are the pithy remark, willingness to spout whatever attack like the Centre foists upon you if you're a candidate, and you're ability to "destroy careers" if you're not - that's what you're going to dedicate yourself to.

War Rooms are about winning by eliminating the competition.  We wonder why our democracy is in trouble.

Friday 25 September 2015

#elxn42: You Govern as You Win

I don't know Gerry well.  We've chatted a couple times over the years and he was always friendly, in the way that really smart people can be friendly and yet still feel a bit distant.

The impression I always had from his McGuinty days was that Gerry was the policy wonk among some rather hawkish backroom people, ie the voice of reason.  The Greenbelt was one of his projects.

This piece makes him come across more like Stephen Harper than Dalton McGuinty - smart, arrogant, intolerant of "fools" (which can be interpreted as "people who don't think the way I do).

I don't know him well.  I do have the impression that he's in politics for the right reasons, that he is passionate and wants to make the world better.  I also feel that he - like Katie - truly believes the democratic reform stuff of which they speak, the opening of government and renewing of civic engagement.

So, one piece of advise: you govern the way you campaign.  It's as simple as that.  

Should Team Trudeau win through a tightly controlled, top-down campaign that doesn't leave a lot of room open for engagement/dialogue/contribution by others on his team, then that's how the team will govern.  The impact that disengagement will have on the Liberal caucus will lead to some avoidable scandals that will lead to a further tightening of grip and message control.  From that will come avoidable backroom scandals and worse, cover-up attempts.

I don't know Gerry well, but I hope that I know him well enough to know that isn't what he would want.  

There are no stupid ideas; every point raised is a window into someone else's perspective, whether you agree with it or not.  Learning to listen to those ideas for the underlying lesson - what someone's concerns are, where their aspirations lie, or a new angle at an issue you feel you know inside out - that's an essential leadership skill.  You can't please everyone, but no one should be left thinking their voice doesn't matter.

Communications isn't the same thing as messaging and conversations are the polar opposite of wedge-positioning attacks.  Every single Canadian that disagrees with you in person, on air or on Twitter is still a Canadian - and they aren't going to go away after E-Day.  

The long-game here isn't to win - it's to change the way the game is played.  

I don't know Gerry well, at all - but I know he's smart enough to understand that.

Thursday 24 September 2015

NEWS FLASH: Ontario Conservatives Call for Stephen Harper to Step Down!

The Duffy scandal has rocked Canada; it's a sordid tale of Machievellian misdeeds carried out behind closed doors.  Heck, even the Prime Minister's Issues Manager has said he was "wary" when it came to the ethics of approaching the outside audit firm Deloitte.  Yet the sticky fingers that snaked out of the heart of Harper's office touched Deloitte, the Senate, the Party office, so on and so forth.

All despite the fact the Prime Minister looked the Canadian public in the eye and said no one but Nigel Wright was involved.

It's no surprise that the PCPO, consistent in their values and steadfast in their principled defence of Ontarians would call for accountability at the highest levels.


Of course it isn't; that would be silly.  Harper's one of their guys, so clearly, it's a different story.  He didn't know, and we should have expected him to know, nor is he in any way accountable for the actions of his staff.

Premier Wynne, on the other hand, is a Liberal.  When it's about her team, it's okay.  What's acceptable fodder (and is before the courts) and what isn't (because it's before the courts) changes depending who's involved and what the tactical advantages are.

Therein lies the problem with gotcha politics - it's a matter of glass houses.  It's great for Parties to say "that's not my level of government" or "that's something different", but naive for them to assume the general public shares their distinctions.

Quite the opposite - such stories feed into the notion that all politicians are the same, all parties are corrupt and that they all say/do whatever suits their interest, the public interest be damned.  On matters such as this, it's an accurate description.

This is the thing backroom in-it-to-win-it strategists don't seem to get or care to get; elections are the tip of the democratic iceberg, but there is a host of opinion and conversation that happens below the surface.  You can win the electoral battle and still lose the civic engagement war.

A growing percentage of Canadians have given up on Parliament and, to an extent, our model of democracy.

Far more than any terrorist attack, it's partisan shenanigans, cover-ups and hypocritical inconsistencies that are weakening democracy in this country.

