Monday, October 21, 2013

Keeping A Message You're Passionate About Fresh

Anyone who has met me in real life will know that I'm a raging feminist, and I'm not exaggerating, I'm dedicated to this cause. I just simply don't see why half of the world's population isn't a big enough number for us to care about. Females are intrinsically different to males in almost every single way, and those who are different to the creators of 'how things work' are always going to struggle. Females are a permanent Struggletown population - it's just the deal. And it's fascinating, complicated, nuanced, historically linked and emotional. It's a crazy big issue.

It's also a crazy boring issue if it's only ever presented with one angle. The angry feminist has been flogged to death by the media - all the way down to crappy HR media that reports on the latest survey. The angry feminist issue is so entrenched in fact, that women struggle to call themselves a feminist for fear of implicating themselves as an angry man hater. It's a really, really frustrating rut for feminism as a whole to be in.

Personally, it's a frustrating emotional rut to be in too. My poor partner has had to endure many of my red-wine-fuelled lectures shouted at the TV, as yet another trivial thing sets me off. Seriously, the man deserves a medal. And I seriously need to add some angles to my repertoire.

There are angles galore to explore, and not only does it make the message interesting, it also makes it relevant to someone who would otherwise tune out. Nobody ever really gets fired up about an issue until they have a personal investment in it, and it's hard to create their personal investment just by presenting them with angry messages. 

So whatever your issue, whether it's at work, a personal cause, or just a message you have been mandated to share - my piece of advice to you, as a long-time-cause-advocate, is to work the angles. Not all happy, not all sad, not all angry and not all informative. Take people on the journey with you, of what it's like to live the cause and survive life believing in it. Bring it to life with everything life has in it: humour, frustration, sarcasm, hard facts, personal experiences, elation, disappointments, misunderstandings, successes and boredom - it's all got to be there.

Because, quite simply, the message will be lost if the image equates to just a bunch of permanently angry people.


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some Really Easy Shit To Get Right

My favourite tumblr ever in the world (Obnoxious Expats in Singapore) makes me laugh so much, one, because it's funny because it's true, and two because I'm outta there. *cue manic laugh* So it is from this tumblr I am going to illustrate a very important concept that we, the people managers, must sweat out our glands. Here it is: inclusion will always be more attractive that exclusivity. Got it? Live it, breathe it, and avoid this situation below like the plague...

Let's just set the tone for living in Singapore, as Obnoxious Expat says:

So it's no wonder the event hosted by Singapore, in Sydney Australia, went a little pear shaped. You see, Singaporeans are leaving Singapore because it sucks to be a local. The place is crowded, to the point of mental health risk. Please explain Obnoxious Expat:

As a result, Singaporeans are emigrating like crazy - US, UK, Canada, Australia & New Zealand tend to be the biggies. (My partner and I ecstatically emigrated to Australia just a few months ago - and we're still on a high about how good it is!) And to counter losing its population, Singapore hosts events overseas to try and attract Singaporeans back. The latest event, held in Sydney, was advertised as 'for Singaporeans only'. A couple of Australian's tried to enter and were turned away for not being Singaporean. It turned into the headline:

Another news source included a quote of a Singaporean's sentiment of the 'exclusive' event:

Can't you just feel the big warm fuzzy of inclusiveness? No? Huh, neither could I (a white Aussie girl) and my partner (a caramel Singaporean boy). After this recent episode, I can't say either of us are attracted at all - in fact, repulsed might be more correct. It just reinforces that awful stereotype of Singaporean insularity, or as Obnoxious Expat captures so well:

You know how the overblown headline, and bad taste from this could have been avoided? Inclusiveness.

Targeting is different to excluding. When we target a market, we are pitching something to be as attractive as it possibly can be to a particular group. But targeting this group does not mean disallowing anyone else from being interested in the product. It means pitching it, hopefully hitting that particular target, and having some happy coincidences of interest from an unexpected market. 

Exclusion is saying who is, and who isn't allowed to even be interested in the product. Limiting the market before even making the product attractive! And that's not to say humans don't like the idea of exclusivity - we adore it in our ivy leagues and little clubs. But we like the idea because it 'could be' open to us. A little like capitalism hey? We like the idea because it 'could be' us who is the one getting rich. We will forever be enamored with the fantasy of many things that 'could' happen to us. Unsurprisingly, the appeal of exclusivity comes from an inclusive message.

So for forever and a day, if you are going to be involved with people, think inclusivity. Think open, and transparent, and attractive. Of course, attraction is always harder than exclusion, but that's the deal. A bit more work, a lot more reward. Oh, and it also makes you open to happy coincidences, which are pretty excellent things to be open to - just think Norma Jean and a snap of her working in a munitions plant.


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Bit of a Top Dog Trashing

It seems to me, the gift in being 'gifted' isn't the ease of doing something well, but in the permission to do it at others' expense. Talent and drive are a socially acceptable obsession, and our permission for bad behaviour is in direct proportion to our reverence of their work. Simply said, brilliant artists are excused for being terrible human beings.

Take, for instance, Stella Bowen, who got together with Ford Madox Ford and lived with him in Paris during the 1920s. They hung out with the likes of Gertrude Stein and Hemingway. And then a 'houseguest' became Bowen's financial burden as Ford carried on his writer's life but required his ex-lover-houseguest to be muted. Finally Bowen decided enough was enough and left Ford.

After many years, Stella Bowen wrote a memoir, recalling "I don't think it matters much whom the artist gets his nourishment, or his shelter, so long as he gets it." It's an incredibly intimate and vulnerable insight to share with strangers. And sad - seriously sad - because it's an admission that despite all her best efforts and perception of importance, she honestly believed with hindsight that she was simply a meal ticket.

Despite using up those around him, Ford, ends up a bitter old man. Quoted as saying while sobbing, "I helped Joseph Conrad, I helped Hemingway. I helped a dozen, a score of writers, and many of them have beaten me. I'm now an old man and I'll die without making a name like Hemingway." A bitter, self pitying, jealous old man comparing himself to Conrad: attempted suicide and a wife purely for housekeeping reasons, and Hemingway: multiple failed marriages and suicide. Ford's attitude denied him a graceful exit.

And why I don't want the top job comes down to Ford's phrase "many of them have beaten me." Life isn't a competition, there is no ranking and awards on our headstones. But goddamn we like to make it one. And it's that competitive mindset that gets us into this pickle of brilliance excusing bad behaviour. That stretch for money, prestige and fame. That expectation that shoulders are there for standing on.

Are these the altars we want to be worshipping at? Are these the leaders we want to be following? Are these the masters we want to be copying? Is that the pinnacle that will really fulfil our lives by conquering? What about having something to do, something to look forward to and someone to love you? Could that be enough?

Or by simply being the musings of a middle class white girl who has never contemplated anything in life below Maslow's 3rd rung, is this whole train of thought moot?

Either way, I don't want to be the meal ticket of any brilliant star, and I don't want to be the brilliant star standing on my loved one's shoulders. I would just like to do something well, contributing with creativity, dedication and with as little taxation on the rest of my life as possible. Honestly show me a CEO who can do that, and I will gladly change my tune. In the meantime, I will leave the 'gifted' to it.


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Introverted or Extroverted - excellence won't happen in a vacuum

I keep a notebook next to my bed, because my brain likes to come up with things I need to remember just as I'm falling asleep. I am confident it's a universal condition.

A few nights ago, my brain decided to throw this out into the world:

Staying at home becomes like a cocoon - a safety net that brings fear & isolation.
Home is comfort - comfort fosters laziness.
Success comes from getting out.

(picture of a goldfish jumping into another goldfish's bowl)

Introverted  or extroverted - excellence won't happen in a vacuum.

I wonder if Marissa Mayer had a similar brainwave a few months ago?


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.
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