Public Stories

I find it really interesting how the theory of virality is very human and emotional and that it is closely associated with the value systems attached to the individual. To elaborate, a value system in this sense refers to the set of beliefs and attitudes that intimately describe a person. Remember that time that you were upset with a friend or coworker about how things were done? Or that time you watched your sports team, and although they may have won, you were left with a sour taste in your mouth? Or perhaps that person you shared intimacy with, whose actions left you hurt and wondering how you never saw it coming?

In each of these situations your mind and body is pointing you at a disparity between how you feel things should be done and what happened. You may sink into a vortex of thought, by which it is difficult to escape your own mind. One could call this obsession. Others could call it passion. In any case, it is at your core and it says something about you and your values. In some cases, these bursts of rebellion to the external world result in remarkable products. Products that are trigger emotional responses by those who carry them, making them feel like insiders on a mission or story that the product sells. Products that fight the norm. Products that are fighting for something.

TOMS shoes

Take TOMs shoes for example. TOMs shoes is a company that will give children in need a pair of shoes for every shoe that you purchase. Let's be honest. The shoes aren't comfortable. They have a style about them that could be considered appealing but by no means does it hold the flare of Louboutin nor the emotional triggers of Nike. They do not have the latest technology, they are not the best in class, nor do they have an army of world-class athletes promoting their content. Yet people are nuts about them. They wear them proudly, publicly demonstrating to the world that they care about those in need. That they are doing something for them. The shoes are their social currency, a sigil of their mission, their story, their impact.


I admire Blake Mycoskie, the founder and Chief Shoe Giver (best CEO title EVER) of TOMs shoes. A man that whilst volunteering in Argentina was pained to see children running around the streets with no shoes and saw how alpargatas - a cheap, simple canvas, slip on shoe - could help relieve this problem. His business model, One for One, is socially driven, intelligent and equips the user with the product that they are gifting children in need. A socially-driven, movement that has since them evolved to help individuals impact the life those in need of Sight, Water, Birth Control and Bullying Prevention.

Blake is a genius who built a compelling, mission-driven, emotional story around a seemingly product. No one can disagree that children should not run around barefoot and that shoes should be a human right. However, when wrapping this value around a product you make people feel like insiders. That they are a part of something good that is helping the world. One could argue that the mission is a Trojan Horse for the shoes. A vehicle that allows people to freely and proudly promote the product due to the story that it evokes - that of camaraderie, social good and evolution. It's free advertising of the greatest type. It's not a spammed message but rather a social currency. A public story, that makes the private public, bringing grace and joy to the insiders that share the mission.

Peace, Love and Positivity,