the pursuit of steak amidst the sizzle.

* hi. for those who know me, you’ll know i’m not the guns-a-blazin’ extrovert type. for the few who don’t know me but read my posts, i’m sure you’ll deduce the same. it’s a struggle to get what’s in my head out of my mouth, which is why i like writing here.

like a sponge (at least i’m good at being quiet and spongey), i’ve tried to pick up the best ways to change myself. why change myself? well, it would seem that within the profession that i’m passionate about – scratch that – any client-facing, private sector, sales-based, human-being-interaction-requirement profession, quiet sponges like me don’t beat the rest of the salmon upstream. to me, success means being one of those flip-floppier, upstreaming salmon.

trout

the following are advice i have absorbed to change myself/get out of my ‘comfort zone’/jostle my status-quo/unbalance my homeostasis/stress me out:

  1. you must be a chameleon – show different ‘yous’ based on who you’re talking to. all ‘you’ of course, just knowing the audience and adapting to it. fair. but i worry the line between chameleon and manipulation and multiple personality disorder is a fine one.
  2. don’t be you – mimic characteristics of others you think are more successful than you. this is likely a bad idea. i hope you will infer as to why.
  3. rock being vulnerable – this is most scary. but after watching brene brown’s ted talks, i like it best.

she has found through years of research that the root of feeling vulnerable is shame due to feeling not being good enough. confident, assertive, sizzlin’ people don’t have this shame. they believe they are worthy. they let go of what they ‘should be’.

ask yourself: do i feel worthy? do i have shame because i don’t feel like i measure up? i feel that way. a lot. that voice in my head that won’t come out of my mouth is a loud one. but the upside is, according to brene, that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change”. you have to be open to new ideas, willing to consider, convinced your thinking isn’t necessarily best, to entertain and get behind something revolutionary. if you can question yourself, you can question others with the same rigour.

all things aside, i would rather swim strong and steady based on my steak than be first to get caught with only some sizzle.

 

k *

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it’s a great time to be a consumer.

freestuffheart* hi. as advertisers scramble to out-do each other in the perpetually-complicating systems of measurement, consumers sit back and get adver-tained. it seems no matter where you are or what you’re up to these days, you’re given free products, free trials for services, and fun experiences. i mean, it’s a ridiculously  great time to be a consumer right now.

traditionally, advertisers sought to ‘tell a story’ to pull at consumers’ heartstrings. this was generally achieved through television because it offered the opportunity to communicate the most story and emotion along with it. but in a world where consumers have more options to consume (or not) advertising and talk about goods and services, advertisers have shifted from telling a story and hoping consumers buy into it to having consumers make their own story.

Marketers have started to realize that the stories consumers want to engage with are, more often than not, their own (unless a brand’s story is amazingly compelling). let’s be honest – most are not all that compelling. so if a brand can provide something for consumers to tell their own stories about, well, they will. good and bad.

so while marketers try to figure out how to get consumers to make stories with their brands – so exciting that they’ll tell their network and oh ya, buy the product – sit back and enjoy. and if you’re in the industry, are you telling stories or launching ideas that make stories?

k *

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advertising: the new mother of invention.

* hi. i was lucky enough to sneak into (literally) a few talks at advertising and marketing week last week. turns out if you walk in like you own the joint and make a beeline past the sea of ipad-weilding registration people without making eye contact, you can soak in a bunch of industry learning scott-free. to be clear, i’m not a knowledge thief – i just forgot to grab the pass off my co-worker. anyway.

overwhelmingly, speakers from all corners of advertising and technology were professing the immediate need for a broadening (if you hadn’t broadened already) in business structure from being a shop that produces innovative thinking to a shop that actually invents stuff, from communication ideas to prototypes and communication technologies. the lesson: catching up to the status quo is no longer good enough – we all have to be originating the next game-changer.

the greek philosopher, plato has been credited with articulating the belief, “necessity is the mother of invention.” while this may ring very true when we look back historically, it certainly felt outdated after being bombarded by tech-lab frenzied marketers. marketers are inventing things we didn’t even know we needed. didn’t even want. don’t even need, don’t event want, and may not even make an impact…

it’s a funny time where the technological capabilities are out there for the taking and moulding and purposing, even if the purpose is for the sake of invention in the name of, well, advertising.  i suppose we’ve always expected marketers to be innovative and certainly creative in the ways consumers’ attention is garnered. but the nuanced sentiment of “invention” brings with it a sense of ‘for the good of mankind’ that might not always be synonymous with selling bagels, banking, or hairbands to people.

so while for the nerdy ones like me, advertising-agency-turned-invention-lab sounds amazing, i wonder how deep this expensive and time-consuming undertaking will permeate the industry. think of the capital investment required to actually make stuff – tech stuff – not to mention the resources and hours and lawyers and patents. speaking of resources, how many people would you need collaborating on one project? the expertise needed are certainly beyond art, copy, and even code. in the agency world of billable hours, pretty sure (don’t actually know) that an invention takes a small army to execute.

time will tell. and in the meantime, there’s someone somewhere tinkering away in an effort to perpetuate your consumption of something. weird, huh?

k *

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laundry detergent.

vintage_advertising_poster_sunlight_soap-rc3388b9647b54fe5b11619b806f708fa_6gf_8byvr_512* hi. they say people are extremely brand-loyal when it comes to laundry detergent and that they likely use the same detergent as their mothers did. makes sense, i suppose. you have to be willing to trust something that could preserve or ruin a good chunk of your wardrobe. after the recession, most primary grocery shoppers (moms) became more price-conscious. but this didn’t mean they bought a store brand or the cheapest brand on sale. no, they remained brand-loyal. they just became more coupon-and-flyer-savvy, seeking out their fav brand at the lowest price.

my mom used powdered sunlight when i was a kid and hung clothes to dry, and if you’ve used powdered sunlight you’ll know it doesn’t smell like much of anything. perhaps a hint of lemon that goes away after 30 seconds of exposure to some other smell. i always wondered what it was that the other kids smelled like. i now know it was dryer sheets. probably downy ones.

when i went to university, i too bought big huge boxes of powdered sunlight. it was always on deal and lasted for a really long time. one day in the laundry room of my dorm, some guy knocked my box of sunlight powder over by accident as he struggled with his massive bag of dirty laundry. the spill was magnificent. alas, he offered a cup of liquid detergent to me so i could do my load and offered to pay for my box of spilled detergent. he never paid me back, but my laundry came out smelling amazing and there wasn’t any white residue all over the place. huh.

millennials are known to be very brand-loyal and price-smart and will research the best way to get what they want. as a millennial, i’d love to say i could perpetuate this stereotype as it relates to laundry detergent. but i now buy solely on smell. once the lady at the cash register said, “oh, you know tide is on sale right now for half of this price… right?” to which i responded, “yes, but that one smells like boy and pine.”

i’ve been suckered for chemicals and consumerism. but at least it smells good.

 

k *

 

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pearls, diamonds, and people.

diamonds* hi. it would seem that extreme imposed and internal pressure to perform in the workplace is a negative thing to one’s wellbeing. sure, while it fosters stress, it can also bring out the best in people. it can bring out the worse in some, of course. the some that crumble and crack under pressure. but for those who strive under it, it’s the best opportunity to learn and grow.

with exposure, sand turns into pearls. with pressure, sediment turns into diamonds. and some people break. which person are you? it would seem that the former would be high-performers and over-achievers and probably the most favourable to “be”. but those individuals also run the risk of being taken advantage of. be given more than they should. and be expected to deliver. those who want to meet and exceed those expectations run themselves ragged doing so, but grow a whole ton. so, what’s the trade off?

pressure and exposure impacts more than work. it impacts a person’s disposition and feeling toward their day. their life. and those who can be diamonds and pearls rise to the occasion and benefit, but those who cannot suffer and disintegrate. although, with the benefit is the tax taken from the mind and body. how can a win/win be found?

figure out what you are and what you like before it’s too late to change focus. because a few wise women have said that if you’re passionate about your work, you’ll thrive and strive for pearl-dom/diamond-dom.

k *

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bag-holders, artful-dodgers, and houdinis.

25433-Quiet-People-Have-The-Loudest-Minds* hi. this post is just a lil’ story, written with my tongue in my cheek, with nothing to find between the lines, and to be taken with a grain – or pinch – of salt.

there are three kinds that co-exist in the business of business; bag-holders, artful-dodgers, and houdinis.

1. bag-holders. these are the kind who are left, figuratively, holding the bag of number-crunching, word-typing, and paper-printing necessary for business-running. these kind usually do a lot of thinking that no one hears aloud. when things need to be done, the bag-holders feel accountable and responsible for the things. it’s upsetting for them when things don’t get done because usually they will be the ones blamed. they were the ones left holding the bag, after all.

2. art-full dodgers. these are the kind who dodge doing things, except the job-delagating, non-committing, finger-pointing, shmoozy-lunching necessary for business-running. these kind usually do a little thinking that everybody hears aloud. when things need to be done, the artful-dodgers know how to have the things roll off of their backs like water off of a duck and into the hands of a bag-holder.

3. houdinis. these are the kind that are almost mythical in the level and power of decision-making, question-causing, and magic-making necessary for business-running. these kind are thought to do an immense amount of thinking that is likely heard aloud but probably only by other houdinis. when things need to be done, they rely on the charismatic artful-dodgers, who leave the bag-holders with all the things. then, the houdinis disappear. and their timing is impeccable.

now, in the land of the business of business, the artful-dodgers want to be houdinis. you see, for an artful-dodger, the art of disappearing is the greatest and most-difficult trick. to disappear is to never have things to do or pass off artfully to a bag-holder. all of the dodging is quite tiring, of course. in addition, artful dodgers want to be the ones making the decisions, because in the artful-dodgers’ opinion, their few thoughts heard aloud by everyone are just brilliant.

the bag-holders are in a predicament – between their own bags and the artful-dodgers’ bags, they’re too busy doing things and thinking about them than thinking about what they want to be. some of the bag-holders will always stay bag-holders. some of the bag-holders like holding bags and juggling things and thinking about them.

most of the bag-holders get angry. some of them want to be artful-dodgers. oh, how great it must be like to get away without doing things. oh, how grand it must feel to shout thoughts aloud for everyone to hear them. some bag-holders learn to be artful at dodging things and wangle their way into artful-dodger-dom, to let their things fall into the hands of new bag-holders.

but there is one last type of bag-holder. this one last type is very rare. these are the kind who learn from watching artful-dodgers, houdinis, and other bag-holders. they learn things from holding bags, doing things, and thinking a lot with no one hearing aloud. these are the kind that become the best at decision-making, question-causing, and magic-making necessary for business-running. it is said that they make the best houdinis.

k *

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china and the middle class.

* hi. when i heard recently about the spending power of the emerging chinese middle class and the western brands and advertisers fixated on permeating their everyday, i was totally confused. the last i checked up in-depth on china, the government was building cities that no one was living in.  no one lived there because they couldn’t afford to rent or buy a place of their own and were barely surviving. this urbanization continues now, after the new president xi jinping took over things this year with a public asking for economic reform. so, what’s with this new middle class of people who have a bunch of disposable income?

well, most of china is still mostly comprised of the working class to the tune of 700 million people. these people live in households with annual disposable income of between $6,000 and $16,000, or just enough to cover basic needs. the organization for economic cooperation and development defines the global middle class as those households with daily spending between $10 and $100 per person, and the middle class in china is only 10% right now. most chinese people are unable to be “consumers” of sorts – consumer spending currently makes up as little as 35% of china’s total economy, a long way short of the 70% in other more developed economies.

with an economic framework based on exports, the government decided to grow the middle class with labor-market and policy initiatives that increase wages and help private enterprise. in 2012, 25 provinces raised minimum wages by an average of 20%. if all goes to plan, urban-household income could double by 2022. if 10% of china’s 1.3 billion are considered middle class now, it’s expected that 40% will be by 2020. that’s a lot of people. oops, i mean consumers.

i don’t like math nor does math like me, but things aren’t adding up and this false sense of progress is doomed at some point. it’s not sustainable and there’s not enough of the earth and atmosphere for everyone to consume it like whoa. i guess i should unplug, recycle my belongings, and become a self-sustaining granola type. but alas, here i sit in an air conditioned box in the sky with my laptop etc.

i’d offer a solution if i had one. how can the human race live the dream without it meaning this?

 

 

taichi

kid

headphones

 

k *

 

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personalization, customization, and isolation.

* hi. i’ve had a few ideas for different posts floating around for a while. but today over frozen yogurt, something my friend m * said made me realize the things i’d been thinking about were very much linked. we were talking about feeling that as we get older, we’re increasingly and unintentionally existing in our own bubble – a shrinking universe without meaning to. she said, “i’m not even religious, but i want to go join a church. a polish church. so i can hear people speak polish. and eat perogies after.” to be clear, my friend is polish, but the point is that she’s missing a sense of community, familiarity, and belonging. so, i’m sure she could google polish churches and join one, but what i find more concerning is the root cause of this feeling – being caught in an impermeable bubble. i feel it, and i’ll bet my peers do too whether they can put their finger on it or not.

perogies

you might be thinking, “but how can anyone feel isolated these days? the internet and communication technologies have enabled us to be more connected than ever.” sure. but in the name of personalization and customization, google search, facebook, amazon, etc. have implemented algorithms to filter out the stuff deemed irrelevant to you and push the stuff deemed relevant to the top. so if you creep a few key people on the regular, you’ll see their updates and posts in your feed most. if you bought a book about shark attacks, you’ll probably see more books about sharks (or attacking…). if you search music festivals, you’ll see festival-related content rise to the top hits. you watch netflix instead of tv. you listen to a playlist instead of the radio. you follow who you follow and don’t follow who you don’t on twitter. so why is this concerning?

well, you don’t know what you don’t know. so how will we ever stumble across what we don’t know but should/want to know? i’d love to think we’re all curious, knowledge-hungry people, but i’m not confident that something targeted to you about that artist you love wouldn’t derail an attempted and noble quest for learning. i realized with dismay that the only way i consume news and current events is twitter. headlines. tiny bits of a story. a total lack of context about the world happening around me.

this concept is not new. nicholas negroponte’s book from 1995 (ya, 1995) being digital talked about “the daily me”, the personalization of media, and the fear that consumption would be extremely and problematically limited. a lack of the big picture. i’m currently reading control, alt, delete. reboot your business. reboot your life. your future depends on it. by mitch joel in which he talks about the concept of one media/medium, where everything is digital, interactive, and customized to me. a big ole’ geyser of “the daily me”. i wonder, though, if this feeling of disconnect (in the age of connectivity) to the big picture will slow or squash this convergence. there’s something, just something about a shared medium. we see this with tv and social “second screen” interaction. there is something about a lot of people watching the same thing at the same time that is missing from the save-and-watch-later, netflix, or a standard youtube video.

youtube-grown-duo-karmin-make-the-cover-of-rolling-stone--9dbc2fd309

to illustrate the point – karmin. this musical group like many got their start on youtube. but like the ones that got their following first on myspace, they didn’t “make it big” until they got signed by a label, endorsed a brand, and had a music video on tv. yup, tv. and radio play. how long before “making it” happens, well, not on tv? or do we need the blanket “massness” of tv to make stuff truly legitimized?

i think we should be weary of how much we cultivate our existence but also how much we allow the frameworks that control our access to information to cultivate it for us. there’s nothing wrong with not knowing what you don’t know, but there’s something very wrong with not knowing that there’s something out there not to know. ya know?

k *

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the passive and docile.

* hi. last weekend there was a festival in my area that celebrated dogs. or rather, it celebrated the human obsession with dogs. there were dogs in buggies, dogs in booties, dogs with sunglasses, and people everywhere gushing over them. i get it – people love dogs and their own especially, like children. but there’s something strange about these (sometimes tiny) creatures that resemble wild beasts (or vermin, no offence meant) but are happily eating gourmet chow while being pushed around in a stroller and wearing a sequinned vest (true story).

we’ve domesticated dogs to be our pets and manageable and cute. otherwise they’d run away or kill you the minute a leash or collar came into their vicinity. what’s funny, though, is that modern humans share characteristics with domesticated dogs. our evolutionary requirements and theirs share certain conditions that have affected our brains and behaviour, which has manifested in the same way. you might be thinking, “what could i possibly have in common with that dachshund  dressed up like a hot dog?” i’ll explain.

our brains and the processes within them are so easily affected by internal and external chemical and environmental triggers. we rarely even think about it until there’s something like a surge of criminal activity on a full moon. as much as we hate to think of the fragility of the body, it is decidedly worse to think about the malleableness of our minds.

as humans settled and built structures and systems, the adaptation to a framework made it easier to live and thus, the acceptance of the status quo and perpetuated implementation of it on the future humans that moved in was reasonably preferable. a kind of “self-domestication” reflects human motivation to cooperate and communicate and become civilized.

domesticated animals, like us, have lost brain volume – about 10 to 15 percent compared to the wild animal predecessors. via natural selection, less aggressive creatures were favoured to maintain a more peaceful interaction within the species and, in the case of animals, with humans. when the wild ones and domesticates are compared, they think differently. for example, wolves are more prone to flashes of insight, allowing them to solve problems on their own. dogs, with smaller brains, excel at using humans to help them. “man’s best friend” indeed.

so if we’re favouring docility to foster less aggression and killing each other etc., that’s a good thing, right? i’m not sure. i wonder what else we’ve lost in terms of challenging the status quo and not being complacent when we shouldn’t be. life for a dog is great as long as there are loving, doting humans around to do everything. but in the wild, the dog wouldn’t last up against the wolves. if our societal framework deteriorates and the technologies we’ve come to depend on falter, will we survive?

to lighten the mood, i’ll leave you with some ridiculous dog photos.

k *

bananna-dogs

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input and output.

pooh-balloon-bees-mural* hi. for the almost 8 in 10 canadians who have access to the internet, being curious about something is easily fixed via searching the readily available internet. pre-internet and easy-to-use web interfaces like google, one had to go to the library or, well, just wonder about stuff until the thought was resolved, forgotten, or drove the person insane. where the past conventions of information finding and sharing were much less ambient, squandering wonder and leaving questions hanging around like dead ends, today’s curious people can get lost in a screen of answers. one question usually leads to an answer that poses another question. before you know it, it’s 4am and the trail of discovery has led to things not even fathomed or questioned at the beginning of the quest.

in the pre-easy-access-internet world, the hypothesis that formed the inputs or means to an end were much more blind. that is, it wouldn’t be clear that the inputs were wrong until after producing the output. often, a singular and conclusive (or inconclusive) output. the curious people hoped that the inputs would prove or disprove a hypothesis or theory and try to weigh all of the variables, but since the output was the answer, the work was done and sometimes useless if the inputs had been miscalculated, misjudged, or misguided.

today, our minds have been cultivated and spoiled by fairly instant gratification, depending on speed of connection and device used. we’re are able to question and accustomed to questioning everything, because the answers are there for the seeking, and the risk of going mad are far less.

that said, there are more potential nuances as to what the input and output is and how they’re related. there are bits of space around and in between the previous definitions.

the ability to question and find answers and question again more makes the input feed an output and that output feed another input. like a living, breathing  organism on a real-time and mass scale. so, to articulate and define what the bits and spaces are to get from problem/opportunity to end goal/solution, a less mechanical and confining framework must be accepted to replace existing models.

if inputs are questions and outputs are answers, perhaps it’s more like a beehive – the “eureka” is finding the queen and success is producing honey. a continuous source of conclusions at a multiplicity and rate only limited by the scope of our curiosity.

does your access to technology make you feel more enabled to be curious?

k *

pooh

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