Not an April Fools’ joke

I like a good April Fools’ PR prank.

My favorite remains Duolingo turning their mascot into a stalker, probably because one of my Inner Circle members was behind it. This year “Voltswagen” cheated a bit by launching in March, so I’m not a fan.

Because this year April Fools’ Day falls on a Thursday, and because I write these posts every Thursday, I was developing some fun ideas to try to fool YOU. But then I listened to an unrelated podcast, and now those ideas will have to wait until 2027, the next time April 1st is a Thursday (you’ve been warned!).

While taking a break from working on my own prank, I became captivated by the How I Built This episode with Pat Brown, founder of Impossible Foods.

Here’s a guy who already achieved two huge professional milestones – he was an accomplished Stanford biochemist, and he co-founded a vital set of scientific journals that are disrupting academic publishing and making research accessible to anyone. Yet at age 60, he was looking for a new mountain to climb.

He took a sabbatical, he says, “to identify the most important problem in the world that I could contribute to solving.”

That fired me up. If you want to hear him say it, it’s at about 18:07 in the recording.

Within a month, he says, he “zeroed in on what is unquestionably the most important and urgent problem,” which he believes is the “catastrophic environmental impact of our use of animals in the food system.”

As far as not eating meat, I personally haven’t gotten there yet. In fact, I only realized later that while I was so inspired by Pat Brown’s vision and personal sacrifice, I was actually savoring a delicious brisket sandwich for lunch.

The problem he chose isn’t my point. My point is that instead of retiring, or simply continuing to be an accomplished Stanford professor, he devoted himself to solving what he believes is a vital world problem. And it took him a decade or so, but he now has regular meat eaters like me who believe an Impossible burger tastes pretty much the same as a regular one.

That’s why I decided that instead of messing with you today, I will instead pass along Pat Brown’s challenge for each of us “to identify the most important problem in the world that I could contribute to solving.”

For me professionally, I’ve been gradually expanding my efforts beyond my core deliverable of “helping PR people get more and better results.” Nowadays what gets me up in the morning is my vision to “help PR pros earn autonomy in how, where, and whether they work.”

Thanks to a 60-something who had already “made it” before he risked everything and reinvented himself, I now see ways I can expand that vision and make a deeper impact – more on that later (hopefully before 2027 :).

What important problem can you contribute to solving?

This article was originally published on March 31, 2021

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