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Holistic branding and marketing posts by Diana Chaplin.

 

Activist Archetype on the Rise: Where Branding and Politics Unite

Diana Chaplin

If we’ve ever talked about branding, then you might know just how fascinated I am by the use of archetypes in messaging and positioning various aspects of communication. That’s because archetypes are universal; they’re the common ground of understanding humanity that we share across cultures, age, race, gender, and most other identifying factors that seem to divide us on the surface.

But the really cool thing about both branding and archetypes is that they transcend any single application or modality.

So even though branding is usually tied to marketing and business, and archetypes to psychology, today I’m going to weave in how all this relates to politics, social movements, and the charged emotional atmosphere we’re in currently.

Now we’re having fun!

So what exactly is an archetype?

Archetypes are a concept that comes from psychology, or more specifically our understanding of the psyche (soul/mind/spirit/core of who we are both individually and collectively) developed by brilliant psychoanalyst Carl Jung. You can think of archetypes as the characters we all have in our subconscious minds. Examples of archetypes include the Hero, Sage, Temptress, Pioneer, Rebel, Angel, Healer, Creator, etc.

I bet you already have a sense of exactly what I meant as I listed those off just now. Yes? That’s because they’re in your, and everyone else’s, subconscious. Archetypes also extend to archetypal events such as birth, death, and marriage, and archetypal motifs, such as patterns in storytelling that include star-crossed lovers, teacher and student, or the epic journey. These are all things that are nurtured into us through culture.

Archetypes are used in branding all the time.

Most of us don’t realize it on a conscious level (we don’t think “oh there goes Nike portraying “the Athlete” again” or “oh Starbucks, you are indeed my Muse”), but we resonate subconsciously, and our brains organize the brand’s information in a particular way that is (generally) favorable to the vibe or style that brand wants to evoke.

Archetypes are like shortcuts to understanding. When done right, we get a feeling, the kind of feeling that is conducive for us to buy or enjoy a particular product.

Here are some examples of archetypes in branding from the environmental nonprofit world (because branding isn’t just for conventional businesses!):

Stand for Trees – forest and wildlife conservation = Protector archetype.

Greenpeace – bold environmental action and defense = Rebel archetype.

Earthjustice – legal organization to enforce environmental laws = Advocate archetype.

Want more examples? Apple = Creator, Sesame Street = Child/Innocent, Rei = Adventurer, Facebook = Networker, Epicurious = Hedonist, HBO = Entertainer, NASA = Explorer, Barnes & Noble = Mentor.

I’m not sure if all of the above would agree with my assessment, but these are the archetypes they convey through their function, marketing, design, and/or products. The archetype is right at the very core of their reason for being or their mission.  

Once you become aware that brands channel these underlying archetypes, you’ll see how ubiquitous these patterns really are, and you can recognize a good brand by how well they can create the full experience of the many layers to that particular archetype. The consistency and authenticity to that persona would permeate everything from the imagery and design, to the copywriting/messaging, and the sensory experience of a physical space. Everything is clear, consistent, and usually awesome in some way.

Take a moment, right now, to ask yourself if you can clearly identify the archetype of your business. Does this archetype permeate every aspect of what you offer and how you offer it? If not, it’s worth exploring further so that everything can click into place with a stronger and more holistic strategy.

One more thing, keep in mind that we’re being impartial here, so this is smart communication strategy that can be used for good… or for shallow consumption. I aim to inform, let your conscience guide you.

Ok great. So what does this have to do with politics?

I’m glad you asked.

If you’re reading this it means you have access to the internet, and so have likely been a witness (if not participant) to the emotional upheaval that has taken over our political and social lives in the United States since the new president has taken office. I’m going to remain a neutral observer here and comment on the response and strong resistance from many who are not so thrilled with the new head honcho or his policies. That response has come in the form of massive protests, marches, petitions, donations, pressure on political leaders of all levels, social media feuds, and groups organizing to discuss and take action.

This, my friends, is the Activist archetype rising. Collectively.

The truth is that we ALL have ALL the archetypes swirling around in our subconscious minds all the time, although usually we operate with one or two as our dominant archetypes and pull from the others when it’s needed based on the situation. For example, you can be a Creator or Artist in your personal and professional life, but when your kid gets sick you quickly shift to being the Caregiver, and then later when you go to a yoga class you’ll be a Seeker for a while. Get it?

But sometimes, archetypes are activated in entire groups of people because a situation calls for it. That’s what’s happening now. We are uniting as Citizens and Activists in opposition to what we see as an attack on our core values. The political situation has gotten so intense that our other archetypes are pushed to the sidelines as this one comes to dominate our attention, and our actions. Regular people who have never been into “the whole activism thing” are suddenly taking to the streets, organizing, have their government officials on speed dial, and planning rallies left and right. Even children are talking about fighting for equal rights.

Suddenly, we are all Activists.

By the way, it’s happened before, so it’s not a liberal or conservative thing, although the group’s sensibilities and moment in history comes with it’s own idiosyncrasies as to how this all unfolds.

