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Showing posts from July, 2015

The Fallacy Of Channeling George Orwell

"So I said, 'Think of me as a professional moron,'" I told my friend. "That's how you want to be remembered by them?" she said. "Oh, goodness." "Well that's what I said." "What do you mean, 'That's what I said?'  Now moron is your brand." For a time I thought it somehow daring to insult myself.  But then I witnessed people far, far more senior than myself doing exactly the same thing.   "Tell it to me like I'm stupid.""Pretend I'm simple.""Imagine that you're talking to your mother." By reducing a senior communicator to a less intimidating level, statements like this can help a subject matter expert improve their communication. Often, however, a dialogue about better words doesn't help anything at all. Because in some organizations, what seems like "poor performance" - including bad communication - is exactly what's required. Words that confuse, mislead, obf…

Has The Modern Workplace Become A Prison?

Today, you have to give up a lot for a career. But have we given up too much? Workers nowadays are routinely expected to do at least these five things for the sake of a job.  Be available outside traditional working hours, often late at night, sometimes all night.Tolerate harassment, abuse, and sometimes even behavior that would clinically be described as insane. Accept contract, part-time, on-call, temporary, or other impermanent arrangements so as not to face a loss of income.Socialize with coworkers, effectively eliminating their right to a life outside workplace scrutiny.Open their social media activities to scrutiny from their employer.All of these things impinge on one's right to a life outside the job. They impinge on people's freedom. Worse than that, people are expected to somehow pledge a kind of personal allegiance to the work that they do. You must "live the brand" - if you work at a Dunkin' Donuts, it's not enough to just serve donuts anymore. This s…

To My Sister Faigy Mayer, Who Wanted To Write A Book

Last week I had a dream. Is it okay if I share it with you?
In the dream my mother called me on the telephone. "Your sister killed herself," she said, and I said, "What? What? That can't be." I was in shell shock.
In the dream, I felt like screaming, "I can't believe she's gone, and what a wasted life."
Because in the real world my sister does "everything," but somehow "everything" is never enough, at least not in her mind.
It was 2:30 on Shabbos morning. I wanted to call my mother and make sure she was alive. I knew that was probably silly. But something seemed very terribly wrong.
So I stood up and went to the living room, just stood there, feeling a terrible sense of foreboding. It felt like blackness.
Less than ten days later, you did a running sprint off a rooftop bar in Manhattan. I found out about it yesterday morning, on Facebook. 
You did a 20-foot dive. 
And the people kept on drinking.
I did not know you, Faigy, not…

The Taming of Amy Schumer

With some help from Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer turned her screenplay for Trainwreck into a movie that earned $30.2 million in its opening weekend. Apatow "discovered" Schumer, notes Variety and he "godfathered" her movie. It is not just popular in the box office, but on social media as well. Deadline notes, somewhat breathlessly: The social media universe for the film stands at 101.M inclusive of 65.7M on Facebook and 33.6M on Twitter per RelishMix. #Trainwreck Twitter hashtags hovered around 1,000 all week and swung up to 5k by last Thursday. So people are talking about it, and they are influenced by the messages it sends out. I know this because I saw the movie with a group of people, and the content of the film was the subject of conversation for another 45 minutes after it ended, as well as on social media. The woman sitting next to me in the theater was older, she looked like she was in her mid-50s. And she was there with a man. I don't know what his reaction wa…

Marketer, Analyze Thyself

You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions." - Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), "The Breakfast Club"As a child growing up in the '80s I wanted very badly to be cooler than I was. Although looking back I can't imagine why. Look at this junior high perm, circa approximately 1983. On the weekends I used to watch all the movies by John Hughes. I loved "Sixteen Candles" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Pretty in Pink" and "The Breakfast Club." All of them were movies about who we want to be, and the vast gap between that person and who we actually are. A lot of girls wanted to be Molly Ringwald. There she is as "Claire," in "The Breakfast Club," 1985. (I got that haircut, but not the color.) There she is a "Andie," in "Pretty in Pink." SO COOL. A lot of the time I wanted to be Judd Nelson, too. Yeah, I'm a rebel! But in those times…

Is Ellen Pao Reddit's "Gone Girl"?

In the film "Gone Girl," a psychopathic woman wields female victimhood against her cheating husband like a gun. It's a scary movie for men and women alike. We watched the show on Saturday night as a free feature pick on Xfinity. Neither of us fell asleep till the tiny hours of the morning. Judging from a random selection of simultaneous Tweets, we were not the only sleepless ones.  At the same time, in real life, Ben Affleck - the popular star of the movie, who is rumored to be a philanderer in real life - is getting a divorce from his wife, the also popular star Jennifer Garner. It is hard not to favor Jennifer, because of her good-girl and good-mom persona. But that is precisely the point of the movie: The brands we see on TV are often grossly manufactured.  Meanwhile, Ellen Pao's departure from Reddit is a top news story this weekend, as has been her ongoing litigation against San Francisco venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Her prominence in t…

"Rational vs. Emotional" = Sexism

Ladies, I hate to be the one to break it to you, if you hadn't heard.
But a lot of men think we are "naturally insane." They may not tell you this. But they're thinking it.  Have you seen this popular video, "Wife Zone Chart," online? Even if you haven't there's a good chance someone you know has heard of it.  It's got 1,873,088 views as of this morning. The guy in the video purports to give advice to other men as to how they can reliably choose a life partner. His beginning premise? Some women are attractive and some women are not. But one thing you can be sure of is that all women are "crazy." "This is the universal hot-crazy matrix, it's everything a young man needs to know about women. I've developed this on my own after 46 years of living on the earth. This is how it works. You have your crazy axis and your hot axis. Hot is as usual measured from 0 to 10, we're all familiar with that. Crazy is measured from 4 to 10 becau…

"Skinny Oreos," Broken Brand

Brand Essence: Noun. A feeling. The instinctive, unconscious emotional reaction people have whenever they encounter you.Today I learned that Oreos are going on a diet. Despite the fact that 50% of Oreo consumers split the cookie apart before eating it, the Associated Press reports, there will soon be a new version called "Oreo Thins" (on the radio they're calling it "Skinny Oreos") that - due to its slimmer cookie profile - make such activity impossible. "And since they're for adults, Oreo says they weren't designed to be twisted open or dunked. That's even though about half of customers pull apart regular Oreos before eating them, according to the company."It didn't take me long to figure out that the decision must be about expanding market share. Of course. But in my view, trying to build financial equity by destroying basic brand equity is misguided. For the essence of the Oreo brand is really "simple childlike American indulgence…