Raphie Frank :: business artivist

The Weave & the Darn (aka “The Poetic Essence of Boojummy Business Artivism”)

Dreaming is Composing
Dreaming is Composing by Mattijn Franssen

Courage. Hope. Care. Boojummy. The term is derived from Louis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark. The Boojum, the most dangerous kind of snark, is found on an island many months sail from England, betwixt and between the dark crevices and crags. When you find one, so they say, you disappear. Forever. I kind of like to think it’s because you find yourself. In addition to courage, hope and care, you also need thimbles and forks – think Robert Frost two roads in a wood, not last night’s dinner – when you set out on a snark hunt.

Because, you see, it’s all about the weave and the darn. The doomed and the damned need not be either. They can be better than they were. Better. Stronger. Happier. In themselves and for us, if only we give them choices and alternatives to light moons and mommify all those hardened hearts.

Now, you can ask yourself, what the hell is this guy talking about? But you’d kind of be missing the point because the whole point is that there is no single point and so you’ve got to kind of go elliptically around and about and through and over and under and around, zigging the light and zagging the fright and tickling the dark and missing or maybe making the mark because, you see, it’s all connected, the big and the small, from the round, smooth marbleized Universe of Einstein right on down to every darn gluon, quark, atom and molecule of the woodified mind of man and woman and blade of grass a hummingbird wind sways back and forth in oscillating rhythm beneath the thousand million blossoms of that cherry tree rocking to the rhythms of a white house gale.

We can make it better. And we can make it even betterer together. I’d like to figure out a way because the weight is a gift when you’re strumming the nada surf riff, but it’s hard as hell to carry it all on your own, so tell you what…

… let’s take it back to 1.

It’s a called a PROGRESSION.

Continue reading

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Art, Business, Economics, Politics, Storytelling, Theater | 2 Comments

New School Conference: A Realistic Growth Policy for Our Times

Economic Conference @ the New School

Ron Blackwell, Chief Economist of the AFL-CIO at the dais giving a presentation at the New School Conference "A Realistic Growth Policy for Our Times" this past April 13, 2007.

There are a lot of frustrated folks out there looking for responsible, sustainable ways to expand opportunity for the have-nots in an age I have come to increasingly refer to as the "Neo-Gilded Age."

The answer as I see it?

PLURALISTIC CAPITALISM aka "The American Dream." Trickle-Down meets Trickle-Up and all we need to do, really, with a nod to Princeton professors Daniel Kahneman (Prospect theory) and Paul Dimaggio (cultural capital) is to supersize our notion of economy to include the value of heart, hope, courage and care.

Many thanks to Ron Blackwell, as well as Michael Reich (UC Berkeley), David Howell (The New School), Pascal Petit (CEPN, Paris) and Michael Piore (MIT) for their sportsmanship in the face of some well-intended tricksterishness on the part of this Citizen Economist. More on that another time, but let’s just say I learned a thing or two by osmosis.

RELATED WRITINGS (by Raphie Frank)
Pressure is Aggression to the Monkey in the Man
Trickle Up Economics, Conscious Capitalism & Co-Generation
Sophinette asks: Is Bono Fooling Us All? My response? NO!
The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland
The Mathematics of Opportunity
Introducing “Trickle Up Economics” (aka “The One Song”)
Synchronicities of the Happily Converging Road
What’s Wrong With Profit?

May 2, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Politics | Leave a comment

The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland

Coastal Fog by Daryl Furr.

Imagine if CNN admitted it’s liberal dovish leanings? And Fox its, hawkish Conservative ones? Now THAT would be refreshing. They won’t, likely. It’d be bad for business, right?

For now.

But it’s only a matter of time before corporations — considered “individuals” before the law — declare political affiliations. Adam Smith will demand it from his grave because, you see, diffused rule by Corporation in a globalized economy is already upon us. We just don’t know it yet. But Warren Buffet does. It’s why he has willed most of his fortune to Microsoft maven Bill Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More on that another time — let’s just say my guess is that accountability and directed purpose, not possible in an Open Source Society has something to do with it — but the point is this:

The Rulers of the 21st century are no longer just the Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers and their minions, but the Boards of Directors and top corporate executives, meaning our votes will come in the form of the soap with which we wash, the toothpaste with which we brush and the sheets upon which we sleep.

Communist-style command economies were quite the rage in the 20th century. Perhaps the 21st century will usher in the age of the Demand Economy, because that’s how capitalism works, folks. If we demand, they will supply. A People United and all… ?

Speaking of which, I’ll throw sand in the eyes of anyone who tells me I ought not to be proud as heck to live in the United States of Saudi Arabia. Oops… I meant America. Just call it oil on the brain. But you know we’re in trouble when them furriners are even getting on to our money. I took a look at a dollar bill today. Know what it said?


Tell your friends, folks. I’ve never even heard of Latinland. This is BIG.

April 5, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

Trickle Up Economics, Conscious Capitalism & Co-Generation

The Magic Forest by Mattijn Frannsen

RELATED WRITINGS (by Raphie Frank)
Pressure is Aggression to the Monkey in the Man
Introducing “Trickle Up Economics” (aka “The One Song”)
Sophinette asks: Is Bono Fooling Us All? My response? NO!
The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland
The Mathematics of Opportunity
Synchronicities of the Happily Converging Road
What’s Wrong With Profit?

Dear [friend]

I thought to bring to your attention the below news related to Zaadz, a very well meaning, New Age inflected, but anything but unambitious Social Software Network…

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey invests in Zaadz, a Social Network With a Purpose
Posted on Mar 28th, 2007

I believe Mackey’s investment of social venture capital is one to take seriously as part of a much greater trend. Yet to come clearly into public focus, there is a full-scale grass roots entrepreneurial movement underway, and it goes by such names as “Conscious Capitalism,” and “Death By Smiley Face” although I just call it “Trickle Up Economics” aka “Tomorrow’s Economy of Heart Today.”

Supported by Philanthropreneurs such as Mackey and Pierre Omidyar, “Trickle Up Economics” is emerging amidst a Millennial convergence of political, social, economic and natural forces working of a piece to both unite and divide us. On the one hand, via free trade economic policies, the connective power of technology and 9/11 propelled decentralization trends in financial markets, we are becoming more and more one interdependent global organism.

On the other hand, perhaps a function to some extent of the resulting rapid-fire collision of cultures, the Global Mind is also in increasingly polarized conflict as worldwide reserves of renewable energy dwindle, climate change threatens to displace vast populations, policies of Preemptive Warfare frog-march pariah nations into increasingly defensive postures and the Neo-Gilded Age gap between haves and have-nots emerges into crystal clarity.

Within this Global environment, the “multiple revenue stream, outsourced” economic model brought in with the Digital Age by such New Economy stalwarts as Monster, Inc. (formerly TMP Worldwide) is “adapt or die” morphing into it’s much needed psychic / spiritual twin in a manner that might make Carl Jung and Carlos Castaneda sigh with relief, “Finally! They’re starting to figure it out!”

Perhaps feeling a bit left out of all those Alan Greenspan celebrated productivity gains amidst dramatic decreases in job security in the industrialized nations, a low premium placed on loyalty to employees on the part of increasingly megalithic trans-global corporations with diffuse power and little accountability, along with the recognition that not even once sacrosanct pension funds are safe, many socially conscious enterprising individuals are taking matters into their own hands, but with a distinctly Native American twist.

These people, and I humbly count myself amongst their ranks, are working to figure out ways to use the entire animal called US, all of US. They understand on an intuitive level that we are but small parts of an entirety consisting of countless parts on both sides of the “zero point” called human consciousness and that the the many parts of the self and the many parts of the other are connected not by choice, but by necessity and that if we do not serve one its just desserts we cannot serve the other.

The trend is just beginning. It’s called Co-Generation and Gen-X and Gen-Y, working together are going to lead the way into Generation XY. The elephant of many parts is emerging into the light and the lion is just beginning to roar.

I wanted to let you know, because before we’re through, we’re going to make it baaad to be good and we’re going to do our darndest to make it pay in every which way for ALL those who give a damn and try to do a thing or two about it.

But you gotta pay to play and that means serving the pie too and not just eating it.

Your friend,

Raphie Frank
Business Artivist
Poet of the Possible

For Further Reading:

A Christmas Story for Marla Ruzicka (RIP)

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics | 1 Comment

Sophinette asks: Is Bono Fooling Us All? My response? NO!

from U2 by U2 book via mybono on Flickr

Sophinette posts on her WordPress blog Has Bono Been Fooling us All? and links to a Bloomberg News article: Bono, Who Preaches Charity, Profits From Buyouts, Tax Breaks related to U2 frontman, Bono’s burgeoning Business Empire. She says:

Shaking my head in disapproval…

Aside from the fact that Bono makes no claim to be a saint and publicly revels in his rock stardom (see NYT profile link at bottom of post), I look at it a bit differently than she does.

In my view, Bono is practicing what I call “Business Artivism” aka Business, Art and Non-Partisan Activism, the subject this blog. The New York Times calls this philanthropreneurship in an article entitled ““What’s Wrong with Profit?.” Here is an excerpt:

A new generation of philanthropists has stepped forward, for the most part young billionaires who have reaped the benefits of capitalism and believe that it can be applied in the service of charity. They are “philanthropreneurs,” driven to do good and have their profit, too.

Truth be told, the world could do with many more Bonos. He invests a tremendous amount of time and energy into his humanitarian pursuits — to the point that at one time his efforts almost torpedoed U2 — and ought not to be condemned for making money as well in the process and/or minimizing his tax burden. Bono is human like the rest of us and, recognizing that, sees the need to push others, governments and individuals alike, to step up to their social responsibilities.

Think of it it this way: Bono has been instrumental in attaining billions of dollars of debt relief for African Nations — an initiative George W. Bush actually mentioned in his most recent State of the Union Address without mentioning Bono by name — and has helped to save thousands if not tens of thousands of lives or even more over time (i.e. aside from AIDS funding, that money the African nations save is able to go towards food, shelter, medical, promoting enterprise etc.).

You all don’t think that’s worth a paycheck of 500 million or so, especially considering Bono actually creates something based on hard work, initiative and enterprise? What if Bono did NOT do what he is doing? What would be the opportunity cost? We’ll never know for sure, but there are a lot of living Africans out there you might be able to get an “I don’t know” from who might otherwise not be around.

Altruism and egoism, selfishness and selflessness are NOT incompatible concepts. Furthermore, in my view, we are ALL hypocrites to one degree or another. Bono is far less the hypocrite than many and uses his wealth, relative to many, very, VERY responsibly.

Related Post:
The Evolving Principles of Business Artivism
New York Times Magazine Profile:
The Statesman

January 27, 2007 Posted by | Art, Business, Economics, Philanthropy | 2 Comments

The Mathematics of Opportunity

Mathematically speaking, if you start from a network of you and one other person, then each time your world doubles in size, it becomes, if you look at all the possible connections, four times smaller and then some. And the “then some” gets twice as big each and every time you double it.

The same dynamic applies in a general way to economic opportunity and savings as it does to networks. In other words, the financially well-off really do have it easier and it gets easier and easier as you go. The guy with 32 bucks in the bank has about 144 times the opportunities as the guy with 2 bucks, not even accounting for the eonomics of basic survival.

Think about that the next time some wealthy politician suggests a flat tax to “level” the playing field.


January 16, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Politics | Leave a comment


Yes, Virginia, There is STILL a Santa Claus Read Christmas Story


Raphie Frank is a New York City-based interactive producer, writer, photographer and designer with sixteen years of hands-on cross-industry experience in a variety of managerial, creative and technical capacities in media including journalism, film & video, theater, music, commercial design and marketing communications. At heart, however, he considers himself a storyteller with the desire to tell reality-based stories with happy hopeful endings. He is currently engaged in a process to create the stories he wants to write about within a business context.

Portfolios ::::: producing ::::: writings ::::: photography ::::: design

December 28, 2006 Posted by | Art, Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Producing, Storytelling | Leave a comment

Synchronicities of the Happily Converging Road

"The Invitation" courtesy of Mattijn Frannsen

Ah, indeed, all roads do converge in the artistic world I have increasingly come to term "thought art," a thoroughly inexpensive alternative to, say, wrapping the Reichstag, or Gating Central Park, requiring not so much as a paint brush or a camera to partake.

Months ago I published the results of
The Happiness Survey and right around the same time I put up a post entitled What is Prospect Theory? actually the post in this little tiny corner of the blogosphere that has received the most number of hits. Little did I know that behind both posts was the mind of one very original "thought artist, Daniel Kahneman (Update: actually the Happiness survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center), a world-reknowned psychologist best known for his groundbreaking work in the fields of behavioral finance and hedonic psychology

According to the Daily Princetonian, in an article from January of 2005:

A national quality of life index based on a new research method may soon supplement indicators like the gross domestic product.