In the consumer world, we’re seeing this result in certain businesses being boycotted, a substantial rise in donations to nonprofits, some business closing for a day to illustrate their value, and advertising becoming more political.

Here’s a description of the Activist archetype, from the book Archetypes in Branding:

This archetype is defined by it’s intentional efforts to affect social, environmental, economic or political change. A champion of various causes, the Activist seeks to persuade people to wake up and change their behavior. The activist is motivated by wanting to do some good in the world and to radically transform the conventional order. Driven to truly experience change, this archetype deploys a range of tools that enable action for achieving results. Working within various areas of value to society, the Activist possesses a strong belief in the power of the collective.

Willing to take a stand, the Activist initiates a universal refusal to obey what is wrong and awakens a vision for what is right. Brimming with new ideas for change and problem solving, the Activist can ignite a revolution.

Blatantly critical of old paradigms, this archetype thrives on the high that comes from winning against all odds. The Activist is an outgoing, communicative, ingenious, persuasive, motivating, invigorating and tireless fighter. Passionate and disposed toward sharing the responsibilities and rewards with others, today’s Activist is equipped with digital tools and people power to effect change.

It’s just one description, but it rings a bell doesn’t it?

This is what’s in the air right now. We’re breathing it in, talking about it, sharing it, getting distracted by it, and planning our lives around it. Like it or not, whichever political side you’re on, this archetype is coming to the forefront in the minds of millions.

So what do you do with this information?

When the air is charged with something powerful, YOU - as a business, nonprofit, entrepreneur, or otherwise human who I presume is interested in communicating ideas in a way that will resonate with people – can harness this energy.

How? Recognize it, channel it, but don’t be too overt or you’ll the run the risk of inviting criticism for being opportunistic, shallow, or off-putting. Talk about the values you stand FOR, rather than against, and make sure those values are aligned with your business and existing fundamental message, but in a fresher, updated, more direct, or more connected way. Consider how your business can touch upon the things your audience might be thinking about, such as:

  • Equality and justice for all
  • Protecting the environment
  • Ending corruption
  • Changing our economic system
  • Elevating the messages of peace and love
  • Taking care of each other on a global scale

The point is not to insert yourself into politics, or to become an Activist because it’s trendy, it’s to take a step back and assess whether to engage in something that is already happening, whether your business is ripe for engagement in this way, at this time.

Another interesting approach, could be to determine which archetype is aligned with you or your business, that is complementary to the Activist, meaning an archetype that the Activist would be naturally drawn to, such as the Advocate, Alchemist, Ambassador, Artist, Hero, Idealist, Innovator, Liberator, Reformer, Mentor, etc. If your archetype works to empower or support the Activist then what are ways to make that message stronger, bolder, and clearer? Again, the Archetypes in Branding book is very helpful if you’re interested in exploring these ideas further.

I’ll leave you with one last thing to ponder.

Some scientists have pointed out that history repeats itself through violent social upheavals in 50 year cycles, and that we’re due for one right around now. So like it or not, change is in the air. The only question is whether you and your business will participate.

The Holistic Business Model: Big Picture Strategy Beyond Marketing

Diana Chaplin

I love the word holistic. Maybe it’s my history of working on the marketing team at Integrative Nutrition, or aiming to live my life in a balanced way, but holistic refers to the underlying essence of wholeness that we all unconsciously desire.

It also happens to be how any healthy system works.

Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, a non-profit, or a mid-scale business, a system is what you’ve got. The question of whether it’s an effective one that has the right elements in place is likely the start of the process you can initiate to achieve wholeness, and ultimately see positive results.

The Holistic Business Model

You can find immense information online on basically any individual part of a business, but what’s often missing is the full context of how each of the various parts fit together. The big picture with the wide angle lens, at the center of which is your brand. That’s the point of relevance that ties everything together, like the hub of a wheel that gives meaning to each individual spoke in order for the whole thing to move forward.

Many think that your brand is a logo, or something to do with marketing. But I beg to differ, because your brand is really the core of your identity. It is the essence of who you are (as an individual or organization) and the more clarity you have in THAT, the easier everything else in the system will flow.

Now mind you, I’m not an “expert.” In fact, I feel that this word has been watered down to the point of triviality in a world where everyone is trying to be one. I have 10+ years of experience in marketing, sales, communications, and coaching, but I’m still learning. I’m telling you this not to downplay my own expertise but to say that this particular holistic business model is a work-in-progress. It may not be complete, and I invite you to comment if I’ve left something out because I wholeheartedly believe in co-creation and collaboration. That’s what systems thinking is all about, and I seek to exemplify learning and innovation with full participation.

So let’s get to it.

As mentioned, your brand is at the heart of the system. Everything revolves around your core identity. I elaborated on branding essentials in a previous post, but what I’ll say here is that investing in your brand is absolutely the best thing you can do for your business. It will be a long, hard road to clarity, one I liken to a vision quest because it will touch upon everything you thought you knew and demand that you reveal your innermost self. But that’s a good thing. And the result, ideally, is something clear, simple, and needed in the world. Something that can be stated in about 10 words or less and easily understood by the people you’re most trying to reach.