The solution isn't to call for one person's head and ignore the misdeeds of another.  The solution comes when we recognize we're all in this together, and that elections aren't about them, but about us.

It's time to stop asking the other guy to step down.  It's time all our elected officials and their non-elected staff start stepping up.  It's the Honourable thing to do.

Polls: The Entrails of an Election

This poll is telling us that the Tories are way in the lead, with a majority within reach.  I say again, for emphasis: this poll.  Call it a snapshot of a percentage of one moment in time, if you will; it's one of many polls we've seen this election.  One or two of them are bound to be predictive in much the same way as a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Personally, I think the Conservatives are likely to land on top - not because a majority of Canadians think they have the best plan or see Stephen Harper as the embodiment of #CPCJesus.  Rather, they have more angry people in their base than discouraged ones, meaning they are more likely to vote, and donate, etc.  They will invest heavily of their time, money and speaking points to support the only party they feel will meddle less in their lives, cut their taxes, secure their freedom of speech.

That, plus the Conservatives have always had a more effective GOTV than its opponents.  And I feel comfortable in arguing, they have demonstrated more of a systematic willingness to do whatever it takes to win (whereas for the other parties, it's some individuals rather than the culture).

All that aside, though, political people are still following the polls, responding to the polls, trumping what bolsters their team and poo-pooing what doesn't.  It's a Pavolovian thing, I think - political people get the same sort of dopamine hit from a poll that other people get from checking their social media feeds.

If you collate all the polls after the dust settles, I'm sure you will find all kinds of interesting patterns. The entrails of #elxn42 will no doubt be carefully poured over by the sorts of people who do that, looking for lessons or trends and whatnot.

How reflective will those stories be of what actually happened on the ground, though?  On any given day, we've had polls that have placed each party on top and lagging behind, simultaneously.  They're all the result of surveys and such, so they're all true for a certain slice of society at a certain point in time... to a degree.  What's not revealed by these polls is how reflective respondents answers are of their actual opinions.  

When a server in a restaurant asks you "do you want white or red with that?" they're trying to nudge you to an answer; the hope is you will just choose from the options before you.  When a poll asks you which leader you like best, then who next when you remove your first choice, or which policy area concerns you the most, it is doing the same thing.

How many polls have the optional answer of None of the Above or I'm worried about them all equally, because they all affect me equally?  Or I don't know and don't care?

One of the biggest challenges for service providers, politicians, etc. in working in marginalized communities is trust, openness and authenticity.  This is for good reason; programs will run for short durations, promises won't be followed up on, or the external leader wading in will come across as White Saviour rather than community supporter.  It is very hard to earn trust when you're seen as part of the problem, and that with just cause.

When people don't trust you, they aren't open with you.  They aren't authentic with you; more than anything, they probably just want you to go away.

To an increasing degree, Canadians on the whole are feeling marginalized in our political process. Their elected representatives represent parties first, constituents second.  Engagement takes the form of donation asks or as backdrops for announcements rather than serious conversations.  Question Period has become insider baseball - more about scoring points and hits than properly debating the pros and cons of policy.

Polls are snapshots of a much larger story, much like touching the tail and pronouncing that the elephant is like a snake.  Elections are won or lost by parties, which is a much different beast than being the process by which the populace chooses the best governance for the country.

While I'm sure the entrails of this election will provide hours of joy for many backroomers, I really hope the parties and pollsters pay real attention to the mood of the nation after the election. 

Ultimately, this process isn't about the parties and who wins; it's about Canadians and the effectiveness of our democratic process.  That's not something determined by seeing how many people picked the white over the red.

Sad part is, it's going to be harder than ever to match voting patterns with demographics due to the death of the long-form census.  If millennial turnout is low, if new Canadian turnout is low, then we have a numbers challenge our polls aren't even hinting at.

When the majority of Canadians are neither represented by nor invested in a "majority" government, we've got a problem.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

The Truth about Trump

He may insult others; he may lie about their religion or deny their citizenship status.

It's all deflection, as are all his back-of-napkin, one-dimensional policy positions.

The truth is, there are dimensions to Trump he simply isn't prepared to share with the American public.

The people have a right to know the Truth about Trump.

Elxn42: When the People Tune Out...

"The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership."

Most Canadians aren't soldiers, but we have been nudged to expect our political leaders to be the only ones who can save/preserve our country, keep our economy from collapsing, help our kid get the treatment they need, help us get back on our feet after a job loss, so on and so forth.

Campaigns are supposed to be festival-like in nature; big rallies, campaign signs, passionate speeches, excitement on the streets.  It's democracy, stupid - we're lucky to have it so of course we're going to celebrate it, right?

The role of politician is supposed to be an honourable one; men and women step up to the plate to be the champion of the people, holding government to account for their concerns and issues, like those mentioned above.

Yet it's come to this, #elxn42:

We are in difficult economic times, much worse that the pundits know because, well, there's no census data or reliable polling data to look at.  There are crises happening around the world; whether they have the potential of touching are shores or not, the world is much more frightening place then perhaps we Canadians, in our sheltered naivete, are used to.

Lots to be uncertain of.  It's in times like these that we turn to leaders to give us hope, confidence, direction and the inspiration to step up as a community.  Now is the time that we need leadership.

Make no mistake - the Big Three and to a less-promoted extent Elizabeth May are all presenting themselves as that leader, as the only one we can trust to make things right.  The partisan machines are churning out emails, testimonials, SM quotes, comment threads and the like to offer the third party validation that is supposed to convince us their leader is a legit thing, the head of a movement of change (or status quo).

How's that working out for them?

Why isn't it working out for them?  With all the digital tools, focus-group tested messaging, tried-and-true messaging tactics and the emerging science of nudge at their disposal, the people in charge aren't inspiring people, either through anger or excitement, to trust them.

Canadians have lost confidence in our democratic institutions.  To a growing extent, we've decided they aren't in it for us.

Which begs the question; if Canada has lost confidence in our political leadership, who do we turn to now?

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Altering History to Control the Present has Consequences for the Future (UPDATED)

The main thrust of Lawrence Martin's piece is that Team Harper is destroying public information and attempting to redefine and mythologise Canada's past.  We'll get back to this in a second, but first I want to pause on the quote above.

This is Canada.  We are not a police state; Stephen Harper isn't Chancellor Sutler.  People don't disappear from the street because of views they hold or associations they keep.  The threats Harper's PMO can level against his caucus are of a partisan/Parliament/Government carrot-stick nature - there's nothing stopping them from walking away and finding a career elsewhere.

There are consequences to actions in Canada - some of them unjustified - but we have freedom.

Yet Harper's Caucus doesn't walk away unless they're under the gun or being offered something better. They take the infringements on their rights (some might say responsibilities) as Members of Parliament, they allow for their freedom of speech to be usurped by party message-makers, so on and so forth.

You wouldn't think that would be kosher for members of a party that's all about personal liberties, transparency and freedom of speech, but it is.

Then there's responses from the party's base like this rant to the media that isn't just frustrated - it's hateful.

I raise these things simply to point out that they're possible, even in a country like ours.  

It's true across partisan lines; how many MPs who got into politics to champion causes have found themselves parroting speaking points or heckling out of normal character?  It's a bit like the Stanford Prison Experiment in real life; people, whatever they think of themselves, will change their behaviour and even their morals in reflection of their environment.  

It's a sociology thing (or a behavioural economics thing if you're uncomfortable with the concept of social science).

Back to the re-mythologizing Canada's past (and emphasizing the military glory of old stock Canadians) and the deleting of massive quantities of Canadian public data (that is, data that belongs to the people of Canada, not the party in power) that is contrary to the ideology of Team Harper.  Add in the solidifying CPC narrative of Harper as super-human, infallible, the only one who can fight off threats and defend Canadian pride, etc.  

That's the culture the CPC is creating; that's the landscape they're devising.  

Within that landscape, good people are voluntarily giving up their right to free speech, perhaps even their right to think critically as they buy into the narrative of power for whatever reason.  In this Canada, die-hard supporters feel comfortable tearing strips off of journalists for reporting the facts. Those die-hards have no problem ignoring or minimizing blatant corruption from Team Harper.  

It isn't just Team Harper, mind you - I've seen partisans of deep intellect and real-world experience parrot party lines and wax rhetorically on the brilliant nuance of their leaders stance on, say, ISIL. It's not just troubling that these partisans are so comfortable suppressing their own experience and judgement in favour of the party message - the fact that they will do so to young audiences in policy discussion is downright alarming.

The party in power at the moment is the CPC, however, and its the way they have abused their position that is more than questionable, it is dangerous.

When Harper leaves office (and despite comparisons to power-mad dictators, he will), his successor will have to win a majority of support from the CPC base.  To do that, that successor will have to woo those angry base supporters with "red meat" in the way that Donald Trump is doing south of the border.

What will those positions be?  What data will they be based on, when data is scarce and the culture the Harper CPC has fostered is anti-facts and pro-ideology?  How much will allusions to Canada's new mythic past be used to connect that leader with Canadian nationalism?  Who will be excluded - and because politics is all about defining your enemies, who will be framed as the bad guys Canada needs to be defended against?

Regardless of which party "forms government" after the next election, will the trend towards consolidation of power/national identity in the form of one person continue?  If a minority Parliament leads to a ham-strung government, how will partisan use that to further anger their supporters/potential supporters to nudge action that will overcome the dead-lock?

Yes, I'm intentionally making references to 1930s Germany when I hint at mythology-making and data-burning, not to invoke Godwin's Law, but to point out that "civilized" countries can slide into rather uncivilized patterns of behaviour without even recognizing its happened.

Fear.  Anger.  Mythologizing the past and in so doing, emphasizing "old stock" traditionalism as better than the disruptive cultural, economic and demographic changes of the present.  Deleting records.  Increasing the vitriol, upping the rhetoric.  Taking liberties with electoral best practices and ethics in service of The Win.

This approach not only erodes our country's ability to understand and solve the Wicked Problems facing us (while simultaneously creating new ones), it changes the culture, justifying anger and nudging good people to behave in ways they wouldn't dream of behaving under different circumstances.

Like the MPs from the quote above.

I understand the competitive nature of "blood sport" politics and the pressure to win.  I get that the electoral watering-hole is shrinking, leaving backroom folk to push tougher tactics.  I know that the aggressive War Room messagey- stuff works and that owning the narrative means suppressing points and data that are contrary to your narrative.

I would just ask everyone - partisans, non-partisans, media and political stakeholders, but especially the politicians and their backroomers to slow down, think ahead and consider the ramifications of their approach on Canada and Canadians.

It's not you I'm worried about.  It's the culture you're creating that worries me - and the sort of "leaders" that thrive in such environments.

UPDATE - Same Day

Think I'm exaggerating the potential concerns here?

Since Bloc-sponsored attack ads came out late last week, NDP campaign signs have been defaced, with the word Islam scrawled across the face of some local Montreal candidates.

Same thing happened in Toronto last municipal election.  There is a great deal of rage bubbling just beneath the surface of an increasingly frustrated public and it's deeply unfortunate that parties are tossing around sparks for strategic gain.

Monday 21 September 2015

An Easy Start for Preventing Vote Suppression

Elections Canada has quietly warned staff to be on the lookout for increasingly sophisticated tactics aimed at discouraging - or even stopping - voters from casting a ballot.

While Canada's political leaders may disagree on all kinds of things, they surely must agree that what matters most is the ability of Canadians to democratically elect the governments that enact policy on their behalf.

Which means all of our leaders should be dead-set against any attempts at voter suppression.  Loudly and proudly so, in fact.

Fortunately for them as leaders of their respective parties, they have a fair bit of influence in shaping the activity of their partisan teams.

With that in mind, here's an easy thing Canada's political leaders can do to prevent vote suppression:

Declare both publicly and via internal communication that any card-carrying member of their party found engaging in vote-suppression activity is banned from engaging with their party for a period of 20 years.  

Related and in the interests of solidarity, party leaders could commit to not accepting as members anyone found to be guilty of vote-suppression from other parties for the same duration.

Such a ban would include:

 - party membership and all the rights provided
 - ability to donate to that party (sending the signal that you can't buy your way around the ban)

To ensure clarity here - after all, there's a difference between an attack ad and vote suppression - party leaders would, as part of their messaging, include a frame and examples of activity that count as vote suppression. If parties can provide sample ballots and GOTV, after all, they can surely provide their teams information on what not to do.

