Tag Archives: women

Caveat Emptor – Social Media Influence, the Frye Fest and Reputation Management

This is not an echo of these words of P. T. Barnum – “As a general thing, I have not ‘duped thePT-barnum world’ nor attempted to do so… I have generally given people the worth of their money twice told.”, but rather these “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

Every generation has a Bernie Madoff, a Kenneth Lay, a Donald Trump who beguile the seekers of vast wealth, inclusion, distraction or any combination thereof to part with their money.

For Millennials, at least for this end of April 2017 weekend, it seems that person is Ja Rule, née Jeffrey Atkins, rapper, and creator of Bahamian Ponzi Scheme also known as the Frye Music Festival*** 2 May update – Federal Trade Commission violations cited and lawsuit filed.

Like so many before him Ja Rule was successful in his scam (or “not a scam” as he claims) for two reasons, he understood the raw vulnerability of the masses (even privileged ones willing to spend upwards of $250,000) and created a compelling campaign leveraging LOTS of young beautiful women (gaining more than 800k views) whose only claim to fame is to have built very successful personal brands making them social media influencers as a means of monetizing that vulnerability for personal gain.

frye

The influencers (I think the term shills is more appropriate) among them Kendall Jenner (nearly 22m Twitter followers),  Bella Hadid (more than 750k Twitter followers), Em Rata (more than 1m Twitter followers) made out like bandits with paychecks reported to being $250,000 to stand around, or lounge in bathing suits adorning the eye with a promise of ‘come play with me’. Using Instagram they promoted, and promoted, and promoted and in doing so the money poured in. Sex, as ever, sells.

Kendall Jenner made 250K off of promoting #fryefest ,

Yesterday, April 28th, Ja Rule (allegedly) tweeted and someone posted a screen grab to Instagram that the Frye Festival was all a big ‘social experiment’ to test the mettle of participants in a Hunger Games like scenario of adversity. (Some of the related posts include drinking their own urine to survive.)

#fryefestival • Instagram

Time will tell how short the memory of the public is, and whether by association these women have negatively impacted their credibility and their future earnings, and whether Ja Rule will be the subject of both a Class Action lawsuit and criminal charges for fraud.

This goes back to my last post, less than a week old, about ethics and reputation management. The nature of social media is that everything good or bad plays out in real-time. In our Wild, Wild West of social platforms there is broader issue for Twitter and Instagram and Facebook to consider – if ‘sponsored content’ results in an abuse of the public trust by hosting the influence peddling content are you complicit?, and if so, are you culpable?, should you distance your business further from such content and somehow shift the juncture of revenue generation? If a post subsequently results in bullying, terrorism, human trafficking, stalking, domestic violence, fraud, wrongful death, or murder have your policies enabled such to take place? Will any of these potential tragic events subsequently amplified to audiences approaching 600 million people globally result in lawsuits for ‘pain and suffering’? Corporate communications professionals should be involved in risk assessment, and not simply for the sake of reputation management or avoiding crisis management. I hope that this weekend legal, executive and communications teams at various social companies are meeting to develop (or expand) policies and legal protections.

The public clamors for social influencers to more carefully examine their choices of endorsement deals, a fairy tale ending which will never happen. It is the idolization of the rich and infamous which brought these individuals to Exuma and they need to take personal responsibility for their choices.

In closing, Caveat Emptor

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

Poignant reminders

Very often we land in exactly the place we are supposed to be.

20150817_213736Sometimes my life experience seems a bit too extreme, even for me, but without this extraordinary dichotomy I wouldn’t be one tenth of the person I am; at an exponential level I was reminded of this earlier this week.

I had traveled by bus from Dalmatia back to Istra. Dalmatia will always be my Croatian equivalent of Heidelberg (my first German city). Dalmatia is stunningly beautiful but just not as green as someone from the Great Lakes region of New York state requires to be ‘whole’, whereas Istra is VERY green. Istra just so happens to also have a vibrant agroturizum sector so necessary to my soul. And perhaps because Istra has been at crossroads of more historic trade its populations are a bit more cosmopolitan in their collective mindset (I met a man on Hvar from Zagreb who told me he had lived there and worked there for 10 years and was still considered an outsider, can’t even imagine what Dalmatians would make of “me” on a permanent basis) so truly welcomed is what I feel here.

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My Pula rescue committee! Hvala draga.

I was motion sick en route. I arrived in Pula only to find that my AirBnB host had over booked leaving me stranded on a dead-end street with a small mountain of luggage. Discovered by one of the neighbours, she in turn was joined by three other women all of whom were completely distraught that I was both physically ill, in their city without accommodations and took on anger toward the AirBnB host (for many infractions against the neighbourhood and humanity in general it seems) and they set upon a path to make this as right as they possibly could. I found my luggage and my person stuffed into a small blue car and transported to Pula’s waterfront and a hostel. And, in truth, arriving at the hostel my heart felt like a cold hard stone. I had leapt into the void without a plan and the reasonably soft landing anticipated had failed to materialize. Materialize being the critical word. What actually do we ‘need’? The hostel was to be my reminder.

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From left to right, back row: Mia, Marianka, Alina and front row: Katharina, Alison and Beatrice (Bea)

It was critically important for me to recognise in that moment that I had chosen to strip away everything known to me and to make a pilgrimage of reinvention, to give up ‘things’ just like these young people who stay in hostels, they travel with all their possessions in a backpack across Europe eating pasta day after day, seeing and experiencing different cultures and are truly happy. Equally important was the concept of ‘in the moment’. Stripping away any expectations and simply resting (to the extent possible sleeping in a dormitory with eight bunks – let alone a co-ed one – for the very first time EVER IN MY LIFE). I was safe, had a hot shower, Wi-Fi and a soft (enough) bed. The next day I was moved to another room and found myself easily fall into friendships 20150817_221646with a group of twenty-something young women – Marianka, Alison, Alina and Katharina – I invited them to make a community dinner, they contributed and I made tortellini Alfredo. There was laughter. There were tears. Stories of broken hearts and Twin Flames. They reminded me of all that lay before them, in fact before all of us, and if not chronologically then at least in spirit I am twenty-something once again because they have invited me to be such. The next night three of us wandered Pula’s streets, had gelato, Alison had a massage near the Golden Arch, and I had the pleasure of introducing Marianka and Alison to Pula native son Stjepan Hauser of 2Cellos (who had not a clue in the universe who he was, making this truly a “normal” experience for him).

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Carmela

But sitting at two separate small tables in the Riva Hostel of Pula, first with Carmela, a young woman from the perfect small, medieval Istrian town of Svetvincenat (population 200 or so), and then a bit later with Hayley and Josh, a young couple from Vancouver, British Columbia the resonance of my life’s journey smacked me right upside my head. The content of our conversations couldn’t have be more different but for one thing – all three of these young people (as much as Katharina and Marianka had also conveyed) felt that my presence there had been orchestrated to pass kernels of wisdom from my life (twice as long as each of 20150818_090134theirs), 20150818_090204to “give more than you take” from our planet and all that you encounter, and finally to experience life in possibilities and not dwell in the negative.  It is hard not to be humbled in recognising that while I might not have consciously chosen to sleep in a hostel that my presence was demanded there.  When I left on Monday morning for Motovun I was different. As they stood in the windows of an Austro-Hungarian Empire building and blew kisses and waved goodbye I was a better version of myself because of each of these young people had embraced me physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. Life lessons, and the poignant reminders we need, are always waiting for us in unexpected places, in the very moments we ‘think’ we should be some other place.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The shifting trajectory of kisses

“You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart.”
— Louise Erdrich

For the first time since 2005 I am dating again. No, I wasn’t in a long term relationship. No, I didn’t have a traumatic (or tragic) experience. And no, I don’t hate men. I have been on OKCupid for a bit shy of two years now. But in the last two weeks, finally being in Croatia after a year of deliberation, I have migrated from online and video Skype conversations to actually sitting with a man face-to-face over hot chocolate, over dinner, and going for walks.  I have kiss quotekissed all four of these men. Nine years is an awfully long time to have not done so, some I wanted much more with, with some, perhaps the kisses were actually too much to have shared.