Here’s an example from an organization I support, the Biomimicry Institute:

“The Biomimicry Institute empowers people to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet.”

Is it clear? I think so.

Is it simple? Yep, it’s just one short sentence.

Is it needed in the world? Oh hell yeah.   

From the core of this identity, they elaborate what that means on their website. They host sustainability-based design challenges, provide educational resources for classrooms, host a public resource site, have a consulting arm, and more. The point is that when you have a clear identity such as this, it is easy to explain what your business is all about, yet also leaves plenty of freedom and flexibility to experiment how that identity manifests in what the business does.   

Not only that, but it helps every single person within the organization understand the collective intention of what they’re all doing, and how the different roles contribute to that effort. When there’s a lack of clarity, at best people tend to disengage and not work to their full potential, and at worst they could actually be detrimental to the business.

Your brand should be useful, meaningful, and memorable.

It can inspire, entertain, invigorate, educate, motivate, or nurture, but ultimately it must make people feel something or become somehow better. Why? Because if your product or service doesn’t leave an impression that is positively meaningful, then you’ll be forgotten or ignored.

So let’s move on.

Once you’ve got your brand clarity figured out, it should permeate throughout your mission, message, products, relationships, and team, and by extension things like marketing strategy, customer experience, and acquisitions.

Mission ­– this is how you’re exemplifying your brand identity and the bigger vision of what you’re really trying to do in the world. For Lifeisgood.com it’s not selling T-shirts, it’s spreading optimism. They sell T-shirts to generate revenue for the business, but they also have a nonprofit kids foundation, share positive stories from all 50 states, and create media. Having a clear and simple mission opens up the ways in which the business can operate and flourish. Check out these conscious brands for inspiration. 

Message – this includes both internal and external messaging. By internal I mean the communications that happen with your team. Are they clear on the big picture of what this organization is trying to achieve? By external I mean anything that you publish, anywhere. Your core message should be consistent with your brand identity and your mission. It involves all marketing efforts, various pages on your website, advertising, blog posts, videos, social media posts, ebooks, and any other forms of content that you create. Be mindful about the words that you use so that they resonate with your audience. This is where it’s critical to have a copywriter, content strategist, and marketing manager who are able to see the big picture of the brand and bring that down to earth in the creation of cohesive messaging at every level.

Products – are you creating things that “walk the talk” of what your brand is all about? You’d be surprised at how often the values or mission of a brand is at odds with the products they actually make. I see this all the time in wellness-related products that use words like “natural” and even “organic” and have lots of green colors and leaves in their packaging, but then use all kinds of artificial ingredients and fillers in the actual composition of their products. We wouldn’t even know if it there weren’t laws stating ingredients have to be disclosed! The point is not to cheat your customers. Make sure your products are genuinely aligned with your brand message and identity. Make them as awesome as possible to truly serve your customers, and have integrity in what you’re creating. Without alignment here, your sales will suffer.

Relationships – this is really what success comes down to. Genuine relationships, built on trust and mutual benefit. Develop a relationship with your customers so you understand their experience, desires, and challenges. Likewise, reach out to potential partners whose mission is aligned and complementary to yours. Be honest with investors, affiliates, consultants, distributors, and anyone else who’s a part of your business network. The more you create opportunities to connect with these individuals the more you’re nurturing the seeding ground for innovation, collaboration, and success.

Team – your team is the staff, whether it’s full or part time employees, freelancers, VA’s, or consultants, and the founder. The founder is a leader of the team, but should also be an open and accessible part of the team. It is critical for everyone on the team to be clear on the mission, and fully informed to speak clearly to customers, ask the right questions, create design and web experiences that speak to the target audience, and of course, be proud and purposeful in the work they do. Every team member should believe 100% in the heart of the brand identity. If they do, they will bring their absolute best selves to the table, and that’s good for business.

What did I leave out here? Plenty!

Service, values, loyalty, diversity, wisdom, leadership, strategy, sustainability, influence. I could go on but I’ll save these topics for separate posts.

For now, here’s your takeaway exercise:

Look at the diagram and the five focus points above and ask yourself which is currently missing from your business? Do you have a clear brand but no system in place to enact it? Do you have a dysfunctional system? Do you lack brand clarity and positioning? Start by putting your finger on what needs your attention most, but be sure to move forward with the holistic mindset of knowing that every element impacts every other element. Don’t create a Band-Aid, create a long-term systemic solution from the inside out.

Get in touch if you think I can help. 

Branding Essentials: The Soulful Entrepreneur's Guide to Clarity

Diana Chaplin

If your business was a person, then branding would be his or her heart. It is the palpable source of life upon which all the other systems depend in order for the whole to flourish and experience a meaningful existence. 

Can you have a business without a brand, or without an awareness of what your brand is? Yes, many businesses do, but that’s kind of like having a lame friend who has no real personality or ambition. Or worse, a friend who is always in the midst of an identity crisis and can’t get their stuff together long enough to actually be helpful or positive.

Maybe you’ll hang out with them because you live in the same neighborhood, or because at some point in the past they had something you needed, but you’re never really that excited to see them, and you certainly wouldn’t tell your other friends how awesome that person is. They’re just… there. Whatever.

On the other hand, a person with a beating heart and integrity, someone who’s warm and welcoming, clear-headed and communicative, and is always up to something interesting… Well, that’s a cool friend you definitely want to spend more time with!  

It’s really as simple as that.  

Branding is basically how you are perceived and experienced by those who interact with you. 

Whether it’s you personally, as in the case of a personal brand, or you as an entity or organization.

If you Google the definition of a brand, you’ll get something like this:

A brand is a distinguishing symbol, mark, logo name, word, sentence or a combination of these items that companies use to distinguish their product from others in the market. The legal term for a brand is a trademark.

But while that isn’t inaccurate, it is highly reductive because all of the things described there are the assets of a brand, not the brand itself. It’s like saying your veins are responsible for getting oxygen to your organs. True, but without the heart you’d just have a bunch of clogged-up tubes.

A brand is NOT a logo.

Here are some deeper interpretations of what a brand really is:

A brand is the position you own in the mind of your audience. It’s a promise to the people you serve and how you serve them. Mitch Anthony, Clarity Strategy Agency

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. – Seth Godin, bestselling author and marketing expert

A brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.Dan Pallotta, author, entrepreneur, and activist

Once you have your brand identity figured out, all the assets (like your website, marketing channels, and even the products or services themselves) will fall into place naturally. But without first going deep within and doing the hard work of figuring out your unique essence, you'll just continue to spin your wheels and not see any real results. 

In case you were wondering, here's a little history of branding from Wikipedia:

The practice of branding originated during the ancient times when it was used by craftsmen to imprint trademarks on their goods. Branding does not only help identify, but it also ensures the quality of goods and services the buyer and trader will purchase from the manufacturer. In history, cattle and sheep were branded with hot irons to indicate ownership. Humans were also marked to classify their social status. Slaves were marked to indicate ownership and criminals are labelled distinctly to show disgrace. Similarly, victims of the World War II Nazi persecution were branded with numbers as they entered the concentration camps. However, despite the history filled with negative connotation linked with branding, it has been replaced with a positive and more commercialized meaning, which relates to the use of categorizing brand goods and services.

You could say the word branding itself was rebranded!

Furthermore, as hinted above, there are many different kinds of brands. So whether you have a physical product, are an educational organization, a non-profit, or a service-based entrepreneur, if you’re doing something you want others to know about then you have a brand.

It’s up to you whether you take ownership of that brand, or let others define it for you.

To me, what it all comes down to are 3 things:

1. Clarity about who you are and how you're serving the world.

2. Understanding that your customers/clients/students/donors/readers are the ultimate heroes, not you.

3. Expressing this to yourself will pave the way to effective communication with others.

The best way to break that down is NOT for me to dictate any rules or steps. It’s to present you with high-mileage questions and encourage that you set aside some quiet time, open your heart, put your thinking cap on, and really sink your teeth into your unique answers, which will become the raw ingredients of your ultimate brand.  

By the way, these are not superficial questions. In case you’re new here you should know that I’m not your average marketing gal who’s focused on endless growth and conversions and profit. What we’re doing here is connecting with the core of why you’re doing this work, and when you can really do that in both a genuine and strategic way, abundance will sprout in more ways than just your bank account. If you're a soulful entrepreneur then I have no doubt you know what I mean.

So here we go, questions to help you connect with the heart of your brand…

1.     Clarity.

What is the mission of your business?

How will this make the world better?

WHY are YOU passionate about the work you do?

What are some words that describe your personality and personal style?

How might others describe your personality? If you're not sure, ask 3 people.

How is your approach to this work different from someone else who has a similar business?

2.     Customers.

Who do you want to serve?

What does this person really care about or value in life?

What is a challenge they have that you are uniquely qualified to address?

In what ways is your ideal customer an incredible person? How might they not even realize their immense gifts?

If you could boil down the result you’d deliver for them in one word, what would it be?

What are some words to describe your ideal customer's personal style?

3.     Communication.

What kinds of content do you most enjoy creating and are good at?

Where do your ideal customers get their information most often?

What kinds of communication do they most enjoy? (Visual, written, digital, tactile, detailed, quick? etc.)

How would they like to be spoken with?

How would they like to feel?

What kind of time do they have for interacting with a business like yours?

Ok, so how was that for you? Easy? Challenging? If you didn’t struggle with at least a few of the questions above then you must be a branding wizard with your business all figured out, in which case congratulations! But if you did struggle a bit, it's still a good thing because it means you're working through it and there's room to grow! 

Usually these answers don’t come easily, but asking the questions (repeatedly, if need be) plants a seed of awareness from which a brand will ultimately grow with thoughtfulness, care, and patience. It’s truly a process of unfolding from the inside out.

Also, please note that these questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding brand clarity. I usually go through these and many more when getting oriented with new clients in order to connect the many relevant information elements that need to come together to form a cohesive holistic brand identity. And depending on where you already are in your business, this may require a graceful pivot rather than a ground-up re-launch.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started, or to reconsider your existing brand more thoughtfully.