Things that come to mind:

- The provision of information about voting access or eligibility that is contrary to the law by flyer, phone, in person or online (ie date of election, location of polling station, false information about voting restrictions related to police records or employment. etc.)

- Providing intentionally false or misleading information about other parties or candidates (ie: if you tell anyone "they" are busing in voters, using doctors' offices addresses as residences, etc. have proof or you're gone)

If you can think of others, stick them in the comments, or perhaps Elections Canada could provide a comprehensive list.

Elections can be tense, pressure can be high and people can get carried away - we get that.  If Canada wants to be Tough On Crime, however, you'd think that the first place to enforce this would be where our democratic process is concerned.

If you think this is a good idea, let the leaders and their parties know.

#OwnIt: Special K for the Win

My belly is from my kids.  My legs are from my trainer.

Have you seen the new Special K ad?  You can check it out right here.

When you're done, come back and I'll tell you why I think it's so awesome - and reflective of a broader trend in marketing (we'll get back to the changing face of marketing later).

There is absolutely nothing about cereal in this ad.  The ad's not about selling food - it's about selling the sensation of empowerment.  Instead of the traditional "I'm a hot model getting checked out by (other gender), eat this cereal and you can be just like me", what this ad says is "don't try to be some artificial Hollywood standard - be the best you you can be."  

Which involves more than cereal.  Look at the women in this video - are they leisurely eating a bowl of Special K while wearing white Lulu Lemon gear, looking like they haven't a card or rush in the world?  Nope - but then, how realistic is that, anyway?  Most people are hustling in the morning - to get to work, to get the kids ready for school, to do all these things simultaneously.  

In this way, most ads present false standards that people living real lives can't ever hope to realize - eat this cereal, turn into a model!  Buy this fitness video, be buff and turn heads in 20 days or your money back!

The intent of those more traditional ads is to project an image of perfection and tantalize the viewer with the notion that they can be just like that if they simply buy the product.  Which is of course isn't the case - health is a combination of factors, including diet and fitness, and it differs from person to person, lifestyle to lifestyle.

Instead of minimizing this truth and focusing strictly on their product and its values, what Special K's #OwnIt campaign does is present a more realistic view of women's health within their normal life context - starting with the relatable (97% of women have an "I hate my body" moment) and then throwing that inter voice of insecurity that so many ads speak to directly under the bus (tell that voice to shut up!).

What do we see then?  Not a series of women munching down on Special K, but embracing their lives, pursuing fitness activities and clearly feeling good about themselves doing so.  Larger woman dances, has a ball!  One-armed lady doing push-ups - how inspiring is that?  Then, women looking in the mirror and embracing who they are and what they can be.

There are only two images of people eating Special K in the whole ad:

- a woman in what looks like a gym, crunching on a bar after a workout 
- a admittedly idealized version of a middle-aged couple in a very comfortable house at what looks like the end of the day, with the woman sitting on a counter having a happy bowl of cereal (might want to close that fridge door, though - you're wasting energy)

The ad isn't about cereal - it's about a sense of empowerment.  

In real life, the less-than-model-perfect people will be drawn to what they see as perfect people subconsciously for the potential benefits (does perfection rub off through osmosis? If they get the hottest girl/guy in the room, maybe I can get the runner up?).  This isn't about empowerment - it's about relying on the power of others.

We're all drawn to things like humour and charm because they act like chocolate, or a hug - they make us feel good.  This isn't about empowerment - it's about externalizing happiness, the same way binge-eating or excessive drinking can be about externalizing the relief of depression or anxiety.

That's the kind of selling traditional ads capitalize on; they're not really trying to change our lives, they're trying to position their product as the life-changer.  Essentially, we're being told to become product wingmen, because proximity to or consumption of that product/service will make everything better.  We're shown a lifestyle, a look, and then told that product X is our ticket to that world.

Which of course isn't the way the real world works.

The #OwnIt campaign, however, isn't suggesting or even hinting that Special K is a world-changer, a ticket to the perfect body or perfect life.  In fact, the ad isn't about the cereal at all.  It's about perspective - and how when we change our perspective, we open up doors all on our own, without need of a magic key.

