Book Mashup: Saving the World at Work and Buy-ology

I frequently perform printed word mashups — simultaneously reading two or more books.  A recent side-by-side is Saving the World at Work by Tim Sanders and Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom.

Buy-ology is an interesting albeit sometimes creepy look at neuromarketing. Short and over-simplified explanation:  marketers performing brain scans to find out what people are really thinking about products and marketing.  You know, all the surveys, focus groups and studies come back with a thumbs up for the product and yet the product languishes on the shelves.  Neuromarketing could be described as “where the rubber meets the road” in marketing. (Since I have more than a little suspicion around focus groups and surveys, this was a thrilling read for me.  Did you know the warnings on cigarette packs don’t work?  In fact, according the Lindstrom’s study, they actually entice smokers.)

Lindstrom recently wrote a feature for Parade Magazine where he touted his own all black outfits as his person branding.  Reminds me of a marketing manager we once had in the UK whose personal fashion statement was black & white.  We drew the line when she attempted to convert all of our UK advertising into B&W, so it would “stand out more amongst all the full-color ads.”  She probably would have won the point if she hadn’t gone on about it being her personal stamp on things.  The standing out part made some sense.

Meanwhile, Saving the World looks at how our actions at work can help make the world a better place.  Social entrepreneurs, green initiatives, supportive, inspiring and positive companies sprinkled liberally.  Tim Sanders makes a great case for doing the right thing in business.  I picked up the book for a number of reasons but mostly because lately I have been wondering if the world’s economic woes are setting back green and other socially positive initiatives.  (I hope not but when you look at very simple things, like the cost of organic produce, you have to wonder if general cutbacks are cutting back on the good works that were starting to really take hold in the marketplace.)

Then I start to wonder if my own “wondering” means I am someone with a “scarcity mind-set”.  (Sanders defines someone with scarcity mind-set as someone who “resents others’ successes, even of their own teammates.  For them, life is a zero-sum game: If one person wins, another loses.” A “corporate Chicken Little.”)  Maybe this is overstating things in my case, as I can point to several things I do with the greater good in mind but I’ll certainly plead somewhat guilty on the Chicken Little front.

I try to be a “Big Pie” person (another Sanders term.) “Big Pie People…know the pie of life is big enough for everyone to get a slice.” (This is one reason I tend to advocate for co-opetition.) It’s a way of thinking that embraces abundance.  Glass half full.

Is my concern a sign that I don’t believe in “green”? Or that I don’t believe enough?

Sander’s book was published in September 2008 — economic cracks were showing but open free fall hadn’t yet begun.  I’d love to see neuromarketing techniques used to show that what people say they will do (buy organic or green or invest socially responsibly) is what they will actually do.

Or, hard stats from purchases made in 2009 – this sounds like a job for the Saving The World Website.   How are the socially responsible investors doing now?  The socially responsible companies?  Are they continuing to give back or have they too pulled back?

And, do you think my curiosity is an indication that I fall on the side of the non-believers?  I like to think not but frankly, I historically tend to fall on the side of the pragmatists.