Claim your own Aphrodite Charm!

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“How many times do I need to tell you Aphrodite? Could you please take off those unsightly mortal business clothes of yours and put on your official white deity long gown! You need to remember that you are a Greek goddess, so please dress like one! Apollo, Poseidon, Athena and I, are all sick and tired of seeing you in those brightly coloured short skirts, shirts, patterned stockings and high-heeled shoes! That look might be just fine for those “creative types” that you mingle with surreptitiously in the corporate office below on earth, but up here above the clouds some professional god-like decorum is required! One day, those pesky and inquisitive passenger airlines might actually see you in that coloured attire and our nice quiet world of the perceived theoretical mythology with vanish immediately and we will be inundated with human sightseers!”

“I hear you Zeus, don’t get your toga all crumpled and frazzled! You might start looking as old as you actually are if you don’t settle down and relax! It’s all right for you lot all pontificating about life, the universe and everything Greek up here in your godly world, but without me taking the initiative and dropping down to the world inhabited by mortals now and then, no new ideas or thoughts would ever make it up here into this sterile life of perpetual bliss!”

“Thankfully my “Aphrodite charm” and sophistication makes it quite easy for me to morph into the business organizations I choose to infiltrate where I can quickly manipulate the desires and intentions of their CEO. If you lot followed a similar strategy and moved outside your comfort zone, you might discover there is a vast array of knowledge to be learnt and absorbed down there!”

Let’s park this Greek godly dialogue for a moment and consider the work environment of those fellow mortals (just like me) who may be reading this blog post.

Yes, the key is to make the time and effort to step outside your known networks of understanding. To do this successfully, you may need to encounter some personal discomfort and to accept that your traditional business methods and work practices may not be the best, nor the only way to do things. It is also so important for us all to courageously branch out from our normal and stayed circle of friends and business acquaintances, and to have a willingness to genuinely learn from others. From these new experiences, new and exciting ideas will potentially merge and propagate.

So next time you are travelling on business and are happily looking down on the clouds from your snug and comfortable aircraft window seat, remember that you too are capable of exhibiting that “Aphrodite charm” of creativity and innovation by thinking just that little bit differently!

Seeking that Optimal Balance


The rather assertive, and I thought rather scary young woman, dressed impeccably in the bland and very dark company coloured uniform, beckoned me forward as I was next in the line and requested my name. Without any hesitation so as to not potentially upset her, I quickly replied, “CRAMER, Steven”. My name was immediately crossed off the list.

She, although her name badge said ‘Mandy’ (I wouldn’t dare call her this for fear of appearing too friendly) then asked me and my luggage to stand on the scales to which the total weight was duly recorded with minimal facial expression nor interest.

I was then given my helicopter boarding pass which specified my seating position for the short flight out to the off shore oil platform in Bass Strait some distance off the Southern Australian coastline.

All this procedural rigmarole was apparently required to ensure the helicopter weight was balanced from a safety perspective as we traversed the fierce, and somewhat unpredictable, cyclonic wind gusts to our offshore destination.

Now this got me thinking about the corporate office and how the business tries to “balance” their people skill sets to achieve the best chance of success. Well, I say this comment a little bit tongue in cheek as most organisations unfortunately don’t actually do this aviation procedure of ‘skill balancing’ particularly well. If they were indeed a helicopter, I suspect many of them would be flying along lopsided with a predominance of accountants, HR, engineers, extroverts or introverts! No wonder many companies tend to plummet to their financial doom and fail to obtain their targeted business objectives!

As each business objective may be different, management (just like ‘Mandy’) need to plan accordingly to ensure the right ‘weight’ mix of skills are on board. This skill set will often change based on the task and velocity of the objective required.

Now when potential danger looms, a pilot may reluctantly jettison a selected item from the aircraft to avoid jeopardizing the entire mission. Should a business encounter unexpected climatic economic turbulence, it may necessitate the ejection of some awkward and oversized individuals who are exacerbating the effect. If this needs to be done, the kind and humane approach is to provide these people with a personalized parachute before pushing them out the door, but there are some mean spirited and callous managers who like the free-fall spectacle. For those who choose the latter, may I remind them that what goes up does eventually come down, and lands with a massive hard thump!

Yes, it’s all in planning which bottoms you want in which seats in your next business mission. Without the right “bottom balance” it could be a rather uncomfortable and long flight.

One final comment and it relates to the scenery the business will observe as you travel to your intended destination and this relates to your choice of navigator. For the optimum journey of learning and excitement, may I suggest placing a creative individual in this role and your flight will never be boring!

Appearances are indeed everything?


Ok, it was agreed, I would be “Fabian Rizzo”, the famous ballet dancer from New York (USA), Fabian would be me, “Steven Cramer”, the “alleged founder” of the world renowned “Dram” whiskey distillery in Pitlochery (Scotland).

We would meet at the select, and might I add, very exclusive Melbourne socialite dinner party at different times and collect “our” nametags and then the personality pretence would commence in earnest.

I arrived first, wearing a strikingly loud, and as equally wide, pinstripe suit complemented with a white linen tight fitting shirt with the top three buttons undone allowing my copious chest hairs freedom to peruse all observers. I did think that my bright purple socks where a tad over the top, but they seemed to work well with my thin black pointy leather shoes. Maybe the orange floral handkerchief was a little too metrosexual, but what the heck, I was “Fabian Rizzo” after all, wasn’t I!

As I arrived at the well-staffed dinner party reception table and announced my name, I was immediately swarmed over by a large number of the “beautiful people”, many of which were obviously fashion models, and to my relief, the majority of them were woman!