This morning the (very loving) husband of a dear girlfriend, in the most subtle way imaginable, expressed his energetic protection for me. In my new life’s chapter, taking place far from practical intervention and rescue should such be necessary, David’s love is not the kind of love I am unaccustomed to having in my life; at first I was puzzled by why he would choose to Tweet the content and Cc me on such.  This dating thing is fraught with perils that every woman experiences, even when you are in a committed relationship rape happens. David’s genuine concern expressed for both myself and my best friend (as we were both mentioned in the Tweet and are both now actively dating again for the first time in many years) is soft focused and filled with light in a world with harsh realities. So David, I am sending you a huge hug, and a slightly insufficient thank you – message received.

Back to the dating thing.

In the last year a very wise man, and an equally wise woman, have both expressed the same thought about applying caution to sharing our physical space, and (any kind of) our energy with others. Every encounter with another (physically and energetically) leaves residue on the participants and in the domain of space inhabited, as such it’s incredibly important to understand this before sharing either with another. I suppose, if I am truly honest, protectingintentions myself from giving too much of myself away, harming another against their future or having the negative energies of others zap me has kept me from dating, and eventually becoming intimate, for so long. Because I noticed, boy-oh-boy have I noticed, how I have felt after each encounter with these four very different Croatian men. Not that it is all important but it is of merit to note that each of these men is at least 14 years younger than I am.

With the first man it was like ‘coming home’. Safe, protected, a sense of continuity that felt ancient, comfortable in both silence and in conversation, with him (and this is hard to explain) I kiss youfelt an extension of my greatest self, perhaps, because in many regards we are both rather unconventional. And when it came to expressions of passion, the kiss I will remember and draw energy from for the rest of my life seemed ripped from a romance novel. The second man to win my kisses had, by his own admission over the Thanksgiving dinner table, not kissed (or done anything else with) a woman in six years. There was considerable alcohol involved and some energetic ‘egging on’ because another man nearby was being dismissive of the former man’s rationale and (what I sensed) deep pain and his own admitted fear on behalf of his son. And so, initially I shared three, not passionate, kisses with him to remind him of the pleasure that can be had from such. He seem both confused, delighted and ‘warmed’ by this – eventually taking the initiative and seemed to enjoy himself to the point that he asked to have me spend the night with him. (um, no.) Man number three, one of my two dates yesterday, is exactly half my age – still a man in chronological years, and sufficiently so to have actively pursued a date with me. We had fun. Enjoyed amazing hot hot chocolatechocolate together on the Riva in Grad Trogir. He (easily) agreed to my request to rescue the remaining pomegranates on the tree in front of the abandoned house in Trogir in which I have fallen in love.  I now have a lovely bag full of these jewels which otherwise would have found themselves rotting on the ground as a result of yesterday’s Bura and todays’ rain storm.  He is very sweet, and earnest, but in many ways he really is too young in terms of life experience for this to be ‘anything’.  My second date yesterday is 18 years my junior, but sufficient experience to not feel any lacking. His candor and overt sexual interest in me was palpable from moment one.  He kissed me within 15 minutes of our meeting (and he was really very good at it). The best kiss of the evening took place against a 400 year old stone wall in a narrow alley of Seget Donji – his hands both cupping my face and then in my hair (where, as a great many terrific lovers know the nerve endings in our scalp make us particularly sensitive to erotic stimulation). His sexual energy is very much like that of Mickey Rourke in this scene from 9 1/2 weeks too dangerous to maintain one’s sanity and certainly not sustainable.

