I was interested to read an article in the New York Times recently. An American journalist, Mandy Len Catron put a technique created by psychologist Dr. Arthur Aron to the test. In short his theory and evidence proved that if a couple stared into each others eyes for exactly four minutes the result would be that the couple would fall in love.
Catron said ‘Staring into someones eyes for four minutes was one of the most thrilling and terrifying experiences in my life’. Prior to this ‘staring’ thirty six seemingly trivial questions were asked to one another. Ultimately Aron’s theory was proven and Catron did indeed fall in love.
I want to take this one step further. In a world were one in four of us suffer mental illness at one point in our lives, my question is if we were to look into our own eyes for four minutes would it be possible to fall in love with ourself, thus potentially stripping us of self loathing, low self esteem, insecurities and anxieties? Self loathing and a lack of self love is one of the key factors of our unhappiness and unrest.
Surely if Arons theory works with two separate individuals it could feasibly be possible to apply this on yourself? By looking deeply through the ‘windows of our soul’ could we fall in love with ourself? Would experiencing completely true self love give us happiness and contentment? With regards to the thirty six questions, (which to me are fairly basic first date questions albeit obviously revealing and personal, therefore ones that you might say after your third tequila) perhaps if we asked ourselves these questions and answered them honestly, void of self judgment and truly accepting followed by the ‘staring’ I wonder if the outcome would be parallel to the original experiment. One could argue a similar questionnaire could be used i.e. The Proust Questionaire.
I have to admit personally I would be a bit relunctant to do this test on myself. Staring into my own eyes freaks me out a little bit, it seems to trigger an ‘out of body’ experience and unnerves me, but maybe I didn’t look for long enough. Maybe I need to push past that wall and reach a point where body meets soul again, and maybe, just maybe they might see each other in another light?
Our constant hunger for materialistic satisfaction could arguably be a substitute for the lack of fulfillment and contentment we feel within ourselves. Religion has dictated that ‘love’ is the key to happiness and contentment and self help books have dictated ‘if we don’t love ourselves how can we expect others to love us?’. Our minds are a melting pot of ego (and Id and Super Ego of course, if you’re Freud fans) in varying degrees, each pot a different recipe, all the ingredients affecting us in different ways. We are obsessed with the idea that our lives and experiences shape us and dictate our decisions, but in fact it just boils down to neuro science. Our brains run us. They decide why and how we look at things and think in certain ways.
I digress I little. Coming back to Arons experiment, I also have another question. What if you couldn’t see the sex of the other person? If essentially the subjects are looking into each others eyes and asking questions, if the gender could not be depicted would or could the subjects still fall in love? Obviously voice would be an issue, so maybe the voice could be disguised some way. I’m over complicating, but you get the jist.
In a world where the lines of sexuality are becoming increasingly blurred and pansexuality, gender blindness, ‘fluidity’, etc, whatever new term is being coined, is on the increase, could this or a version of this experiment encourage further diminishment of homophobia or social sexual barriers. I wonder if once the gender of the subject was revealed, depending on your sexuality, if the connection would still remain or bias or core beliefs would win out?..
This is really interesting and wonderful experiment created by Love Has No Labels.
‘Before anything else, we are all human. It’s time to embrace diversity. Let’s put aside labels in the name of love’ – Love Has No Labels
For many years I have written about the importance of ‘P>P’ in all areas of business. By this I simply mean ‘Person to Person.’
We all separate ourselves off into our little boxes and put labels above our heads, I’m a B>C Marketing Expert or I’m in Corporate Comms or I work in B>B, etc.
Let’s say we throw all our labels away for a moment.
Can we agree that from the off we are most likely dealing with another human being? I think until we start interplanetary commerce this is the likelihood. Secondly, can we just for a moment push aside all that data, all those stats, all that research and just start from stratch?
Let’s take marketing from a humanistic angle. I hear you sigh. Sounds a bit flaky? Let’s just clear up what to be ‘humanistic’ means…
is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith” – Wikipedia
Often the word ‘humanistic’ is applied to psychotherapy. It deals with the here and now. What’s in front of us. What we are dealing with right now. Our emotions and our needs, right now. It adopts a holistic approach to human existence and pays special attention to such phenomena as creativity, free will, and human potential. In other words, we are really focusing on the individual and his/her needs without assumptions or judgment or preconceptions.
Humanistic Marketing is a relatively new approach to marketing (so new it’s yet to be listed on Wikipedia) Richard J Varey and Michael Pirson have written several books on Humanism in Business.
“Humanistic Marketing is a response to the currently growing mega-trend call for rethinking marketing. The book organizes current thinking around the problems of marketing theory and practice as well as some possible solutions and ways forward: both for theory and practice. This volume was initiated by The Humanistic Management Network to contribute knowledge and understanding to the emerging humanistic business and management movement that does not accept perpetual economic expansion as a sustainably viable means of meeting individual and collective needs in society and nature, and instead seeks balance in place of excess. Humanistic Marketing recognises the harm that comes with the unfettered desire for more of more. The authors ask how can marketing’s principles and practice be founded in humanistic values such as altruism, empathy, respect, trustworthiness, honesty, integrity, care, compassion, service, intelligence, beauty, justice, virtue? Furthermore, how can marketing help to protect human dignity and promote sustainable human (not consumer) well-being” – Humanistic Marketing by Richard J Varey and Michael Pirson
Whilst this might sound a bit idealistic, this actually is the way marketing and business is shifting. A good example is the campaign by Always – ‘Like A Girl’. This focuses very strongly on the issues of feminism and gender equality with young people. The actual brand behind the campaign is almost unseen, leaning towards an altruistic, empathic and compassionate approach.
I’m going to bring in what could initially seem an anomaly in this: Parallel Thinking. The term coined by Edward de Bono takes the lateral thinking approach via a thinking model called the Six Thinking Hats. Each hat dictates the thinkers to all only think in one way at the same time.
Blue Hat – One person is delegated the ‘blue hat’ (not literally only verbally, although it has been known to use actual coloured hats). The blue hat dictates which order the hats are used.
