Walt Whitman is by turns comforting and disturbing me today. It’s why I sought him out. I’m overdue for a good cage rattling. Time to tip myself sideways and reexamine the landscape. So, I sent my soul out to loaf on the metaphorical grass with instructions to listen for the password primeval, knowing that footsteps of my mind and the beatings of my own heart are all that will sound. Sure enough, the echoes came from within. I caught my own thoughts dancing with words of wisdom from friends and relatives, and mixing with the lines of poems and songs that I carry like talismans. These collected scraps are the stories we tell ourselves. They are our master works, our personal legends. The secret lies in the listening. The gift is finding insight from both the spider’s silken whisper and the wind whistling through the web. (Click "Read More")

2012-01-20T02:37:42+00:00 November 25th, 2011|

Adolescent girls are standing up and stepping out across California this month to make their voices heard, declaring “it’s not fair” that girls who share their dreams for the future don’t have equal access to opportunities in countries like Ethiopia, Malawi, Guatemala, and Liberia. This is not simply about protest, however, these girls insist that change is at hand. They should know. These Philanthro-Teens are the ones making it happen, girl by girl. Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, brought their Unite for Girls Tour to San Francisco this week. Gathering at the global headquarters of Levi Strauss & Co., teens from across the Bay Area joined peers like actress Alexandra Dadarrio, singer Olivia Somerlyn and the Girls Project Girl Performance Collective, in rallying the local crowd to help create a world where all girls have the chance to be safe, healthy, educated, and ready to lead.... (Click "Read More")

2011-11-16T01:26:23+00:00 November 16th, 2011|


Back at the start of (RED), I used to refer to our team, our partners, and our growing cadre of inspired consumers as “a crazy band of fearless warriors” for believing that simple items like t-shirts and iPods could help eliminate AIDS in Africa. (RED) has since raised roughly $175 million for women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS in Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Ghana, and Rwanda. Sometimes crazy and fearless is the only way to move the needle when the status quo is unacceptable. (Click "Read More")

2011-10-20T09:57:27+00:00 October 20th, 2011|


Just another day and a half in Cape Town, then we move on to Zambia, in search of more products for OBene to bring to an American audience. Our mission is to delight you with desirable finds and give back 10 percent of the sales price for you to spend – invest rather – with the charity of your choosing. And why shouldn’t empowerment swing all ways? This is the democratization of beneficial buying. (Click "Read More")

2011-10-20T09:48:19+00:00 October 20th, 2011|


OBene’s founders are getting along just fine traveling together. While we both have a deep connection to Africa and a strong history of building brands and engaging the public in support of causes, James is more keenly focused on digital media trends than on fabric weights, pintucks, and beadwork fashions. But we both love yoga, so in between excursions to visit design shops and artist studios in Cape Town, we’ve been practicing at a wonderful studio YogaLife. If you’re ever in Cape Town, looking for a place to play and reground, you’ll feel welcomed into their community. (Click "Read More")

2011-10-20T09:58:33+00:00 October 20th, 2011|


What more perfect way to end our first day in Cape Town than a lovely dinner with New York-based fashion designer Tina Lutz. Like many other old friends and colleagues, Tina and her friend Barbara are here to help celebrate Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday. Tina’s been traveling the world for the past several months, encountering beautiful design across Africa, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. So, it was a lot of fun talking about OBene’s plan to introduce just such marvels to shoppers in America, who are looking for products with a story, a soul, and a certain sensibility that sets them apart. And of course, in the cradle of democracy, we’ll be empowering OBene shoppers to designate at least 10 percent of every sale to their favorite charity. A collective win for global makers, American buyers, and charities across the globe. (Click "Read More")

2011-10-08T22:36:37+00:00 October 7th, 2011|


What does it mean to OBenify? We’re building the ship as we sail it. Want to come along on the voyage? Let us entice you with some stirring visions. Image that you’ve entered a realm of discovered treasures, each one of which will intrigue and reward you at many levels. Beauty on the outside, character within, and the satisfaction that you can not only claim these unique and compelling objects for your own, but that you’ll be doing something good for the world in the process. Welcome to OBene. We are creating OBene to be the marketplace where desire serves goodness. We are busily gathering unique offerings from artists, designers, makers, and brands across the globe. Very soon, we’ll share these stories and make these special items available for sale to American consumers. But here’s the sweet surprise – OBene will give at least 10% of the sales price to the charity of the buyer’s choice. (Click Read More)

2011-10-08T22:39:12+00:00 September 27th, 2011|


Global design consultancy IDEO has long been at the forefront of fostering innovation for brands, organizations, and even governments. Their core customer, however, is always people. Human wants, human needs, and human nature sit at the center of the firm’s approach, as they look for fresh ways to bring creative concepts to life. So, I’m thrilled to see them turn their eyes to the non-profit sector in a more direct and dedicated way with the launch of IDEO.org. In focusing on global poverty, IDEO.org has chosen a target in the social space that is broad and deep enough to keep their innovation experts very busy. Their first fellowship class meets this week, and I have the honor of speaking to the group. My fellow panelists and I have been challenged to illustrate “What Good Looks Like” with three examples of innovative solutions from non-profits, foundations, or social enterprises. There are plenty of excellent examples out there, but I plan to focus on three that I know well: one Product Innovation, one Model Innovation, and one Ethos Innovation. (Click "Read More")

2011-09-09T18:13:26+00:00 September 9th, 2011|


What makes a good life? Artistotle put in a plug for happiness, though his is a much more disciplined and nuanced use of the phrase. “Happy” -- ubiquitous in today’s overuse of the word – has become a pale facsimile of its former self. For Aristotle, happiness can only be fully realized at the end of one’s life and is achieved irrespective of the emotional indicators that define the notion today. For us modern kids, delight and success sit on the pro side of the happiness divide, with suffering and loss lurking in the con zone. Not so for our forefather from the 4th Century B.C., who marks living “in accordance with complete virtue” as the winning ticket. This entails making right choices between short-term desires and long-term needs, including the greater societal good... (Click "Read More")

2011-08-07T14:38:21+00:00 August 7th, 2011|