I have a pair of Vans sneakers - actually I have two pairs but am I attached to the brand? No, not anymore. They are too phony now. Most of our brands don’t mean anything. They stand for nothing except “delivering quality products and services at the most competitive prices.” Big deal - not very original or inspiring. Where the hell are John Lennon, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King when you need them? There are plenty of companies to fill the empty soul of a materialistic culture - where are the leaders? Faster, smaller, cheaper technology is getting old…
A few months back, I bought a wallet made of the same material the tag on your Levi’s is made from - I bought it at a trade show direct from the owners and designers of the business - it meant something to me that I could buy something that was different and new and that it was a startup of young designers - there was a face to the company that was real. Compare that to Wal-Mart – if they could sell hearts and lungs they would. While I am certain there are or were some really great companies out there, we really need a total overhaul because their business models and ideology are f!@&ing uninspiring. “We sell junk because you like buying junk. And if you stop buying junk then the economy stops, the world stops and we enter into financial ice age and cannibalize one another.”
We need anti-business business models. We need spiritual business leaders. People Who Give a Damn. They are not religious zealots or MBA’s - they are ordinary people creating value in their communities - common people turned entrepreneurs - their entire existence is a challenge to the disease of greed infecting everything we do. These people know that it will not be a political party or an ideology that saves them. It is simply communities of people helping one another. These people who are aware of their values and beliefs demand companies they do business are aligned with their internal belief system. The product is NOT the point – it’s the way things are produced… the way business is conducted. Any American company can make a widget but what distinguishes the brand from its competitors? The challenge for all businesses big and small is to create a brand that the founders actually believes in. This DOES not happen in a board room. The only creativity on Wall Street is their accounting and derivatives products.
There is a reason innovation comes from geeks and weirdos in their garages and dorm rooms. They are on the outside and they don’t give a damn and have no one to answer to – they are authentic because they are doing what they want for their own reasons - everyone else can to go hell… they live in their own reality like rock stars. And we eventually follow some of these people. In our uninspired, materialistic, soul destroying world, we are looking for fulfillment, meaning and purpose. Hire crazy people, weirdos, nutters. Put artists and musicians and renegades on your team. Go into the office one day and spray paint the walls or hire a homeless guy to do it. Consult with Johnny Rotten for new ideas. Drink the f!@#ing Kool Aid, take the blue and the red pill, and turn the amps up to eleven. Not giving a damn is the most liberating thing – it truly is. And it could save us all. God bless you.