Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Messaging Happiness

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today, my work on the Happiness Initiative included refining messages about who we are, what we do, the problems we solve, and why anyone should care. We are getting it down to an “elevator speech,” meaning that we know what we are talking about if we can say it simply and briefly. An acquaintance I made - a judge for the Supreme Court in Buenos Aires - once told me that if someone can not state something simply, but must use convoluted sentences and long technical words, they themselves probably do not know what they are talking about. I think there is some truth to this; even complex ideas can be broken down into simple steps.

People keep saying that if we get our messaging right, then everything else will follow. A quote I lost (by Borges?) goes something like, "There is no possibility of communication between what one person thinks, says, what is said, and what the other hears and thinks they hear," and so on. Yet we keep trying – reforming our words, our expressions, our tone and our timber.

Compounding the difficulty in communicating about this project is that we are on the “bleeding edge” – far enough in front of the cutting edge that most people don't or can’t “get it” because the idea is so new and different. The only thing to do is stay the course until this work becomes the cutting edge, then mainstream (and hopefully someday, for a good reason, outdated).

And still, in my experience, it is not so much what you say, but the timing of it. With a new idea, or an idea new to someone, it takes I would say between five and seven times for someone to “get it.” You know they got it when they correct you – telling you what you mean. This is a good sign, because now conversation can really begin. And so, we hack away at our messaging, trying to craft the words just right so they reflect our heart and soul, are simple and clear, and are meaningful to those we are trying to reach. (here I must mention thanks to Laura Vander Pool, a consultant who helped us last week).

Well, we're here in the rough draft of our elevator speech. I am sure these will change as we massage and mold the words but hey, maybe we just need to hear them 5-7 times before we understand ourselves….

The Happiness Initiative is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Seattle, Washington. We are a resource to measure and improve personal, community and global well-being. We are part of a global happiness movement that is shifting society’s perception of money, wealth and economic growth as the driver for well=being to a comprehensive measure of well-being.

Cheers, Laura Musikanski. ED of HI

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laura - great to see what you folks are doing - it seems like we have lots in common. Please feel free to join us at I'm sure there are ways we can potentially work together. If you're not already aware of them I would also recommend the work of the new economics foundation: