If you’ve followed the evolution of Make It Better Media, you know that we started as a small community website for North Shore moms more than nine years ago. Fortunately, we caught powerful rising tides of influence that helped make us what we are today — the internet, women, millennials, money and social impact.
Make It Better grew up to be a small but mighty full-service media company.
Please pause with us and give thanks for those “rising tides of influence.” They not only helped Make It Better grow, but they also suggest that a better future for everyone is possible, and perhaps even likely.
WOMEN, THE INTERNET AND MONEY
Women control most consumer dollars. Increasingly, they control or share decision-making authority with their partners for family investment and philanthropy decisions too. Given that, on average, women live longer than men, trillions — not just billions — of dollars are or will soon be under female control.
The really good news is that 92 percent of educated, affluent women, like our original target audience and the founders of Make It Better, are likely to change their brand loyalties if they think it will make the world a better place. The more money that is aligned with that statistic, the faster our world changes for the better.
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to make monetary choices based on research and values. It’s also easier than ever to connect and share ideas and decisions with others. Social network shares are like rocket fuel for a good cause or a good deal. Increasingly, an ever-expanding group of consumers and investors expect a double bottom line — a good deal that also does good in the world.
Many women enjoy working collaboratively to improve the world — think giving circles and service clubs. Social media exponentially amplifies the power of those collaborations. Women are far more likely than men to share on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
As women control more money and spend or invest it according to their values, all while sharing information online, it creates a tidal wave of social impact for the better.
THE WOMEN OF MAKEITBETTER.NET
Julie Chernoff is not only Make It Better’s dining editor, she was one of the original founders of makeitbetter.net. She also is a great example of the talent and community leadership represented by the group that launched our site on May 1, 2007.
Chernoff is a Yale grad who worked on both coasts in theater and the culinary arts before settling in Evanston to raise two great kids with her husband. She rises to leadership positions in every organization she joins. She served on the Evanston/Skokie District 65 Board of Education, ran a catering business and cooking school out of her historic Daniel Burnham-designed home, and has chaired numerous fundraisers.
In short, Chernoff serves her community — your community, too — with love and a phenomenal skill set. She’s the prototypical North Shore Wonder Woman.
Chernoff’s values reflect those of the entire makeitbetter.net founding group. Those values are embedded in Make It Better’s DNA.
From the beginning, every Make It Better article and activity has reflected an educated common sense, a gratitude for (and affectionate exasperation with) family, a love of community and support and amplification of philanthropic best practices. We offer entertaining and thoughtful solutions — not angst or luxury lifestyle trivia — that connect our audience to the best local and national resources.
Our 2007 launch was so early in the internet era that other media referenced our endeavor as a “weblog” instead of a website or online community. Fast-forward to today though, and Make It Better thrives because people understand and embrace the power of online community.
We’ve honored our mission to be the most-trusted, easiest-to-use community resource that helps make your life and the lives of others better. You’ve responded with passion for our brand and content. (Thank you very much!) In the process, we’ve helped a lot of worthy organizations and businesses, which also makes our hometowns and Chicagoland stronger.
MEN LIKE AND RESPOND TO MAKE IT BETTER TOO
A funny thing happened along our publishing journey. Men joined us too. Turns out they want to know about and connect with what is best for their family and community too. They want to make the world a better place. They also yearn for trustworthy, easy-to-use media.
The savviest men and women have created powerful careers because they reflect the Make It Better values addressed by Wharton professor and bestselling author Adam Grant in his book “Give And Take: A Revolutionary Approach To Success.”
Grant’s research proves that the most successful people are givers, not takers or matchers. This proves to be true for entrepreneurial publishers, as well as those climbing a corporate ladder.
WOMEN POWER IS ON THE RISE
Glance at the number of college graduates, postgraduate degree holders, new hires and the members of the U.S. work force under 40, and you’ll see that women are outpacing men in most categories and professions. Note that the majority of TV talking heads in that age group are women, and more commercials than ever are geared towards women — even during the Super Bowl. According to Forbes, 2016 will see more support and growth of entrepreneurial women than ever before.
Also notice that more men than ever are the parents standing outside the kindergarten doors, and they’re grateful for the opportunity. Men and women are doing a better job than ever of sharing parenting and domestic responsibilities and supporting each other in career choices too.
In many cases, women have to fight less for equal rights today (though there is still much room for progress on this front). Oh yeah, and absent a catastrophe or a dramatic remake of Donald Trump’s character, a woman is about to become our next president.
In the digital era, collaboration rather than competition is the fastest way forward. As mentioned above, many women seem to be particularly adept at this too. As women power is on the rise, the potential for women to foster change for the better elevates correspondingly too. Fortunately for Make It Better, the power of women-owned media is also on the rise.
MILLENNIALS EXPECT MEANING
Educated and affluent moms like Julie Chernoff helped raise millennials (the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) with great values. According to PEW research, millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history. Intriguingly, they expect and demand to make the world a better place. Period.
Unlike any prior generation, millennials expect meaning and social impact with their time, talents and money. They choose Toms shoes, Whole Foods and Starbucks because of the values embedded in those brands. They say no in record numbers to the kind of jobs that offer big pay, but poor lifestyles which long attracted most young talent before this generation.
Social impact investing is another example of this generation’s effect on our country and economy. Millennials with money to invest choose investments with a double bottom line. The companies they invest in have to create social impact as well as deliver profits.
A recent survey by U.S. Trust showed an astonishingly high 93 percent of millennials with assets in excess of $3 million said that a company’s social and environmental impact was key to their investing decision.
Millennials likely drive the growth of B Corporations too. These are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
Needless to say, millennials also are internet natives. They grew up googling their choices online. Their sensibilities, choices and clicks will continue to fuel the growth of the internet and business in general, creating greater positive impact.
TURNING OFF THE BAD, ACCELERATING THE GOOD
It should surprise no one that affluent Americans have turned away from the traditional media’s relentless barrage of bad news and biased reporting.
This opens a wide door for media people trust that provides information and solutions that help. In recent years, as national broadcast news numbers plummeted, TED Talk views soared. This helps explain the growth of Make It Better too.
That’s not to say we’re “Pollyanna.” We know inequities exist. The escalating violence between the police and blacks, and the sometimes stupefying presidential election dynamics are two examples. As Scott Turow said in our interview a few years ago when discussing the difference between the ‘60s and now:
“There are still massive differences between rich and poor, a lot of it focused on race. But we’ve come such a long way.”
“There are millions and millions of people in this country whose lives are not only better [now than they would have been in the ’60s], they can now achieve their full potential. This also is true for women and for gays who don’t have to hide who they are any more … We’re not done. But please, let’s do stop and smell the roses here.”
Fortunately, there are examples of individuals who care, and there are resources to help that are growing. Most people really do want to help, especially if you make it easy for them to do so. This is Make It Better’s specialty — making it easy to help yourself and others, while growing a trusted and powerful network of good people, good organizations and good communities.
We’re grateful for these trends. They helped grow Make It Better Media. More importantly though, they will also grow a much better world for all.