Case: Get thought leaders to see the space program as a priority.
Solution: Reframe space as an actual, physical frontier.
Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc., an aerospace company, approached me with this challenge. NASA’s budget does not let it meet all of its congressional mandates. Could I come up with a persuasion protocol and program that might lead Congress to fully fund the space program? With the help of researchers, I looked at polling and other public-perception data, and found that most Americans falsely believed that private industry was funding nearly all the advances in space. (The reality is that most of the innovations in space, including those of Elon Musk’s Space X, are paid by government contracts and other public subsidies.)
Working with Steve Sandford, an SGT executive and former NASA manager and engineer, I reframed space in the trope of the “Gravity Well.” An actual astrophysical phenomenon, the Gravity Well is the region that extends from the Moon to Mars. Seen from an economic standpoint, the Gravity Well looks very much like the American frontier in the 1700s. There’s an economy being established in low Earth orbit and gradually extending outward. With sufficient funding, America could reap the benefits of an economy that would dwarf our current terrestrial one, with space energy, materials manufacturing, and asteroid mining, among others.
I established a private imprint, Gavia Books with partners in California, co-wrote the book The Gravity Well with Sandford. The book is available in print and as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and major bookstores and book download sites. I also created a social media and content system as well as a robust website and blog, while writing a script with coaching for a TEDx talk by Sandford.
The program is in its early stages, but the company is pleased enough with the reviews that it has hired me to continue the program through 2018. In addition, NASA has asked me to work with SGT to help frame communication of the agency’s Technology Mission Directorate’s space policy.
Click on the links to see summaries of the work.
Presentations and Workshops
Beachbody: Keynote presentation for fitness coaches in Dana Point, California.
CUE: Keynote presentation in New Orleans for HR professionals on "How to Screw Up."
Dartmouth College: Presentation on framing strategies for all of the university's advancement professionals.
Department of Defense: Persuasion workshop in Washington, DC, for MILVAX, the global agency responsible for vaccinating military personnel. Another persuasion workshop in San Antonio for Air Force JAG officers.
European Speechwriters Association: Two-day workshop and presentation in Berlin, Germany.
Hampden Sydney College: Campus-wide lecture on the need for rhetoric, in Hamden Sydney, Virginia.
Harvard University: Presentation and workshop for Arts & Sciences advancement professionals.
Lane Press: Keynote presentation in Vermont for editors and designers of magazines.
Lewis & Clark College: Campus-wide lecture in Portland, Oregon, on "The New Trivium," or why the liberal arts are a good personal investment.
Mindshare: Workshop in Bali, Indonesia, for advertisers, marketers, and media buyers.
NASA: Two separate workshops teaching rhetoric to space engineers and administrators at the Langley Research Center, Virginia.
National Association of Realtors: Keynote presentation in Reno, Nevada, for California realtors.
Ogilvy UK: Workshop for advertising creatives in London, England.
Prepaid Expo: Keynote presentation in Orlando for 2,000 finance executives.
Southwest Airlines: Presentation on "How to Screw Up" to the airline's marketing executives in Nashville.
University of Tampa: Presentation to rhetoric students.