Skilled wwoofing with purpose

Traveling can be very expensive, but not if you start wwoofing. Acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, this letters have become a name, a verb and even an adjective, indicating an active approach to visiting a country. Not only you work for accommodation, but you also learn a language, learn new skills, get to know locals and make some interesting connections. Worth mentioning also the amazing people you get to know. It’s a win-win situation.

Working for free has its own benefits. Similarly to volunteering, removing money from the equation frees your tasks from those big expectations of normal life and creates a relaxed environment. Of course you need to reach a certain standard, but somehow it’s different. You actually enjoy what you are doing.

I heard about wwoofing from various friends and travel mates, but I haven’t tried it until I reached New Zealand. And while in places like Kawai Purapura Yoga Retreat I was asked to work on unqualified duties like gardening or accommodation setting, I also find a way for a skilled and more rewarding job. This happened at Sacred Earth Retreat, a paradisiac environment on Auckland’s West Coast on a protected hill overlooking a gorgeous volcanic beach. Small and family-run but with a high potential and a long-term project to bring a positive change in troubled souls, it was the perfect organization to help. With my partner and favorite team mate, I offered to promote the place with our professional communication activities. While I interviewed people and wrote a feature, a press release and a fact sheet highlighting the best features of the retreat, he prepared three short promotional videos to help the future customers to dive in the magic of the place. Eventually, in just over two weeks we were able to deliver a rich press kit that they can now use to grow their business.

The idea is to find meaningful activities and help them to grow and reach a wider audience. Share what we like. Promote good changes. Of course all this can’t always be made for free, but every big project needs to be tested somehow, isn’t it?

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Vanlife: Sydney to Melbourne here we are

Rough, intense, fun. A road trip from Sydney to Melbourne, a relocating campervan and two travelers. It’s vanlife.

We had this idea as a joke, and before we could even realize it we were already on the go. What are a thousand kilometers? Hours of left-hand driving across two states, words, music and silence, wind and sun on the chicks, smell of eucalyptus, changing light, clouds that fill the sky of dreams. The landscape runs fast behind the side window with carpets of confused trees, walls of orange rocks, empty towns, prefab cottages with front-yard. It’s Australia, mate.

On paper it would be just over nine hours on the Grand Pacific Drive, close to the ocean. Every year millions of australians ride it, be it for work, for an easy holiday, to join family members and enjoy the warm weather at Christmas. The way from Sydney to Melbourne is the ideal trip to taste the nomad lifestyle of Down Under. Not only it’s the way that links the two major cities of the continent, but it allows to cross an exciting variety of natural parks, rainforests and wild coastline in true aussie style.

A reportage of this trip will soon be published on the Italian travel magazine Latitudeslife. Have a look at the video that my mate Jan H. Stoerkel made real.

 

 

Better advertisement

Talking about positive persuasive messages, I believe it’s fair to recognize when something good is done on the advertisement scene.

When companies use their creativity to combine their marketing goal with a bigger intention to make a social impact, and take action in spreading positive messages all over. The bigger the company, the stronger the message.

For example, I saw this campaign that Nike lately promoted in Sydney, hanging on a big building on a very busy highway. Playing with their slogan “Just do it”, they highlight our tendency to procrastinate hard things like exercising, and transformed it in an invitation to follow our initial plans. It works in line with the free running groups that most of Nike stores lead, encouraging people to go out together and benefit from training, fun and a lot of motivation.

I’m not saying that Nike is the best company in the world – even if it managed to change its reputation, some independent sources suggest that it’s worth being skeptical – but if you want to change things, you also need to recognize when someone do something good. Well done.

Everyday marketing for self-help

“What you feed your mind, will lead your life.” Demi Sogunle

In a society where we are constantly surrounded by media and advertising, we should choose very carefully what we insert in our daily life. Some research on the matter shows that this is a very urgent topic at the moment, especially for parents. Kids start tapping on a screen before they are even able to speak and they use youtube from breakfast time to bedtime. And even we adults use a buffet of devices as extensions of our bodies. With an incredibly growing average of 9 hours per day in the Usa, digital media is the biggest issue to limit.

However, while it is quite common to speak and read about a more conscious media diet, we don’t pay too much attention to our intake of other purpose-driven messages. What about considering the marketing diet?

As we wait for the bus, we walk to work, we shop at the supermarket, we are unconsciously exposed to a lot of persuasive messages. The latest album of a famous singer, a glamour perfume recently released, the perfect body of a model wearing sexy underwear, a well known comedy at the local theatre, a new exhibition at the museum, the special offer on a new ice-cream, a dream holiday location.

Marketing permeates every facet of our lives. Companies try to convince us to buy their products and services. Nonprofit organizations try to promote their causes and encourage donations. Political organizations try to motivate people to vote for their candidates. They all want us to change our mindset and do something.

This exposure has been going on for so long that we don’t even feel it as a threat. We know from media studies such as the Uses and Gratification Theory that we don’t take everything that we receive, we are active interpreters rather than passive consumers, and most of our decisions are made with low involvement (Krugman). But what is the impact that those persuasive inputs have on our brains? What if we start to selectively compose our daily intake of messages?

Like at a happy hour buffet, it would be nice to be able to choose what we want to eat and what we can leave. There will always be the temptation to fill our plate with much more food than we need, but with time and practice we have the chance to learn how to handle it.

As we know from neurological studies and from centuries of oriental tradition, our mind can shape our thoughts and our actions. Most importantly, it can be shaped by our surroundings. People, ideas, places, messages. By changing the nourishment that we give to our brain, we can change our attitude for the better. Starting with words.

Words can shape our mindset and our life. So why not using marketing tools to target our future selves with empowering messages? It can be a simple wish for a good day, a positive thinking affirmation or something focused on a specific goal. It would be great to see people wearing t-shirts and clothes with happy phrases, advertisement panels in the streets with confidence-boosting words, songs that make everyone feel good, objects speaking about an easy, relaxed and confident life. It’s called Subliminal Self-Help.

How does it work? Keys in the process of persuasion are emotions, repetition and association. For example, let’s say we want to start a running routine. We could start with a few motivational post-it stickers waiting for us in the morning as we wake up, reminding us the happy feeling that we have after a run. We can schedule a reminder on our calendar about our daily run. Listen to the same music that we usually listen while we go for a jog. Speak to our friends and family as if this routine was already established. Act like we are runners. If processed every day, these simple tricks will help us to do what we want. Our mind is surprisingly powerful, let’s start pitching ourselves.

“It’s all about reprogramming our minds to focus more on what brings us joy.” Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace