• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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The Brand of America. Religion vs. Science.

Okay, this ought to incite all sorts of backfire. What is the brand of America?  In other words, what do Americans hold as most important about their brand identification and what do those we wish to influence believe the US brand to be?

I’m not talking about politics here. US citizens and the world as a whole are used to changes in political party domination. It is inherent in a political system that holds free elections that the political landscape will change. I’m talking about what it means to be an American — despite political changes.

As an American, born and raised, I always thought of my country’s brand as forward thinking, an advanced standard of living and a focus on a future that was promising because of advancements in technological improvements. In my lifetime that spans the television era, I saw small black & white television sets with three available channels change into a world where 70-inch flat screen TVs are far from extraordinary. I have seen the phone in my hand have more computing power than the room-sized mainframe that dominated the early years of my fathers work— when 5K of memory was state of the art.

The Brand of America

Medicine has improved. Homes have become larger. Technology has exploded and science has become the driving force in innovation. We embraced science in my day and the scientific method of developing a hypothesis and then challenging that idea through testing and retesting was taught and accepted. Science was a truth that we all agreed on.

Now, I was raised a Methodist and, like everyone in my church, we read and studied the bible and the book of Genesis. My pastor taught the book as a parable. You know, a story to speak to the belief in God. I never saw science as its enemy and never needed to make a choice between Darwinism (and science) and creationism. The former was empirical and the latter was a faith in the ineffable. The coexisted without problem.

Today, the brand of American, as I embraced it, is slipping away. Science is viewed as heretical and belief in faith-based stories is increasing its grasp. But only to a point.

The Brand of AmericaWe practice evolution on a daily basis (think about hybrid plants), but the basic scientific axiom is considered heretical by the most conservative thinkers. Could a presidential candidate who actually spoke about evolution as a science be elected today? Can a generation of students who are taught creationism as a science actually grow to compete in the world of scientific development? Is not the foundation for all science based upon physics, biology and chemistry? Should we replace MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford with Bible College? At the end of the day, we need to define American Exceptionalism as Christian (even though the constitution bans the mixing of church and state) or secular.

If you are an admirer of the US Constitution, you must see that the founding fathers sought to be assured that our nation would never fall victim to the despotism of faith-based evangelicals. It is uncomfortable for a man like myself that values the human spirit to make such a logical argument in the face of such virulence of certainty by the so-called faithful. But there it is. I guess I am a constitutionalist and wish my American brand to be that also.

What is your brand of America? I would love to hear about it. Saying it is the word of God is not constitutional in the complete sense as our constitution guarantees the freedom of belief to Muslims, Rastafarians, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians. Our constitution says their claim on the word of God is as right as yours and that none of it should influence the law of the land. If you think you own the only word of God and that everyone else is just heresy — including science – then you might prefer the homogeneity of despotism. I, for one, think our brand has always been about heterodoxy. Go ahead and look it up. I had to.

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