Sunday, February 26, 2012

Politics, Strategy, and the Demise of a Brand

"He's a good man, just in the wrong century."
-Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist.
There is no better widely-broadcasted public arena than national politics in the US to witness and study strategy.

The above quote is in reference to Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who has been making headlines lately for his polarizing rhetoric and a surge in the polls. He has seemingly led the conversation to a religiously charged place where each candidate is jockeying to be the most conservative in the eyes of the public. Santorum is leading the charge to bring religion into the conversation with statements like "separation of church and state make me want to vomit" but is he the one who actually wanted this shift in the debate?

The Obama administration's recent proposal to mandate that religious based health organizations pay for contraception created a fire storm in conservative circles and led to a public discussion on whether contraception should be promoted or even used at all. Was this just another controversial stance by Obama or was this a strategic move to shepherd the republican debate into territory that is only supported by a small number of Americans? All of whom are aligned with an aging political party that is growing increasingly less diverse and seemingly less in tune with a rapidly changing nation.

If the goal is differentiation, the republican party is successfully moving that way, just not in the direction of their ultimate year end goal, to occupy the White House. While each candidate works to position themselves as the conservative of choice, they are moving increasingly farther away from appealing to the moderates and independents that they need to get elected.

We are witnessing the very public demise of a brand, the Republican party. As the world changes and evolves around the party that currently has control of the House of Representatives, they are failing to realize that their rigidity, a core value that their most public figures praise, is what will ultimately be their downfall. Flexibility and the ability to adapt is core to the existence of any brand.

If the Republican party continues to stand their ground, they will soon be left with no earth beneath their feet.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Same Same but Different

In a post back in November, I wrote about an event I attended called the Oregon Imagination Conversation that was hosted at the Ziba auditorium. This event was a focused discussion on the state of imagination in Oregon and how imagination could be harnessed to address issues that the state faces.

This past Thursday, I attended an event at the Ziba auditorium put on by GOOD Magazine called GOOD Ideas For Cities aimed at harnessing local ideas and finding creative solutions to challenges that the city of Portland faces.

Mayor Sam Adams was there.

Where as the Imagination Conversation visibly lacked a strong showing of more than ten people under the age of 35, GOOD Ideas For Cities clearly brought out the millenials in full force. It is within this clear dichotomy that lies a major issue opportunity for Portland and a concept that I've been thinking about for a while now.

How can young energy and ideas be combined with experience and resources to get things done? Or how can we create a super generation of movers and shakers hell bent on finding creative solutions that have legs?

Like I said in November, Portland has a strong creative culture that, in part due to the lack of job opportunities, is proving to be quite entrepreneurial. And on top of being entrepreneurial, this generation in Portland (many of whom have recently moved here from all over the country) want to help solve problems and make their work do good things for the community. Many of them truly love this community and are looking for ways to plug in.

So my next question is, what is community? Is community something we are born into? Is it something that you automatically  become a part of once you touch down in a new place?

The way I look at it, community is whatever we want it to be, it's the collective efforts of people in the same place or with a similar mission. And based on this, Portland has two communities that are awfully close to becoming one based on the fact that these groups of people, young and old, native Oregonian and not, established or seeking solid ground, are in the same western outpost trying to make it a better place.

I knew this was true in November and now seeing another event, in the same space, with starkly different age groups in attendance working to tackle similar issues, it's even clearer that there is a bright opportunity here, who's in?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Economic Nostalgia

Yes, it's true and what does this mean? Is this the way society is headed regardless of whether knitting, canning, and overall self reliance is trending or not?

The culture in Portland seems to heading this way. Underneath the ridiculous trends and all the talk of hipsterdom, there is a an honest desire by many to be more self reliant. Because of this, the economy seems to be cutting out the fat and becoming more lean.

What types of opportunities will come from this shift? We're already seeing the emergence of a world class food culture in Portland, what else?