This would be a good order:
White Considering purely what information is available. What are the facts?
Red Intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling void of justification or judgment
Black Logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative
Yellow Logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
Green Statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes
This order can be repeated as often as you want, but chances you’ll have a pretty decent idea of where you going after one cycle.
This is a very humanistic approach, because it is in the ‘here and now.’ We are saying what we think and feel at that moment without judgment. We are letting go of our fears that maybe our idea might be rejected or it isn’t our place to talk about that area, that’s a different department. Let’s blur the lines a bit. Let’s mix it up.
At the foundation of humanistic counselling are the Core Conditions coined by Carl Rogers.
Empathy (Understanding of anothers needs)
Unconditional Positive Regard (Void of judgment)
We can apply these to business as well as in life.
So, lets throw it all up the air. Let’s rethink the way we market and do business with each other. Let’s lose the labels. Let’s stride forward like the pioneers of technology and science and change the way we think. The world is moving fast, the millennials are waiting in the wings to take the reins. We need to adapt and change. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity.
In our constant pursuit of technological discoveries are we in danger of losing our ability to just be?
We are, as a race, always looking ahead to the future. Constantly moving forwards into new realms of technology, science, medicine, our world and the universe.
We drip feed ourselves daily with bite size helpings of information that we bank subconsciously and consciously in our ever busying minds. Our brains must be bursting at the seams with the amount of information held. Those little neurons sure are working hard to compartmentalize everything and ensure each part of our brain processes the right information correctly, let alone allowing ourselves to function on a day to day basis like remembering to go to work and where we put the car keys.
Are we losing the ability to just be? Do we have to constantly satisfy our need to be in the know? Do we really have to know what so and so is up to, know what going on the news, politics, media, anything and everything? Are we frowned upon if we don’t ‘keep up’? Well, it was all over Twitter, how come you didn’t see it? Do we feel embarrassed if we don’t know? Keep up at the back of the class! Are you listening? Stop day dreaming! Stop looking out the window and the sky and the trees and the sun! Absorb this information! You need to know this!
But do we really? I’m not saying we mustn’t learn, quite the opposite. I aspire to learn something new every day, but I try to sift through the information and retain the stuff I want to retain. Saying that, subconsciously, of course I’m going to retain everything anyway, the brain is amazing like that. It all gets retained and filed away whether you like it or not. The clever part is trying to find it again. Like an expert PA the information gets efficiently filed in just the right place. Brilliant, but when he’s off work you’re stuffed!
Maybe we have to be more strict with ourselves with what we absorb. Every day I come across people who say ‘I’ve got so much on my mind’ or ‘I just can’t think straight.’ It’s not surprising. Not only do we have to deal with our own personal issues and day to day stuff we absorb every piece of other information that comes our way like sponges. A lot of this information is also sadly very distressing: wars, famine, human suffering, terrorism, global disasters… How can we possibly be expected to take the burden of all this suffering? And not only that but we can’t do anything about it. Well, unless you’re God of course. Because he’s in charge right? Which brings us neatly to spirituality. Do we have a spiritual side? Is modern life and our pursuit of dehumanizing technologies like artificial intelligence, robots and telepresence in danger of diminishing our ability to be a spiritual human?
Are we losing our ability to be human? via @missmetaverse www.futuristmm.com
Some could argue that we are void of a spiritual side, that all we are just a miraculous bunch of molecules making up a human body. In which case the potential dehumanising of us doesn’t really matter. We are simply a biological being and our ‘spiritual side’ was and is just a figment of our imagination. Maybe all these clever neurons along with a large cocktail of neurotransmitters concocted this idea of a ‘spirit’ to make us feel more ‘human.’
Maybe it’s just neural trickery? Well, I, for one, will take a huge slug of that concoction because I think that without the feeling of spirituality or individualism or ‘self’ we are just another biological being and that’s pretty damn soul destroying.
So, if we are so human and full of spirituality how do we expect to impart this into creating copies of ourselves with artificial intelligence? How can we make an ‘artificial human’ when we’re not entirely sure what we are made up of ourselves? Do we need a soul or a spiritual side?
In We’re Virtually There, I spoke about the cyberships and virtual relationships and the question of whether, if we do create artificial intelligences that are as close to a human as we can, would be have the potential to fall in love with one? Are we forgetting how to be truly human or are we happily evolving into a cyber-human race where the lines become blurred between human and robot? Are we heading for a world filled with robots and artificial intelligence, a multi-cyber as well as a multi-cultural world? It all sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it?
I think at the moment there’s a big backlog of technology. Like the Hoover Dam, it’s holding back a huge wave of technology just waiting to be released. See Digital Technology – What Now?
I think the increased use of artificial intelligence in the corporate world is inevitable, and this in no doubt spill rapidly into our commercial world. The question is how will our integration with AI’s develop and how will this effect humanity?
In my blog ‘Digital Technology – What Now?’ I spoke about the plethora of technological discoveries and advancements we are making on a daily rate across the globe. The futuristas, the technological innovators, the neuroscientists, the strategists, the lateral thinkers creating systems far beyond anything we’ve ever seen.
First, we had the radio, the telephone, the television, the DVD player, the CD player, etc; all of these appliances being ‘one way’ appliances (arguably, with the exception of the telephone). We are now beginning to look at technology in much more psychological and scientific ways. Now, like never before, we are looking deeply into our neurological self and applying this to economics, marketing and smart devices. We’re not just looking at technology as one way road, we’re looking at how we, as human beings, can interact and work with it by truly understanding how we work neurologically. We are beginning to look at ourselves more humanistically, i.e. as individuals and not just as a particular gender, age or race. So taking this all into consideration we are now looking at technology in a very different way.
The Hoover Dam of technology I referred to in this blog is finally beginning to show cracks. There’s trickles forming down the brick face. Cracks are appearing across the whole dam. As the build up increases soon the dam will break and there will be the most monumental, life changing tsumani of smart systems changing the face of modern life.
A great example of this is the Internet of Things.
‘The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure’
We still have a long way to go before the Internet of Things is fully integrated into our daily lives but, I for one, can’t wait.
In this video Dr. John Barratt talks about the impending arrival of the Internet of Things and the importance of human wisdom and compassion to ensure control of this technology that will ultimately change our lives. I agree strongly that think this is key.
Watch: The Internet of Things – Dr. John Barratt at TEDxCIT
Dr. John Barrett is Head of Academic Studies at the Nimbus Centre for Embedded Systems Research at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Group Director of the Centre’s Smart Systems Integration Research Group. His research is focused on packaging, miniaturisation and embedding of smart systems in materials, objects and structures.
In my blog ‘Are We Losing Our Ability to Be Human?’ I talk about the gradual diminishment of our ability to be human. Technology is, arguably creating dehumanization. Whilst we dive headlong into the fray of ‘what will be’, we must be mindful of retaining our humanism. We must ensure we utilise the Internet of Things for the betterment of mankind, because, as Barratt says, the opportunities to use this technology for negative purposes is a very real concern. We are already reading about terrorists utilizing smart devices to glean information and knowledge.
We are about to release a beast, a gigantic technological beast that will encompass us all. The secret to ensuring the beast is properly trained to help us as a race will be solely down to wise and considered human interaction. We cannot relinquish control to artificial intelligences and at the same time expect to retain it. We must create a balance of human input and artificial intelligence.
In my blog ‘Are We Virtually There’ I refer to the movie ‘Her’ where ‘Samantha’ played by Scarlett Johannson eventually becomes an independent intelligence making her own decisions and interacting freely and by her own means with other artificial intelligences. There are hundreds of sci fi and dystopian novels that talk about the over powering of the human race by robots and AI’s.
Could this happen? If, sorry, when, the Internet of Things happens everything will be linked, if we think we’re plugged in now, then we’d better think again. There’s no denying we’re heading for a technocratic world. Technocracy, as Barratt says in the video is already well and truly here. We are only a mere twenty years since the birth of the internet and look at what we’ve achieved already. We’ve really only just touched the surface ..
I recently watched a movie called ‘Her’ starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Set in the future the beautiful, strange and emotional story of a letter writer, Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) who, after separating from his girlfriend, downloads an intelligent computer operating system (OS) personified through a female voice, ‘Samantha’ played by Johansson.
Director Spike Jonze conceived the idea of the film after reading about Cleverbot, a web application that uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to have conversations with humans.
Twombly had quite simply created his ‘perfect’ woman. He had answered a few questions; What gender was he? What gender did he want? What was his relationship like with his mother, etc and then suddenly Samantha’s sultry, and endearingly shy voice is heard. A partner. All clean and new. Void of emotional baggage. Void of transference or counter transference or id or super ego or ego or any of that. I wonder what Freud, Jung, Lacan, Klein and the like would think of this.
If we’re going to use article intelligence technology to create the ‘perfect’ partner then based on a psychological analysis and view perhaps the answer lies in tapping into the reductionist psychology, to simply align each separate component with the AI and thus creating the perfect partner.
Moving away from psychology and into the realms and the future of artificial intelligence in Hong Kong an AI has become the world’s first company director.
‘In a world first, Japanese venture capital firm Deep Knowledge recently named an artificial intelligence (AI) to its board of directors.
The robot, named Vital, was chosen for its ability to pick up on market trends ‘not immediately obvious to humans’.
‘The bot has already helped make two major investment decisions in life science companies, Pathway Pharmaceuticals and InSilico Medicine.’
In Japan they are even looking into how an AI could generate stories from ideas already written by the late author Shinichi Hoshi who died in 1997. Could an AI eventually write a novel? Is that conceivably possible? Surely all the classics, the sonnets, the novels ever written were borne from human experience, love, loss, hate, life..? Does this blow the very foundation of literature out the window?
So, if these AI’s are becoming more and more ‘human’ would it be feasibly possible to fall in love with one? And just say we did, would that be so bad? A partner who loves us unconditionally, void of an emotional baggage that might clash with ours. A partner to whom we can tell our deepest secrets to, a partner who will never leave us, who will never be unfaithful, who will truly understand us. Isn’t that what we all want? Of course, the relationship will also be void of physicality but can we put that aside for all the other attributes of this perfect relationship? Would all the other positives balance the lack of physicality out?
Many of us have internet relationships or cyberships. These are relationships between people online. In many cases this is the only way people know each other. Is this bad? It’s not dissimilar to pen pals though if you think about it. I had a pen pal at school. We were designated one. She was from another country, France if I recall. We wrote to each other regularly about our lives, what we had done that week, our families, our friends. So now we do it online. No difference really. I didn’t know her, she didn’t know me and we never met. Cyberships can often be more honest and open. The fear of divulging a secret is diminished because the person isn’t present. Not similar to Twombly and ‘Samantha’. So was Twombly wrong or odd or unhinged to fall in love with a computer? Are cyberships or virtual relationships unhealthy? Are they affecting us cognitively? Are they changing us as human beings? Will our wants and needs change as we delve deeper and deeper into virtual worlds? I think, whether we like it or not we will soon find out…
I have a confession. I’m going to come out publicly. I am a feminist. There, I’ve said it. I am a feminist. Phew, that feels better! Now you know. I no longer have to hide it. I’ve said the F word.
I’ve joined the ever-growing number of women who have, across the centuries, stood up, spoken up and burnt our bras. I’ve questioned my salary, my need to wear make up, to look sexy, to shave my legs, armpits, and anywhere else. I’ve celebrated Pankhurst, Oprah, Ellen and Beyoncé mentally holding them aloft like champions. I’ve read countless articles about the battle of women across the world, the fight against female genital mutilation, domestic violence and mental abuse. I’ve listened and sung along loudly to songs about being strong and independent, ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves!!!’ We sure are, sister! I’ve balanced parenthood with my career, I’ve embraced my womanhood, climbed to the highest hilltop and shouted I AM A FEMINIST!!
Aren’t you proud of me now? I would bet my bottom dollar, you probably don’t give two hoots. Another bloody feminist. She’s probably gay, no doubt. She’s probably a man hater! Please sit down, for Gods sake! Just be quiet! If I hear that word ‘feminism’ one more time, I will…
Ok. Let’s start again. Let’s say I promise not to use the F word. Is that better? Ok, deal. No more saying the F word. Let’s call it something else. For arguments sake let’s just call it equality.
I recently wrote a blog called ‘Does Feminism Need Rebranding’ I, fairly confidently, sent it to the new publication, the ‘Feminist Times’ (an imaginative name chosen by a its readers) a new publication borne from the original feminist magazine Spare Rib and now ‘put on ice’ by its editor the famous feminist and writer Charlotte Raven. Shortly after my submission I received a brief email explaining that it ‘wasn’t for them’. May I somewhat smugly and cockily say that the magazine is now ‘on ice’ which, to me, pretty much says it all about the state of feminism today.
Technology is moving at an astonishing rate. In my lifetime alone, we now have the PC, laptop, smart phone, smart TVs, 3d printing, augmented reality, the internet, we’ve landed on the moon, cloned sheep, discovered Higgs Boson, the list goes on. We discover new ways to use technology every day. Why then are we still so unsure about gender equality? It’s not rocket science. It’s the simplest thing in the world. Why then is it still out of whack? Why even today are women still paid less than men? Why is the world of technology and science arenas where women are a rarity? Let’s go back. No, back further. A little more. Right, let’s start here. Day One. A newborn. A girl! Congratulations! A pink dress!! Oh thank you! That’s so pretty! And a cute doll oh, and it sits in a pushchair. She can push it around! Thank you! A princess dress! A cute little oven with little saucepans, food and a tea set too! Oh, lovely we can serve tea to the teddy bears! Another baby? A boy this time!! Fantastic! Here’s a cute car with his name on it. A little helicopter! A plane, some Lego to build a house! A football! A lovely blue sweater as well! Too kind!
I recently saw the label on my nieces blue sweater ‘Zara Boy’. My brother pointed it out and we laughed because he had bought her a ‘boys sweater’ I guess it was a boys because it was blue? I guess so, I can’t think of any other reason. It was just a cute sweater, same as any other. But Zara specified that this sweater was for a boy not a girl. Go into any department store or kids clothing store and you can pretty much tell where the girls and boys clothing is because one half is primarily pink and the other blue. The toys shelves are filled with shapely Barbie dolls, dressed in tight fitting dresses, sitting alongside Ken proudly behind the driving seat of a plastic sports car, baby dolls, pushchairs, princess dresses and a myriad of other toys in pink plastic. The boys toys are action figures, sci fi regalia, remote control cars, trucks, swords, guns, cowboy outfits.. You get the idea.
When I was eight, I asked for an action figure of the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’, I’m showing my age now! It’s still a funny, novel little story even now. Everyone laughs! How funny! So no Barbie then? Oh sorry, I didn’t know I was meant to play with Barbies. I was always a bit of a ‘tomboy’. I climbed trees, played football, rode my bike everywhere. Did that make me ‘boy like’? Isn’t that the behavior of a girl, then? Ooops, sorry about that! Again, I didn’t realize! I didn’t realize I had to act like a girl. In my defence, no one told me. Lets fast forward a bit. School was fun. I enjoyed netball and hockey. I wasn’t offered football or rugby, those were boys sports. Not for girls. Too rough, I guess. I’m not sure. I learnt to type on clunky big typewriters. I do not recall any boys in Typing class. I guess they were playing football.
So, this ‘tomboy’ grew up. I lived in jeans and t-shirts and sneakers and whilst my friends had began to experiment with make up the idea repelled me. Why did I need to put all that stuff on my face? Why do I need to wear make up to climb a tree? I didn’t get it. I learnt Judo. In fact, I was pretty good at it. Won a small competition actually. I think I was the only girl in the class. There may have been one other, even so it was mainly boys. I began to get a little body conscious and I could see the boys looking at me with a strange inane grin on their faces. They didn’t look at the other boys like that. Either way, I didn’t like it. So that was the end of my judo days. Shame, I shouldn’t have let it get to me.
Recently a DJ called Tatiana Alvarez revealed that she had created a male alter ego called Musikillz
..’But after graduating she joined a wave of female DJs, including DJ Diamond, and toured with Hot Import Nights (a car show) but found the resulting publicity uncomfortable”
Photo: Joyce Lim via The Telegraph
“We’d do photoshoots for FHM and they’d want us all to be sexy in dresses and heels. I was showing up in baggy pants and T-shirts and Converse. I was more into skateboarding. I’m 5ft 10in and stilettos aren’t comfortable for me. I don’t have that body type. The guy who owned Hot Import Nights would say, ‘You need to be different.’ I was miserable.”
In a change of direction, she hired a publicist to help her get gigs playing and producing underground techno music in New York. He passed her tape around, without giving her name, and she quickly found herself booked on the strength of her music but then rejected when they found out who she was. “They said, ‘F— that girl, she is sexy, she’s only used her looks to get ahead.’ My publicist was like, ‘It’s her tracks on there – you were going to book her as a guy.’”
As a “man” Alvarez was treated differently: offstage, she was ignored (“People don’t look at you as much”); onstage, she was trusted to do the right thing. “When you’re a female, there are always other people on stage watching what you’re doing. They think you’re stupid and say the most condescending, amazing things, but when you’re a man they just leave you alone.”’ – Daily Telegraph
Hollywood is making a movie about her story now.
It’s a sad state of affairs when a woman has to actually become a man to forward her career.
Let’s go back to being a fem…sorry, I mean the F word. Lets look at feminism as a brand. Hear me out here. As a brand communications consultant, I would be pretty clear about the fact the brand has a big identity problem. I would break it down. What is feminism? – Sorry, the F word. Why aren’t people ‘getting’ this brand? Why are people so reluctant to even use the word? Why has the F word become so unsexy? Have we screwed up? Have we yelled and shouted and burnt our bras so much that we’ve actually slowed down or even reversed the progress of feminism? What do we do now? Like the failing brands Blockbuster, Borders and Allied Carpets in the UK, is feminism making the fatal mistake of not moving with the times? Is it too stubborn and blinkered to change?
