Philosophy and the Modern Marketer

What can we, as modern marketers and advertisers leaning into the 21st century, learn from Ancient philosophy?

We have a lot to learn, according to Industrial Philosopher, Christina DiGiacomo. With 20 years in advertising and 10 years studying Practical Philosophy, she brings a fresh approach from history to solving the many issues that we face today.


[00:00:00] Cristina DiGiacomo: You know, before we start, you know, transcending and elevating it’s like most people are just really trying to get to, like, out of the negatives. And so, that’s what I want people to understand about philosophy is philosophy doesn’t ask a lot from us other than to just do the best we can with what we’ve got. And in a lot of situations like conflict in the workplace or with family, that’s all we need to do. And sometimes being honest with, about that, like, “I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got.” You know, imagine someone saying that to you, how different that conversation would be.

[00:00:54] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture, and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.

[00:01:21] Matt Bailey: Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the Endless Coffee Cup podcast and listeners, I’m excited again. We have another great guest and I have to say when I first met Cristina, it was at, uh, an event and with the, um, oh, I’m drawing a blank now, Cristina.

[00:01:42] Cristina DiGiacomo: It was Facebook Network.

[00:01:44] Matt Bailey: It was, it was the, yes, the network, and as soon as you gave me your title, an Industrial Philosopher, I was hooked. And everyone who listens to this podcast knows that I invoke Aristotle an awful lot. Uh, because when I was in university, we studied Aristotle’s rhetoric for an entire, uh, quarter and, and that just did it for me. And so, to have someone with the title Industrial Philosopher, uh, listeners, just welcome with me, Cristina DiGiacomo. Cristina, could you tell me just a little bit of your background and what it is, what fascinated me is you’ve got marketing and you’ve got philosophy. How did all that come together?

[00:02:26] Cristina DiGiacomo: So, thank you, Matt. I’m so happy to be here and hello to everyone out there listening. And Matt, I got to tell you, Aristotle, he’s a wily one because he also reached out from the ages and hooked me, too. So…

[00:02:46] Matt Bailey: Oh wow.

[00:02:46] Cristina DiGiacomo: …uh, he definitely plays a part in, in my backstory. So, I have spent 20 years in the advertising space working at award-winning ad agencies and also on the client side. Uh, I actually started the brand Strategy Competency at the New York Times. So, I thought that this was my career, and as you understand and probably your listeners understand, the advertising industry is a very intense industry with very, very intense environments and can be difficult. Difficult to maneuver, difficult to grow in, uh, and really just difficult to get through the day, honestly.

[00:03:37] Matt Bailey: Right. Yes.

[00:03:37] Cristina DiGiacomo: Which is, which is really where I found myself about 10 years ago, you know, I was an ad exec and I realized I had no life. I was like, I was like, “What is going on with my life and what am I doing?” And I basically had it, what you would call a, a traditional existential crisis, which was…

[00:04:01] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:04:01] Cristina DiGiacomo: …you know, “What, what the heck am I here to do?” Um, you know, it’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m pixel pushing a 250 by 300 banner ad that’s going to run in like the Southeast of the United States, you know, it really was just one of those.

[00:04:18] Matt Bailey: Right. Yes.

[00:04:19] Cristina DiGiacomo: And I knew I needed something, and I saw information about introductory philosophy courses, and so, I took an intro to philosophy course, and like I said, Aristotle, the second I learned about his idea of the fact that we are all innately wise, it, for me, it was a game changer because I didn’t feel like I was living my life very wisely. But he was saying that even though I wasn’t, may not have been living my life very wisely, I’m still a wise person.

And so, that began a 10-year study and practice and journey with philosophy that ended up helping me cope with these intense environments and ended up helping me thrive in some of these environments that I was working in. And then finally I said goodbye to advertising and decided to make philosophy my vocation.

And so, I have this sort of unique combination of competencies. I have 20 years of real world in the trenches career experience. I have a master’s in organizational change management, so I understand how organizations function, how change happens. And 10 years of study and practice in philosophy, and I combine all three of those into this category I call Industrial Philosophy, which is essentially applying the principles and ideas and concepts of the greatest thinkers of all time to help leaders lead and help create great workplaces.

[00:05:56] Matt Bailey: That is amazing. Absolutely amazing. So, let me ask you this. How is philosophy practical in the workplace? How are you giving it feet? What can you apply from philosophy that is resonating with these leaders that you’re talking to?

[00:06:12] Cristina DiGiacomo: So, I, I have a, sort of little joke where, you know how we used to say or still say, “There’s an app for that,” right? So, there’s a philosophy for that. Any challenge, whether it’s dealing with the territorial colleague or you’re in the middle of an organizational crisis, or you’re having doubt, or you want to take things into a new direction.

Uh, there’s a philosophy for that. And so, what I do is first I myth bust anything about philosophy regarding this idea that it’s just, it’s for smart people only, or it’s, it’s not for everyone and it’s all thinking and no doing. And all of that is just simply not true. And so, how I make philosophy real is I essentially act as a curator. So, with my deep bench of philosophical knowledge, I’ll go into environments or work with someone and understand the things that they want to change or the things that they want to challenge.

And then I go and curate specific philosophies and ideas that are relevant to that challenge or that problem. And then I teach it, and then I show how you actually can apply it and practice it in the day-to-day. And that’s what practical philosophy is. It’s just essentially taking the entire range of philosophical thinking and actually making it real and applicable to help us deal with our day-to-day circumstances.

[00:07:54] Matt Bailey: That is so fascinating. Can you give me an example of how you applied this, and like, as you said, it made your career in advertising better. How did you do that?

[00:08:07] Cristina DiGiacomo: When I was at the New York Times and I wanted to start talking about brand at the New York Times, organization wasn’t really thinking about itself as a brand, period. Uh, if you were to ask any of the leadership or anyone on the news side, they would push the paper to you and say, “That paper, that’s the brand.” Right? So, no one was really talking about brand, but I knew that we really at the time needed to start moving in that direction.

So, I called on my philosophical thinking. I’m like, “How do I approach talking about an instituting a conversation about something that has never been talked about before? There’s no, or, institutional awareness around this idea of brand.” And so, what I did was I thought about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is, it, it is the process of enlightenment.

[00:09:02] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:09:02] Cristina DiGiacomo: And how people go from thinking about what their reality is, and actually ushering them through certain stages to a whole new reality. And that’s exactly how I approach talking about brand. So, I thought about, you know, who would be my audience for this? What are they seeing? What are they thinking? What are their current, um, ideas about brand? And then speaking to that and starting with that, and then over a period of time, just enlightening them a little bit and a little bit along the way.

[00:10:00] It helped me not only come up with a process of how to roll out this competency, but it helped me, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave helped me have the conversations, laddering up all the way to the C-suite around building this out as a department within the organization. And, and that was just one thing I implemented or used.

[00:10:09] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:10:09] Cristina DiGiacomo: And that competency is now a real competency. The Truth Campaign came out of that, which garnered the New York Times another like 3 million digital subscribers that year after that campaign rolled out. So, there was a lot of good that came out of this philosophical approach to starting something new within that organization.

[00:10:30] Matt Bailey: That is fantastic. And listener, if you’ve never explored Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, it is a fascinating, fascinating view of our perception of reality. Uh, and the story is that most people’s reality was only shadows on a cave, uh, because they’d never been outside the cave. And so, it’s, it’s a, a lesson about revealing, learning, uh, being exposed to new ideas. So, I challenge you, go look for something on that. Read it. There’s even a couple of good YouTube videos I might recommend. I’ll put them in the show notes as well.