But my famous nametag wouldn’t be sufficient to ensure a successful evening, I had to “act the Fabian” so my walk, voice delivery and other unique mannerisms needed to prevail. The more I delved into the character, the more responsive my audience of vast admirers responded and the greater my performance. Yes, I did have a successful night, but that part will remain private, after all, one can never be sure who is actually reading these blog posts!

But I was only half the story. “Steven Cramer” also arrived at the reception table about thirty minutes after “Fabian Rizzo”, dressed in a fashionable and unpretentious dark tartan suit. His business shirt did portray some loud chunky gold cufflinks, and a tie with a full Windsor knot adorned his shirt. With a loud and deep toned Scottish accent (which sounded quite authentic by the way), he announced his name. After a brief few seconds, he was then quickly surrounded by an array of other professional looking men and woman who had a look of financial affluence and success wofting from their persona. However, to the trained eye (mine in this case, who was watching from the other side of the room), they were a gabble of bankers, stock market analysts, politicians, lawyers, a couple of alcoholics who were seeking the possibility of a fine “Dram” drop prior to making it to the dinner reception, and a variety of other “unclassified hangeronerers”. “Steven Cramer” was brilliant as he announced his market predictions for the upcoming whiskey market and provided his confidential and creative insights on what made a good glass of the Scottish liquor. Rumours were that he also managed to have quite a successful evening from various anonymous reports the following morning.

Now you may be wondering how these exploits of disguise benefit those that work in the corporate office or any other organization? Well, it all comes down to how people become fixated with the personal image associated with an individual and whether it is really deserved or not. It is quite common for employees to be impressed by a manager’s job title and play along accordingly thinking that they might benefit from the association. Some people tend to be too easily fooled by the public “label” that disguises the person wearing it, and should focus more on the actual person inside the “labelled garment”.

It is also interesting to observe from a third person perspective just how your co-workers actually view you as exemplified by this famous “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” role reversal. Similarly, whether these colleagues are really interested in you, or the role you portray?

PS: In case you were wondering, yes, “Fabian Rizzo” and “Steven Cramer” did indeed compare notes the following morning and the learnings were quite interesting for both individuals.

That Cut of Difference

Salon Shots

Yes, just a little bit more on the left above the ear don’t you think? Yes, there are a few stragglers there. I will just get the cut-throat razor out and give those obstreperous hairs a strategic and decisive shave. What do you think? Oh yes, much better. It looks much more skinified and head nude now, not a hair in sight, that should do it!

I looked at the floor below the barber’s chair with trepidation. There I saw a messy foray of my recently attached blond locks of hair randomly splayed now looking up at me with a sense of desertion as they awaited the appearance of a sweeping broom focussed on tidiness.

Yes, the new hairless look suited me, and if I didn’t like it, in a few days some potentially yet to be welcomed hair stubble would reposition itself on my head allowing me to rethink my next attempt at head creativity (Author’s comment….except in my case where that hair stubble decided to abandon my head a couple of decades ago, with a decision never to return!).

As I left the barber’s chair, I saw the next employee eagerly awaiting their turn to start their own individual journey of hair discovery. Yes, in case you are wondering, this barber is actually located in the corporate office. A haircut can be booked via your online E-mail calendar room booking system and there is always a backlog of staff wanting these prestigious hair services.

Why located in the corporate office? Well, why not? In this instance, this organization’s CEO views hairstyles as an extension of the business innovation process. The objective is to encourage their employees to think that little bit differently and to explore experiences and sensations that break the traditional and conservative mindset. After all, many people tend to adopt the same haircut style, one that is deemed professional and generally acceptable to the corporate guidelines of appearance. However, not this organization which boasts a workforce with a varied hair fashion that comes in a mixture of colours, lengths and more diverse appearances.

So next time you are sitting in your barber’s (or hairdresser’s) chair and they ask whether to give you “the usual”, may this blog post give you the creative strength to try something rather different so you too can experience that feeling of hair creativity and freedom of thought! Go on, be brave, give it a go! (it will grow back you know…well, maybe?)

The Brand

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The Harley Davidson motorcycle hummed past me with that deep-throated gnarly musical sound. Perched aloft the seat was a rather tubby leather clad middle-aged man with a long matted grey beard. Branded across his back was a large replica of his bike’s logo to which a massive “smile” complemented his daredevil face.

A cold gust on the winter wind was thwarted in leaving in imprint on the young woman’s face by her strategically wrapped Burberry scarf. But not to be outdone by this singular and fashionable item, additional clothing with the well-known motif soon appeared to encapsulate her from any other unwanted cold forays of gust. A similar “smile” to her bike riding unknown friend also appeared across her face.

The chanting increased in volume from the crowd all fashionably mimicking each other in their blue and white horizontal striped football jumpers as they took delight in tormenting their brown and gold vertically striped opposition supporters. That “smile” was once again evident.

On walking into one particular corporate office, that “smile” of belonging was most noticeably absent. It appeared to be an office comprised of a large number of individuals all supporting their own “smile” or brand, not one of a unified and cohesive organization.

If we consider the Harley Davidson rider, the Burberry wearer, the football supporter, they all derived some “smile” benefit from their association with these brands. Some corporate organizations, such as Google, McKinsey & Co, Virgin (and many others), do instil brand loyalty and a strong desire of wanting to work there. No, an organization doesn’t need to be a well-known brand to achieve such employee motivation and commitment; similar results can also be attained from a small family business, a school or a local club. The key is in believing that you make a contribution to the progress of that organization and that you also derive some associated personal benefit in return (eg the “smile”, career, financial, friendship, etc).

If you are a CEO in your corporate office, is that “smile” evident in your employees? No, I’m not talking about that polite and courteous smile that employees always make in your presence, but that real “smile” of wanting to belong, as they believe in the organization. If it exists, fantastic! If it doesn’t, then you now have a very important New Year’s resolution for 2015?

Yes, it’s all in the Brand….

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