Refuge in the Echo Chamber

If Dan Pallotta is in the habit of googling himself, maybe this post will one day alert him to the fact that he has inspired a celebrity crush on behalf of at least one vaguely balding 30-something in central Canada. It’s funny how, as a kid, the idea of being starstruck is typically associated with an athlete or entertainment figure. These days, I tend to feel that sort of reverence more for those whose worldview I admire, and who’ve had success in living it out.

Before you ask, though: no, I don’t have a Dan Pallotta poster on my wall… yet.

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Bell, let’s talk.

Dear Bell,

How you holdin’ up? Busy day yesterday, huh?

That’s a tidy sum that you raised for a very worthy cause…$6.5M – not too shabby. And arguably more important than the money is, of course, the fact that you got so many people talking about mental-health issues for a day. Only those living under a rock – or, you know, not in Canada – would have gotten through their January 25th without hearing your signature phrase. In the face of an adversary whose biggest hurdle may be the stigma associated with it, that’s a pretty great thing by most measures.

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The Great Enabler

It’s 1:31AM on a Wednesday. You’re covered in Cheeto dust, eyes a-glaze from binge-watching your last 6 recorded episodes of TLC’s My Overweight Neighbor. Just as you’re about to (finally) shut off the TV in favor of a past-due bedtime, the opening lines of an infomercial hook you:

Friends, have I got a deal for you! I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will allow you to worry less and enjoy more. To never again struggle to make ends meet. To achieve a degree of economic and – heck – overall freedom that you never thought possible. To be…happier.

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A word about unscrupulous salespeople.


One of the unintended consequences of capitalism is that it tends to invite people to do everything in their power to make a profit, including things that may have harmful consequences for society and/or the consumer. Enter, then, regulation and laws to put limits on what industry is allowed to do for a buck – but those things only extend so far. There remains a whole swath of the world of private enterprise, near the extremities of what’s allowable by law, whose activities are legal but morally dubious. These areas tend to be the stuff of journalistic exposé, consumer-advocacy groups and the like.

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No, but really…


There’s that question again. And why shouldn’t it persist? For as long as my new company (non-profit in a for-profit world) exists into the future, perhaps the only thing that’s certain is that it will be the object of such curiosity. Why willingly forego the potential for significant financial gain? Why consume less when you can consume more? Why not take the middle ground: build a more conventional business that – sure, if it floats your boat – gives to charity, but also allows for the accumulation of economic value that can one day be converted into sweet, sweet cash?

What’s the catch?

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For some reason, until the last few months, I went the entirety of my life to date without understanding the true nature of irony. I mean, most of us get the basic gist of the concept from right around whatever age we begin to develop the capacity for non-literal interpretation of the world. And in that initial aha of grasping the significance of the firetruck on fire, I suspect that there’s an equally significant haha moment: we are all somehow hardwired to find humor in irony. (I state that as fact, where I should undoubtedly be offering it up only as speculation. But I figure that as long as I’m commenting on things that I have absolutely zero authority to comment on, I might as well go all in…)

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