One thing is for certain, I need to recalibrate as I can tell that my trajectory has been influenced by the sharing of this tender intimacy in ways that are very uncomfortable to who I am. Like a hangover for my energy I have allowed myself to get swept up ‘in the moments’. Making up for lost time? Squandered resources? No, not either. I feel very much like the meme above about kisses being like drinking salt water. I can’t undo this, and some I most certainly would not change because in these experiences have offered me a greater cognition, and with such I come closer to completion. Still, a little discernment going forward would be a very good idea and a practical consideration worth embracing.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Walk softly, wear pink, and carry a big bamboo stick

Nikita and MadhuThis blog post is dedicated to the memory of Madhu and Nikita, friends age 16 and 17, who took their own lives in India this last week.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise but women really do make up half of the world’s population. And with that the solid density of sheer numbers it would be logical to assume we would be better represented – in everything (and safer). Yesterday morning a gentleman friend in Croatia posted an article to his Facebook wall which included a photo of the NATO gathering in Wales. He offered a comment to the affect that the photo clearly spoke to why our world is in such a state of dis-ease, decline, dysfunction. You would have to be a total idiot not to see that we are on the verge of outright global war as a result of civil wars in the Middle East, the rise of IS (Islamic State) and Vladimir Putin’s testosterone being just a little too high for any of our collective good (and unable to be treated medically); only four women are in that elite group of global leaders. nato wales

Servane Mouzan, brilliant champion of empowering women through her London based effort Ogunte also had a comment about the status of women yesterday; being underrepresented in high tech. Servane’s was an article in Inc. magazine which covered a study conducted by Kieran Snyder (who holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in tech at very senior levels for more than a decade) about the disparities in performance reviews between men and women – it’s worth the read. And sadly, in the United States – not even one of the top ten countries in the world for gender equality (2012) – a woman will still earn a mere 77 cents to every dollar a man earns doing exactly the same job.

I (still) don’t tend to think of myself as a feminist, but increasingly I am completely disillusioned as to the humanity of a great percentage of men and certainly some women (the ridiculous and the outright mean anti-feminists who deny their gender equal pay while raking in salaries that make their net worth $12million USD basically by being a bimbo) who deny equality.

fruit of thy womb cathy hayes

Fruit of Thy Womb by Cathy Hayes

We are all, without exception, born of the “fruit of thy womb” so when women actually ‘need’ to have a day dedicated to the prevention of violence against them – 25 November – it should be an embarrassment to every single human being on this planet.  I am fortunate. Only once in my life has a man even threatened to hit me (my father) and I have never known the violence of rape but all too many women (and girls) know this terror, live with it daily, suffer needlessly from it.

Against all this I am inspired to the point of near awe at two separate groups of women in India (which ranks 20th out of the G20 countries for women’s rights) and whose paternalistic society breeds rampant misogyny, violence against women, perpetuates child marriages and denial of education for girls and women – the scope of which is heartbreaking and played out daily on both traditional and social media platforms.

First, let me state I don’t condone violence – of any kind. But these Indian women, the current ranks 400,000 of them and growing, walk dressed in flowing hot pink saris like gorgeous butterflies wafting across 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh (a Northern Province bordering Nepal with a pinkpopulation of some 204 million people) carrying long bamboo sticks exacting retribution on men for violence against women; these are the women of the Gulabi, or Pink, Gang. A woman taking on the role as a warrior is not new; recent forensic analysis by the archaeology team at University of Western Australia determined that historic Viking raiding parties were actually made up of 50% women. But those were side-by-side efforts with men, a model of civilization which our whole world would certainly benefit from embracing once again, whereas the Gulabi women are police, jury and judge all in one cohesive unit in a country that tends to turn a blind eye to meting out justice for women.

And now, girls. Amazing young women whose passion and determination to get an education, to avoid becoming a child bride, by owning something of their own and not only increasing their value within their families and communities but more especially to Girls Projectthemselves. I had been aware (in those fleeting moments of social media that slip through our psyches) of girls being taught to garden because of this Sundance Film “After My Garden Grows” by Megan Mylan (for those too lazy to do the math around the dowry conversation 20,000 rupees is the equivalent of $332 USD. Let that tiny amount sink into your brain. I just rediscovered the Girls Project because of this image, at left, the supporting article, of five girls who avoided child marriage by learning to garden.  As a gardener, this made my HEART SOAR! So I dropped the Landesa Organisation a note – and promised to include them in a blog. I cannot encourage your financial support enough. This not simply about young women in India, it’s making our whole world better by empowering our girls, giving them the tools to value themselves and create economic value for their communities. It’s about our respecting that “Half the Sky” is still largely underrepresented, devalued and debased and it’s in all of our best interests to fix this – now.

Do something, anything, in memory of Madhu and Nikita. Namaste. 

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Eh gads, I am a Feminist?

I very clearly recall a conversation between my parents at the dinner table in the late 60s or very early 70s. My brother and I were in school all day at this point, and while my mother mandingohad an expansive vegetable garden to tend,  and read novels like, oh gawd, Mandingo (I remember sneaking a page and being mortified of the vivid description of a rather endowed man’s anatomy), she also sewed, baked and cooked, but she wanted to get a little part time job at the local pharmacy as a cashier, to have her own money and get out of the house. My father told her in no uncertain terms that if she went to work “it will put us into a different tax bracket” and that was the end of the discussion.  (Lord knows she’s never expressed her opinions to his face in 54 years of marriage. )

It’s notable that my father’s favorite TV show of this time was All in the Family, the parody of a ultra-bigoted, racist and sexist man, a man all too literally sitting at my kitchen table each evening. It pains my heart that, as so archiemany of you reading this will attest, the telling line of the theme song “guys like us we had it made” reflecting a nostalgia for a different time when women stayed home (like my mother) is still with us and our collective humanity. And “angry old white guys” are making things difficult and ugly for so many because the world as they would like it to be doesn’t exist – exerting excessive control, spouting abhorrent rhetoric, always seems to escalate when this segment of society feels threatened. (My father peeled rubber down the driveway throwing gravel, stormed out of rooms with the toss of his chair, or gave you ‘the look’ whenever he was challenged or somehow something anyone else knew and expressed was contrary to his closely held view.)

Growing up in a childhood environment such as this, and with all the ills that remain for women to fight against even to this day, how is it that I have not actively and passionately embrace this moniker until recently?

I mean at 12 I was having a conversation about Roe v Wade with my priest and I have struggled against the barriers to equal pay throughout adulthood, the mere idea of human trafficking makes me quiver with angerHumanTraffickingMythbusterPOSTER, and yet it took a social media chat with a man of Latin heritage who can claim serious credibility in “enlightenment” to push me over the edge and realise, I AM A FEMINIST! (if you aren’t also you need to watch this video from the brilliant Lacy Green.)

This ‘title’ doesn’t feel authentic to me yet (there are women and men I know that truly fight the good fight every day, utterly committed, and they are damn loud about it) but (for clarity, just now) I called up Merriam-Webster online and according to their site feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”, who wouldn’t want that? (Okay, other than the Republican Party in the United States and the ultra-Orthodox of any and all religions.) Feminism, in case you reading this were unaware, actually traces its roots back to the age of Enlightenment and the hero of said movement Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My claim to being a feminist came about because the aforementioned man posted an image on his Facebook wall entitled ‘Tennis Sweets’ (not a reference point to Sugarpova) which  featured a nubile young woman in (ridiculously) high heels, the shortest white pleated tennis skirt imaginable, lace panties, no shirt, no bra and a white sweater draped in such a way as to just cover her nipples. This was in such a stark contrast the Universalist mindset of love he had presented that I was compelled to call him out on it, and he responded that he took it down but not for me (okay, fine, whatever).

gender is not between your legsWhat’s odd is that in his posting the image he did me a huge favour, so I thanked him and expressed: “my reaction told me something I didn’t truly realise about myself – eh gads, I am a Feminist!”

And then he wrote: “That’s not healthy… Be human first… Your sex is not you…”

If you think about it, this is kind of funny because the image that prompted this personal discovery for me was about sex, a woman’s sex, and objectifying her rather than seeing her ‘in fullness of being’; and that has ALWAYS been an issue for me, the objectification. (How one woman balanced the ‘creepy man syndrome’ – do click thru, it’s brilliant!)

Equally so, I suppose, is the assumption that he made earlier (and men often make) that unless a woman has a partner, a lover, a man, there is something wrong (with her). Because despite the fact that he freely acknowledged my “great soul” and later in our text conversation wrote “enlightenment will disable all thoughts of need of equality between man and woman.. That’s my point… I believe your higher then you believe so…” he had pointedly asked: “How you survive the nights? in terms of sex? or companionship? You have a active lover?”

sadhuSigh. So even when we have reached a higher level of consciousness, our souls having a human experience, it ever comes down to ‘who are you spending your nights with’? And if you aren’t spending your nights with someone that somehow either makes you a freak, diminishes you in the eyes of humanity or evokes pity. Does anyone express such about monks, nuns and sadhus?

So let me be clear, Madison Kimrey is the kind of chutzpah packing feminist I wish I was and she’s not yet 13 years old (I sincerely hope no one is asking her who she is spending her nights with)! I absolutely love that she has taken on uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly  in the common ground of a bra to eloquently express that equality really means having choices. My choice, as a woman and as a feminist, and more accurately as an evolved soul having a human experience, is not to share my bed simply for the sake of doing so.  The energy in the sacred sanctuary of our sleep needs to be nurturing, protective, harmonious, inclusive and yes equal – and I am unapologetic about abstinence and exclusion until I find that singular person unquestionably worthy of aligning all of my chakras as I take responsibility for the care of his.  

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There will be consequences for your stupidity! 😉

In the meantime there’s something to be said for being a feminist, a humanist, a mindful sensualist and for not suffering fools. (Yes, I unfriended the Latin man. )

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Greenwashing does not make your company a pillar of #CSR or sustainability! – Guest Blog for Ethical Value

ev logo Guest post for Ethical Value, co-published simultaneously

The Coca-Cola Co. ‏@CocaColaCo  “We believe investing in women is the absolute key to economic growth.” Charlotte Oades @USCCFBiz4Good #5by20. #Inspire2Act #IWD2014

cry TweetShortly thereafter came this retweet ‘love’ from a very smart man that I respect (who will remain nameless):

RT @CocaColaCo Fm producers #suppliers #distributors #retailers & recyclers we aim to empower 5M women http://CokeURL.com/l2me8  #Inspire2Act

I saw these Tweets and my stomach convulsed.  Not that empowering women is a bad thing, no, THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING, but, as Collective Evolution (and many other sources) so aptly points out:

“Coke uses “public relations propaganda” to convince consumers and entire nations that it is an “environmental company” when really it is linked to pollution, water shortages, and disease.”

‘The smart man’ I mention, in RTing this particular Tweet, seems to have bought into the green-washing of Coca-Cola courtesy of their marketing team (as do hundreds of millions of people on a global basis), and this not only stuns me because it is so contrary to “his brand” but also makes me sad and angry.  But it is this sentence, from Coca-Cola’s own website, that pushed me over the edge:

“As we move toward our 2020 Vision of doubling our business by 2020, enabling the economic empowerment of women will undoubtedly be an important contributor to our success.”

Let’s be clear, Coca-Cola’s #5X20 initiative isn’t REALLY, altruistically, about lifting women out of poverty it’s about market share, doubling their business, and in doing so, contributing to the health decline of 80% of the worlds’ populations whose average household income is less than $10 (USD) a day! Think about that for a second when the vending machine at your office is likely asking $2 for a single 20 ounce bottle of Coke! So I Tweeted:

#CSR? @CocaColaCo’s #5X20 is actually #causerelatedmarketing NOT #empowerment for #women! #LiesToldOnTwitter

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Artwork by Miranda Coss

Just so we are clear this isn’t a prejudice based in a Coke versus Pepsi (or any of their respective other beverage brands) preference; I am not and have never been a big cola drinker, while I do enjoy the occasional Dr. Brown’s, Izze or Orangina I would be willing to bet that my consumption of these amounts to less than a total of ten 16 ounce servings in any given YEAR. I think you should read this about what drinking Coke and Pepsi actually do to the body, and I can only hope you start to view your habit with a little more caution toward your health (or that of your kids and grandkids.

But I digress; this post is not primarily concerned with our beverage choices but the use of public relations to obfuscate the reality of Coca-Cola (and other multinational corporations) when it comes to legitimate social responsibility practices.  By leveraging social media, optimization of search engine results with technical acumen, strategic thought  and proactive and diligent management Coca-Cola is, to a large degree, successfully controlling its message.  To underscore my point, I just did a Imagesearch on Google “Coca-Cola environmental impact” of the 3.3 million results, (Google is the most popular SE in terms of use – see graph) on the first page of results ‘above the page break’ Coca-Cola has ensured their placement in three of the top five results – Wikipedia comes in at the #2 spot and at #5 is KillerCoke.org. (According to MarketShareHitsLink.com, October 2010, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, which is why having a strategic communications plan that includes Web 2.0 for brand enrichment is so critical in our hyper-connected world.)

So what results are you, the consumer or a journalist doing research, going to get when a desire suddenly seizes you to learn more? Unless you are willing to dig deep – you would never discover that despite their “plant based” bottle PR campaigns that the resulting Imagebottles which both Pepsi and Coke are hyping as being eco-friendly are STILL chemically the same, absolutely identical to the polyethylene terepthalate, or PET, and high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, that regular plastic bottles are made of: these carry the same negative human health and environmental impacts as plastic made from fossil fuels. And yet the messaging makes those of you drinking the 14 (yes, fourteen different) billion (USD) brands from Pepsi   or the 108 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT!) beverage brands from Coca-Cola with all those plastic bottles going into the environment, all those trillions of empty calories being consumed, all the resources used and subsequent negative impact on the planet – in particular water use feel a bit righteous in your consumer choice – my darlings you have absolutely no reason to!

“Drinking” water in Ghana

I am not anti-Capitalism, but I have never, ethically, been able to use my skills and passion to promote an employer or a client whose business I did not fully respect (ie, prostitute myself for a paycheck).  I recently had a conversation with the CEO and founder of a technology firm whose platform is designed to help (genuinely) lift the bottom 3 billion of humankind out of poverty – the same number who also do not have access to clean drinking water or basic sanitation, the identical target market for doubling Coca-Cola’s business by 2020 for whom it will actually be cheaper to drink a cola beverage than to drink clean water! It’s fine to make money, it’s fine to make money in emerging markets, it’s a noble and wonderful thing to give a hand-up (rather than a hand-out), but in my mind’s eye it’s NOT FINE to sugar-coat actual objectives to make them more palatable to your consuming public and distort reality.  If Coca-Cola and Pepsi and the rest of their beverage industry brethren REALLY WANT to help empower women then I suggest taking 8% of their annual profits and fund opportunities for education previously unknown to all but a few of the bottom 3 billion of our neighbours or the various efforts to provide clean water around the world, their philanthropic and CSR departments can one stop shop for worthy projects at Charity Water, Water or in this blog post from Huffington .

Corporate Social Responsibility and the companion sustainability protocols are not ’cause related marketing’ (which is what Coca-Cola’s #5X20 actually is), what CSR ‘should be’ truly is the heart and soul, conscience and character of doing the right thing within a corporate environment.

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What we aren’t looking for usually finds us anyway

I am clearing out debris – you know that nameless stuff that accumulates in our lives virtually without our being aware of its presence in the first place?  Amongst the latest round for the recycling bin was a stack of (almost) unmarked CD-ROMs which I patiently loaded into my computer to review – and this is telling.

A new friend recently said, “I hope you find what you are looking for when you come to Croatia.” I don’t think you can receive a sentence like that, as a conscious person in any case, and not have two things immediately come to mind; the first is U2’s anthem of discovery – I still haven’t found what I am looking for and the second is the recognition that even when we aren’t seeking anything at all we are pulled toward our destiny.

Amongst the people I am working with in Croatia is a young woman named Željka, she is slightly older than I was when I took on the Imageabsolutely no initial pay responsibilities as the ‘coordinator’ for the National Police Athletic League Amateur Boxing League (Golden Gloves sanctioned) tournament in 1985. (Oh, sheesh – was I ever that young?) I had no experience with such things, and I do mean ZERO EXPERIENCE, but the police lieutenant in charge – as the expression goes – “was in the weeds” and he gladly took my offer of help because in less than 8 weeks’ time over 400 boys from all across the United States and Puerto Rico, their coaches and parents were going to descend upon the city of Buffalo NY and the only thing that was a given was that they had a hotel to stay at. There was no facility to train at or ultimately conduct their matches in because the Internal Revenue Service had padlocked the doors of the old Central Train Terminal for back taxes and wouldn’t let anyone in or out!, no central train terminalboxing rings, no sponges, ice or entertainment, no ambulance coverage or doctors on site – nothing.  With John Ralecki’s trust I discovered that with perseverance and charm, seeing the big picture but handling the tiniest detail, asking for help (and then formally writing thank you notes once help was received), not limiting my vision of what could be by what those around me said was only necessary, that some version of greatness could (and did) happen – all with an electric typewriter, an old steel desk, a rotary phone and self-determination.

With Željka I try to give her those same wings to fly – it is after all my turn to mentor – and like a mirror to my own history she daringly (and generously) offers her efforts also without financial compensation (at least for now) for the experience.  But at the same time, 4000 miles away and through Skype conversations and text messages and emails, she is giving me something important back – the best part of who I was as my younger self, the young woman who threw herself into a project because she didn’t know to be afraid of failure whose only desire was in eliminating the potential disappointment others might experience, to create magic and perhaps something much more.

On those CDs my ex-husband, who I still love very much (who has always been my best friend) even if we ceased being in love or lovers more than 20 years ago, painstakingly had Terri portraitcleared files from his old computer that I had used for 16 months (from January 2003 onward) as I was creating Thistle & Broom and burned discs for me.  Amongst the files were digital scans of the 30s vintage version of myself and I looked at that woman that was me (and still is) and randomly decided to share this ‘flashback’ on my Facebook wall.  To say I was overwhelmed by the comments would be an understatement; I am blessed with truly amazing friends on a global basis who see in the current version of me something of the woman in those images (who I actually didn’t see then).  (Some) Women (including myself) never seem to outgrow the critical lens in which society views women, how we begin to view ourselves as adolescents even when those closest to us regularly pay us the most sincere compliments imaginable about attributes far more important that our physical attractiveness.

But Željka’s comment, other than a ‘Like’ status, wasn’t public, it was as a sidebar to our efforts around two separate businesses that she is helping me to create for her home – for Croatia.

Željka:  you look beautiful on them

Teresa: OH, thank you Z, I was really surprised to find them, I was going to just throw the CDs out

Željka: we would say that you “zračiš”

Teresa: and what is zračiš

Željka:  🙂 zračiš would mean that you radiate with positive energy

Teresa: OH – what a BEAUTIFUL THING TO BE TOLD

Željka: 🙂

Teresa: crying tears of gratitude

Željka: don’t cry 🙂

Teresa: happy tears, that is about the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said of me

Željka: you see, it’s how i see people just from the pictures, this is why i wanted to comment on your linkedin post 🙂 i felt you are positive person

Teresa: I am so humbled to have you in my life Z

And then she made me laugh so hard that had I been drinking anything I would surely not be able to write on this computer right now ~

Željka: and this is not sycophancy, i say when i mean it 🙂

Believe me when I write that Željka is the very least likely person on the planet to ever say something she didn’t truly mean.

And so, it seems to me that Croatia is somehow a critical part of my journey of rediscovery – not seeking, not looking for something – but finding nevertheless. Of being continually reminded of the positive energy which I radiate and some can see and feel simply through a photograph, which we all can radiate if we so choose, and the young woman who didn’t know any differently, the woman who still believes that all things are possible and then sets about a path to make that a positive reality for everyone around her and herself ~ truly, the best of me.

To all my friends, and especially my ex-husband Stephen – thank you for this incredible gift of renewal, recognition and appreciation as offered to me this weekend.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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