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As the Pendulum Swings

Marketing guru and bestselling author Roy Williams teaches that a generation has forty years of staying power, continually swinging America’s social mindset back and forth on an eighty year pendulum. Starting at six o’ clock, we move deep into a do-your- own-thing, idealistic mentality for twenty years until we start gagging on our own hype and pretense (insert Neil Diamond lyrics here), at which point we spend the next twenty years swinging back to where we started.

But the pendulum doesn’t stop there. Fueled by the new generation’s disgust of their parents’ pie-in-the-sky optimism, the momentum of this corrective swing carries it out twenty years further to a point of extreme civic-mindedness. And then we begin to tire of our practicality and togetherness and spend the next twenty years petering out again, only to find ourselves right back where we began.

Twenty years of increasing idealism followed by twenty years of decreasing idealism. Twenty years of increasing civic-mindedness followed by twenty years of decreasing civic mindedness. Eighty years total, as the pendulum swings.

Williams believes 2008 to be the final year of the current “civic” transition. Which means from a business perspective, talk has never been cheaper than it is today. Now, more than ever before, is the time to do something. No matter what industry you’re in, you need to show your customers – whoever they may be – that you deserve their business. You must prove yourself worthy if you’re going to survive.

If you don’t, all your civic-minded brethren have to do is punch a couple keystrokes and the blog on you is out. You’ll be stricken with an illness so viral that there is no remedy. Look around you. Everybody’s connected. Access to information is going up. Meanwhile, the economists tell us that access to money is going down.

This combination can’t be good for relational-oriented businesses that have pumped up their price tags with inflated promises of selection and service. Yesterday’s impractical idealist is today’s pragmatic realist—which means selection and service have taken a back seat to quality and price. You must offer value by delivering what you say you stand for. Do that and you’ll stay in step with the public mindset. Because if Mr. Williams is right, it’s a mindset that could last for another forty years. And if Mr. Williams is right, then you’ve got a head start on how to market and promote your books, and maybe even what to write about for the next forty years.

By the way, if you were going to take a forty-year journey and could only take five marketing books with you, what would they be?

Questions about how to survive in a civic generation may be directed to Michael R. Drew at the Austin, Texas, headquarters of Promote A Book : 512-858-0040. You can also contact Michael via email at

Tags: beneath the cover, business perspective, civic-mindedness, corrective swing, decreasing idealism, everybody's connected, idealism, increasing idealism, mindset, pendulum, pendulum swings, social mindset, talk has never been cheaper

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  • Stephen Palmer

    Which 5 marketing books for me?

    Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath
    Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin
    Influence by Robert Cialdini
    Piranha Marketing by Joe Polish & Tim Paulson (yeah, I know it’s audio, but hey, we live in a digital age)
    The Wizard of Ads by Roy Williams