But Cristina, how, let’s bring this to advertising and marketing. I mean, right now, marketing and advertising probably has one of the lowest trust factors. People don’t trust advertising and marketing. There is so much going on right now about privacy, data breaches, and what’s, you know, now being called surveillance capitalism, that they’re following us around, trying to take all of our data. I mean, how would you speak to that as, you know, you’re a consumer, you’re in the business, and you have this philosophical background. How would you speak to all of that?

[00:11:41] Cristina DiGiacomo: Well, the first thing that I just want to say with regards to the loss of trust, well, I think there’s a cultural context happening. And the cultural context over the past few years is that people are becoming more aware of the forces that are impacting their lives. You know, not only have they become more aware, but they’ve become more engaged in controlling the different forces that are impacting their lives, whether it’s socioeconomic, whether it’s workplace, whether it’s the world of the internet, they’ve become more autonomous in terms of what they choose to consume, what they choose to engage with.

And I believe that in this awareness, people have started to realize that as much as advertising really tries to make that connection, that advertising and the mechanics and the mood with which advertising is served to them is not really about them. And I think a lot of people are like, “I am seeing this ad or I am seeing this message, not for my benefit, but for the benefit of the organization who’s trying to sell me that I should care.”

[00:13:04] Matt Bailey: Right. Right.

[00:13:05] Cristina DiGiacomo: And that erodes trust because, and, and I think that advertising, I mean, has been doing this for decades, and that people are now sort of hip to it. Also, because they’re online all the time. So, they’re constantly seeing ads. They know the tricks. They know the, you know, pain point benefit, pain point benefit sandwich. Like, they get, they understand, you know, it’s a club sandwich.

[00:13:34] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:13:35] Cristina DiGiacomo: It’s a club sandwich…

[00:13:35] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:13:36] Cristina DiGiacomo: …but they, they, they see that all the time. So, it’s, it’s, that’s why you’re getting these diminishing returns. And in terms of, you know, privacy, uh, and all of that, again, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people are really now getting more engaged in their personhood. They’re starting to own their personhood and realizing what it means to not own their personhood. And they’re becoming more educated about that. And so, now it’s becoming a deal breaker for a lot of people when they feel exploited. That’s the thing. That’s what’s happened.

[00:14:15] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. You know, in the business, it’s something I struggle with an awful lot because dealing with a company like Facebook, who is, I, I would go so far as to call Facebook predatory in its acquisition of data and how it manipulates people and, you know, allows a lot of these things to happen.

And from a, a, a philosophical standpoint, you, you know, and that’s one thing about philosophy that is so, one thing that intrigues me is what’s the best thing to do? What is the moral thing? What is it that benefits society? And what I struggle with now is, is recommending Facebook as an advertising vehicle for businesses. That when I’m working with them, I’m, I’m very hesitant to recommend that you use this because I can’t support what they do.

And it’s becoming more difficult day by day to, to justify that. And, and a lot of that is, it, it’s that greater good. It’s, it’s what’s good for society. And, and, and also that, that personal striving for ethics and morality of, “What’s good here?” And sometimes I think, you, you know, from an advertising standpoint, we don’t ask ourselves that. We tend to chase after the new app, the new platform, but we’re not asking, “Well, is it good?” And now, when I’m at, I guess what I’m proposing is a very anti-profit question, uh, or an anti-profit observation. Is that something that you see as well is, is that struggle happening within people?

[00:15:51] Cristina DiGiacomo: Absolutely. I, so, from a business perspective, Facebook is still the predominant engine of growth for a lot of people and for a lot of businesses. So, you have the engine, which is still working and it’s still driving profit, right? But then you have this other side to it, which is, if you look at Facebook’s trajectory as an entity, when Facebook started, it really, truly started as trying to create an extension of our society and an extension of our ability to connect. The inherent ideal of Facebook was really about connection.

And I remember the early days of Facebook. That’s exactly what it felt like. And so, the thing about it is, as it began to grow and evolve, the original principle got lost somehow. So, the principle of connection got lost. It was no longer about the connection between human beings. Became the connecting engine and connection between profit driven organizations and their customers. Now, that’s okay if that’s, you know, the model, but the problem is, is now you have a user base that thinks or believes that they’re using this platform to connect, when in actuality they’re subversively being sold to and commodified.

And so, I understand the conundrum in terms of how do we engage with Facebook now? What are the economic justice issues around Facebook now? What are the societal issues around Facebook now? How do we, how do we put the genie back in the bottle and remind the genie what it was really intended to do? And so, you know, that’s, that’s sort of my commentary on Facebook. I don’t have anything against Facebook because in its purity it was for the good. But Facebook’s trajectory is a spectacular study in the lack of understanding consequences.

[00:18:25] Matt Bailey: That is a fantastic observation. Fantastic observation. Absolutely. Yeah. Not a thought to certain actions or decisions in how they would be perceived. And, and that’s a, you know, that is a very, I, I I’m going to keep going. That’s a very philosophical observation because if it’s one thing I love about philosophy is it asks, I, I would say a “what if,” because especially in a technological society, we’re so focused on, “This is the potential. This is the, the potential good that could be realized if we do this.”

But philosophy also kind of brings this, “Yes, but did you think about this?” And it, and, I, that’s one of the things I absolutely love about philosophy is that it does force this view of consequences or negative results from that, because you’re not just looking at the bright, shiny, happy result. There’s other things that come along with it.

[00:19:25] Cristina DiGiacomo: Absolutely. And even though, you know, I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg thought that he would have to sit in front of a Senate hearing when he started Facebook, but make no mistake, even though it’s been however many years that he has been on this trajectory, who knows where it’s going to go. So, while the lack of really thinking about the consequences may have been apparent in a lot of their business tactics and their business model, there’s still an opportunity to continue to be more thoughtful and deliberative about what happens moving forward.

[00:20:00] Because whether we like it or not, there are these forces that are impacting our lives in a tremendous way and impacting our society in a tremendous way that have the power to either help us reverse course on some of the damage that’s been done or help completely re-imagine a more positive situation for all of us.

[00:20:33] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. That’s, I sat down, I made my kids watch The Social Dilemma and it was eye opening, you know, I think having a father in, in the business, they kind of wave off a lot of what I say and, “Whatever, dad,” you, you know, they don’t like it, that I know a little bit more about them, about all these things, and, and one of my girls even complained. She’s like, “None of the other kids in my class have to deal with this.”

[00:20:57] Cristina DiGiacomo: Oh, I want to meet her. She sounds, she sounds totally feisty. I love it.

[00:21:02] Matt Bailey: Oh, she’s, she’s feisty. That is the word. That is the word. Um, yeah, she was upset. She was like, “None of the other parents, know, know these types of things,” and, you know, and so, yeah, they, they get things locked down, but we watched that Social Dilemma and that’s one of the things that jumped out to me is, you know, when they created all these apps, when they create it, there was this excitement that this is what it could do.

And, and we saw things happen like the, you know, the Arab Spring and, you know, and, and we’re like, “Wow, this is amazing. It’s connecting people from all over.” And then here we are just a short time later, and, and everyone who created these products is now wondering, “What just happened?” It’s been used completely opposite of the way that we intended.

And, and, well, I think barely a few even imagined that it could be used in such a bad way. That was one of the realizations that I took from that, but that is amazing that, yeah, they’re so full of, “This is what it could do,” and kind of missed the, missed that view of, “Well, when people get ahold of it, this is what could happen.”

[00:22:07] Cristina DiGiacomo: Can I just make a comment about that, too, because I also want, I want to give grace to the people of Facebook and everything, because really, I really believe that they had all the best intentions, and I really do believe they had a really good heart about this. It wasn’t people, when it got into the hands of people, I want to extend what you just said, because it wasn’t people like you or me. It was other organizations and entities that exploited the technology for nefarious purposes. And that is something where I feel that’s where Facebook fell really short because they did not see that coming. And even when they did see it coming, they didn’t really react quickly enough.

And, you know, you’ve got these sort of misinformation mills, now, that are, I mean, it’s just unbelievable what’s going on out there, that are just driving a lot of these wedges that we’re experiencing among ourselves as people and politically, economically, you know, rifts in the family because of a little Facebook, you know, Facebook kerfuffle. But at the same time, it’s like, there are, there are forces that, you know, really got ahold of this and, and, and their dominant mindset is, “How can we exploit this in order for profit?” So, and that was not what Facebook had intended. So, I just want to kind of give some grace to Facebook about this.

[00:23:48] Matt Bailey: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of these, a lot of these apps, you know, they all start out with, you know, ideas to change the world or, or change how people communicate with each other, and invariably then, when there’s the promise of advertising, when there’s profit, when there’s, that changes things. It changes everything. Now, you mentioned something about, you, you know, even just we’re divided, uh, divided, you, you know, in a workplace or a family, how can philosophy help us to improve those relationships where there might be some division? How, how can we, you know, as, as philosophy kind of teaches us, how can we be better people?

[00:24:27] Cristina DiGiacomo: There’s so much guidance around being a wise person, uh, which is really the kind of person that you want stepping into a family rift, um, or a workplace conflict. But essentially, there’s two things that are coming up for me.

One is the idea of, you know, we are really all connected, right? There’s no separation. And when we’re talking about the idea of non-duality, which is a weighted notion, you and I may have a different form, you and I may have a different, different set of circumstances or a different upbringing, but our essential nature, who we really truly are, is very much connected and very much the same. And so, when you can enter into a situation, whether it’s a…

[00:25:20] Matt Bailey: Yes.

[00:25:20] Cristina DiGiacomo: …a difficult conversation or it’s, you know, trying to rectify a conflict, either in the family dynamic or a new, in a workplace dynamic, if you can sit across from that other person and somehow tap into the idea that they are you, and you are them, it completely minimizes the differences. It minimizes this idea of conflict. And if you can look at them as if for the first time, this is a practice.

You know, you’ve been working with someone for a really long time. You’re having a tussle about something, but when you sit down and you look at them and you interact with them as if you’re meeting them for the first time, there’s a sense of curiosity and inquiry and wonder that you bring into that dynamic, which actually helps to dissipate any tense feelings or any feelings, you know, because you then, you’re then in the mode of asking questions, as opposed to blaming or finger pointing or, you know, having to have that tough conversation.

So, so there’s that. And in addition, the other thing is I think about the fact that philosophy really wants us to just do the best we can with what we’ve got. You know, that’s all it’s asking us to do. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. But a lot of times, either we don’t know what we’ve got, and even if we do know what we’ve got, we’re certainly not making the best of it. We’re not doing the best we can with it.

So, it’s almost kind of like we have to even just get to baseline before, you know, before we start, you know, transcending and elevating. It’s like most people are just really trying to get to, to, like out of the negatives. Out of the negatives to zero. And so, that’s what I want people to understand about philosophy is philosophy doesn’t ask a lot from us other than to just do the best we can with what we’ve got. And in a lot of situations like conflict in the workplace or with family, that’s all we need to do. And sometimes being honest with, about that. Like, “I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got.” You know, imagine someone saying that to you, how different that conversation would be.

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[00:29:58] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. It, it, it reminds me of the, the Dao De Jing and the metaphor of water, of, of being compliant, of, of filling the space that’s available and not being so rigid and hard and immovable. But kind of just, just flow with things, man. Just, just flow with the Dao and, and, and just take it in, and, and I love that idea of if, we’re all trying to figure out everything. We’re all trying to figure out our place here, and we’re going to come to different conclusions based on what we’ve seen, our back-, you know, how we’ve grown up.

