doing goods work

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I was sitting in a living room a few years ago in Brownsville Brooklyn at the home of the head of a local non-profit.  There were volunteers there from all walks: educators, musicians, politicians, activists, neighbors and me. The organization, Bailey’s Café, for which I ultimately wrote a brand brief, did what I called “Good’s Work.”

The meeting started off with intros and backgrounds, and then surrounded by markers and large paper pads we got down to strategy work. The marketing guy who called the meeting, had never really done a session like this before it seemed, and asked where we wanted to start. Pin drop time. And so you know, Bailey’s Café helps underserved children and elders within the community by putting on programs, tending a community garden, fostering green issues and recycling, music and art appreciation, young girl issues and way way more. The missions of Bailey’s Café were, needless to say, varied.

To break the silence I suggesting we play the Is-Does game. We went around the room and asked “What Bailey’s Café Is” and “What Bailey’s Café Does.”  It got the room energized and began many conversations and discussions.

In brand strategy, the Is-Does is a great place to start.



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Doing good’s work is the brand idea I wrote not too long ago for a not-for-profit called Bailey’s Café, in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.  A noble, noble women by the name of Stefanie Siegel allowed me to participate and attempt to organize her brand. Check out the site. Jay Leno, is a fan.

For about 7 months, I’ve been working at a for-profit in the education space.  The goal of that company and brand, not dissimilar from the goals of all educational companies, is to improve student achievement. Again, noble, noble work.

For 5 years I did strategic planning and marketing in healthcare, the objective of which was to convey a systematized approach to improving patient outcomes in the communities it served. Noble.   Today I read about how HCA hospital corporation’s profitability is spawning purchases of a number of other hospitals across the country by private equity firms, hoping to cash in on certain margins that can be squeezedand others that can be expanded.  

Somewhere between selflessness and profit is where America ethos lies. Brands that see this, be they for-profit or not, are the brands that win.  They are also the brands I would like to plan for. Even Doctors Without Borders needs someone with a sharp pencil watching over them. Let’s all try to do good’s work. Peace!

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We had a tragedy in NJ this week.  A Rutgers University student took his life after having an intimate relationship with another dude secretly videotaped by a roommate and posted to the web. Prior to taking his life, the young man spent some time online talking about this invasion of privacy, presumably seeking advice and counsel from other young gay men. Sadly, it did not work.

What makes the web important is that you can go online and find communities of people with whom you can open up.  Because we’re human you’ll get good advice and bad but at least you can chat with those sympathetic and experienced – and not feel alone.  Mom’s with kids with allergies, for instance. This is a very good thing and we can thank the web for it.

In the case of the Rutgers man, the online community he turned to did not change the outcome but it could have.  The web may be vilified as the place to “learn how to make a bomb” or “place for pedophiles” yet that is glass half empty stuff. (I love Danah Boyd for her undying perspective on this.) Finding and talking to likeminds privately can be a very good thing.

Teen Suicide.

If this thesis plays out, the teen suicide rate will reduce in time.  People by nature are good — even callous, hurtful teens. To those kids on the website who tried to help the Rutgers student, I applaud you. You were doing goods work. Don’t stop. Peace!

PS. “Doing Good’s Work” is a line I’m recommending to a nonprofit in Brooklyn. (No poaching please.)   Is it better with our without the apostrophe?

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