Fashion’s Icon Origin

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The year is 537 BC (Before Celtic). Frolicking in a thick thistle field, Angus McDougall shrieks with such gusto that his cry is heard in a neighbouring valley by his good friend Lachie Tartain. A few hours later (although the definition of “hour” was not actually known at that stage in time), a hairy bare bottomed Lachie quickly dashes to his friend to identify the origin of his voluminous outburst of consternation.

He quickly finds his friend sitting cross-legged in a grassy field with deep scratch marks that not even Angus’s copious hairy legs could conceal. To his great alarm, Angus was still fuming in a Celtic expletive dialect that was quickly expanding even Lachie’s quite broad vocabulary. “Enough is Enough” Angus shouts, pointing to his thistle beaten legs, with his hands strategically pointing higher up his body with a manly concern regarding his long term procreative dignity. “Give me a flint, let’s burn the whole of this thistle infested terrain down for the sake of future Celtic generations!”

Just as the flint was about to ignite a massive bonfire positioned centrally in the obstreperous thistle field, a thoughtful representative from the formidable King’s Guard just happened to be passing by and loudly proclaimed the “26th Law of the Celtic land” that prohibited any incineration that might affect Scotland’s natural heritage. “Stop in the name of the King you hair embellished man!” to which Angus immediately ceased his destructive thistle life endangering combustible plan.

Angus quickly rebutted with yet another rich array of complex Celtic expletives and pointed emphatically at his red, bleeding legs. A real Celtic “barnie” was about to eventuate, but thankfully Lachie quickly interjected before any dangerous use of the large, sharp thistle held in Angus’s hand could be thrust in a very forceful manner into the annoying King’s Guard’s body.

Fortunately, Lachie had a curt cunning plan that would provide the perfect solution. He pulled the monochromatic saddle cloth off the horse of the King’s Guard and quickly wrapped it around Angus’s legs. With a look of dismay, Angus used the cloth to wipe the red blood, and the green and yellow thistle smears from his body, and then threw it vehemently back in the direction of the King’s Guard. The cloth landed flat and unfurled on the rough Celtic landscape. All three men looked in wonder at the criss-crossed coloured patterns that Angus had created.

Yes, my dear readers, this was the origins of the Celtic tartan. In what was typical Lachie Tartain fashion, he claimed the idea as his own, but through the passage of time, the Tartain eventually became the well-loved “tartan” (with the dropping of the “i”) that all Celts now claim as their own. Yes, it is indeed a “true” story, or so I’m told.

NB: But the “i” was never forgotten. If you listen to a Scotsman or Scotswoman today, the word “aye” (aka the “i” from the Tartain) still lingers which accurately personifies a true Celt, complete with his or her own tartan.

Souvenirs of Business Exploration

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Centuries ago, the role of the Explorer provided many governments and monarchies in power with a strategic and valued opportunity to learn about new civilizations and philosophies. The Explorer’s discoveries and insights led to the establishment of a variety of new and powerful trading colonies that provided economic opportunities for financial gain and cultural exchange.

History provides much detail about the exploits of these Explorers, and the personal characteristics, traits and resilience required to be successful in this role. But have we considered how their experiences influenced their home life and those that frequented this establishment?

If any of you have travelled overseas, or extensively within your own country, you have most likely gathered a large array of souvenirs to remind you of where you have been. I suspect, that this would be the same situation for the Explorer.

The Explorer’s home would be a kaleidoscope of souvenirs from all around the world which when prompted by the visitor inquiring on the specific artefact, would initiate a masterful story of how it was obtained. I’m sure that many an informative dialog over a most enjoyable dinner party with a group of attentive guests would have prevailed. Those partaking of the experience would propagate this novel information with their family and friends leading to an expanded and continued dissemination of this new worldly knowledge.

Let’s now focus our attention on how this can be applied in the corporate office.

In business, although the official title of “Explorer” does not currently exist, many employees have this activity as part of their work function (eg New Business Development, R&T, Marketing, Finance, etc). However, what is lacking is the opportunity for the “Business Explorer” to furnish their travelling exploits back in the corporate office. There is no dedicated “Explorer’s Room” in which business souvenirs and other impressive booty can be pinned to the wall or placed on a mantelpiece above the fire, just like in the Explorer’s home to prompt further discussion and interest. Some organizations try to do this via visit reports and other office communications, but the impact is quickly lost, particularly with the continual bombarding of daily E-mails.

So why not establish an “Explorer’s Room” (or wall, if space is limited) in the corporate office that is dedicated to the “Business Explorer”? Just like in the Explorer’s home, these souvenirs of external inspiration and travels could then be discussed and shared with other employees in an informal setting, maybe over lunch, to generate interaction and dialog. For those businesses with many offices, why not have a virtual “Explorer’s Room” and schedule employee discussion via webcasts? Who knows what creative and innovative ideas might be developed?

The first step is to recognise the importance of the role of the “Business Explorer” in your organization in seeking out and identifying new ideas that are not currently in operation in your organization.

The second step is to then share these “souvenirs” with the rest of the business. To do this, consider the establishment of the “Explorer’s Room”.

The third step, and most important, is to have business leaders in the organization tasked with actioning the key learnings generated from these “souvenirs”. However, these leaders need to have vision, be bold and progressive, and dare to be different. For the Explorers of yesteryear, these people were typically the King or Queen, once they had made a decision to proceed, no bureaucracy dared to stand in the way of implementation!

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