Convergence: 'Phony Is Out. Real Is In'
June 4, 2010: Promote A Book founder Michael Drew gave Friday's first keynote at Radio Ink's Convergence, held at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus in Mountain View, CA. Drew's "Pendulum" presentation covered how societal attitudes move through long, predictable cycles, beginning with the civic and ending with the idealistic.
With ideas arising from the book Generations by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the "dominant" cycles, Drew said, are the beginning civic cycle, followed by the "adaptive" cycle, with the two together lasting about 40 years. Those are followed by the "recessive" cycles: the "idealist" and "reactive" periods. Drew detailed the progress of the cycles in this century, with a prior civic period having begun in the 1920s.
As cycles wind down, Drew said, "alpha" indicators that will drive the next phase began. He pointed to Catcher in the Rye in 1953, the same year Jack Kerouac's On the Road was released -- with both centering on figures who reject societal standards and conformity. Both books sold more than 25 million copies. These alphas, Drew said, may come in literature, technology, or music; on the technology side, a '50s alpha was the Corvette, marking the turn toward an idealistic cycle in which, Drew said, "It's about looking good today."
On the music side, Drew pointed to Chuck Berry and Elvis as drivers of the idealistic period. By the end of the '60s and early '70s, that part of the cycle was in full bloom, with the release of the book I'm OK, You're OK and the famous 1969 Coke commercial featuring "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." And 1983 was, Drew said, "the zenith of the last idealistic cycle."
And today, he said, we are about seven years into a new civic cycle, and "baby boomer posing is over." In a civic cycle, Drew said, "The currency is authenticity." He pointed to the success of the Dixie Chicks, the revamped James Bond, and the character of Jason Bourne, introduced in the movies in 2003. Today, said Drew, "Phony is out. Real is in."
During these times, he said, "When faced with the truth, we tell the truth." He pointed to growing volunteerism, and the Generation Engage college speakers: "The goal is to get the youth of society to go out and take action." Drew said, ""In a civic cycle, if it's not real, raw, and relevant, you shouldn't do it."
Turning to ways to create a "civic-conscious organization," Drew said one key is to pull, not push. Now, he said, the key is not pushing people to take action, but giving them what they need. And online, that translates into recognizing that the Internet is a relationship medium: "Everything we do online needs to be in context to a conversation."
And with that, he said, it is key to "deliver to your customer exactly the experience you promised them." Also, now is the time to evaluate what you're doing to make a difference, Drew said, adding that he doesn't just mean donating money or giving back to the community in conventional ways: "I'm talking about the bigger things that you're giving back to society where you're not expecting anything in return."
Having noted that today it is "definitely OK to be uncool," Drew said, "What you are is good enough. Be it openly."