Russ Shumaker: Cause marketing and making the world better

July 30, 2020 Russ Shumaker Season 1 Episode 4
Russ Shumaker: Cause marketing and making the world better
Show Notes Transcript

My second guest, Russ Shumaker, is a marketer at World Vision. We talked about how World Vision is helping to end poverty in the world, but also shifting to focus on COVID in the US.

Russ and I talked about how Millenials aren't so young anymore and how we're in leadership roles across organizations.

Thank you to Russ for joining the podcast and paving the way toward a better future.

Guest: Russ Shumaker (

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Daniel Hoang: [00:00:00] Hey, welcome to the 1980 podcast today. I have a very, very cool guests, Russ Shoemaker. He's a fellow Pepperdine alum, and we're going to be talking about various different topics. So let's get into it.

Hey, welcome back. Hey Russ, how are you done? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:00:22] You're doing great. Thanks for having me on your podcast. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:00:24] Remind me how we met because it was a very cool way we wind up meeting. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:00:28] Yeah. Um, so I had put out a post online looking for some feedback on, um, some marketing and, uh, really just trying to get some input from people in my network on some marketing that I'm doing at world vision and kind of how to position our corporate social responsibility.

Work with, with different corporations. And, uh, you responded, I think on LinkedIn and said, Hey, you know, I I'd love to have a chat with you on this. So we ended up connecting on that and it just took off 

Daniel Hoang: [00:00:55] and then back and forth. And then now I asked you, Hey, come join the podcast because he had some more, uh, w we grew up we're around the same age, kind of very similar.

I'm a millennial. I think you're an older millennial. And you had some nostalgia about past. And so we'll talk a little bit about that Pepperdine. You kind of grew up, you're a Pepperdine grad MBA program there. I think we both went to the same campus there and beautiful campus really enjoyed that time there.

Uh, what were some of your favorite moments in the MBA program? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:01:22] I mean, I loved the faculty. They were just so committed to student success. Um, I took a couple of nights in classes and I mean, one professor would stay until 10, 11:00 PM helping students understand finance concepts and things like that. Um, and having studied a couple different universities, I've never had such a dedicated faculty.

And then just being with students from. Different industries and different backgrounds was really enjoyable and I love learning. So anytime I get the chance to, to learn yeah. New framework that helps me see the world in a new way and kind of put together just different. Different straws that I've been grasping at for a long time.

And some of the classes really did that for me. And so, you know, it was just a really great experience that I loved and highly recommended if anybody is interested in going to business school, 

Daniel Hoang: [00:02:07] same as well. And I went to the public policy program back in 2005. That was when the campus first was built a really great program.

It was really about leadership. And I think that's what I really appreciated with Pepperdine. It wasn't just about mechanics and here's how to do two plus two equals four. It was about how do you think? And so part of what I loved about the program was just understanding the history of our country. We read Hamilton's Federalist papers.

We read the constitution over and over. We had to memorize it in fact, and I think everything that's happening today, I can go back and explain history, right? The reason why we're in this COBIT crisis, it goes back to our history, our unwillingness to be unwillingness for tyranny, right? The way our country was founded.

And it all makes sense. When you understand history in the past, you talked about learning frameworks. Let's talk about that a little bit. So the whole premise of 1980 is just getting us from an analog world to a new world. I'm just going from past to future. Just different paradigms are changing. The world's changing very fast.

We're just looking at how do we just understand this? It's about sense-making understanding what's happening in the world. Let's look at the past a little bit cause you and I grew up in a world before the internet. And before this, uh, the phone I'm holding her up. And right now my, my iPhone 10 right there, uh, we live in a world that didn't exist that, and what's your, what's your fondest memory of the past.

Russ Shumaker: [00:03:19] But I do have a lot of great memories of going to the public library as a kid and finding a computer terminal. I mean, to go back even farther, you know, The, my first experience with computers where, um, one of my neighbors had, I don't even know what it was a Commodore or something along those lines with just, just basically pixel pixelated dots that I thought were really good graphics at the time and learning to play games as a.

Yeah, really young kid, but then going to the library and discovering the internet, you know, kind of on my own, getting to poke around creating pen pals from around the world, just via email, you know, signing up for free email accounts with my favorite radio station. For some reason, they were hosting email at the time 

Daniel Hoang: [00:04:05] for us.

A lot of our audience, especially if you're in the gen Z, they're digital natives, they grew up in a digital world. You and I are probably at the last or the youngest, or I don't know what the right word is. We're probably the youngest that remembers a world before the internet, right before the PR digital world, where I think we talked about library, remembered the Dewey decimal system and pulling out little cards to look for books.

That's a, it was a method for searching. Now I can keyword search and I can find all everything in the world, all in my little pocket in the foam. So those paradigms have completely changed the world. And then I think you and I experienced the inception of I'll call it just the basic inception of the internet, like email for the first time.

Hey, do you remember your first email? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:04:45] You know, because how do you go from, I don't have any friends with email addresses to set up emails. I'm guessing it would have been to like a DJ or something along those lines. And then finding like a pen pal community forum. And then after that it was going to camp in the summer and, you know, end of the week, everyone has a piece of paper and you're writing down all your new friends, email addresses, and hoping that you spelled it right.

And you can read their handwriting. So you can keep in contact over the rest of the year. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:05:12] And you were excited to get an email. I mean, it was, it was an excitement. It's like, Oh my gosh, I got an email coming in. And, and now today where we have applications and tools to block email, because I have so much coming in.

So the world has completely changed in, in that world since there. So let's talk about just, you know, you earlier, you talked about just learning frameworks and how do you make sense of this world? I think I go back and I look at my past and the velocity of change has just increased significant exponentially, right?

The amount of information, amount of data, what we can do, the fact that you and I are recording a podcast remotely. We're not physically in the same room anymore. This technology exists today. And how do you start understanding with respect to the work that you do? And we'll talk, get into the work. You do a little bit.

And how do you understand and make sense of this world? Like where are we going 

Russ Shumaker: [00:05:56] start with going back? You know, any generation feels the same way. I, I doubt you can go back to any point in the history of the world and find somebody who didn't say yes, The invention of the wheel. This is too far slow things down, you know, that certainly happened with the Telegraph and the train and the airplanes.

And so, you know, there, there's something about human adaptability that allows us to, uh, accept these changes. And, and, and honestly, most of the time, I don't even think we realized that we've accepted the change and made the change until we hit something that's kind of at the curve of our. Of our experience and it's, and it's a brand new thing that kind of throws us back and we go, Whoa, like kick talk.

I don't know what to do with all these videos. I was just getting used to Instagram or whatever it is that just kind of, we got comfortable with something. Okay. And we're moving forward with that because it's actionable. And then we find out that there's a 15 year old kid that has, you know, a million followers that is now cutting edge and you're just left in the dirt.

Daniel Hoang: [00:06:56] It's exactly. You know, there was a great article and I'll send you the link and I'll post it into description by Ben Thompson from skirt factory. And it was just the doubling of technology. Right. So if you go back to the beginning, let's call the wheel, right? The invention of the wheel from the invention, the wheel to the next invention.

It was a long period of time. It took a long time to get from one point to another point. And it took an and in that, that doubling of technology or the invention of speed kind of went half in time and half in time and half in time. And so what he says is that if you go from generation generation, so you take someone from the cave man from back in the day and you move them forward 5,000 years, the world generally looks the same.

For him, right? Like, nothing really has changed much. Now there's fire. There's something new that the wheel that's moving around, but for the most part, nothing has changed that much. But then as you accelerate, if you move someone from 400 years ago to today, that's black magic, right? It's, it's a, which they're going to burn you for, for like having magic.

Like you're, you're making things appear out of nowhere and it's completely, you're not gonna be able to recognize the world, the futurist. And he says, you know, if I fast forward 50 years from now, I'm not going to be able to look to. Absorb this world, right? It's going to be so far advanced from where I am today.

I'm not gonna be able to adapt and adjust to it. And so part of my fear in that, that piece of there is like, is there, are we resilient enough for this X minutes at this hockey curve puck perspective right there? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:08:15] No, I agree with you. And I think, I think you bring something really important to mind, um, which is, you know, I do think that we, we do have the ability to adapt and to keep up with, with what we're doing, but at the same time, Uh, we are leaving people behind and you know, the, the big ethical question for me is how do we bring those people along?

Whether that's the elderly. Uh, in a time of COVID-19 or, or just, yeah, elderly in general, right? Where if they're, if they're living in nursing homes and families have moved away because their jobs have taken them away, how do we think of them? How do we care for them? But just thinking of marginalized and vulnerable people around the world as, as technology moves and as jobs become automated and not, how do we, as, as humanity, as, as business owners, as community members, um, yeah.

As individuals, how do we think about those people and recognize that. When people get left behind to become dissatisfied, that tends to build up some toxicity in those groups and that leads to lashing out and that leads to radicalism. And so it's, it's not only, it's not only a feel good. Yeah. Let's make sure we didn't leave anybody behind, but there's very practical and very concrete reasons to make sure that as we.

Change. And as we move forward that we bring everybody else with. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:09:25] I had this conversation the other day with my wife around automation and just the impact on change. Right? So Tesla is working on auto autonomous cars. So Uber drivers eventually will go out of business. And let's talk about the trucking industry as a good example, right?

The minute we have autonomous. 18 Wheeler trucks that's driving without human intervention anymore. One, I see it as a good thing, right? The fact that we have a human being, sitting in a gigantic vehicle, going really fast on the highway. Probably not the best thing in the world, but those are jobs and those are human beings and they are going to get left behind.

And to your point there, I think just one of the biggest challenges of our generation is inclusiveness. Getting people. Up to that curve, moving them along and making sure they're not left me. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:10:05] Yeah. I mean, I think education is such a huge part of that. Right. And, and encouraging innovation because, you know, you could probably look at the pony express.

We lost all those jobs. You know, it's a silly idea because I mean, a silly example, because it's such a small group of people that, that ever did it for such a short period of time, but, you know, technology improved and they lost their jobs. Was that a bad thing or a good thing? Well, if you were writing punny express, I'm sure it didn't feel like a good thing, although it was very dangerous job.

Yeah. Then you were able to get a job with the Telegraph or at the train. And so, you know, it's, it's really thinking of it, not in terms of replacing jobs and putting people out of work, but you know, how does, how does new technology. Um, and, and isn't technology anyways, you know, the way we kind of use the term, it really just means the newest thing, but a technology, it could be a fork, you know, it's just, we don't think of it as technology today.

Cause it's the 

Daniel Hoang: [00:10:55] wheel was technology, right. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:10:58] It's thinking through how do we encourage more innovation and enable people to start their own businesses and think through you don't have to become the next Amazon. There there's power in local and there's power in, in, uh, small businesses and just meeting.

You know, one need in your community for one really segmented group of people, then all of a sudden, you know, you've ingrained your business into their lives and you can start hiring people and, uh, creating those jobs that are like unlikely to be replaced, you know, in the near future, 

Daniel Hoang: [00:11:27] Pepperdine was about.

Free market capitalism. Right. And it was a free market. The philosophy there, I think, as we're getting to this space here, and as we're saying to automate certain things, like I'm starting to really land on the prospect of universal basic income. Right. Just making sure there's a baseline level of comfort for all right.

Especially as we're. Removing jobs or transitioning the economy around. I mentioned that because I want to segue a little bit into your professional world. You work at world vision. Most people like that may not remember who world vision is. I only remember world vision growing up as a little kid and seeing the phone with ons or telethons on TV.

That's my only memory of world vision, really, I think, and correct me if I'm wrong. I think it was the African children eating water. I remember seeing just the commercials of. Uh, imagery of children that were impoverished and how world vision was helping kind of bring, brings a fun set space. Is that, am I right?

Is that my memory? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:12:21] I mean, I don't know if that was, if that was the world vision, telephone, it very well could have been. Um, I don't remember those commercials and I wasn't working for them back then. Um, but yeah, we're a global humanitarian Oregon. Yeah. , we've been around for 70 years and we're committed to ending extreme poverty everywhere we work, which is in about a hundred countries.

Yeah. And so most people probably know us for child sponsorship. Um, or maybe 

Daniel Hoang: [00:12:47] there we go, child sponsorship. That's that's it? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:12:49] Yeah. Yep. Is, you know, it's, it's 30, you know, 35, $39 a month. Um, and you get to build a relationship with the child in the developing world, uh, and in your money, it doesn't go, you know, you're not putting cash in the kid's wallet.

You're actually building their community and providing education and clean water. And health services and everything that they need to flourish. Um, 

Daniel Hoang: [00:13:09] I'm still active today. I mean, like I could go sign up and sponsor a child today. This is 20. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:13:13] Yeah. So just last year we, um, we launched a new initiative called chosen, which, which flips the script over on its head.

So it used to be where you'd go and you'd see a wall of little kids, you know, pictures and you choose the one that you want, um, or online, you know, just choose their pictures. And what chosen does is it is it allows the child in the developing world to pick their sponsor. Uh, which is really cool because it just, it, it empowers them from day one, right.

Where it's no longer, you know, Ooh, please pick me. It's actually, Hey, somebody wants you to pick them. And it's, it's been a really powerful initiative. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:13:46] When did that flip happen? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:13:47] Uh, so that just launched last year. Um, I think not October, September, October, 

Daniel Hoang: [00:13:52] I'm so drawn to that because again, like the whole premise and foundational 1980, it was anytime when you flip things around.

Right. So it was just a bad back in the grownup in the eighties. That was a very kind of us centric. You know, we have funds and we're going to go save you. A CBR model, get that around. It's like enabling anyone from any part of the world to kind of reach up in there and connect to this big machine. Right.

Then it's not about just, it's not about a power dynamic as a person global participation. So. I love that. So how do I sign up? Like, how do I guess for, for the audience here, like, like how do you participate? What's the mechanic? What does it look like? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:14:29] Yeah. So you can actually just go to world

Um, and you know, we had it on pause for a while because of COVID, uh, the social distancing issues that, you know, when kids are coming together to pick up. Pick their pictures and whatnot. Um, but we just relaunched and you should be able to go to world, um, and find a link to chosen there. And it's just really simple.

You know, you just, you can upload a photo from your phone or you can take a new picture, you can have your family in the photo. Um, and then that gets sent overseas and the kids just look at a bunch of photos and, and pick one that really stands out to them. And it's, it's crazy. You can, you can see some videos on our website or on YouTube where it's so powerful, uh, where a kid picked, you know, picks this.

A picture of this woman, because it looks like her mom. And then you find out that the person she chose had recently lost her mom or a little girl, wants to be a lawyer when she grows up, chooses a picture and it happens to be a lawyer. And so, um, just the, the connections that happen are just so beautiful and, and really, you know, that's not the only way we try to flip the script.

Um, you, you made a great point, you know, we're not trying to be. The Americans who saved the world, um, as, as a global organization, 95% of our staff are local. So we're working in, in Kenya. It's. Primarily Kenyon's doing the work. If we're working in Afghanistan or Honduras as it's really we're work where we have local staff, because that's the only way to make it sustainable.

You can't, you can't go into someone else's country and culture and expect to, uh, improve things if you're an outsider. So that's, that's another way we really try to flip the script. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:15:57] That's really incredible. W w we're in the middle of. 2020 and Ray. Now, president Trump is kind of very, we're very nationalist.

Like right now there's movement towards nationalism, very us centric, closing the borders and isolating ourselves from the world. And I think the U S at this moment in time has kind of removed it's all from the happenings of the world, but we're not isolated. I think the one thing I learned with COVID is, you know, you're not isolated to just the County or city that you live in.

You're part of this global system, and I'm part of a state in an unknown part of a country and a part of a continent. And the reality is that we are all citizens of this. Planet. Right. And I love that word. The fact that the fact that there are people in other parts of the world where there's such a huge, a span between poverty and.

Extreme wealth in a, it seems like there's a reckoning coming soon at some point. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:16:43] Well, and I would also say, you know, even though at a political level there's changes, I think we still live in such a generous country, uh, where so many individuals, you know, regardless of political stance are still willing to, um, invest in, in improving lives around the world, whether it's because of a personal or religious belief or, or just because they recognize that it makes the world safer.

You know, when we provide opportunities, um, Uh, for the rest of the world, who's watching us as, as a global leader, it does make the roads safer and, and it's not just individuals, it's corporations too. Um, I lead our marketing for, um, for corporations and foundations. And there's so many companies that are also doing great work investing in the developing world.

Um, it's not just charity, it's also developing a workforce. You know, they want a business that thrives in other countries. So they invest in education in those countries. And. Um, and it, it really does do a lot of good and it really makes a difference over the longterm. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:17:38] I launched in 1980 with the intent of making this a do good business.

Right. I have a goal of potentially becoming a B Corp. Are you seeing a trend as companies like, is that it's a competitive advantage? I guess this changing trend, changing generations, millennials, especially gen Z, I think has another generation. Where they're there. They're not okay with corporations, just pure profiting.

And then they want corporations to be a part of this global system, or be a part of some, some, some that are good. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:18:05] Oh yeah. A hundred percent. You know, I was just on a webinar this morning with a professor from Pepperdine. Uh, ironically, uh, and we were talking about, about CSR and trends in the workplace and, you know, it's something like 87% of consumers would switch to a brand that was affiliated with the cause.

Um, so, you know, with world vision, we work with, with companies to, you know, donate 10 for 10 cents for every bottle of water bought or something. So if you have two bottles on a shelf in one donation, To a good cause of one doesn't consumers are going to buy the one that donates to a good cause. So, um, just from a very pragmatic bottom line stance, uh, you know, yes, that's right.

That's its competitive advantage. Um, I would argue that in a time, like right now with a lot of businesses struggling, um, and really trying to figure out how to survive shelter at home and the pandemic. Um, it's more important than ever to really drill into, to, um, corporate social responsibility strategies.

But you know, the trick is you can't just. You can't just tag it onto what you're doing. I think, I think Pepsi saw that with their Kendall Jenner, black lives matter commercial a couple of years ago, where they received a bunch of negative press and consumers didn't buy it because it was fake. We could contrast that with, you know, we did a project with Walmart, um, where they invested in, uh, 60,000 of their, uh, employees, female employees in the developing world in 150 factories to provide education and, and, um, you know, problem solving skills and.

Uh, just a, a diverse array of, um, of skills and opportunities. And the result for Walmart was they saw, you know, uh, 20 something percent increase in productivity and, um, you know, decrease in internal over for their employees. But then from a, from a human standpoint, you know, what, what we also saw, um, and Tufts university did a research project on this was things like less domestic violence in the home, because, you know, when, when you think of the causes that drive people to that sort of behavior, It has to deal with, I don't have coping skills.

I don't know how to deal with, um, high stress or with a harsh work environment or my is abusive. So I take that home. And so when, when companies are able to invest in that sort of workforce, workforce education or training, It just reaped dividends up and down the supply chain and with their consumers.

Um, and, and I think more and more companies are seeing that Harvard business review actually just published a study not long ago, showing that socially responsible companies outperformed the S and P 500, you know, significantly. And so, you know, I rarely don't see a reason not to, uh, to be socially responsible.

You just have to be strategic. You know, you have to make it part of your business model and not just, let's try to trick people into thinking we're a good company. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:20:44] I think it becomes incredibly clear, right? The companies where they embed it within the fabric of their DNA, that their company. So corporate, social responsibility, racial equity, whatever you're picking as your kind of lens that you're going to lead with.

A lot of companies where they just checked, check the boxes, an ancillary thing. It just. They're throwing money away or they're or eventually it's actually, you could hurt you. Oh, okay. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It's so late. We're starting to wrap up. I wanted to kind of. This be a very pandemic version. We're all working from home.

What's it like for you working from home in this organization? Were you working on site before and now your students Ashington home office? 

Russ Shumaker: [00:21:20] No, strangely enough, our, our us headquarters is just outside of Seattle. Um, but, uh, my wife and I moved to Nashville in January, so right before everything shut down, we moved across the country to a new city and I started working from home.

So for me, the transition it's actually made things a little better for me because now everybody. Is is not a level playing field. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:21:39] You got a head start and was that part of the company. And that was that they were opening it with remote work. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:21:46] Yeah, they were open to remote work. Yep. Got it. Which you know, which I was very grateful for.

And now, now that everyone's working from home, um, it's, uh, it feels pretty normal. You know, my wife and I just had a baby. Um, so I just came off of maternity leave and, um, so it it's been, it's been really nice to have working from home and then having a kid and now, um, I get to have a kid and work from home.


Daniel Hoang: [00:22:08] I love that. You said it's really nice because I think for most parents in this pandemic, I think the pandemic is excessively hitting people there. It's hitting essential workers. Probably the hardest of course, but also just parents. And the fact that you are trying to raise a child in the middle of this pandemic, you're slightly lucky yet you have a young one that's not in school yet.

So you're not at a school is so far away. You're not even worrying.

Russ Shumaker: [00:22:28] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And we're starting from scratch, right? We're not used to having our kid in school and now going to have to figure out what to do. It's this kid shut up in the middle of a pandemic. So that's par for the course. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:22:37] Well, you get it, the kid and you and your family are going to be really resilient.

I think in hindsight, I'm looking back and finally fully embracing the pandemic. And I think this is probably a great moment for us as a globe, as a country. Um, just being more resilient, like we were just on this crazy path, just consume, consume, consume mindlessly. Um, this is really forcing all of us to slow down.

Pause, think about, you know, what's important to us. And for me, Hey, you know, I'm going to go to world vision dot Oregon, sign up and subs sponsor a child today. 

Russ Shumaker: [00:23:08] Yeah, that's great. I'm glad to hear that. 

Daniel Hoang: [00:23:11] Thank you for joining me a podcast and I hope you can come back at some point in the future. And it was great talking to you today.