Next step:

After you’ve answered, take a nice deep breath, eat some walnuts to feed your brain, make a cup of tea to nourish your soul, and then take a step back to review and brainstorm what your brand is really all about. I’m talking about the BIG PICTURE, not selling more stuff or growing your bank account, but what your individual or organizational contribution is to this big beautiful world in need of progress and healing. How are YOU and your brand elevating human potential, creating more joy or wellness, or leading us all towards higher consciousness or empowerment?

If your brand doesn’t speak to the core of some aspect of universal humanity then it’s not fully cooked yet. That’s ok, just know that, and keep working on it.

Creating a brand isn’t just about sitting in front of your laptop and coming up with a brilliant business strategy. It’s about forging into the brave unknown of your own soul and extracting from that a precious nugget of greatness that will illuminate the collective good.

From there you can craft your mission statements, headlines, logos, web presence, social media strategy, colors and visuals, etc. and you’ll find that these things all fall so much more easily into place than by going the other way around.

So what do you want to have, a business or a brand?

Thoughts? Takeaways? Additional questions I should add above? I welcome your comments :)

Productivity vs. Slowness: How to Get Things Done and Chill Out Too

Diana Chaplin

Productivity is all the rage these days, with experts touting the joys of efficiency so you can get more done in less time, and – ideally – use that unwasted time on the things that matter most, like family, health, and travel.

As an example, here’s a quick video of research-based productivity hacks that millions of people are trying to apply (most of these strategies have had mixed results for me, but maybe they’ll work for you).

But here are the questions I’m wrestling with in regards to this, should being “productive” be the ultimate measure for how we define success?

Can we have a valuable life without maximizing the generative capacity of every moment, and does it really work to schedule your fun after the important things are done?

One more, a biggie, are people really balancing their productivity with more life enjoyment, or do they just keep cramming more tasks into the day because they’re mistaking genuine productivity with busyness?

As a freelancer and entrepreneur part of me yearns for more productivity, to check off more things on the daily to-do’s, and to go to sleep knowing I accomplished something meaningful that day. But as a mother, I can’t help but look at my kids and see them as unquestionably – even flamboyantly – UNproductive, and also yearn to have their sense of wild abandon, imagination, and freedom. After all, they seem pretty happy… when they’re not wallowing in some dramatic snack-related despair.

To complicate things further, I’m a creative human and holistic thinker. I burn out if I’m solely focused on practical things for too long, even if it’s broken up with breaks. I need to play, craft, experiment, and generally waste time on things that feed my soul just because it feels good. I also want to connect with fellow humans, enjoy some juicy fiction with a cup of tea, or take a photography walk in nature­. It’s during those times that my rational mind takes a rest, and in resting serves as more fertile ground to ideas I’ll later integrate in more practical ways. But despite knowing the value of these pursuits I still have to quiet the nagging voice that says I’m being unproductive, that I should focus on growing my business, researching positive brands, organizing my tax receipts, networking, or learning something. Not just… (gasp) living life!

So where’s the balance?

As is so often the case, it helps to know we’re not alone in feeling like something just isn’t right about the way everyone around us seems to be doing things.

When I came upon the global slow movement, I let out a huge sigh of relief and then a HELL YES! This is what I’m talkin’ about!

"The slow movement is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It's about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting."

You can’t really savor the minutes if you’re on a productivity schedule, trying to get things done.

And while the point of productivity is to avoid distraction so you can actually accomplish your goals, something I totally agree is necessary, there are also times when distractions can be… good. By nature, they are “of the moment” and can lift our spirits in surprising ways. A text from a friend could make you smile, a pause to Google some interesting creative initiative could inspire you, leaving work early to go see your kid play soccer helps strengthen our human bonds.

Because the slow movement focuses on quality over quantity, it is unproductive in all the ways that matter!  

Wisdom traditions know the value of doing nothing, living simply, and taking it slow. Isn’t that what meditation is all about? Artists get it too. They don’t mind spending hours, days, months, or even years producing just one piece of art. I know there’s more to it, but the point is that cultivating the stillness of pure being creates the peace from which all the good things can grow, including the vision to be productive with purpose.

Productivity pays the bills, but unstructured living feeds the soul.

The sweet spot is ultimately the ability to recognize when productivity is important and to stay focused, but to also dial it back and chill out regularly enough to actually enjoy this one beautiful life you have.  

Here are some ways to help you do just that:

1.     Make a habit of creative input.

You can’t keep producing if your own creative well is dry, so do things that enrich you spiritually and engage different senses than what you might use when you’re being productive, however you define that in your own work and life. I have a creativity practice, which encompasses a variety of things like doodling, crafting, listening to guided visualizations, or dancing. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you’re consciously and regularly finding ways to fill your creative well with things that just feel good and don’t necessarily tie into your business or professional life.

2.     Assess where you are on the productivity/slowness scale, regularly.

Doing too much? Give yourself a productivity detox and take a day off, yes you can, the world won’t stop spinning, promise. Use that time to do some slow activities, like cooking, gardening, or even spending 3 hours browsing at a bookstore. Or are you a little too loose right now and need some more structure to get things accomplished after a period of relative unproductivity? In that case, open your calendar right now and literally schedule all the things you want to complete over the next few weeks or months, with reasonable breaks and times to unwind. Then, get to work.

3.     Do the right things in the right order.

This is perhaps one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, from author Sean Platt who gave an incredible talk at camp GLP. It is so very tempting to yearn for the accomplishment of all our desires right this minute, whether it’s to launch a new product or go on an epic trip around the world. We are impatient, it’s a quality that provides both intrinsic motivation and sporadic depression. But it helps to remember that life is a long time, and wisdom is the ability to zoom out and realize that our experiences build upon each other in forging our unique paths as we take each step forward, however tentative or confident it might be. Perhaps for you, at this time, that means focusing on productivity this year, so that you can change careers next year in favor of a slower life.  Doing the right things in the right order means making tough decisions with the big picture in mind, and then pacing yourself accordingly.

What’s your take on the productivity/slowness debate? 

50+ Conscious Brands Doing Business for Good

Diana Chaplin

Now, more than ever, there is a great need for humanity to come together and solve some massive crises that affect us all. The degradation of our environment, devastating poverty, lack of access to basic resources or education, fellow humans or living beings needlessly suffering.

You get the picture. We need to step it up and do more. A lot more.

At the same time, those of us fortunate enough to live comfortably in the “developed” world are surrounded by a culture of consumerism, sensory delights, and fleeting thrills. We like shiny new things, fancy food, and anything that makes life easier or more fun.

This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how we’re wired. We may think about helping others more, giving donations when we can, but there’s only so much we can care about, and we’re living in our own bubbles most of the time.

Nonprofits are great, amazing in fact, they do the hard work on the ground to actually help people, plant trees, build schools, clean up the oceans, find new homes for refugees, etc. But they can’t do it alone with meager funds, and addressing these issues after significant damage has been done is not nearly as effective as shifting the paradigm of how we co-exist on this planet in order to really solve some of these problems through awareness and action.

We need to live more holistically, bridge the gap, evolve.

It’s a massive challenge, one that businesses and creative entrepreneurs are in a unique position to address, and they’re already doing it...

With the power of CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM.

By integrating the innovation, creativity, and influence of business with an intention of affecting real positive change, we are seeing an increasing number of hybrid business models that are thriving with profitability AND contributing to creating a better world. Hallelujah!

If you haven’t heard of the conscious consumerism movement, B-corps, Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR), and #businessforgood, then prepare to fall in love and regain hope in humanity.

I truly believe this is how most business will be done in the future, so let’s get on the bandwagon and support these efforts together.

If you’re a business owner, check out the companies below and let them inspire you with a new vision, an opportunity to not just make money, but make a positive impact.

If you’re an individual, choose to shop with brands like these as much as you can, because you vote with your money, and by supporting these businesses you are supporting something good and much larger than yourself.

Here are 50+ conscious brands doing good while making money

(I plan to keep this list ongoing, welcoming any suggestions for additions! Bookmark this bad boy for anytime you need gift ideas.)

Apparel

Toms – perhaps one of the most popular, they sell comfy shoes and other wearables, then help provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to people in need.

The Elephant Pants – makers of elephant-themed clothing and accessories for adults and kids. 10% of net profits is donated to the American Wildlife Foundation.

Tentree – manufacturers of ethical apparel, planting 10 trees for every purchase.

Darn Good Yarn - wholesaler and retailer of original recycled yarns, clothing and home goods, made in small batches by artisans in India.

Out of Print – they make t-shirts and other products with iconic book covers or themes. They also support literacy and book donations in underserved communities.

Toad & Co. – a sustainable clothing company, contributing to causes that improve the lives of adults with disabilities.

Eileen Fisher – quality apparel made with sustainability in mind, supporting conservation efforts and human rights.

Life is Good - optimism-inspired shirts and other apparel, with a Foundation that partners with leading childcare organizations to positively impact the quality of care delivered to the most vulnerable children. 

Oliberte - Fair Trade Certified boots, footwear, and other accessories supporting workers in sub-Saharan Africa and donating 1% for the planet. 

Gudrun Sjoden - eco-friendly clothes and houseware, with proceeds going towards sustainability and impacting environmental business policy.

Ethos Collection - Fair Trade clothing and accessories, with 3% of proceeds invested in Kiva micro-loans around the world. 

Bombas - super soft cotton socks, every purchase results in a pair donated to the homeless.

REI - outdoor gear, apparel, and related accessories, with a coop business model, run on renewable energy for operations, and partnering with countless nonprofits for environmental stewardship, education, and social good.

Devocean Co. - makers of hoodies, t-shirts, jewelry, hats, and towels. Focused on raising awareness about the growing fragility of marine habitats, currently donating 20% of profits for sea turtles.

Accessories

Feed project – makers of quality bags and accessories, and providers of school meals for children around the world.

Hopeshades - eco-friendly sunglasses, donating to a cause of your choice based on color, as well as to an emergency fund for any cause that needs immediate action.