[00:30:00] I mean, that was one thing that there was an event in my life where I went and served in the army. I was a medic in the army, and I was paired with, funny enough, someone who grew up in the exact same city as me. Now, he grew up and, and we, it’s just so funny. So, we’re medics, and, and if you don’t know, if you’re, in the army if you’re a medic, basically what that means is you sit in an ambulance at a range for 10 hours a day. Uh, you got nothing else to do but talk. This was before we had phones.

He lived probably 15 miles from where I grew up, but he had a completely different upbringing. Completely different. And, and those hours, those months that we spent talking, just learning about one another, we had nothing else to do, but it was so powerful in making me realize that, okay, this world that I’ve built, that I understand, that, that I hold these things so closely, it was more and more, I’m letting them go. It’s not the, the upbringing everybody had. It’s not the experience everybody had. And it really helped just to, to let go…

[00:31:42] Cristina DiGiacomo: Yeah.

[00:31:42] Matt Bailey: …and understand that there’s a lot I don’t know outside of that. That was, I hadn’t even thought of that until you started talking about that, it was just like, “Wow,” because that was, we learned the most about each other. We couldn’t have been too different. It’s so different, and yet, that experience, uh, changed me for life, and, and it was really, uh, an amazing experience.

[00:32:04] Cristina DiGiacomo: See now, now you can call to mind this experience because this experience is now in you.

[00:32:10] Matt Bailey: Absolutely.

[00:32:11] Cristina DiGiacomo: It’s, it’s in your memory, it’s in your body, and you can, you can bring this to mind any time you are in that sort of situation of a, of a getting to know you situation. And I also don’t think that we talk to each other enough. We talk at each other a lot. You talk at each other a lot, but I don’t, I don’t think we talk to or with each other enough.

[00:32:35] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. You said something earlier and I, and I want to come back to that. Asking questions. Actually, I just had a podcast about this, where it was all about how to ask questions, but this is where you’re going as well, is, is that asking questions to, and, and of course we, you know, we can’t talk about that without talking about Socrates and the Socratic method of, of defining things, asking things, and because, I mean, you read Socrates.

He’s not teaching, he’s not, in, in the way that we think of a teacher. He is drawing people to discover for themselves through their own, through these questions, and I, I just want to come back to that is, is how can we ask better questions? What does philosophy teach us about that?

[00:33:19] Cristina DiGiacomo: So, the first thing that comes to mind is to always note the basis of your questions and what Socrates did so brilliantly was his only point of view around a question was that it is a question that is meant to get to the essential nature of that thing. It served no other purpose other than to enable the discovery of the truth about that topic, situation, or that person.

So, when we think about asking questions, you know, a lot of times we ask questions because, you know, the, the questions are self-serving or the questions are meant to show a dominant position in the conversational dynamic, or, you know, the question is meant to provoke maybe perhaps in a passive aggressive nature.

Those are not real questions. There is only one role of the most pure and, and important questions that we should be asking, which is to discover the truth or discover the essential nature of something. And that’s why Socrates was so brilliant. The way his, the dialogues is, you would go on a journey with these questions. There was no rush.

[00:34:49] Matt Bailey: Right. No.

[00:34:50] Cristina DiGiacomo: There was no, it, it was, it was a journey. It was almost kind of like a circular kind of labyrinth that he took you through that eventually, you know, got you to a pure place. That was what was so brilliant.

[00:35:05] Matt Bailey: Absolutely, and I, you know, my first thought was in a corporate culture, we don’t have time for that. And I think that’s why we spin our wheels in a lot of campaigns or in a lot of activities, is we’re not taking that time to ask and discover those essential questions and, and, and get an answer, and, and be willing to, you know, reduce things down to their basic elements.

And, and one thing that, that I thought was fascinating about Socrates is he makes people define things of, you know, particular words where there might be a, you know, an adjective or, “What do you mean by that?” and, and “Qualify this,” and, and, and in that journey, in that self-discovery is, is they’re defining more clearly what it is, so in defining, they’re leading themselves to a better answer. And, and really what he’s enabling them is to ask a better question. Uh, and, and so I find that so fascinating, but yeah, absolutely, it’s, we’ve got to have the time to, to ask these questions, otherwise, we’ll never reach the end.

