All the Swirl "Must Reads"

Photo courtesy of Darrow

Photo courtesy of Darrow

Alex Fondren

My “must read”: The #Me! Generation: Do Millennials Really Deserve Their Bratty Reputation? by James Wolcott

Source: Vanity Fair   

Why does this stand out to you? I hear a healthy amount of grumbling about millennials in the workplace and on social media (even from myself - a self-admitted millennial, if on the later side of that generation's spectrum). There is some truth to the seeming "constant drizzle of compliments and acknowledgments - strokings and pokings - to remain motivated or at least stop fidgeting." We do seem to crave that positive reinforcement, perhaps more than previous generations (though I cannot prove this with first-hand evidence). This vexing trait usually gets attributed to our so-called helicopter parents and the constant stream of 'participation' awards we received while growing up in our coddled '90s cocoons. However, what I really connected to in Wolcott's piece was how he instead attributes this need to feel special to something far more concerning, pointing to the (rather scarring) post-2008 job market we entered into upon graduation.  

Wolcott blames the Recession for turning us into "Generation Wuss" and cites an Atlantic post called, “How to Freak Out About Millennials in a Statistically Responsible Manner,” which demonstrates how in the post-2008 Great Recession the number of young adults making less than $25,000 has increased by six million; the number of young adults making more than $25,000 has declined by almost two million. 

He summarizes: "With disproportionate benefits going to seniors who are hanging around longer...affordable home formation is out of the cards for millions of Millies, despite their college diplomas and place in the on-deck circle. More years of school + more student debt + lower starting salaries + a nervous housing market + stricter rules for new home-buyers = no new home-buyers. This lid on upward mobility creates a pressure to pursue validation and an illusion of progress and productivity within the hamster wheels of social media.  Anxiety and neediness are the defining aspects of Generation Wuss...and when you don’t have the cushion of rising through the world economically then what do you rely on? Well, your social media presence: maintaining it, keeping the brand in play, striving to be liked, to be liked, to be liked. And this creates its own kind of ceaseless anxiety.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Walking-onstreet

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Walking-onstreet

Ana Roselli

My “must read”: Why impact investing wins the prisoner’s dilemma by Ian Magee, VP for Finance and Operations at the Heron Foundation

Source: GreenBiz

Why does this stand out to you? The prisoner’s dilemma game theory has been helping theorists analyze decision-making processes for years. In short, the dilemma points out that if only one party cooperates and the other doesn’t, then the good Samaritan faces harsher consequences. So why would one cooperate, risking to suffer by themselves? This article is a reflection by Ian Magee on the role of Impact Investing (which ultimately means cooperation) in a world ruled by the prisoner’s dilemma. Ian breaks down a study conducted by Robert Axelrod that tries to simulate several dilemmas in a society.

The author concludes that “one cooperator alone will die, but small clusters of cooperators can arrive (by means of migration or mutation) and propagate even in a hostile environment.” Ultimately, “an environment of “meanies” (strategies that just try to take advantage of each other) can be penetrated by cooperators in clusters. But a world of cooperators cannot be penetrated by meanies. Once cooperation has established itself, it is permanent.”

What fascinates me about this reflection is that it is not only about the potential for success of impact investing, but also for any initiative towards a more sustainable world. Cooperation, even if small at first, can grow and affect an entire system. When people ask themselves “why should I take a shorter shower if that won’t be enough to solve the water problem”, here is a numerical answer. It can be proved that small actions of cooperation can generate change. Thought of the day: think big, start small.


Photo courtesy of aemon

Photo courtesy of aemon

Miguel Tanato

My "Must Read": How Rivalry Propels Creativity by Jacob Burak, founder of Alaxon

Source: aeon

Why does this stand out to you? I’ve always believed rivalries to be the most intimate relationship two people can be in. There’s just something about it I find so intrinsically pure, beautiful, and messy – so human – about two people giving their best and worst for the sole purpose of outdoing the other. Jacob Burak’s analysis of rivalry and the amazing works that can come forth served only to strengthen my belief. He cites some of the greatest rivalries in history; Michelangelo and Rafael of the Renaissance, John Constable and JMW Turner of the 19th century, and Newton and Leibniz over the invention of calculus, as just a few examples. His probing of Jungian and Freudian psychology adds another interesting layer to the all-too-human relationship. He purports that our rivals are actually more alike us than we care to admit; an aspect that in turn motivates us to essentially overcome our ‘worst selves.’ Burak quotes Orson Welles in saying, ‘In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’ Because who really gets their blood boiling over blue skies and turtledoves?


Photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Andrea McKenzie

My “must read”: Sneak peek: Hindu gods enliven 'Super Team' by Brian Truitt

Source: USA Today

Why does this stand out to you? I have been in love with Pixar ever since I saw Toy Story. I distinctly remember thinking that Woody and Buzz were talking to me every time they said “Andy” and I couldn’t be more thrilled. As I grew older, I realized that Pixar’s feature films not only did an outstanding job of mastering the wonder of children, but also integrating relevant social and cultural commentary into their films. It is no secret that Pixar releases a short film with each of their premieres and the company’s next short, “Sanjay’s Super Team” features, for the first time, an Indian American family.

The short introduces us to Sanjay, a young boy who is caught between being a kid and upholding the religious and cultural traditions rigorously followed by his father. While the world may be a mysterious and sometimes dark place, it is good to know that Pixar is making steps forward to create a more culturally inclusive community. Way to go, Pixar!

All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting