Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winning the future.

I sat down to write my point of view on last night's State of the Union address when I remembered that I had written it two and a half years ago during the 2008 primaries.

It is indeed time to "win the future" through a better educated workforce; through a more intelligent information-based healthcare system; through a clean energy policy that is less dependent on OPEC; and through a 21st century infrastructure that boosts productivity and employment.  These investments are not abstract issues for policy wonks, these are kitchen table issues.  (If you have kids, think about these issues relative to their future and you'll know why I believe this.)

But, similar to what I expressed in 2008, I think the message needs to be clearer and more motivating (and without a slogan that can be shortened to "WTF.")

While "winning the future" attempts to inspire, we see time and again that messages tend to be more motivating when contrasted with the perils of inaction.  Compelling stories need both a protagonist and an antagonist .  Is essential to the Hero's Journey.  It is essential to brands.  It is essential to winning the future.

The "Sputnik moment of a previous generation was a direct reaction to the Soviet Union's sudden superiority in space.  The American people had no doubt who we were trying to surpass and why.  To that same end, I thought President Obama should have made clearer the level of investment China is making to win the future in alternative energy, high-speed rail and education.  As a people, we tend to pull together when we have a clear sense of purpose.

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