Monthly Archives: November 2016

Moving Forward with Integrity

Photo by Alina Semenovich

When I spoke with Evan Morse, a millennial living and working in Brattleboro, he shared with me that he has a bad taste for money and the pursuit of wealth. My conversations with local millennials are starting to inform a sense that this generation gravitates towards brands and businesses that prioritize the well-being of their employees, leaning towards smaller businesses producing a consistent product.

“I really don’t like the mistreatment of lower-level employees. The concept of administration dumping all the crap work onto lower paid employees is unethical. If a business structure has someone at the top getting paid more—they should still be elbow deep in everything.”

My conversation with Evan got me thinking about integrity. It’s a tricky little word—a value more than an idea. Have you ever had someone tell you to “Just be yourself?” The “just” implies that it is an easy task. I don’t know about you but it’s not always easy for me. I have my moments when I slay, but it takes werk. That’s not a typo—werk is way more intense than work. My thought is that the challenge in it involves maintaining integrity. How can we have a sense of self so deeply rooted that it resonates across all our words, actions, and interactions? And can that presence pass the test of time?

Falyn defines personal integrity as: “Making sure that the decisions you make, the way you act in the world, the things and people you choose to engage with are all aligned with your beliefs. A way of operating within your life, where your head, heart and gut are in alignment.”

We aim to hold ourselves responsible to maintain this sense of self within the freedom to choose our own values and beliefs, knowing they may be, and likely will be, challenged in the world. Businesses are asked to do the same thing but within the context of an organization made up of many people with many beliefs working to serve an, often, even larger audience with their own respective beliefs.

It is a challenge, for sure, to find balance and even harder to be consistent in this effort. An enterprise’s success can hinge on its level of business integrity. Joe puts it plainly: “At this point, the ability to effectively call out any organization is ubiquitous and immediate. Business integrity used to be a choice, now it’s a requirement. People will make you pay for your s#@%.” The world is watching and their expectations are high—not only pertaining to the goods or services you sell but YOU. Who you are fundamentally and what you believe about the world and the people in it now serves as a strong sway for the newest crop of consumers.

As a part of our process, we want to understand what integrity means to you and your business or organization. One of Carrie’s missions in her leadership at New Ground Creative is to “create brands that truly reflect your business and personality. This brings you freedom and energy. Integrity plays a huge part in retaining loyalty and if your marketing is driven by honesty and sincerity it will create mutual value for your audience.” We are here for you and we invite you to propel your business forward through introspection. This process takes time. Like boiling sap into maple syrup—patience and a commitment to the process results in something valuable and sweet.

Photo by Alina Semenovich.


At New Ground Creative, we value taking the time to get to know our clients as well as reflect back to them our observations from outside. We don’t pretend to know them better than they know themselves but we can assist in their process of self-reflection. Same goes for the audiences we, and our clients, serve. Giving these individuals a voice—an opportunity to express themselves—offers valuable information and insights to any business. For the audience, customer, or consumer—it feels good to be heard and that’s a great start to any relationship.

So let’s listen up.

Respectful, mutually beneficial relationships. Sounds wonderful, right? Alex Fischer, local millennial, prioritizes the bulk of their life choices around maintaining healthy relationships, especially when money is involved. They spend some of their hard-earned money on locally grown, organic food and they also trade working hours. Their money goes to people they know and the local economy. Alex enjoys being a part of an exchange that benefits all involved equally, i.e. the farmer needs money or help to keep farming and Alex needs food to stay healthy and nourished.


Alex at their desk at the ROOT Social Justice Center in Brattleboro. Photo by Biz Hallett.

Alex Fischer is a co-founding collective member of the ROOT Social Justice Center in Brattleboro, a collectively-run community space fostering social justice organizing and focusing on racial justice work that empowers and lifts up the voices of people of color. Alex also owns a business, Open Bookkeeping, offering professional bookkeeping, education & workshops, holistic business consulting and other financial services to justice-based businesses and organizations. Alex describes their business as “an endeavor at the intersection of finance and social justice.”fischer3_62

“Security for me involves the ability to be giving a lot back.”

A sense of security starts with a sense of place and home for Alex. Buying property with others stands at the top of Alex’s 5-year goals which, in turn, serves as the foundation for a 10-year goal of fostering queer and trans youth, along with having a dog… or 5. Alex plans to maintain an income that allows them to pay a mortgage as well as maintain daily living expenses. It is also their intention to save, perhaps by way of a retirement account with their local credit union, so that they can plan for the future and afford to be generous with their money.
Taking steps to create the life you want, making difficult choices and recognizing that no one else is going to take action for you is the real truth of “adulting.” Whether you are a millennial or not, remember that transition into adulthood? It’s a challenging one and sometimes requires incentive and rewards to be executed with success. This difficulty is not the result of laziness but has more to do with the fact that it just sort of happens… all of a sudden… out of nowhere.

“I was younger and it was all Yay! Party time!—making friends—doing ridiculous things—having adventures. Now it’s like—making family and having babies and building careers and buying homes and I’m totally down with it—it’s just fielding the expectations while trying to stay true to myself and my ability to decide what matters to me.”

Want to crack the mystery of millennials? I think their desire to be who they are and wield the strength to decide for themselves what matters is a part of it. This generation has brought about an entirely different approach to marketing and brand. Not only are the approaches largely digital now, but the idea that you can persuade someone to buy what you have to sell is gone. Time to believe in the customer first. Understand what they need. And then follow through by offering what you think they could use in the context of a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship. It all starts with listening.

Stay tuned for our next blog post! We will explore integrity in marketing and get to know local millennial, Evan Morse.

Also be sure to check out Biz’s new website to read the full stories of millennials living and working in and around Brattleboro.