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Dex Hunter-Torrike

5 Practical Ideas for How to Change the World

June 30, 2021, The Association

Communications strategist and thought leader Dex Hunter-Torricke shares inspo, action steps and lessons learned along the way

The following tips and sage advice were shared during Dex’s keynote speech at the Virtual Spring Conference for Animal Welfare. FYI conference attendees, you can log in to the conference site and listen to the complete session anytime now through the end of August.

Do Things Because You Believe In Them, Not Because You Think People Will Care About Them

Rather than asking yourself “what does my audience want to hear, and how can I figure out how to say exactly what my audience wants to hear,” says Dex, “have the courage to believe in your convictions. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, but if you believe in something, even if you don’t think it’s popular, go and tell it! If you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy on something, don’t start by thinking ‘What organization can I create? What movement can I be a head of? What marketing can this enable?’ Decide what the thing is that you really want to do, and go and solve that problem.”

Go With Others on the Journey

“It’s much easier when you don’t do it all yourself,” says Dex. “There’s value in building interesting and different collaborations, rather than using just the network you already have. It’s about finding people who challenge you and who aren’t like you. We know that organizations with more diverse management have about 19% more revenue—and according to Glassdoor, 7 out of every 10 people looking for a job want to know how inclusive an organization is when deciding if they want to work there.”

Don’t Make Communications an Afterthought

Simply put, the product doesn’t speak for itself—and Dex reminds us that “PR problems are leadership problems. If you want to advance something in the world, you have to communicate about it. Otherwise people aren’t going to necessarily recognize all the work you have been doing.”

Dex also shared his 4 principles for organizing your messaging:

Does it pass the RIBS test?

    “You want what you are working on to be seen as revolutionary.”
    “Can you position your idea or messaging as something that is going to come true?”
    “It doesn’t matter how revolutionary or inevitable something is if people don’t believe it or can’t repeat it to each other with a straight face—unlike some PR slogans.”
  • Is It SIMPLE?
    “Reduce your message to something succinct—people have got to be able to wrap their heads around what you are saying in a short time.”

You Don’t Need Flying Saucers

“A lot of organizations are trying to find a threat—think alien invasion of the earth—or an enemy that we can mobilize against. This can get you a short-term boost, but people don’t like fighting. They want to do something proactive and positive, and collaborate. Most of the great innovations in AI, for example, are being driven by diverse and multinational teams. We don’t need to divide & conquer—we have far more to gain by working together.”

What Not to Discount During Difficult Conversations

“Very often we want to skip straight ahead to financial impact, impact on deliverables, etc.,” says Dex, “and avoid talking about what’s personal—and the impact of how we feel about things. Feelings are a form of fact as well. How you impact people’s feelings has a huge impact on whether you can actually succeed in your mission. Be honest about your feelings, and don’t discount the feelings of others.”

What resonates most with you? Which have you tried? Leave a comment and share your experience.

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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