Dan Pallotta

I can’t trust him.

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Dan Pallotta at National Convention 2010
Dan Pallotta

Let’s face it: we have unspoken chatter in our heads which is an obstacles to good relationships. Do we see other people as a human being first, or as a threat? Dan Pallotta calls us on this in his recent blog. He quotes: “The unsaid is the most important part of language when it comes to performance,…What’s already there prevents anything new from happening.

The only way to overcome that is to build a bridge, a human bridge between the two people. Each bridge will look different. In fact, it might not give the physical appearance of a bridge at all. The bridges will enable us to show interest in the other as a person. Our interactions become richer and more productive.

The 10 City Bridge Run focused on a global design challenge of building human bridges to help close the gap on poverty that results in atrocious levels of child mortality. How on earth are we going to reduce child mortality as a problem if we can’t even move past distrust and harboured grudges in our own little communities and workplaces? Building human bridges gives an opportunity for some important self-work in our own lives.

So why care, and why build a human bridge? Dan Pallotta sums it up best in his own words speaking about ‘anti-communication’ leading to misunderstand:

Combine the perils of communication technology with our predisposition not to want to talk about the stuff that’s in the middle of the room, and you have a perfect storm of anti-communication. It is the source of all misunderstanding. And misunderstanding is the source of 99% of our problems.

To me, there is no more important issue in business, or in life, than this, because it is the issue that underlies all others. And the good news is, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fix it. Fixing it is as simple as the phone call my colleague and I had together. Whether it’s in the construction of a conference call, or considering that there might be a point of view other than our own, the answer is simple: Human beings just have to be human to one another.

Our failure to communicate, and our own misunderstands are evidence of the poverty in our own lives. This has nothing to do with how much money is in the bank account.

As my friend Maureen always loved to say: “Darling, just build a bridge and get over it!

Visit Dan’s blog here.

 

Agency, brand and trust: help or hindrance?

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Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize, 2006
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize, 2006

Bringing in the money is not the most important thing for us to do if we want to eradicate extreme poverty. Clearly that is part of the solution, but if it was the solution then there has been enough invested to make change already, and the end of poverty remains elusive.

I actually think it comes down to ‘political will’. I don’t mean a sharper focus within a country or institutions like the UN or G20, although that is helpful. I actually am talking about our own actions. Where do we place our priorities and what will we no longer accept?

There has been a lot written about consumer advocacy and how this might start to impact on poverty. In some respects, I would place that in the same bag as Corporate Social Responsibility- well meaning initiatives with a narrative around change, but ultimately in themselves they fail to be levers to make change happen. Muhammad Yunus argues this point strongly in his recent writing, and I like what he writes.

There is a need for greater participation, on both incremental and radical interventions. And not just by ‘big brand’ not-for-profit NGO.

Brand and trust have become confused concepts, possibly intentionally. ‘Agency’ starts to trade on a currency of brand because it brings with it high level of trust. Meaningful systemic change suffers for the sake of maintaining that brand.

This is not true of every organisation, and there are some awesome thought leaders and interventions happening most of whom are working selflessly and tirelessly in unseen places because of a driving passion to help others.

Has ‘brand’ gone too far? Is there still room for the maverick social entrepreneur?

Fundraising…the answer? More aid?

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A glossy brochure, a high rate of fundraising, a slick looking five-year strategic plan and vision/mission statement.

Is this the answer to eradicating extreme poverty?

I contend that the greatest poverty of our time is poverty of spirit, and that if we can address that in ourselves and across our communities, much of what we need to do might become more evident.

Dan Pallotta has an interesting perspective in this regard. I discussed this with him briefly at the Social Capital Markets Conference in 2009 held in San Francisco. His current writing is bold to say the least. I am not saying I agree with everything he writes; in fact I don’t. But engaging in discussion around this issue is important…Time is short, and we must be sure to match words with action along with a great sense of urgency.

Building marketing potential? More aid? Increased effectiveness/efficiency in fundraising?

What do you think is important and needed to make change happen?