Can Good Business Solve The Connection Crisis?
We need to do the work to create a tidal wave of action. But how?
Here’s how I think businesses can work together to awaken, galvanise and become the brand activists that they can be. There’s a passage in This One Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson (the title is based on the Mary Oliver quote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life”), that says: “Many of us are living with the sense that things are not right with the world and are in a state of spiritual PTSD. We have retreated, morally and psychologically; we are experiencing a crisis of disconnection-from one another, from our true values, from joy, and from life as we feel we are meant to be living it. Sarah Wilson argues that this sense of despair and disconnection is ironically what unites us-that deep down, we are all feeling that same itch for a new way of living.“
During lockdown, after reading this book and reevaluating life, I certainly felt like this. How could I use my skills and experience to do some good, rather than keep rolling in the capitalist circle I was in? How could I give more back? Despite feeling like an imposter into a world of “sustainability” I felt shame too, for all the corporate work I’d taken on over the years. So this book, despite being more of a spiritual book, struck a chord with me at the convergence of my work life and real life and how I could align them in a ‘feel more me’ kind of way.
On a personal level too, with the noise of social media, the more connected we are to our phones, the less we feel connected. We’re in the middle of a scrolling crisis that can only be part of the wider humanitarian and climate crisis we’re living through.
I feel like the art of quality storytelling has been lost in a world of TikTok, Reels and Memes.
I’ve been growing businesses, including my own, for more than twenty years. Helping people articulate values, live them better, be purposeful through the form of storytelling, a hark back to studying Film at University. Helping not just the ‘already eco-consious' but helping others go that way too.
But there is so much hope if you just look for it, and a lot of opportunity. An opportunity to get outside of the eco chambers and tell powerful, purposeful stories that change on a pavement level, and through our small businesses can be a wave of impact.
The rise of the B-Corp movement is brilliant and necessary, especially here where it’s very strong, however there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses that haven’t heard of B-Corp (there are 5.5 million small businesses in the UK).
Can we inspire those people to learn from brands like Patagonia, who have been leading the way in sustainability for many years, and who recently chose to give away the company
“Earth is now our only shareholder.”
One thing I do know is this. If we want to change the world collectively, we need to tell better stories.
We want to feel seen, heard and safe. At the most basic of fundamental needs these three things encapsulate the human experience, wrapping us up to feel worthy, understood, like we’re learning and like we’re teaching the people of the future too.
Stories change the human brain, creating empathy and compassion and help us make sense of what is a terrifying and crazy world. They comfort us, they help us understand and most importantly they help us feel more connected.
The mainstream media of course doesn’t want this, so it feeds us fear. This is why I think we need quality conversations outside of this. There is a place for small businesses and brands to learn from the B Corps and Patagonia and all the brilliant small brands I’m going to be shining a light on over on the Good Business Stories Instagram Channel and on here too.
To put purpose first, to focus on creating impact both in terms of being an activist but also to learn how to avoid greenwashing, how to create real and lasting conversations, not just with customers, but with everyone in your community.
This is the hope. That small business founders, disenchanted with their lives and spurred on to the Great Resignation can create value, conversations, awareness and understanding to make the world a better place than they found it.
I will be sharing insights, examples and inspiration for founders and businesses who want to find and articulate more purpose, to be educated and aware of how storytelling can help them grow in impact as well as profit, and how they can reach the level of impact that they’d really like. I hope you can join me here and over on Good Business Stories where we will celebrate quality, long-form and meaningful storytelling applied to the art of brand activism.