[00:36:08] Cristina DiGiacomo: I have this expression, “The team that questions together stays together.”

[00:36:13] Matt Bailey: I love it.

[00:36:14] Cristina DiGiacomo: And if you think about, you know, questions, good questions, a good culture of inquiry, which I think every organization really needs to figure out what that is for them, and that’s one of the things that I try to do is to emphasize creating a culture of inquiry. But questions spark insight, insight spark thoughts, thoughts spark actions, but it all drills down to the quality of the questions and the freedom to inquire and the process of getting to the nature of things and the heart of the matter.

And so, if you’re an organization that doesn’t value asking questions, no wonder it’s a sort of reactive culture, and we all know how reactive cultures perform. They don’t perform well in the marketplace, and they have a hard time with retention, employee retention, and they’re, you know, not very innovative.

[00:37:19] Matt Bailey: Right. Absolutely. Yeah, they, they tend to be the organizations that are looking at what everybody else is doing and trying to mimic or duplicate it and, and maybe see the same success. And, and again, it kind of comes back, they’re not adaptive. They’re, they’re rigid in trying to duplicate something rather than, “How do we adapt this? How do we accomplish this?”

And I, I firmly agree with the culture of inquiry. I, I do a lot of corporate training and my goodness, it doesn’t take long before you can see what type of organization you are training because of the freedom of asking questions and how people ask those questions. You can very quickly determine that culture and what they encourage or discourage by 20 minutes into the training, just how people are asking questions. Uh, it, it’s very, very obvious. And when you don’t have that freedom, it does inhibit creativity, uh, and inhibits, uh, I, I think a, it inhibits people from feeling fulfilled in what they do.

[00:38:23] Cristina DiGiacomo: And it’s also not very inclusive either.

[00:38:25] Matt Bailey: No, absolutely. You nailed that. I’ve, I’ve seen that as well. I mean, let’s, let’s kind of pull this around. How can we make marketing better? I mean, let, let’s, how do we make, how do we make marketing, advertising better by, by, you know, bringing in some of these practices or, or maybe these views? I, I’ve done this a couple of times in the podcast. Whenever I bring up the issue of ethics, people get a little squeamish, but I’m like, is there a place for ethics in marketing and advertising, and if so, where is it?

[00:38:55] Cristina DiGiacomo: Okay, so the way I’m going to answer that is actually I’m going to talk about Plato. Plato wrote the laws, which was his attempt at laying down the blueprint, a very expansive blueprint of the ideal society. His main protagonist or character or the person that he was trying to influence with the laws was someone that he called them the lawgiver.

[00:39:27] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:39:28] Cristina DiGiacomo: We can look at the lawgiver as like a leader or someone who is of influence and so on. So, let’s take what he had to say about the main attitude that a lawgiver must have towards their people. And he spoke a lot about having reverence.

[00:39:52] Matt Bailey: Wow.

[00:39:53] Cristina DiGiacomo: That a lawgiver must have a reverence. Not only a reverence for their people, but also teach how to have reverence for each other. And this is coming up for me, not only because it’s one of my favorite ideas from Plato and also so unbelievably applicable in a gazillion different contexts…

[00:40:00] Matt Bailey: Oh my, yes.

[00:40:21] Cristina DiGiacomo: But the way I apply this in the marketing realm is you’re a marketer, so if you’re a marketer, you have an extraordinary amount of influence and power over the people that you are trying to reach. So, you can almost look at the marketer as like the lawgiver in this model, in this case. And the guidance from Plato would be for the marketer to have reverence for their customer, meaning the marketer has to be deferential in some way to the customer.

That can take the form or manifest in so many different activities from the marketing and advertising perspective, but it really amounts to respect, care, concern, rolling up your sleeves and being in with that society or, or the people that you serve, being of service.

