They're back


This photo popped up as a 10-year memory from Shutterfly. Part of me loves it when old photos appear in my in box. The other part of me gets lightheaded at the thought of just how quickly they go from toddlers to teens.

Of course, an emotional reaction is exactly what Shutterfly wants when it sends me these memory emails. Emotional loyalty to brands is becoming increasingly important in today's marketplace, where work, life, community, and wellness have converged in the consumer mindset. The demand for emotional connection is also what's driving the revived popularity of birthday cards among Millennials, according to an article I shared today on LinkedIn.

It's today's social impact culture in action, once again!

Getting new customers and retaining employees is easier with an uplifting dose of "doing good"

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According to research released by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, social content that’s inspirational is a powerful way to generate emotional engagement.   

We could not agree more! For years, the team at Embolden has observed the impact of positive, uplifting messages on improving lives and business results. We believe social impact messages are an especially strong source of inspiration, mainly because in today’s culture, community is becoming an integral component of work, life, and wellness.

Our research study below offers a case in point. Or, skip the research and just jump to the end of the article to get the three takeaways. (Hint: 1. Update your messages. 2. Avoid the "corporate cram down." 3. Scale the one-to-one.)

Research Study: Engaging Consumers Through “Doing Good”

A few years ago, our team recruited thirty-four parents with one or more children under the age of eighteen. They were asked to complete a “doing good” drawing and painting exercise with their children designed to celebrate the good the families were already doing—regardless of the causes supported.

Following the exercise, parents were asked to participate in a brief online tutorial about the ways they and their families were participating in one or more social impact activities, including what we call the “10 Ways to Do Good”:

  1. Caring about health and wellness
  2. Giving to charities
  3. Volunteering at a charity
  4. Serving on a charity’s board of directors
  5. Purchasing products that support a cause
  6. Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment
  7. Donating items of food and clothing
  8. Marketing a favorite charity
  9. Sharing with family and friends in need
  10. Celebrating at community events

At the conclusion of the study, our researchers asked three questions:

1. “If there were products on the market today that helped you engage with your family in one or more of the 10 Ways to Do Good, would you be likely to purchase those products?”

85 percent answered YES, they would be likely to purchase those products.

2. “Are you likely to use part or all of the material in the survey to help teach your children or grandchildren, eighteen years of age or younger, about the 10 Ways to Do Good?”

100 percent answered YES, the "doing good" messages were useful.

3. “Do you feel like you have a better mental picture of the day-to-day activities that are part of your overall social impact—how you are making a positive difference in the lives of other people?”

91 percent answered YES, they felt better about the ways they are making a difference.

Wow. With numbers like that, it only made sense to go deeper with sixty-minute individual interviews with participants. And the results were equally powerful:

I want a company to acknowledge my current situation as it relates to social impact.
I want a company to motivate me by making it easy for me to get involved in doing good in the ways I like best.
I want a company to inspire me to involve my children in doing good, and I want a company to understand my need to educate my children about doing good.

Additional color commentary was equally illuminating. Here are a few more comments from the parents in the study:

“I would purchase products that help me reinforce good values and morals with my daughter. I’m a single mom, so activities that are fun for her and let me spend a few minutes reinforcing our family values are very helpful.”

— Marie, mother of one girl, age 8

“A company that can help me spend time with and interact with my family is a company I want to support.”

— Christa, mother of one girl, age 5, and five boys, ages 7, 9, 10, 13, and 14

“I was surprised at how much good we are doing as a family. Sometimes you can get burned out doing the same things. The online survey reminded me that there are many ways my kids can be helpful and do good.”

— Kate, mother of one boy, age 4, and one girl, age 8

Your Three Takeaways

Here’s what all of this means to a business striving to build a new customer pipeline or retain top employees:

1. Update your messages.

Your customers, clients, prospects, current employees, and recruits are listening differently to what you say. They will pay close attention to how much (or how little) you care about them as human beings, which comes through loud and clear (or not) in the types of messages you share in your communications and through social media.

2. Avoid the "corporate cram down."

The people you want to attract and retain--whether customers or employees--want your company to demonstrate a willingness to listen to what they care about. They don’t want to experience a “corporate cram down” of what you think they want to hear.

3. Scale the one-to-one.

One of the biggest challenges you face is scaling your outreach and relationship building to achieve authentic, emotional connections with your audiences and get the real-time feedback data you need to make business decisions. Are you ready?

“Doing good” in your messaging and relationship-building can give you a jump start to achieving your business development, recruiting, and retention goals. And that’s good for everyone.  

What "recycling" means to your social impact personality type

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Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment are growing in popularity as a key component of healthy, well-rounded life.

When we first began our 10 Ways to Do Good surveys in late 2012, an average of 82 percent of respondents answered “Yes,” recycling is in the mix of their social impact activities. By early 2018, nearly 90 percent of most survey groups showed recycling as a preferred way to do good.

Here is how recycling plays into all three Social Impact Personality Types. Which one are you?


What an Activator says about recycling:

  • “It’s our responsibility as humans and civilizations to leave the earth in better shape than we found it.”
  • “I make certain to track the latest scientific studies about global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. I need to stay informed.”
  • “I simply cannot work for a company that does not clearly commit to best practices in sustainability.”

Four Recycling Activities Activators Enjoy

  1. Writing letters to elected officials advocating for conservation legislation.
  2. Advocating for a zero-waste-to-landfill program at work.
  3. Investigating best practices for a rooftop garden in the neighborhood and assisting with plans for its development.
  4. Making phone calls to local food retailers who don’t display recycling bins near the checkout counter or another spot where customers can easily deposit recyclable materials.


What a Connector says about recycling:

  • “Our family loves spending time outside and appreciating the beauty of our natural environment.”
  • “I like to attend informational meetings in my community about the latest efforts to generate renewable energy.”
  • “My ideal workplace is a LEED certified building. The positive energy is a real boost for me and my colleagues.”

Four Recycling Activities Connectors Enjoy

  1. Structuring weekend outings around visiting a farmers’ market.
  2. Prioritizing national parks when selecting vacation destinations.
  3. Adopting a family pet from rescue agencies or animal shelters.
  4. Teaching children at a very young age about the rules for recycling.


What an Investor says about recycling:

  • “I don’t hesitate to call my local waste management company whenever I have questions about how to get rid of large items, paint, and dead branches. I want to dispose of it in the right way.”
  • “We have a glass recycling center about a mile away, and I plan my route to work so I can drop off empty bottles.”
  • “Our neighborhood dry cleaners is environmentally savvy. The owner has won awards for its eco-friendly cleaning process. That’s the dry cleaner I use!”

Four Recycling Activities Investors Enjoy

  1. Growing organic gardens and using the produce at every meal possible.
  2. Placing a recycling bin in every room of the house where waste is discarded.
  3. Replacing plastic silverware with stainless steel (and volunteering to wash the dishes) in the break room at work.
  4. Installing energy-saving light bulbs in every fixture in the house.

Making the environment a priority is a powerful way for individuals, families, and communities to participate in today's social impact culture. Rethinking how to do regular, everyday rituals is a great way to feel good and inspire your friends, family and colleagues to do more good and feel better, all at the same time.

92% is a magic number for risk-proofing your employer brand


Employee engagement and workplace culture are all the rage as the talent market tightens up. Recruiting, retention, and productivity are more elusive than ever for fast-growing companies.

There’s certainly no shortage of ideas and products to choose from when it comes to engaging today’s workforce talent. Not only is there no shortage, but some financial experts also say the market for workplace culture tools and technology is overcrowded and even deluged with possible solutions for the forward-thinking human resources buyer.

That’s why it’s important to stop and think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish with your culture and engagement—before you spend a single dollar.

Over the course of several years, our team has heard three things, over and over:

1. “Please, not another typical survey.”

In most companies today, no one—really no one—has the time or tolerance for complex, slow, expensive, or—let’s say it—boring surveys designed to gather routine information about associates’ perceptions of the workplace. Both leadership and talent alike are fatigued and skeptical.

2. “It’s bigger than the job.”

Today’s talent doesn’t just want a paycheck. The entire workplace experience is important. Culture, giving back, family, health, values, fun, personal growth, and inspiration all play a role in career and corporate success. Social impact is the missing view of the talent mindset, and every company needs it.

3. “Show us results!”

Nothing is worse than being asked for your feedback and then having it seemingly disappear into a black hole. People want to see results when they give their perspectives and information. Celebrating, learning, and sharing are critical elements of all workplace data capture initiatives.

We heard you!

By combining work, life, community, and wellness factors into an uplifting diagnostic, the Embolden team created a tool designed to help companies get in touch with their talent’s mindset, in a way that is positively reinforcing, fast, different, and immediately reportable and actionable in terms of the data it delivers.

This diagnostic, called Employee Vitals, actually makes people in the company feel good.

That brings us to the magic number: 92% of the thousands of people who’ve taken Embolden’s 7-minute diagnostic since we launched it in 2012 said it made them feel better.

We think that’s something for everyone to celebrate!