Very specifically, the ad targets women - a demographic that is still marginalized in the workplace, public life, on the street and especially in media, where the standard to which they are held is literally artificial.  It says to women - "We recognize that the standards out there - standards perpetuated by companies like us - are false, and harmful to you.  We want to change that.  We encourage you to challenge the status quo to disrupt what defines beauty.  We're on your side; we just happen to sell healthy cereal."

I'm not a woman, and I still felt good after watching that ad.  Like most people, I like seeing people overcome odds, build confidence and find success in their own way.  I get swept up in movements that empower change, just like a growing number of people.  I want to be part of that change.

I once designed a whole campaign called "What's Your Healthy?" around the idea of individual definitions of health and the notion of maximizing one's own potential rather than meeting false standardized expectations.  This concept ties in to a growing number of campaigns and initiatives that are tackling the status quo - redefining what it means to be mentally healthy, redefining what is socially acceptable in turns of ethnicity, sexuality, etc.

It's even happening in politics - while we still see old-school leaders positioning themselves as Alpha dogs and telling us to leave them in charge and just get out of the way, there is a growing movement towards citizen-engagement, social co-design and access to information and tools that empower everyone to have equal skin in the game.

Done?  How do you feel?

Do you feel the same way you did after watching the #OwnIt ad?  Do you feel a tinge of excitement, a sense of opportunity and idealism?  If you're the target of an ad like this, what sensation does it leave you with?

What the marketers behind ads like this hope is that you are left feeling empowered, optimistic and inspired.  They want to make you feel like you - no matter who you are or where you come from - can stand on mountains.  You don't need them to do these things, any more than you needed your favourite teacher or coach to inspire you to be your best.

Just like that coach, or teacher, or mentor - you're going to remember them, aren't you?  

If the psychological imprinting intended by these ads work the way they're supposed to, you will begin to associate that sense of empowerment and optimism with the cereal (or the service, or the candidate).  

You will know that eating Special K is good for you, in that it provides good nutrients without detrimental sugar and whatnot, but you'll feel like you're getting a boost when you look a the box, like remembering the inspirational quote of that person who made a difference in your life.

In short, you're not buying the cereal for what it does for you - but what it reminds you is within your realm of possible, all on your own.

Here it is - the kicker, how marketing is changing and reflecting social change as a whole.

What business do companies like Apple have in supporting gay marriage?  They're supposed to be focused on selling products, right?  Sales is all about focusing on how your product is the best, most capable, the only one that can get the job done for a client, right?  That's what laissez-faire capitalism is all about; hard sales through self-promotion and then ABC closing the deal.  

There's no place in business for wading into social issues.

Just like there's nothing wrong with the polling industry's methodology - it's the people who are the problem.

People seem to be forgetting the way the world works - top-down, assimilate-to-succeed, conservative family values, mass-standardization, sales through self-promotion, etc.  People need to succeed on society's terms and they need to find it within themselves to succeed - not count on external parties to hold their hand.  Right?

Yet more and more companies, parties, organizations and even movements are emphasizing empowerment of the individual, personalized definitions of beauty/success and diversity as a strength.  It's cool to be supportive; it's trendy to hack the system and its standards in favour of the individual.

Hence, companies supporting gay marriage, campaigns like black lives matter and MMIW, etc. Products essentially advertising for their target market, not to them.

And their markets - seniors, women, the LGBTQ community, millennials, etc. rewarding them for it.

See, the smart companies are applying new understanding of behavioural economics and societal trends to tweak their messaging and outreach to be less "push" and more "raise up", empowering their audiences to be co-creators of their brand through UGC.

Smart organizations are, in effect, empowering individuals to reach their maximum potential so as to contribute their maximum to the tranformative social change rocking our world.  

They've adapted to the times, evolved with their markets and are winning as a result.

What's the lesson in here for comms people and marketers?

People don't want to be sold to - they want to be engaged.

It's not about you, nor your product - it's about them.  Position yourself as part of their journey.

To succeed, help them succeed on their own terms - be part cheerleader, part teacher, and be clearly seen to embrace the social issues that matter to them.

The same lesson applies to business, HR and absolutely politics.

If you want to win, put your people first.  Don't focus on the hard-sell; focus on ownership.  It's not about you - it's about them.  

It's as simple as that.

And they will thank you for it in ways you can't begin to imagine.