So, I think that having a reverence as a mindset when you’re approaching marketing or you’re approaching advertising is very different than, “What’s the insight? What’s the insight about this customer? What’s their demographic? What’s their, you know, what are their behaviors? What’s their media consumption?” Where, where it becomes a bunch of labels as opposed, you know, these sort of indicators and, you know, things that surround that person, as opposed to seeing that person in a reverential way and seeing them as a human being. And so, that would be my commentary on ethical marketing.

[00:42:14] Matt Bailey: That is powerful. I mean, that, that would transform so much. I mean, if there’s one word I could, I could, you know, talk about my observation of society as a whole right now, it would, it would be irreverence, you know, irreverence toward each other, irreverence towards leaders, irreverence, and then a lot of that is because corporations, politicians, they have not been reverent to us, uh, or to others.

And, you know, especially, you know, regardless of, of how you view the political landscape, irreverent has been the, the, the word for the past couple of years. Uh, there’s no other word I could say it, but how powerful is that, when you view your customer as someone who is to be valued, not for what they have in their pocket, but for how you want to treat them and, and your end goal for them.

Your, uh, you know, we’re coming, we’re coming right back. Their happiness. We’re coming back to Aristotle. Happiness. People want to be happy and, and that’s, that’s their end goal, and they’re going to try and figure it out, and, and as an advertiser, as a marketer, I want you to be happy. Uh, and, and rather than focusing on, you know, how much they’re spending, Cristina, that is just an, a powerful, amazing observation. Thank you very much for that.

[00:43:33] Cristina DiGiacomo: Thank you.

[00:43:34] Matt Bailey: Hey, I, we’re uh, kind of the last moments here. I really want to thank you for your time today and coming on. Uh, I want to give you a chance to plug your book, “Wise Up! At Work.” Uh, so if you could tell us a little bit about that and also how people can find you if they have more questions.

[00:43:50] Cristina DiGiacomo: Sure. So, I’m on LinkedIn, and I love LinkedIn so please just connect with me on LinkedIn. Uh, you can also go to my website,, M O R A L C H E M,

[00:44:05] Matt Bailey: I love that.

[00:44:06] Cristina DiGiacomo: And, uh, “Wise Up! At Work” is a book that I wrote that is really a primer for how to use philosophy in the workplace. And so, if you’re a manager or department head, leader, CEO, HR person, this is a really great start for you to see how, not only are we innately wise, but also that wisdom and practicing it and, uh, using it is a skill. And I believe that it’s the ultimate skill.

So, you know, all of the soft skills that we, adaptability, EQ, you know, collaboration, creativity, all ladders up to being a wise person. And so, instead of maybe studying 50 different soft skills, just study one, which is becoming wise. And so, this book is really the beginning of how to teach you how to do that, uh, with, uh, CEOs that I’ve worked with, who have worked with me, um, who share their stories of having their wise moments. I’m really proud of this book, and it was a number one bestseller in modern philosophy and a best seller in management skills. So, you know, “Wise Up! At Work: Manage With Calm, Navigate Obstacles, and Lead The Way.”

[00:45:34] Matt Bailey: Well, thank you, Cristina. I will put all of that, uh, the link to your LinkedIn, as well as the link to the book and your website in our show notes here. Thank you again for your time today. This has been a, such a fascinating conversation.

[00:45:46] Cristina DiGiacomo: I enjoyed talking to you, Matt, and have a nice day everybody out there.

[00:45:51] Matt Bailey: Alright. Hey, thanks again, listener. I appreciate your time tuning in to another edition of the Endless Coffee Cup. Please take a chance, let us know what you thought about the episode, give us a review, uh, and especially if you’d like to know a little bit more about Cristina, please contact her, connect with her on LinkedIn, uh, let her know you heard her on the show. And, uh, again, look forward to have another coffee with you on the Endless Coffee Cup.