Noble laureate and Wilson School professor
Daniel Kahneman and economist Alan Krueger were part of an
inter-university team that developed the Day Reconstruction Method for
measuring the emotional quality of people’s daily experiences…

According to the article Kahneman holds that "the new approach is necessary for measuring the ‘burden of disease’ that results from the stress of daily life."

Call Kahneman my new hometown hero and rewind the clock back 39 years and change, back to the day my father, then a Princeton Professor of Economics (the youngest ever at the time) received an annoying call from one of his students. "I’d love to talk to you," my father said, "but my wife has gone into labor and I have to take her to the hospital."

"Please, Professor Frank," the brushed off student retorted in distinctly unhappy timbre. If you don’t want to talk to me, then just tell me, but don’t expect me to fall for that!  Do you think I’m stupid!?!"

Or he said something like that. I was there to hear it, but all those contractions my mother was having kind of muffled the voice on the other end of the phone. A few hours later, in quite possibly the fastest pop off to the hospital and pop out to the world ever, I was born at Princeton Hospital at around 8:15pm. The day was Monday, September 4th, 1967: Labor Day, the Summer of Love.

I’ve been trying to get back home ever since, but I took the scenic route. One day, though, I believe I’ll get there. And that’s the point. Belief, right along with hope; it’s a factor of production and I think Professor Kahnemann may know a thing or two we should ALL be listening to…

December 16, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics, Storytelling | 2 Comments

Ah… to Dream and Be Humble

The Recital
Recital” by Mattijn Franssen

I’ve a friend Katie Lee, an installation artist from and living in Tasmania, Australia. She has this concept: Artists work in two stages: Input & Output. Take it in. Churn it out. Take it in. Churn it out. Live and watch, Live and produce, and so on…

For about the past two years I have been in both stages simultaneously, consequence of a lifetime of thinking I was the crazy one for believing that art has value until finally deciding to let go and join the nada surf of the fractal wave. For every word you read online there are probably 20 offline. Let’s not even get into the 10,000 photos, the Boojummy “brand” in the making, Business Artivism Theory, Quantum Social Relativity, 50 Gothamist Interviews, numerous Political Essays and Social Commentary.

Just a few of the highlights, of course. There are also websites, concepts under development, a backlog of a few hundred ideas I have not the time to get on paper. And then there are the blogs and Worldzight and Internet Industry Writings…

So I’m sitting here thinking, penniless and in mega-debt: Is it worth it? I don’t know. It depends, I guess, on how one defines “worth.” At least a few folks I know believe all my output, socially conscious in nature as it may be, and actually not half bad if you’ve half a mind, has been a “waste” without value.

Anyone care to agree or disagree?

Anyone care to define “value”?

It’s a wacky, weird world out there, kids, and I’m starting to think all the poor artists out there should just STOP creating. That would be something, don’t you think? I bet it might get folks thinking a bit. You know, the kind of folks who argue over whether it was Van Gogh or Monet or Gauguin who epitomized the post-impressionist movement as the sit and drink tea and nibble crumpets? Perhaps why Gauguin boated off to Taihiti. Don’t know what Monet’s position was, of course. Well, I mean, except for sitting in his flat painting the Chartres Cathedral over and over and over and over… and over.

As for Van Gogh, hard to say what his position would have been and I’m not sure you would even be able to ask him, at least not from a right brain perspective. He cut off part at least a part of his ear anyway and I can only imagine he did it to symbolically silence himself from all the babble of those who scorned him in life only to idolize him later and pay millions upon millions of dollars for the privilege of owning such laconic works as “The Potato Eaters” and “Starry Night.”

Ah, to dream and be humble. It’s worth a million dollars to buy the paint and worth not a dime to pay the man.

Life’s a bit*h ain’t it? Hail to the lords of commerce!

But I happen to think there is a better way and a better day and it need not look too different from now. We just need to supersize our concept of economy to include the value of heart, hope, courage and care.

October 30, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics | 1 Comment

The Evolving Principles of Business Artivism

Crazy-ons” courtesy of Patrick Lee

formerly known as “The Evolving Principles of Boojummy”

  1. Create win-win scenarios where everyone gets what they need and feels good and no one feels taken advantage of.
  2. Recognize that we can’t just sit on our a$$es and do nothing if we want to have any right to complain about the respective states of our existence
  3. Embrace the ego because if you’re not getting what you need, you’re not going to be able to give others what they need. Accept that altruism and egotism are not incompatible concepts.
  4. It’s OKAY to make money doing something you love. And it sure as hell ought to be okay making money making the world a better place. And it’s okay for those who work harder and contribute more to society to make more, not less, money than others.
  5. Change happens ONE PERSON AT A TIME. It starts with the self and spreads outwards like rippling water. But as the one becomes the few and the few become the many, the waves increasingly intersect and create “nodes” of connection and understanding.
  6. No one person is the be all and end all within the interdependent business artivist system. Some people, however, akin to Malcolm Gladwell’s conception of the connector and the maven, have a greater grasp on big picture issues and that grasp should be respected, but never go unchallenged. The goal of the teacher is to have the student surpass him or her.
  7. Power abhors a vacuum. If humanistically oriented “spirit first” leaders (aka “poets of the possible”) don’t aspire to wield influence, then materially-oriented “money first” leaders will because their rules-based institutional structures are based upon a well-considered rational understanding of human nature that has proven itself successful time and again through recorded history. As such, the “rules of the game” are stacked in their favor because they have past precedent to argue their case. Many people with spiritually-inclined constitutions are co-opted into the “system” simply because there are no other viable alternatives.
  8. We can do just fine by ourselves, but we can do better together than apart. In the increasingly networked world of Intrenet 2.0, collaboration and sharing are to be considered a competitive advantage.
  9. Flexibility and adaptibility are key. Changing opinions and approaches resulting from growth, learning and changing circumstances “on the ground” are never to be considered evidence of a disingenuous initial position. Precisely because of this amorphous nature of the artivist network, the cultivation of permission-based networks centered upon trust, transparency, honesty and openness are key ingredients to business, as well as personal, success.
  10. Business is personal. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The idea that it is not is just a “believeable fiction” we tell ourselves to ease those nagging guilts we feel when we screw others over. As social entrepreneurial and good corporate citizen models suggest, psychic benefit in lieu of monetary gain can provide for increased efficiency and yield superior profits, both psychic and monetary, going forward.
  11. Receive an ounce of kindness? Try to pass on two and it will even out in the end. If you don’t know what I mean, try being the guy who collects the money at the end of a group dinner…
  12. It’s okay to press the back button. Mistakes get made. We only ask good faith and for network participants and/or allies to take immediate ownership and accountability for past error. Mistakes made in good faith are not “evil.” Failure to re-assess past positions upon presentation of new information, or failure to allow for the presentation of new evidence (aka “communication shutdown”), however, will not be passively accepted, but persistently challenged, until a better story that better fits facts can be presented.
  13. Let’s be human beings… There is no room in business artivism for either petty jealousy or preening egoism. Those who succeed are to be considered guides and facilitators for those who helped promote them to success. Gifts of knowledge and/or venture risk capital are to be considered a duty. In return, the giver may reasonably expect a return on investment in the form of monetary or social equity. Returns on investment in the form of physical or emotional equity, however, are to be assiduously avoided whereever possible (you can’t shut off feeling after all…) lest they exploit well known inequalities embedded within the the very structure of unequal power distributions.
  14. Those who create work should benefit from the widespread dissemination of that work. We consider intellectual and creative copyright, especially in the digital age, a moral mandate.
  15. Business artivism is OPT-OUT at any time. If you’re not getting what you need, go someplace where you have a better chance to get it. But you can’t just take it all with you and neglect those who helped you along the way. Well… you can, but don’t expect us to sit still for it. We’ll fight for our own not to get the short end of the stick and even keep the door open for you to come back if and when the time is right.

The aforementioned principles 1 through 15 apply on personal, business and political levels all. And all dialectically feed back and influence the other levels. Personal and political are no less related than quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. Societal norms are simply Newtonian constructions of the mind.

related writings:
:: What is Business Artivism?
:: Steal This Business Concept!
:: Introducing “Trickle Up” Economics
:: What the hell is “boojummy”?

related flickr groups:
:: Business Artivist
:: WorldZight
:: Boojummy

dedicated to my very much still living parents, Charles R. Frank Jr. and Susan Niehaus; to my grandfathers, Charles R. Frank Sr. & Jules Backman; my grandmothers, Mary Frank, Grace Backman, and Lucille Krane-Frank; to my siblings, both imagined and unimagined; and to my step- and spiritual- parents on all the many, many sides of my 21st century family.

July 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philosophy | 2 Comments

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