Our small, independent bookstore sits almost in the middle of Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Called "words!" it is a beautiful serene space where people gather seeking ideas and knowledge. Our store name decorates the windows, but under "words!" is our tag line "change the world." We love the interplay of that statement because we do believe that "words change the world," but also we believe in the encouragement to all passersby; "change the world." What we hope for, dream for, long for and work for is that we can help create a social contagion that touches millions of people of people to not just encourage change from others, but start by creating it themselves. We need "sneezers."
I came across the concept of sneezers in a book about marketing by Seth Godin. He postulates that a business, or an idea has the best chance of multiplying rapidly by engaging those individuals who have a wide ranging network, getting them to buy into the idea, and spread it to their network. He called them sneezers. A perfect example was the immediate, enormous protest of the $5 Bank of America charge for transactions. It all started with one person posting on the internet about the charge and saying it was unfair. The protest was picked up by sneezers with access and it spread like wildfire. The banking giant backed down.
We have the capacity to change the world, to get millions of people on board to help feed the hungry, educate children, provide health care and allow every individual in the world to fulfill their greatest potential. This is truly what greatness is about and what I've always envisioned the greatness project should be; fostering the capacity for every human to be able to achieve their personal greatness. For this to happen, we need to focus less on ourselves and more on the challenges that surround us. Over the past week I've met dozens of people who are trying to do this every day. They shelter the homeless, help home bound seniors, create safe places for children and feed the hungry. Sadly their work and their message is drowned out in the sea of tweets, blogs, websites and news stories about everything from new sneakers to losing weight.
How can we create a sea change that envelops the world and moves us all to focus on creating a place where all people have an opportunity to explore their best self? It starts with each of us, right here and now helping just one other person and enlisting others in the same movement. All of us can be sneezers. We can create a spark to set the world on fire. Start small. Start local and spread the word. Let's change the world.