Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Under-Estimate the Power of the "Cool Factor"

There is much being written about the economic meltdown and how it means that social capital has all but disappeared. But I have a story to tell. We moved from New York to California in the late seventies. My husband, who used to be a chain smoker in New York stopped smoking overnight after we moved. Wow, what self-control! I thought. Then, as we shared stories with fellow recent-Californians, I found many more who also stopped smoking overnight- And why? I think it is the "Cool Factor". California - always a leader in social trends - had already decided at that time that smoking was no longer "cool". The point is that we human beings are social animals and while few can be super heroic, most want to be socially relevant. So I speak with the voice of experience when I say - don't underestimate the "Obama Cool Factor". Yesterday's news is all about Obama chastising Wall Street executives about their "shameful" behavior in taking billions of bonus money even as their companies sought bailouts. Earlier in the month, Jan 19th, Obama asked the nation to devote a day to social service and Californians responded in droves. Yes, all over America, social responsibility is "cool" and self serving smack is out. Big changes come from small people in big numbers. For social entrepreneurs this means looking for capital and support from not just the few "big guys" but also from many smaller investors and yes -Do play upon the "cool factor" - No need to be apologetic about your social agenda as you explain your fiscally conservative business plan. Now if we coulld only get politicians in India to believe that honesty is cool and corruption is out.

1 comment:

Alison Chaiken said...

At last SUVs have lost their cool factor. That's why their sales have not rebounded as gas prices have fallen. The cool factor of SUVs was a triumph of marketing over common sense in the first place. We can only hope that the inexplicable popularity of bottled water in the US will be next to fall prey to common sense.