It’s easy to read the news today and become pessimistic or worse, get angry. The clean energy transition to sustainability in our everyday lives is happening slower than we want. Access to healthcare is more costly, the process more exhausting. COVID’s newest variant Omicron is present everywhere, and hospitals and frontline workers are once again feeling the strain. Our social media feeds are filled with misinformation, division, and end of world scenarios.
I admit that too often I’ve felt (and made public) my own frustrations and despair with these issues. After all, we already have the renewable technologies needed to power a carbon-free world but have failed to enable their deployment; our healthcare system needs a new approach that emphasizes simplicity and patient outcomes; and social media has forever changed the world in so many ways, many of them negative. It’s easy to be upset.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The world is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it is a bit brighter with a glass half full view. Here are a few things I’ve noticed lately when looking for the Good in life and business:
- Inspiring young people. It’s not just Greta Thunberg making a name for herself and her sustainability efforts in education and policy, but young people everywhere with ideas, innovations and new businesses that create jobs. People in their 20s are making important contributions to some of the most archaic industries like financial services and real estate, while others are setting records and precedent in the sports world. They’ve watched and learned from the successes and mistakes made by the Mark Zuckerbergs, Jack Dorseys and Elon Musks, and built their own brands off their own ideas, many of which are virtuous in nature and designed to impact the world for the better.
- The clean energy transition soldiers on. I could bore you with my excitement around cleantech like solar, wind, energy storage and batteries, EVs, software and alternative fuels, or sustainability efforts in product sourcing and research, agriculture via agtech, bioplastics and more – but I won’t. Despite resistance from individuals, political parties, name-brand companies and PR firms, the clean energy movement continues to gain momentum. Why? A September 2021 report from Pew Research Center shows 80% of people are willing to make changes to how they work and live to reduce the effects of global climate change.
- Innovation is everywhere. It’s not just sustainability and cleantech I’m excited about. One of the few bright spots brought on by the COVID pandemic has been the increased attention to the healthcare system itself, as well as the physical and mental health of ourselves and one another. Brilliant minds and companies are using data to improve our standard of care and develop new treatments and therapies, while many entrepreneurs have seized upon the mental health and wellness trend and produced valuable services and platforms that improve and save lives. The mental health revolution has even reached big business where employers are changing the way work schedules are made and fostering events and collaboration absent physical settings.
In a much broader sense, emerging B2B technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation are making industrial, manufacturing and commercial sectors more profitable, efficient, safer and faster.
- New forms of press. With most coverage from Fox News and CNN reduced to serving as propaganda arms for various corporations, policymakers and the most wealthy and powerful, many will tell you they “no longer trust the media.” Yes, the media has failed us in many ways, but that’s our responsibility for not holding them accountable sooner, instead allowing them to report to us what we want to believe or think we already know. Now, a great number of quality media outlets and journalists have seized the opportunity to carve out a higher quality, non-biased form of reporting. Podcasts, newsletters, radio programs, self-publishing tools like Substack, and emerging news sites have created vehicles for sharing information that don’t require checking your party affiliation at the door. Hopefully, many of these outlets will become the standard for true journalism based on fact vs. ideology.
Coincidentally, the emergence of new media has been a boon to business at FischTank PR and our media relations and communications programs. No longer are companies clamoring for media coverage in the same trades and top tiers as they were years ago, as they now realize the difference between brand recognition and influence. They understand that “transactional media coverage” – coverage that creates a measurable outcome – can come from anywhere, even places with smaller, but more dedicated audiences.
- Rhetoric fatigue. You may read this and laugh, and maybe it’s a pipe dream, but I believe and am hopeful that rhetoric fatigue has arrived and will intensify. Since ratcheting up in 2015 to peak around the 2020 elections and what followed, the anger and bickering in the social media threads I see have declined. Sure, the same people are going to complain and get on their soapbox every day – yes, some days that may be me – but for now I hope people save their voices for when they need it most and can use it to make the biggest difference.
Today, I’m seeing more people put their money where their mouth is, volunteering in communities, raising money for organizations and people who need it, and advocating for progress, education, healthcare and sustainability.
Yes, I am bullish on 2022 and will commit myself to a more positive mindset, sure, and absolutely a stronger effort to create impact. After all, the choices you and I make today impact those watching who may make a difference tomorrow. Effort and virtue still matter, especially if we ask ourselves whether or not we’re doing enough. If we can each lead by example, we will create change for the better and improvement in our macro and micro communities.