The Pepsi Optimism Project: Tracking America's Outlook

Mar 18, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

"That's a good idea." All your life, you've heard this simple statement that celebrates a small moment of what might be sheer genius or your revolutionary way to unscrew a stuck lid. You've always known that a "good idea," can happen at any time, and given the right circumstances, could change everything and make the world a better place.

Instinctively, you've also known that you often have your best ideas when you believe in the possibilities of the outcomes. And you assume good or even great ideas come when your outlook on the world is optimistic. Well, now you have your proof.

Through our Pepsi Optimism Project (POP) we've been tracking America's outlook -- the state of optimism, actually -- since late 2008.

In our latest survey, we decided to focus on how optimism impacts the power of ideas. And one of the findings should make you want to run to the nearest blank piece of paper, white board or laptop. Nearly everybody participating in the survey -- a full 94% -- said optimism is a key ingredient in creating the new ideas that can get our society progressing in a positive direction. What's more, two-thirds of POP survey respondents said these ideas will come from "regular people," as opposed to public figures.

That would mean you and me, or anyone else at the kitchen table, probably has a brilliant idea to change the world. According to our survey participants, the best sources for the great ideas we'll need to keep moving forward are the people they know: 19% cited their friends; 15% pointed to their children; 13% apiece are looking to their mothers and grandparents for inspiration. There's far less reliance, according to the survey, on traditional authority figures -- bosses and politicians were each named as capable of coming up with great ideas by only 2% of respondents.

Elected officials, media pundits and captains of industry might all have their place as thought leaders in a nation like ours, yet the survey says those we trust to generate the truly promising ideas are the people we know best, the people we encounter most often and the people with whom we willingly surround ourselves.

The well-connected don't have much problem getting their ideas heard, but what about the "regular people"? Our survey says that 74% believe there are more opportunities than ever before to share new ideas, which we chalk up to the explosion of social media. But talk (or tweet) is cheap. How will their ideas gain traction?

Well, we're determined to make it happen. In 2010, the Pepsi Refresh Project ( will award over $20 million in grants to those presenting the best ideas to improve the communities we call home and, perhaps, transform the society we call America.

We are working with two organizations to coordinate this ambitious program: GOOD, our social responsibility partner, will oversee the grant process; and Global Giving will provide administrative support and be responsible for grant disbursement.

But really, this project is the people's project. It, just like the future of this great nation, will ultimately rest in their hands.

Curious minds and creative spirits have always fueled this country's angels. Our role as a corporate citizen is to provide the fuel additive to allow those angels to take flight. We want to see the optimism in which our citizens so believe be put into tangible action. We believe in that optimism, too, along with the possibilities it will yield and the communities they will enhance.

We're expecting an outpouring of outstanding ideas from incredible people. We, in turn, look forward to being inspired by them.

For more results from the last three POP's click here.