At MAKT, we want to do business, but not business as usual.
We love marketing. We love the creative process. We love business and economic strategy. But we do not love how the majority of businesses in the American economy operate. We don’t love how it affects consumers or how it affects workers. We don’t love how it has created a grossly inequitable income gap, disenfranchised minorities, saturated the media with nonsense and accrued the majority of capital and power for the precious few. We don’t love how greed and corruption and a dysfunctional economic system tanked the economy in 2008 and wiped out everyone’s 401K’s. We definitely don’t love that it could all happen again on an infinitely downward cyclical basis unless action is taken. This is the story of how a small group of individuals are coming together to take action.
This is the story of MAKT.
What is MAKT?
MAKT means “power” in Swedish. When most people think of the word “currency,” they think of money. That might be true for the economy, but for society, we believe that the true currency is power: the ability to do something or act in a particular way. The power to live happily. The power to effect positive change on one’s community. The power to grow and help others grow. MAKT speaks to our broad vision, not just as a company, but as members of the human race.
Everyone already has some MAKT. We have some power over the little things: what we say, what we do, what we wear, what we consume, where we go, with whom we associate, etc. Our spheres of influence may seem small, but when we act, the universe reacts. The bigger the action, the greater the reaction.
At MAKT, we figure that by amassing our personal power, our actions become more meaningful and our sphere of influence will grow. Hence, the worker-owned cooperative business model. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The more parts, the greater the whole. There is power in numbers, and we believe that when individuals come together, change can happen. That’s our goal.
OK, but down to brass tacks. What is MAKT?
MAKT provides marketing and creative services provide businesses with strategies and solutions that help them to grow and thrive with a heavy focus on social responsibility. This sounds like a contradiction in terms: isn’t one about Capitalism and the other about Socialism? Well, we’re not taking sides. We believe there are pragmatic solutions to the problem of how to appropriately respond to today’s global woes while increasing the scope, power and/or profitability of an entity.
In fact, in the 21st century landscape, we think that we will see these two goals not only ceasing to be mutually exclusive, but trending towards becoming more interdependent on each other. As today’s consumer grows more savvy, more global, more digital and more social, they are demanding more and more that businesses be transparent, responsible and human-centric, both socially and financially. Through creative communication and marketing strategy that is mindful of these qualities, MAKT helps businesses, organizations, non-profits and individuals get there.
Why is MAKT?
Marketing has such a bad rep: it’s slimy, it’s false, it’s manipulative, it’s calculated and just…yucky. Sure, it has that capacity. Recently, I spoke to an award-winning marketer who was struggling over how to brand the product launch of an extremely well-known car manufacturer. This guy has done super bowl commercials – he’s been around the marketing block. So I asked him to tell me in three words what makes THIS car so awesome that people will just fall over themselves to buy one. His answer? He didn’t have one. Whoopsies.
He came up with a branding campaign that fit the budget, looked great and probably even worked and moved product. But did it actually legitimately and authentically inform the consumer about the car itself? Did it tell people how buying this car would truly benefit their lives and their communities? Nope. To us, that is bad marketing. And we don’t do it that way.
Well, you ask, what happens if the car doesn’t truly benefit people’s lives or communities? What if it’s hazardous, environmentally unsound and/or over-priced in an effort to falsely increase the buyer’s sense of stature? We’ll say, “Change that.” And they’ll say, “Are you crazy??” And we’ll say. “No, and give us a call when you’re not either.” Bold? Yup. Dangerous? Sure. Stupid, even? Possibly. Powerful? Absolutely.
Remember, our goal is to change the way business is done and we believe that that fundamentally begins with a completely new approach to business and marketing. It shouldn’t be about talking to; it should be about talking with. It shouldn’t be about benefitting me; it should be about benefitting us. It shouldn’t be about calculated lies and manipulation; it should be about the truth, from top to bottom, inside and out.
And to show em how it’s done, we’re starting with ourselves.
Who is MAKT?
Based in San Francisco, MAKT currently consists of three individuals, all of whom arrived independently at the worker-owned cooperative business model after suffering both the disheartening world of working for someone else and the barely survivable world of self-employment. Both scenarios yielded little more than being overworked and underpaid. And from our collective experience in the working world, it seems like that’s the norm for just about everybody, save the privileged few at the top.
Particularly in San Francisco, this reality has manifested into a major crisis of affordable housing because the few with the privilege are driving up rents and housing costs like nobody’s business. Meanwhile, everybody else struggles to either hang on to the property they’ve got, or search endlessly for somewhere, anywhere, to live that they can afford based on their income. For the three of us, neither working for someone else, nor working for ourselves was cutting it. Enter the worker-owned cooperative and a new opportunity to turn things around for ourselves and hopefully many others.
Our skills and background vary as much as they overlap, and currently each of us are wearing many different hats, but we’re OK with that, because we believe in what we’re doing. We’ve been thrilled at the amount of interest MAKT has received from other individuals who are interested in getting involved and contributing their time and skill sets and we believe that our numbers will continue to grow as MAKT grows. At this time, we’re unable to offer money to prospective new members (including ourselves), but as MAKT is still very much a malleable animal in the making, we can certainly promise the true currency: power.
How is MAKT going to do all of this?
The short answer to that question is: we’re not completely sure yet. We’re still very new as an entity and although we’ve already learned quite a bit, we still have a ways to go. We’re depending on the passion of our members and the strength of our vision to push us forward over the hurdles that will continually present themselves and to keep going.
Semantically, we’ve adopted a strategy of simultaneous design and implementation, i.e. winging it while we develop it. There are so many twists and turns that we can’t possibly anticipate that it doesn’t seem to make sense to paint ourselves into a bad corner by over-deciding things. As we move forward, decisions get made organically in the way that makes sense for right now as well as for our ultimate vision of what we want to be. We’ve heard all the cautionary tales, and we’re taking strides to avoid pitfalls that other failed cooperatives have fallen into due to lack of planning, but we believe that this approach will help us to remain agile and scalable. As long as all members are very clear on what the ultimate vision of MAKT is, we think that keeping our eyes on the prize will be our guiding principle.
We’ve also made the firm decision that, in an effort to educate others as we learn ourselves, we will remain transparent about our journey towards becoming a full-fledged worker-owned creative marketing cooperative. We’re OK with being an experiment that people get to watch and hopefully participate in to make a success. Therefore, our current governing strategy is to connect with others as much as we can. Through these connections we hope to see a community of collaboration, learning and teaching that eventually leads to growth and meaningful impact.
So this story shall be continued, but in the meantime, MAKT would like to invite anyone and everyone to connect. Join the conversation. Let us know what you’d like to see from us and also how we can help you. You can follow us on Twitter @maktcreative or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MAKTCreative.
Join us on this journey towards a new way of doing business that takes power back from the few and gives it to all.
San Francisco, CA