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Sometimes you just know you’re at the right place, at exactly the right time. You feel that a shimmering energy dips its pen in red ink, and writes history. You’re witnessing an event that will shift the status quo. That will cut the universe in a before and an after.

When the charismatic Roy Spence, co-Founder of GSD&M, CEO of the Purpose Institute and Advertising Hall of Famer, kicked of the second day of SXSW, you could feel the pressure rise.

Spence, a born storyteller, created an advertising and media agency in Austin, Texas. It was 1971, and he and three of his friends financed it with a bank loan of 5000 dollars. The money has been paid back ages ago, the four are still together, the company (GSD&M) a stellar example of success. Roy signs every document, every letter with the words, “We Ride at Dawn.” An energetic manifesto to go live life: early, fully and on the edge.

SWA, PGA, The United States (I am an American), Wal-Mart, John Deere, BMW, The State of Texas (Don’t mess with Texas!), The American Airforce… GSD&M proves to be a lean mean marketing, advertising and idea machine. By donating time, and its crew volunteering its talent, GSD&M  shows to have the heart at the right place, helping people with Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Baton Rouge.

The enemy is on the inside

The one-liners come easy to Roy Spence, clever earworms that stick to your mind like glue: “The purpose of life is doing good, and being happy. If you have a purpose in life beyond making money, you’ll make more. Don’t spend a second of your life being average at what you suck at. Go there where you excel”.

You could feel he was just warming up. “Us versus them communication never works”, he claimed: “there are no ‘them’i n this, there is just US.  We should resist being played out against each other. There is no ‘other’. There is just us. The enemy is already on the inside. We lost hope.”

America, we have a problem

America, we have a problem”, Spence continued: “The destructive political forces on all sides are bombarding the American people and perpetrating a US vs. THEM massive cultural divide. In today’s world, politics and power are the great dividers while Purpose is the great uniter.”

The Promiseland Project

He barely catched his breath, and lobbed an intellectual grenade in the audience: “The Promiseland Project is on a mission to help bridge the cultural divide with Purpose not Politics,” Spence announced:  “The Promiseland Project is a long-term marketing and grassroots campaign crafted to unleash the power of Purpose to help bridge the cultural divide in America. We will use the power of positive, non-partisan, solutions-driven and purpose-inspired marketing to build that bridge. Comprised of a diverse group of business and purpose-driven leaders, we strongly believe that America needs a new, inspiring and authentic message and roadmap that seeks a common ground and takes US to a higher ground. So we can become the best US in the USA,” Spence concluded.

To prove that the campaign is strongly supported by notable business leaders, civic leaders, iconic individuals, corporations and associations, actor Matthew McConaughey casually jumped on stage to pledge his support. The audience, still trying to figure out what just happened went bananas.

10 golden rules

Spence presented flawlessly 10 clear golden rules that will drive the movement:

  1. Purpose, not politics
  2. All work has dignity
  3. Many paths to success
  4. Let talent shine through
  5. Calling all entrepreneurs
  6. Stand tall for small
  7. Serve our Veterans well
  8. Health is everything
  9. Cities: the engines of new ideas
  10. E Pluribus Unum

A New Hope and En Marche!

And then magic happened. The stardust ignited. The room exploded. A public went into standing ovation. Eyes were sparkling, people hugged each other. The energy was palpable. Did a media tycoon just slung his Texan gun from the stage, squarely challenging Trump? Did Spence just launch one of America’s best marketing and media machines against what he called “The Big Divider”?

Something big happened. Palpable. Deep. Mood changing. Earth scattering energizing.

Is this how revolutions are crafted?

In the eyes of thousands of people I saw what I felt deep inside: hope.



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