Planet Love Life - recycled marine debris awareness accessories, hand crafted from salvaged fishing nets & ropes collected during beach cleanup projects, benefitting ocean conservation.

Ubuntu Amulet - jewelry with symbolism for religious and cultural unity, a portion of each sales goes to MasterPeace, an organization focused on peace-building around the world.

Rice Love – upcycled bags, 1 kilo of rice is donated in India and Nepal for every bag purchased.

Warby Parker – offering quality eyewear at an affordable price, Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses to someone in need with every purchase through their partner organization.

Trades of Hope - ethically produced accessories and home decor following Fair Trade practices, empowering artisan women around the world and donating to organizations that also support women in challenging social situations. 

Sprout Watches - eco-friendly watches made from sustainable materials, donating 1% of profits to environmental efforts.

Love Your Melon - makers of hats and beanies, donating hats to kids with cancer and supporting nonprofits dedicated to research in pediatric cancer.

Edibles

Alter Eco – they produce healthy and tasty foods like quinoa and chocolate with an environmentally responsible and socially just model that preserves the land and helps communities of farmers flourish.

Dean’s Beans – purveyors of great tasting, organic, and Fair Trade coffee, Dean’s Beans also funds a variety of initiatives including reforestation projects, micro-loans, and community health development.

Four Sigmatic – creators of healthy mushroom products, Four Sigmatic partners with a cancer organization and sends high value mushroom kits to patients in need of wellness and cheering.

Snack Nation – a healthy snack delivery services for offices, donating 10 meals for every snack box shipped via Feeding America.

Andean Naturals – a quinoa importer and champion of quinoa growers with a sustainability program that includes environmental, social, and financial initiatives focused on their farming communities.

Numi Tea – makers of organic and Fair Trade certified teas, with a philanthropic mission that supports the environment, K-12 education, and wellness initiatives.

Natural Vitality - makers of wellness supplements and sponsors of organizations and initiatives that focus on personal, social, and environmental health.

New Chapter - non-GMO certified organic supplements with a philanthropic mission that includes human health, environmentalism, and traditional herbal medicine.

Whole Earth & Sea - vegan raw food vitamins using organic, non-gmo ingredients, with $2 of every bottle sold going to support seewhatgrows.org.

Body & Home 

Soapbox – makers of natural bar and liquid soap products, donating soap, fresh water, or vitamins to children in need.

Sack Cloth & Ashes - makers of tribal-inspired wool blend blankets made in the U.S.A. For every blanked purchased, one is donated to a homeless shelter.

Prosperity Candle – makers of natural soy candles, with proceeds benefitting refugee women.

W.S. Badger Company – makers of certified organic body care products, supporting organic farms and promoting holistic, chemical-free initiatives for the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Smile Squared – makers of bamboo toothbrushes, donating one toothbrush for every purchase to children in need.

Klean Kanteen – makers of durable stainless steel cups, bottles, and food containers, donating 1% of profits to plastic cleanup efforts, conservation, and environmental stewardship.

Mad Hippie – natural skin care line, donating $1 of every web sale to wildlife conservation.

Young Living – makers of quality essential oils, with their own Foundation that provides wellness and education opportunities to underserved communities around the world.

Give Something Back – office supply company, donating 73% of after-tax profits to charitable causes fighting hunger, helping the environment, or supporting youth and families.

Kids & Pets

Wapikka – a teddy bear company not only making cute toys, but also feeding a child in Malawi for a year with every bear sold.

Everything Happy – makers of children’s clothes, blankets, and pillows, for every purchase a donation is made to orphanages, children’s hospitals, or poverty-stricken communities.

Baby Teresa – an organic clothing company for babies, donations are made via products to babies around the world, or charitable giving for formula or helping mothers in need.

Bogo Bowl – pet food company, donating food to animal shelters.

Travel/Experiences

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition - a comprehensive online Health Coach Training Program, regularly supporting nonprofits that focus on holistic wellness and sustainability.  

Animal Experience International – providers of volunteer adventure experiences where people interact with and protect wildlife at sanctuaries, conservatories, and rehab centers. Experiences are structured around actual needs of placement partners, and proceeds go towards supporting those wildlife organizations.

Miscellaneous

Kiva store - Kiva is a nonprofit organization providing small loans directly to people all around the world, and now they have a shop so you can buy from independent artisans online.

Ten Thousand Villages - a non-profit social enterprise that partners with independent small-scale artisan groups, co-ops, and workshops to bring a variety of handmade wares to the global community. Fair trade standards that help communities thrive.

There’s even a pub in Portland that donates profits to a variety of charitable causes. Their hashtag is #aletruism. How genius is that?!

The above are examples of consumer-friendly brands with products we can all use, but there are many more conscious organizations that offer a range of services in nearly anything you can imagine, such as web development, financial investment, consulting, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Below are some additional resources you can explore if you’re interested in business for good. Not all of these have donation partnerships necessarily, but they all conduct business in a way that is positive, enriching, and/or sustainable.

2015’s best of the world from B-corp

Global brands with impressive CSR programs

And if you’re a business owner who’s interested in integrating sales with charitable contribution, then check out 1% for the planet, or Buy1Give1.

Because we all share this beautiful world and we’re all we’ve got. Let’s work together and solve these big challenges with good ol’ fashioned commerce!

Camp GLP and the Joys of Tribe Connection

Diana Chaplin

There is a Jupiter-sized difference between conventional “networking” for the sake of expanding your human rolodex, and heartfelt connection for the sake of… just that. 

As entrepreneurs, business owners, freelancers, artists, and conscious creatives we are often isolated and limited to the people and resources available in our geographic locations. This might suit our needs in some ways, but it can also leave us feeling hungry for more.

We crave the energy of interacting with like-minded individuals, of learning new things, and of having our imaginations sparked with fresh ideas.

Oftentimes this can only happen when we physically remove ourselves from what we find familiar in favor of experiences that enliven all the senses.

Imagine a place where personal and professional growth are seamlessly fused into one extraordinary weekend. Where you can be your whole self, learn, play, have meaningful interactions, expand your knowledge, get inspired, nurture your creative side, and even rest, all in a beautiful natural setting in upstate New York. Imagine that this place has a touch of magic, and a unicorn for a mascot. Imagine that some of the most insightful leaders in your industry are there to deliver workshops, and then compete against you in a three-legged race.

That, and more, is what I found at camp GLP.

This is not a place where you put on airs and try to sound impressive, yet you could still walk away having made priceless new connections or potential business partners. It’s a place where you can be REAL, imperfect, and in progress. Where you can share your wild ideas and get valuable feedback from people who genuinely care and want to see you succeed.

It’s about collaboration, creativity, and consciousness. That’s the kind of business I’m in.

I was mostly unplugged during the weekend, but here's a snap my new friend Amy Silverman managed to get of us together. Don't we look... happy?

And here's one of the bunks and some wacky art I made.

August of 2016 was my second time, I wrote about my first experience last year, and the whole thing sank in deeper for me this year. Layers were shed, a-ha moments were had, comfort zones were stretched.

Along the way I learned from some pretty inspiring people:

Cynthia Morris is a writer, artist, and coach who taught me the joy of art journaling.

Jenna Soard is a branding goddess who helped me weave style and storytelling into my brand strategies.

Jeff Goins is an author and incredible speaker who helped me lean into my purpose, and develop ways to help clients do the same.

Sean Platt is a creative powerhouse who made me laugh, cry, and believe I can write a book in 30 days.

Pamela Slim taught me the idea of ecosystem design and "watering holes" of potential clients.

Cassia Cogger is an artist who gave me the space and structure to create in a new way.

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya is beam of light who taught me the neuroscience of positive psychology.

Laura Peña is a storyteller and producer who inspired me to explore video in a new way.

Lisa Congdon is a talented artist and author who taught me that it’s ok to share the process.

KC carter taught me to let loose and let my wild side show, because life is just more fun like that.

And of course, Jonathan Fields, the founder of this whole shebang, taught me that any professional pursuit must start from the heart and radiate outwards. That it’s ok to be exactly where you are, yet not settle for anything less than what makes your heart sing as you continually grow.

That’s just to name a few of the facilitators. There were other workshops and speakers I didn’t get a chance to experience this year because there are many options to suit everyone and we can’t each do ALL the things.

I could ramble on and tell you more, about the bonfire, the talent show, the new friends I made, the abundance of snacks, but in truth I’m still processing the totality of all that happened. The video below, created by talented camper Justina Gioia, could give you more of an idea though.

Tribe experiences are catalysts for greatness.

What I want to leave you with is not just that I had a good time at camp, but that finding your own version of such a thing or place is priceless. Having a tribe of like-minded people to connect with, reveal yourself to, and evolve with in whatever ways you feel called to do is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, your career, and your future.

The personal unraveling and consequent ripples of joy and insight will last for weeks, months, and even years. Find your tribe and spend time and space with them. You’ll never forget or regret it!

While I can’t speak to the awesomeness of all events like this, I did find a helpful resource of creative conferences you can begin exploring if this whole idea is new to you. Find one in your area, see if it feels right.

You can also explore retreat centers near you if you’d prefer to focus on personal wellness or your creative craft. I like to switch it up throughout the year, so I did a Journeydance training earlier this year to connect with movement and spirit, Camp GLP for heartfelt personal and professional connection, and I’ll be going to Alt Summit next January for more specific learning in the realm of blogging. All of this helps me be my whole self, personally and professionally.

So what was my big takeaway at camp this year?

It was that maybe, just maybe, I’m not only a copywriter and content strategist for people and brands I believe in, but that I am a creative writer in my own right too. How will I walk the line between helping others craft their message in a powerful way while also refining my own voice? That remains to be seen, but I think the two are complementary currents of energy, uniquely charged yet flowing from the same deep well of creativity and consciousness. It’s just a matter of evolving with intention and balance.

For now, I’m starting with more writing from the heart, and a little something I’m calling the #greatwordsproject.

If you went to camp I’d love to hear your takeaways too! And if you’ve had other experiences like this please share where you went and why you loved it in the comments.

Now here it is, a glimpse into the glittering madness that is camp GLP.