menu

Shawn Parr: What’s Next, Brand America?

Shawn Parr: What’s Next, Brand America?
culture

The CEO of Bulldog Drummond discusses how the United States's own identity has shifted and where it is heading.

Shawn Parr, Bulldog Drummond
  • 3 march 2013

I landed in the United States in January 1991 with two suitcases jammed full of clothes and a bag of anticipation. Greeted by a recession and the outbreak of the first Gulf War, it wasn’t what you’d call the best timing. But I could feel the proud, industrious, ambitious, anything-is-possible attitude that made the US what it was—it’s what many call “The American Dream”. I was determined to play my part. And over the last twenty years, I’ve been able to accomplish more than I could have ever imagined, because I believed in, and worked hard for, that dream.

All who come to these shores, pursuing “the dream” because of its availability to everyone is the heart of Brand America. It has an appeal, attraction and potential to affect meaningful and positive change. But today, it feels like that dream is changing.

Is the dream becoming a nightmare?
When I arrived, America was united. The dream was built on principles and values that everyone understood. People knew that if they worked hard, they could achieve anything. But it was clear nobody was going to do it for them. You could feel the energy back then. But today something seems to have changed, America is starting to feel a lot like the country I left behind. The ideals that were once this nation’s foundation are clouded by a growing wave of dependency, uncertainty, violence and meaningless trivia. America is becoming a nation where how you feel is more important than what you believe or stand for. Success is looked down on by many and those who have worked tirelessly to become successful are increasingly viewed with resentment. It was Calvin Coolidge who said, “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.” It’s becoming uncertain what our leaders expect and how they view those who create opportunities, take risks, invest and sacrifice their time and hard earned dollars. We have millions in our country struggling and unemployed, and yet we give handouts and benefits without any form of contribution being required in return. The economist Arthur Laffer said, “If you pay people to be poor, you will get more and more poor people.” America is in danger of creating a culture of dependency and entitlement where a lack of purpose overshadows the clarity of the American Dream.

America, we must dream
History shows us that the most powerful empires have all fallen – the Greeks, the Romans, the Soviet, and the British. Their collapse, while never anticipated, was always predictable. The American Dream is no exception, it is clearly under threat. The time for us to act is now. America’s purpose needs to be clear and its principles need to be polished. America needs to continue to be a shining light in the world, a place where people can believe that hard work leads to hard-earned rewards, and where ideas and dreams can become reality. The American Dream has inspired me for more than twenty years. Without any expectations of a hand out, all I hoped for was encouragement and the opportunity to create value. I’ve always believed that if you are industrious and hard working there is an opportunity to own a piece of the dream. But I always knew it was up to me to achieve that dream.

It is inspiring to spend time with people who are on a mission to make their part of the world a better place, and who have the energy and focus to make it happen. And while the dream is alive and clear for many, there needs to be more focus on supporting and encouraging people to pursue it, believe in it and strive to achieve it on their own. It’s time to invigorate the entire country so that people who feel hopeless can start to dream and those trying, can try even harder. It’s time for a reminder that hard work can deliver a better life, regardless of what we call work. It’s time to encourage and inspire every American to dream.

America, we must do better
Leaders are charged with creating aspiration and sharing a vision that unleashes and unlocks the potential of the people they lead. America’s leaders must set a vision that inspires people to believe in the American Dream again because it sits at the heart of what makes this nation the greatest example of possibility on Earth. The world needs America to set an example of what it means to work together to solve problems, to rise above personal differences and find solutions to the significant issues affecting this country and the world at large. Democracy, responsible productivity, and fiscal responsibility are three areas our leaders could benefit significantly from new thinking. It’s time for them to rethink how major problems are solved. John F. Kennedy said, “We can do better,” and there is no doubt we must if we are to rise above the mud we are wading in today. We are lethargic in how we are responding to the crises that faces this nation. Kennedy also said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This is how we should each think about our role as citizens of these United States of America. Being an American has a privilege and a responsibility that comes with it: to contribute and to show that we are responsible stewards of our hard-earned freedom. I believe America’s best is ahead, because there is no shortage of opportunity, providing we work together. We must strive for, and create, “better” for those who came before us and for the good of our children.

Now is the time for our leaders to go back to this nation’s founding vision, core values, and principles and recommit and communicate their relevance to ensure every American understands and embraces them. It is the founding principles that should bring us together and fuel our belief that the American Dream is alive and this is a country where anything is possible.

America, you can do better
Brand America at its core is an idea surrounded by a set of ideals, and the dream is America’s promise to its citizens and the world at large. But when it’s all said and done, it is up to each of us to keep fueling the dream and striving to uphold those ideals. As individuals we can do better if we ask what we can do for our country, not what it can do for us. And as corporations, we can do better if we ask what we can do for our consumers, not what they can do for us.

For my part, I’m going to continue trying to put industriousness, curiosity, compassion and optimism to work in every part of my life, focusing on profitability with a purpose and spending my time focused on helping others to realize their full potential. I’ll operate from the premise that today is the best day of my life.

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.

[Image: Flickr user MAKSTER]

culture
Trending

Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Advertising
Syndicated Yesterday

Banned Books Week Urges People To Seek Out Controversial Works

Joining the annual celebration of the right to read, US author Jessica Herthel called for 'more information, more voices' to protect diversity

Augmented & Virtual Reality Yesterday

Outdoor Camp Presented In 360° VR By X Games Gold Medalist

The video features campers riding BMX trails, zip lining through the woods, and performing big-air jumps

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Work

See All
Travel Yesterday

Boeing Wants Passengers To Control Their In-Flight Experience Through Their Phones

The airline manufacturer is embracing automation through a new generation of mobile travel apps

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

VR Surgery Videos Offer Interactive Medical Education

Dutch startup MDLinking hopes to globalize communication between students and medical care professionals with virtual reality content

Related Expert

Micki Krimmel

Internet, Advertising, Media & Publishing, Retail, Technology, Work & Business

Culture Yesterday

Use Twitter To Learn A New Language

tDict is an app that uses the social media platform to help you search for words in local dialects

Mobile Yesterday

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Yesterday

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Culture Yesterday

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace

Advertising Yesterday

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Yesterday

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional 'Specious Books,' the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Food Yesterday

Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market

a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Financial Services Yesterday

Device Makes Digital Currency Feel Tangible

The concept gadget wants you to experience the highs and lows of spending money

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

No search results found.