Emma Watson spoke at the UN recently. Her speech was amazing. To me, this was the voice of modern feminism. She unabashedly highlighted the fact the women were ‘choosing not to identify as feminists.’ Having written a blog about a similar topic just a few weeks before listening to this, her speech resonated loudly with me.
I decided that I was a feminist, and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, I’m among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men. Unattractive, even.
Why has the word become such an uncomfortable one? I am from Britain and I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.
Emma not only focused on women’s equality but gender equality, encouraging men not to fear speaking out in case it ‘made them less of a man’
I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned, and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves.
So, to summarise, and in the words of Emma Watson..
..And if you still hate the word, it is not the word that is important. It’s the idea and the ambition behind it…
Feminism, gender equality or whatever you feel comfortable calling it is still of the greatest importance. More than it ever was. Women in the East are still being forced into marriages whilst still children, they are being covered up, punished and killed in the name of religion, sold as sex slaves, robbed of education and mutilated to control them sexually. We still have a very, very long way to go, but hopefully day by day, we will get a little closer to a world where we are all equal and free to live our lives how we want to – no matter what gender we are.
I recently messaged a magazine via Twitter asking them about some specific content of the magazine. Their reply astounded me. ‘I don’t know anything about the magazine, I just do the digital presence’. I nearly spat my coffee out. How on earth can you structure and maintain a digital presence for a magazine that you know nothing about?!!!! The digital presence must run parallel to the magazine. It must amplify its content, support and acknowledge advertisers, interviewees, partners, etc. I have absolutely no idea how you could even start doing any digital presence on a magazine or any brand if you have no knowledge of it! What content would you deliver? What information would you share?
Every area of PR and marketing i.e.; social media, digital marketing, online and offline media, events etc must be cohesive to the brand. You must stick to your story. Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Each stage of PR needs to build your brand. Each tweet, each post, each piece of information must run alongside the brands identity and story. To have a detached social media manager who knows nothing about the brand or magazine in this case, is an utter waste of time and money. The social media manager or PR consultant must understand the brand fully at all times. They must be aware of direction, new offers, new lines, absolutely everything. Social media, if used creatively and comprehensively can elevate your brand and if used incorrectly can be a complete drain of resources, both in terms of HR and finances.
PR must be monitored and available to change all the time. There is always room for improvement. If something isn’t working as well as it should, park it and try something else. It might just need tweaking a bit. Flexibility and change is important. Don’t be afraid to say ‘Ok, that didn’t work, let’s try this’ However, understand why it didn’t work and learn from it.
I digress slightly from my original point. Cohesiveness. If you want your magazine, brand, etc to be a success you must ensure all areas are running parallel to each other. All important information must be shared at all times to amplify and strengthen the PR and marketing. The digital presence is integral to PR. It cannot be a separate, detached entitity maintained by someone who knows nothing about the brand. Talk, exchange ideas, but make sure everything runs parallel.
Another lunch with some incredibly forward thinking individuals the other day threw up the conversation of ‘Fearlessness’.
We were discussing how so many people are held back by fear. The fear that it’s not the right thing to do, the fear that it wouldn’t work, the fear of just trying. This is like ‘black hatting‘ a project without firstly green, yellow or red hatting it. It’s like addressing all the negatives before considering the positives, the possibilities. (See references below)
In this particular case, we were discussing virtual reality, telepresence, augmented reality and so forth. We were discussing the reticence of people to really embrace it and commercialise it. The cup is about the spill over and we need to be ready and in brace position to ensure we can comprehensively utilise all that is on offer; a whole host of technology that has not yet been brought to the forefront of media or marketing properly yet. It’s trickling through, thick and fast, admittingly, the brave few are taking steps to integrate it into advertising and marketing, but the masses are still reluctant. It’s fear. The fear of the unknown. We all have our jobs to do, clear divides. “That’s not my area, that’s Janes. She’s in charge of events, or marketing or whatever”. Everyone has their job to do. But lines are beginning to blur. There needs to be more integration, cross referencing. We need to all red hat ideas, we need to mix it all up a bit. We need to learn to be more fearless….or as 02 urges us…. ‘Be More Dog’…
I was lunching with one of the most innovative minds of the 21st Century the other day and I don’t say that lightly. Ghislaine Boddington has been developing projects in the fields of telepresence and virtual reality for over twenty years. Her work ‘examines the representation of our physical selves and our identities in virtual environments and the hyper enhancement of our human senses through the digital transmission/reception of body data, such as touch, motion, biofeedback and gesture‘. Her design unit, bodydataspace is ‘a collective of artists and designers engaged in creating fascinating connections between performance, architecture, new media and virtual worlds’
Boddington and many others have been developing and working on projects involving virtual reality, augmented reality, telepresence and innovative creative digital ideas for years. These are the adventurers, the innovators, the artists, the explorers, the pioneers, the scientists of a new age – our future.
But What Now?
It seems we have come to some kind of jam. We have the technology. It’s all there. Albeit continually being fine tuned and advancing at a phenomenal rate. Some not quite in the right order yet, maybe but it’s all there. We’re learning more and more every day. But it needs a shove. We need to really recognise the invaluable importance of what these pioneers are doing. We’re only just getting a handle on wearable technology and commercial ways of utilising augmented reality, i.e. apps like Blippar or Layar, and I’m sure many others I’m unaware of. But that’s just the point. If I’m unaware of it, so are thousands of others. Blippar presented itself a few months ago in a single issue of the Daily Telegraphs Stella Magazine. I downloaded the app and explored the various features that I could use the app on. It was fun and informative and exciting to use. But that was it. I haven’t seen it since. What’s with the tentativeness? Augmented reality is ready to go. It’s all there, but we’re wary of it. We’re not really quite sure how to commercialise it, how to monetize it. It’s like’ What’s the point of it’? ‘Now what?’
Whilst funding, and of course rightly so, is poured into medical and scientific research, the digital sector seems to be somewhat overlooked. The scope of digital, virtual reality and telepresence is limitless. It has boundless opportunities to improve all areas of life. It can been used in the arts, in communication, in business and countless other ways. We just have to grab it and allow these pioneers show us the extent of the opportunities it can bring.
The Back End
Ghislaine is also investing in our future generations and is helping to support and promote careers within the world of technology and digital with her programme of work ‘WomenShiftDigital’, under the umbrella of bodydataspace. She is ‘recognised as international long term figures involved in the women in technology debates and networks, promoting and supporting the work of many female artists and researchers.’
Ghislaine says ‘Our vision is that women and girls, equally to men and boys, need to be able to take advantages of the massive opportunities and knowledge offered by the tech revolution, to join innovative careers in business across sectors, to build confidence, ambition and risk taking aptitudes. The future of coding, design and content creation needs to be equally influenced and created by women to ensure a balanced and equal perspective to be fully integrated as a baseline into the long term design and development of tools (hardware and software) that will fit with ease across genders at the very base of our society. We need to encourage women and girls to become Tomorrow’s successful producers, communicators, educators, coders, digital artists, designers, curators, writers and creatives”
Take a Step
So, we need to turn a page, to take the leap, to trust in these innovators, this mind blowing technology that just needs grabbing by the horns, embraced without fear or tentativeness and driven in a positive, determined, open minded way into our exciting future.
For reasons that root back to even before biblical times, in large parts of the world women have been held back, treated as second-rate citizens, abused and belittled. Shockingly and sadly this still happens today.
The measurement of the imbalance of gender equality varies from country to country but the battle still goes on in all areas, including domestic life and business. It’s common knowledge that wages for women are still lower than men and boardrooms are still very male heavy. But businesses are beginning to change, Lloyds Bank for example. But are Lloyds Bank ‘jumping on the trend’ and doing this as a PR stint or are they sincerely recognizing the problem? One could argue, but that’s another story.
What we do know is that the sheer admittance of the imbalance and well-publicized and transparent efforts to change this is a true reflection of the scale of gender inequality in the workplace. We’ve come along way since the suffragettes and powerful women over the centuries proved to a brainwashed world that women not only have a voice but also are an intrinsic part of our present and the future of the world. Tenacious feminist movements and women-friendly companies, generation by generation have taken up the mantle and are gradually steering this huge ship of contention in a positive direction.
But now what? Progress is being made. Slowly admittingly, but things are changing. Change is inevitable. But we need to adapt to change. Businesses are now publicly embracing gender equality and hopefully ergo wages will eventually align. But is it time to fall back and regroup? In any business adjustments are made according to progress. Do we need to consider a possible rebranding of feminism? Do we need to consider it at all?
There’s been lots of discussion about this. Even the word ‘feminism’ makes a lot of men and women roll their eyes. This is not to say they are misogynistic or anti-women, it’s just the very word ‘feminism’ conjures up some negative visuals for a percentage of people. I think, and have discussed this at length with feminists and women friends (is there a difference?); Is ‘feminism’ being seen or at risk of being seen, as aggressive or anti-men?
The subject of emasculation runs parallel to this and has been another subject of discussion. Is ‘feminism’ emasculating men? Personally, I find this very question both ridiculous and worrying. To feel that ones masculinity is in anyway at threat by women addressing gender equality puts forward the question of the individuals’ attitude towards or concept of their own masculinity. The question of labels can also be added in at this juncture. I said earlier I had discussed this with feminists and women friends, is there a difference? Do you have to say you’re a feminist to agree with gender equality?
Personally I hate labels. Why do we have have to put a name to it? There isn’t a male equivalent. There isn’t because it isn’t needed. I’m very aware that without the persistent and deeply admirable actions of feminists across the centuries we wouldn’t be where we are today. But that is where we are now. Today. Times are continually evolving. Are feminists PR’ing feminism as well as they could? Is feminism aligning itself with changes and progress or is it stubbornly clinging onto old tactics without reconsidering alternative ideas to strengthen itself? I wonder hypothetically if feminism didn’t exist would gender balance have sorted it self out naturally? Is it through the constant pushing of feminists or maybe just the world evolving naturally? Probably not. In which case it emphasizes even more the importance of ensuring that gender balance is aligned.
The key to changing attitudes is in education. We have to get to the root of the problem. We have to educate our children in the importance of gender equality. We don’t teach them as if it’s a new way of looking at things, we don’t make comparisons, we just merely teach balance and equality as a natural state. As with the different attitudes in homosexuality that are becoming clear between Generation X and Generation Y the same attitude with gender equality must be embedded. They are the future. Generation Y accept homosexuality as a part of life. We must ensure they also accept gender equality as natural too.
But the question remains…Do we need to rebrand Feminism?
Note: I submitted this article to Feminist Times and they rejected it.
‘In the marketing and advertising worlds, PR was the slightly errant cousin. Flouncing around at events and parties with guest lists, introducing people, writing press releases that, in truth nobody read. Doing what? Nobody was quite sure what exactly. Whereas advertising was ‘important’. You could see it. You turned a page in a magazine or saw a billboard and there the product was, shouting ‘Buy me!’ …
Then suddenly it all changed. The psychology of selling shifted. The reason? The birth of social media.
The psychology behind selling or marketing via social media or ‘online’ was fixed at the opposite ends of the scale to off-line. It’s principles did not lie in direct advertising, direct marketing or self promotion but the promotion of others and the interaction and keen interest in other brands and businesses. This paved the way for PR to brush itself off, step forward and run parallel to this new way of thinking’
But since then has the PR Industry executed the subtlest best rebrand ever…. on itself?
Well it’s risen from a rather misunderstood industry to now one of well most respected and focused upon areas of business.
It’s reached deep into the heart of it’s own ‘brand’, pushed the noise away and focused on it’s most important fact. It’s all about the story.
Buzzwords like ‘storytelling’ and ‘content creation’ have emerged hailed as a key tools in PR. But PR has and will always be about the story. That’s exactly what PR is! It’s the crafting of your story.
Like any story, the flow of the story, the feelings it evokes are all important. Often subconscious feelings are evoked, this is the essence of a great story and this is an important fact to adhere to in PR. The subconscious.
PR has taken it’s very core point and reworded it in different ways to reach everyone. We’re all different. Our minds work in different ways. A teacher cannot teach all his pupils the same way. Some react to visuals, some logic, some words. Each pupil must be taught the way their mind works. It’s much like branding and PR. We cannot expect to push out a message that only, say a visual mind would appreciate or a play on mathematics that only a logical mind would find humour in.
The best rebrands are the ones you hardly notice, arguably like the one the PR industry has done on itself. I used to be a Property Presentation Consultant and have also renovated lots of properties. Whenever I’ve done a property make over often enough people walk in and they don’t say anything. They almost don’t notice. Because it’s how the room is meant to be. They feel comfortable. It just feels right. That’s what a rebrand should feel like; a fluid, seamless switch to something more fitting, more comfortable more receptive, more exciting. Suddenly the brand feels right for you. It’s hitting the mark. You understand it. It fits so well you can hardly remember or relate to its previous guise at all. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. That was then and this is now. The future. That’s what matters.
The important thing at this juncture is to maintain this relationship. Like any personal changes, it’s easy to slip back into old habits, so in terms of brands, it important to embrace this new direction, this new ‘face’ and run a open minded and lateral thinking attitude parallel to this. Metaphorically, if suddenly the room looked like how it did again, you would notice. The bar has been raised. Expectations have subtly been lifted. You expect more. That’s the natural state the brand has evoked.
We have to PR holistically. That’s the beauty of PR today. We now have so many different platforms to bespoke our message through with the help of social media and digital marketing.
Think of it this way, the old social media metaphor ‘the party’. You slightly adapt yourself to each person you come across. If you’re talking to a eighty five year old, you not going to make references to what you heard on Kiss FM that morning likewise if you’re talking to teenage boy you might not necessarily talk about Revlons latest nail varnish. I’m generalizing, but you get my gist. Content needs to be relevant.
Feel free to comment on this blog either via the website or via social media.
Leading retailers who populate our high streets need to set an example and lead the way to help failing urban areas.
The high street stalwarts i.e. M&S, Sainsburys, Next, Boots, Waitrose, Tesco, etc should encourage and help support businesses wishing to retail via the high street. There should be a form of collaboration and comraderie to ensure the diminishment of the high street does not occur.
In my previous blog The Decline of the High Street I address the failings of the large retailers in areas of customer service and embracing change and innovation. It’s never been tougher at the top, look at Blockbuster, Borders, Lombok, Allied Carpets, the list goes on of retailers that have fallen.
I truly believe that a large number of these retailers could have survived if they had taken different steps. Each case, of course, is different to the next, but the bottom line is they are sadly no more. Brands that continue to, and will thrive are innovative, forward thinking and image conscious. They embrace change, focus on customer service and flexibility, continually monitoring customer feedback and ensuring they give the customer the best service they can. They cross-market and integrate with current news and trends. Retailers who survive don’t assume. They are constantly improving.
These are all lessons that can be passed onto other smaller retailers. If the large retailers want the high street to survive then they must work together to ensure this happens. The retailers have a responsibility not only to the customer but the community in which they inhabit. We, as communities also have a responsibility to support our local retailers. If we want our high street to survive then we need to encourage them to find new ways to retain and build their custom. Retailers and businesses can only thrive if they offer something people want. There needs to be a healthy balance of monitoring customer feedback and continually striving to improve.
Do you speak about any random thing that you can think of and hope people will be interested or do you really think about what interests you and others and share relevant and inspiring information?
We all know that one person that talks non stop. Yadda Yadda Yadda!!..They have an opinion about just about everything. A walking Wikipedia, if you will. They live to share information. As I outlined in my blog ‘Can You Keep a Secret’ these people can be a great help when you’re trying to get your message out. However, today I am talking about the important of content creation. The content that we wantshared. There’s a multitude of platforms and ways to push content out i.e. social media, websites and content curation services. One in particular is Paper.li.
“What is Paper.li? ( pay-per-lee)
Paper.li is a content curation service that enables you to monitor content and topics across the web, turning content into beautiful online newspapers and newsletters.
Once you tell us what type of content you would like to monitor, we’ll scout the web and present the content you want, when you want, automatically.
Our mission is to help ease the pain of manually scouring the web and multiple sources daily, by filtering, sorting and presenting the content you are looking for automatically, daily.
Paper.li can save you time by surfacing the blogs, sites and people sharing the same interests on a regular basis.
What is online content curation?
Online content curation is the organizing, filtering, presenting and sharing of the most relevant digital content for a specific audience. To surface content that means something to you, and your audience, requires both technology and people working together. A content curation platform can never replace the expertise of the human content curator, so we do our best to make the gathering part of curating content easy so you can filter and edit.
We believe that people (and not machines) are the ones qualified to make that final selection of content needed in order to identify the content that matters most to them, and for their audiences. We also believe that these same people can greatly help their own communities to find their way through this “massive content world” we live in.
Why should I make a Paper.li?
Because Paper.li can save you time. Our service is used by tens of thousands of marketers, researchers, businesses, and hobbyists on a daily basis for monitoring and marketing purposes.
research, gathering competitive intelligence
monitoring industries, tracking competition
surfacing trending topics and content
identifying experts, sites and sources
an inbound marketing tactic; as a compliment to a blog, a daily newsletter, a shareable web presence
a quick way to source content for posts and campaigns
a community building tool
a tool to promote awareness around events and campaigns “
So you can see, Paper.li is a fantastic way of sharing information that interests you and reflects what you or your business focusses on.
However, the flipside to this brings me full circle to my original question. Do we really think about the content we’re feeding our ‘audience’ ?
People don’t just want to read a bunch of relevant information. Know your audience and be mindful of what content you are creating. Be sure that it is a true reflection of you, your business and your direction.
Content creation and writing takes time and focus and it’s easy to get seduced by content creation services such as Paper.li who can source, format and deliver a beautiful looking ‘newspaper’. Don’t lose sight of the importance of relevant content creation. Don’t waste the opportunity to utilise valuable platforms such as Paper.li. Use them well. Monitor your readership and change your content regularly by editing your sources. Be sure to share through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which you can do automatically in Settings. You will have to manually share the link on Google+ (this may well change)
In terms of maintaining fresh content on your website or social media consult a PR consultant or content creator to advise you how to manage your content input and social media effectively and economically, if you feel you need to.
I recently phoned a large leisure company to cancel my gym membership and left a message in the morning to that effect on their answer machine. I had been a member for many years, but I felt, I needed a change and with the summer coming and being in prime cycling territory I wanted to start to make the most of it. Plus, I had discovered the most wonderful yoga studio within walking distance. Of course, the company didn’t know any of this.
A day later I received a call back to this effect “Thank you for your call wishing to cancel your membership. We will need the request in writing and the cancellation period is three months, therefore if you cancel before the 31st January your membership will cease on April Ist. Any further questions don’t hesitate to call.”
Ok, let’s break this down. The fact is here they are about to lose a customer! In my opinion, I felt their response to this was clinical, uncaring and offered no question as to my reason for leaving. It was like they simply didn’t care.
For example, perhaps their message could have been more along the lines of this:
“Hi Mrs Roberts. We got your message about wanting to cease your membership. Firstly, we wanted to say thanks for your valued membership with XXXXXXX and we hope we have delivered everything you expected. If there is anything you wish to discuss with us, then I would be more than happy to meet you for a coffee in the cafe. However, if you simply wish to cancel, then I would be very grateful if you would kindly send us confirmation in writing. As you know the cancellation period is three months, so if you pop a letter into us before the 31st we can end it 1st April. I would like to give you three day passes to use during your cancellation period to thank you for your custom over the years. Should you wish to reinstate your membership during the cancellation period, we would of course arrange that with pleasure.
Thank you again and we look forward to hearing from you..”
This approach, to me, is far more acceptable and personable. It thanks the customer, offers them an opportunity to discuss any problems that might have determined their decision to leave, and offers an additional thank you in a form of a gift. Of course, this ‘gift’ is obviously disguised as an incentive to stay. If the customer brings a friend, then there’s a possibility that the friend might join and encourage the customer to keep their membership. Then you’ve not only retained your customer, you’ve also gained another.
To simply let a customer go without attempting to retain their custom is both rude and ignorant. If you relate this to a relationship, if one person wanted ‘out’ the only reason the other person would be nonchalant and unquestioning about it is if they didn’t really care a less about keeping them.
This is the same with brand -> consumer relationships.
Referring to my blog The Thought Map of a Consumer where I discuss customer journey mapping, this is another part of the map. Working through the map of why the customer used the service or brand and why he/she would change brands or cease to use that brand must be addressed. Consumers stop using brands for a multitude of reasons, lifestyle changes, the absence of necessity, personal circumstances, some that brands have not control over.
In summary, brands and services must have constant focus on customer service and retaining long term relationships with the consumer.
Parallel Thinking is a co-operative and co-ordinated thinking approach. The Six Thinking Hats method is one simple and practical example of carrying out parallel thinking (PT) described first by Edward de Bono in his book of the same name.
“Six Thinking Hats, a thinking skills training course from Edward de Bono, teaches parallel thinking as an alternative to argument. Parallel Thinking guides thought processes in one direction at a time so we can effectively analyze issues, generate new ideas, and make better decisions. Six Thinking Hats helps put our opinions and egos aside so we can focus on a way forward, without argument.” – Courtesy of The De Bono Group
With the traditional argument or adversarial thinking (established by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), each side takes a different position and then looks to debate or argue their point with the other side. With parallel thinking all parties are thinking in parallel, i.e.: in the same direction. The direction itself can be changed in order to give a full scan of the situation. Using the Six Thinking Hats is a great way of focusing this direction. But the key to successfully utilizing this method is each thinker must always be thinking in parallel with all the other thinkers.
De Bono explains:
“Revolutionary Nature of Parallel Thinking – The Need to Change Thinking Behavior
We have developed many excellent thinking tools for argument and analysis. Our information technology methods are constantly improving. But we have developed few tools to deal with our ordinary everyday thinking-the sort of thinking we do in conversations and meetings.
In fact, our traditional thinking methods have not changed for centuries. While these methods were powerful in dealing with a relatively stable world (where ideas and concepts tended to live longer than people), they are no longer adequate to deal with the rapidly changing world of today where new concepts and ideas are urgently needed. “Our traditional thinking methods . . . are no longer adequate to deal with the rapidly changing world of today . . .” – Edward de Bono
“Parallel thinking is a term coined and implemented by Edward de Bono. Parallel thinking is described as a constructive alternative to “adversarial thinking”, debate and in general the approach the GG3 (Greek gang of three) has been known to advocate. In general parallel thinking is a further development of the well known lateral thinking processes, focusing even more on explorations—looking for what can be rather than for what is.”
“Parallel thinking is defined as a thinking process where focus is split in specific directions. When done in a group it effectively avoids the consequences of the adversarial approach (as used in courts).
In adversarial debate, the objective is to prove or disprove statements put forward by the parties (normally two). This is also known as the dialectic approach. In Parallel Thinking, practitioners put forward as many statements as possible in several (preferably more than two) parallel tracks. This leads to exploration of a subject where all participants can contribute, in parallel, with knowledge, facts, feelings, etc.
Crucial to the method is that the process is done in a disciplined manner, and that all participants play along and contribute in parallel. Thus each participant must stick to the specific track.” – Wikipedia
With the very exciting and impending arrival of Google Glass, I’ll stand aside and let the experts tell you what it’s all about.
Firstly watch this powerful and incredible video by physics teacher/Glass Explorer Andrew Vanden Heuvel as he takes a classroom on a virtual field trip into the Large Hadron Collider. Learn more about Andrew’s adventures teaching through Google Glass at his blog. Click here to read more: