The Clean and Green Club, May 2016

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, May 2016
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This Month’s Tip: Words I Don’t Use
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Vocabulary is an important thing; it’s part of framing. I do believe that the words we use influence the outcomes we get. I want to share with you a few choice words and phrases that I either avoid altogether or use only to make a point—and yes, I recognize the irony that I’m dedicating my entire feature article to them—but only as a teaching exercise.

Sustainable/Sustainability: These words are everywhere in the green business world. But they talk about staying where we are. My vision takes us well beyond the status quo to a world that’s actively healing itself—reversing catastrophic climate change, turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace.

Global Warming: Oh, it sounds so warm and comfortable and fuzzy and tender! While I don’t spend a lot of time jumping up and down about the need to change human patterns that influence climate—preferring to use the power of enlightened self interest to effect change, rather than guilt and shame—when I do, I refer to “catastrophic climate change.”

Killing It/Crushing It: I’m not interested in killing or crushing things, people, or organizations. I don’t see my success as require anyone else’s failure. I can thrive without hurting others, and you can too.

Niggardly: While I’ve looked at the origins of both words and they actually have nothing in common linguistically, I will never use that term other than to say why I don’t use it—because it sounds far too close to a nasty word to describe black people, and I don’t want to put out any kind of racist vibe.

Sucks (as a negative descriptor): This one came into use decades ago as an anti-gay-male slur, derived from a longer word that begins with “c.” ‘Nuff said.

Gendered pronouns to represent all people: I work toward gender-neutral language. Sometimes, because it’s easier than saying “he or she” or “his or her,” I’ll alternate. The first paragraph might use she and her, while the next switches to he, his, and him. Or I’ll write a paragraph in the plural, using words like “people,” “they,” and “their”—but grammatically, this requires that everything else is plural too. It’s not a construction I use often.

That’s Impossible: This is a special case, because actually I use this one in my speeches, writing, and media interviews—but I use it to prove its opposite. I talk about “impossible” as “the red flag in front of the bull,” defying me to prove it wrong. My most popular (and I think best) presentation is called “Impossible is a Dare” and it builds from this magnificent quote by Muhammad Ali:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

I use that same quote as a chapter title in my 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, and as the theme for my most popular talk. I feel similarly about Can’t.

What are your banished words and phrases?

(With thanks to Marilyn Jenett and George Lakoff)

Order your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Find out more and order from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies directly from me).
Shel Interviews Thought Leaders
Michael Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution, is the first person I’ve interviewed for a new series with thought leaders in enviro-friendly and/or transformational business. Michael talks about why most conventional economic development makes no sense and what to do instead.
Hear and Meet Shel
GUEST ON THE ENRICHMENT HOUR WITH MIKE SCHWAGER, Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (and archived on that link afterward)

INTERVIEW WITH DR. WAYNE DORBAND OF ECOLONOMICS.COM via, Friday, May 20, 8:30 a.m. ET/5:30 a.m. PT (log on to blab and search for one of our names)

WEBINAR FOR INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS OF NEW ENGLAND, “Green Audiences, Green Titles, Green Printing” Thursday, May 26, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT
Connect with Shel


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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriter…award-winning author of ten books…international speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
Privacy Policy: We Respect Your Privacy

We collect your information solely to let our mailing service send you the information you request. We do not share it with any outside party not involved in mailing our information to you. Of course, you may unsubscribe at any time—but we hope you’ll stick around to keep up with cool developments at the intersections of sustainability, social transformation, and keeping the planet in balance. Each issue of Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter has a how-to or thought-leadership article and a review of a recommended book. We’ve been doing an e-newsletter all the way back to 1997, and some of our readers have been with us the whole time.

Recent Interviews & Guest Articles:
Western Massachusetts Business Show with Ira Bryck, Profiles of several companies that were founded to good in the world. Green companies as price leaders. How to get a copy of my $9.95 ebook, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle at no cost.
Bill Newman: (segment starts at 28:28): A quick, intense 11-minute trip through the highlights of my work

Ask those Branding Guys: (segment starts at 9:23)
Todd Schinck, Intrepid Now, with a nice emphasis on the power of ordinary people to change the world: (segment starts at 2:28)

JV Crum, Conscious Millionaire, second interview: We cover my first activist moment at age 3, how I helped save a mountain, the next big environmental issue, and how a simple vow in my 20s changed my life (segment starts at 3:25)

Jill Buck, Go Green Radio: (segment starts at 0:52). The difference between socially responsible and socially transformative businesses, impact of a social agenda on employees, urban farming, new energy technologies…and a cool case study of how a dog groomer could green up.

Kristie Notto, Be Legendary: The perfect example of a business that addresses social issues, the hidden revenue model I showed a social entrepreneur, how a famous gourmet food company went head-to-head with a much larger competitor, what we can learn about engineering from nature, and why wars are solvable 

Guest on Leon Jay, Socialpreneurtv (you’ll get to see what I look like when I’m overdue for a haircut/beard trim—a rare glimpse at Shaggy Shel)
Two-part interview on Steve Sapowksy’s excellent EcoWarrior Radio podcast: (Listen to Part 1 before Part 2, of course)

The first of two excellent shows on Conscious Millionaire
Another Recommended Book: The Responsible Company
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The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s first 40 Years, by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (Patagonia Books, 2012)

This thin book—the main text is only 92 pages—is not only crammed with a ton of great information (I took four dense pages of notes—more than I often do on books of 300 pages), but it’s also a joy to read. The book is extremely reader-friendly, with such touches as a warm and personal writing style, endnotes that reference the context so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth, a list of further reading, and a super-comprehensive 12-page index.

Chouinard (Patagonia’s founder) and Stanley (its long-time marketing chief) start by pointing out the places where industrial society falls short:

  • Europe uses three times its share of the world’s resources, while the US consumes seven times its share (p. 19)
  • Rivers have been so dammed and polluted that many enter the seas through dead zones (pp. 19-20)
  • Every time we manufacture “crap,” we consume irreplaceable resources: human intelligence and natural capital (p. 27).

Reacting to humans’ negative impact on nature, Chouinard first manufactured high-quality mountaineering equipment. He started Patagonia as an alternative to sweating over hot metal forges for hours at a time; they saw clothing as both personally and environmentally more benign—until they started looking at the horrible environmental and social costs of chemiculture cotton. This started a journey to make Patagonia the greenest and most socially responsible company it could be, including

  • Switching all cotton to organic way back in 1996
  • Pioneering such employee perks as on-site daycare
  • Starting its famous take-back program for end-of-life products
  • Making sure that any job at the company was meaningful (defined as combining doing what we love and giving back to the world, p. 40)

And they extend this beyond the employee mix to all stakeholders—including the natural world (pp. 29, 32-34). Priding itself in its collaborative relationships with competitors, Patagonia has been instrumental in creating environmental standards for outdoor companies. It participates actively in two major industry trade associations: the Outdoor Industry Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (p. 86). It also sees its customers as partners—and suggests that companies can accomplish a great deal when they romance their customers rather than B.S. them (p. 77).

One of the things I like best about this remarkable book is its overall attitude that doing the right thing not only promotes excellence, but expands our horizons. Without being preachy, the authors scatter aphorisms like

  • “To make a bad product is to do a bad business” (p. 35)
  • “Every time people in the company do something new that was formerly thought impossible, they contribute…to the sense that much will be possible in the future” (p. 40)
  • “The strongest thing your company can do is something no one else will do, or do well” (p. 78)
  • Collaborating industry-wide presents “a confluence of virtue and perceived opportunity” (p. 86).

There’s so much wisdom in this book! I expect to read it every few years. I recommend it heartily.

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