FYI Blog

Avalon Dispatch 11.01.2022

In today’s @AvalonFYI dispatch, you will find Halloween and Day of the Dead, voter modeling, how to make an impossible decision, reading recs, s’mores, and much more. Read it here!

Dear friends,

Happy Halloween and Día de los Muertos! On Saturday, the National Museum of the American Indian hosted a concert by Grammy-winning, bilingual rock group Quetzal, and you will find many educational resources in the museum’s Day of the Dead archive. I also love seeing friends’ and colleagues’ Halloween costumes on social media, so thank you for sharing. At Avalon, we celebrated with a virtual “Orange You Excited for Halloween” gathering:

A screenshot of the Halloween pun-ny zoom meeting, with most of the 14 participants wearing costumes or displaying festive backgrounds

Meanwhile, with midterms looming election stress is on the rise. Psychology Today reported that, across parties, 71% of voters believe democracy is at stake. This intensifies the stress of uncertainty for the entire country. Hang in there, and please get out the vote! Avalon is supporting GOTV with paid time off for voting and volunteering.

One thing that psychologists recommend for stress reduction is mindful news consumption. Along those lines, I thought this polling knowledge quiz from Pew Research Center was helpful. How well do you know what makes a poll trustworthy vs. when to keep scrolling?

Also in politics, The New York Times published a story on voter profiling and modeling being done to target Republican swing voters. It’s an interesting piece on how the political world is using data right now and the history of those strategies. I was fascinated by this detail:

Trying to target and sway voters is an electioneering practice that dates at least as far back as 1840. That was the year Abraham Lincoln helped write a campaign circular for the Whig Party that laid out a plan for identifying and mobilizing individual voters.

In other news, I was delighted to see The Washington Post highlight SAGE in a feature on LGBTQ+ elders. The article explained the challenges of aging if you are LGBTQ+ and why programs like SAGE are essential. It was published on the heels of the SAGE gala, which was an inspiring and uplifting occasion. I am so proud that Avalon can support this work.

In leadership last week, Wharton Business School posted advice on how to make a decision when every option looks bad. Wharton Dean Erika James analyzed the recent announcement from Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard that the company would be converted to a nonprofit trust that will fight the climate crisis. The article stressed the importance of leaning on other people for input and advice—and developing “a culture of ideation, experimentation, and collaboration.” Chouinard himself explained it like this: “Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own.”

The article also referenced a book that was recommended to me by Avalon client James Jenkins of the JFK Library Foundation: The Prepared Leader, by Erika James and Lynn Perry Wooten. It uses the lessons of the pandemic and the authors’ experiences leading large institutions to outline how leaders can emerge from crises with resilience. There is a corresponding Brené Brown podcast, if you prefer audio. Thank you, James!

Around the industry, there will be a Young Direct Marketing Association of Washington (YDMAW) lunch and learn tomorrow, November 2. The event is a great opportunity for young professionals to connect in person and learn about paths for advancement in our industry. Avalon is reimbursing attendance for our staff, and I know they would love to see you there! The event takes place from 12-2 tomorrow at Service Employees International Union headquarters.

Finally, have you been following The Great British Bake Off’s s’mores controversy? Contestants were tasked with remaking the American treat with digestive biscuits instead of graham crackers—and the internet exploded. I don’t have a strong opinion on this one, but I do welcome the comic relief: “They’re all freaking out over burning their marshmallows and I guarantee every American watching it is screaming ‘IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE BURNT?!?!?’”

Take care,


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Allison Porter, President
Avalon Consulting Group
202-429-6080 ext. 102