Read My Lips

Jumbo Mumbo Doll

“Read my lips”, was the instruction.

As always, my earplugs were deeply inserted into my ear canals as I tried to block out the unwelcome background noise on my early morning Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Sydney.

The air-hostess, dressed impeccably in her swish fashionably styled Virgin Australia uniform was making an announcement on the PA. I heard not a word, but I understood everything that she said. Yes, I was reading her lips.

A few minutes later, I pondered why? Then it dawned on me. It was her intensely bright red lipstick. Yes, I was fixated on those lips! It wasn’t the form, nor the shape of her mouth, it was the colour. This was the beginning of a theory that needed to be tested further, and I was the man for the job.

That day, I focussed on trying to read the conversations permeating from those around me, what influenced my interest and receptivity in how they delivered their words. You will be pleased to know that I was very academic in my research. I ensured that my analysis environment included a vast number of different types of cafés, restaurants, office foyers, and a rich and random selection of outdoor locations where a full range of men and women (some nude lipped, others lip coloured) were talking. I racked up a long list of expenses on my corporate AMEX card as testament to my investigation, just in case some yet unknown university wanted to continue my research at a later date.

That night, as I sat exhausted in my lush hotel room in Darling Harbour, I collated the copious notes that I had taken throughout the day. After what seemed like hours of intense analysis, the solution became all too clear. The key was in the lipstick colour, the winner, most definitely being bright red.

Now, there is a learning here for those working in the corporate office. Should you want your colleagues to listen to what you say, or to read your lips (should they be audibly challenged, or not really paying attention), then make sure that you wear bright red lipstick as it is the visual reader’s colour of choice.

Although diversity is indeed a requirement in business, I’m not suggesting for a moment that my male colleagues adorn the bright red lipstick (Note to HR: yes, I know, not unless they want to), but a bright red pocket hanky will suffice just as well.

Yes, embellish your body with red, and you will be seen, and most definitely heard.

Words Unspoken, But So Understood

ARTS010181

“Click” went the camera.

“That was a brilliant pose Janice! You looked fantastic with the bright light warming you as you stood in the doorway with your arms raised. Who would have believed that it’s the middle of winter here in Melbourne and it only stopped raining an hour ago”, said Henry Talbot (1960s Fashion Photographer*).

Janice laughed. “I hope you aren’t doing a close up as the large goose bumps on my arms would want a special credit in the photograph owing to their prominence!”

The photo was taken sometime between 1956 and 1961 and it had pride of place on the wall in my corporate office. The dated dialog between Janice and Henry was completely unknown to me; however, I just loved the look of the black and white photograph. Every time I saw Janice, I smiled as she provided me with a brief moment of inspiration that momentarily took me on a mental journey into a glamorous and unknown world that mingled with her past.

A thought then arose as I pondered her photograph.

Janice and Henry were in dialog when the image was taken; they were communicating and embellished the cultural mood of their time. The photograph was a snapshot in history that I, as the observer, brought to life in my mind approximately 60 years later. Other corporate colleagues visiting my office would also see Janice, yet their fabrication of her persona would indeed be different to mine.

So what if a photographer took an image of me sitting at my desk? How would observers view me in 60 years from now? Would they comment on my suit, my bow tie, my cuff links, or my corporate image?

No, I suspect none of these, but hopefully they would notice my smile. A smile that should be responding to a business culture that was innovative, creative and one that made me happy and content. Yes, a photograph does indeed tell a thousand words. The key is a want to listen.

Now for those HR Managers reading this blog post, take note. Why don’t you walk around your corporate office and surreptitiously shoot a candid, unprompted image of your employees. Look deep into the photograph and make sure that you analyse the true and honest feelings that your colleagues are portraying. Take a range of images over time and study the trend. The true answer will be in their smile.

I again looked up at the image of Janice and once again gave her a silent nod of appreciation. “Thanks Janice for your timeless and continual inspiration”.

Image: Fashion Illustration for Sportscraft, Model Janice Wakely, Photographer Henry Talbot

* http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/ebooks/HenryTalbot/index.php?chapter=2

Framing Your Office Correctly

Paris & London 2011 922

When walking around an art gallery you will see a variety of different people mulling in front of an oil painting making all kinds of comments. Each of them will see different aspects of the painting and will make their own interpretation as to the artistic and messaging intentions of the painter.

Some observers will focus on colour, the scene portrayed, or potentially the interaction of the people encapsulated in the work of art, and what they may be thinking or experiencing.

The viewer’s analysis of the painting will be varied, with each opinion based on their own unique life experiences that have coloured their thoughts and imagery on life.

This got me thinking. What if you took a random, non-staged photograph of the workers in your office that captured a specific moment in their working day? This image could be black and white, or coloured, placed in an impressive frame and then hung on a wall, just like in an art gallery.

So as to avoid any potential bias and insider people knowledge, employees from a non-related business would then be asked to comment as to photographer’s intentions, just like the painter of the oil canvas.

Those observing would come up with a range of assumptions and theories, some of which could be related to the work culture, stress, mood, or happiness of those people contained within the “frame”.

The collective feedback would provide a unique and objective insight into the machinations of your office. However, in this instance, the painter, or photographer, is your CEO, as this role is the creative source of the scene. Depending on the critical comments received, is your CEO proud to sign their name in the bottom right corner of the painting to stamp their ownership of the work? If not, maybe they would prefer to learn from the feedback and use it to develop and fine-tune their management artistry skills and have another go?

Yes, a picture does indeed say a thousand words. The key is to listen to them.

The “Jane Award”

Vogue

“Not again!”, I said as the camera flashes went off in unison leading to yet another ritual of blinding light in the office meeting room. It was becoming an all too familiar event, but it was one that we all relished with eager anticipation, afterall, she is a celebrity.

She did look rather stunning I thought to myself, in her chic white business attire, but she deserves the attention. It was also really inspiring seeing her on the cover of the December edition of Vogue* magazine.

However, what I loved the most about her, was that she still just accepted her usual position in the organization and went about her duties without any fuss or change in attitude or demeanor. One day, I just hope I get to be like her and the many others in the company that have achieved her lofty status.

Her business card says it all and our company utilises these rare and key employees to their maximum potential. After all, without these critical staff, we wouldn’t be enjoying the business success that we have now all become accustomed to on a daily occurrence.

What, you didn’t get a chance to read her business card? My apologies let me hand it over and read it to you. Her name is Jane Brown, her job title is “Creative Thinker”.

Yes……”Creative Thinker”.

So what exactly does Jane Brown do, you may ask? Well, Jane, and the other employees just like her, are allowed to…..think. They are provided time in their job routine to contemplate new ideas and solutions for the business. They are encouraged to network with their work colleagues, to talk to other organizations, to share thoughts and to develop other left field, non-work related dissertations. Ideas related to the future needs of the business are strongly encouraged; in fact, they are demanded by our senior management.

So why is Jane on the cover of Vogue* you may ask? Simple, the process of innovation has no boundaries and can be utilised in all activities that we do, in this instance, Jane is seen as a role model to encourage everyone to think just that little bit differently.

I’m sure that your organization has many people just like “Jane”. These people should be recognised and applauded for their creativity. Who knows, it might just lead to the instigation of the “Jane Awards” in your corporate work environment?

*Yes, Edwina McCann (Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Australia), this is fiction, Jane Brown is not a real person, but just image if she was!!

Oh, what a feeling!

Jockey Underwear

“Now these do feel a bit different”, I thought to myself. Yes, the colour was rather flamboyant, not particularly subtle, quite tight and rather a snug, all encapsulating, body hugging fit. However, they did feel fantastic, so I purchased three pairs and I looked forward to wearing one pair under my suit trousers to work the following morning. Yes, in case they are what you are thinking, you are correct, they were some spiffy new underpants!

As I’m quite shy and reserved, although some of you who know me better may beg to differ, I am not showing you a photo, nor am I providing any additional information on the style of underpants. So those of you who were wondering if they were Y-front, low-cut hipsters, G-string or whether I’ve gone with the famous “commando”, you will never know!

So what has this got to do with the corporate office you may be asking? The answer is actually very relevant. No, I am not proposing that you promote an underwear parade at your place of employment where employees, both male and female, model the latest in underwear fashions. However, the concept would be rather unique and may lead to a new revolution in team bonding, but somehow I suspect that the HR team will find some harassment rule that may be applicable?

It does however lead to the question, are you a creature of habit? If I was to continue with the theme of underpants, do you wear the same style and coloured underpants each day? Are you set in your ways, and are you reluctant to change and explore new fashions and ideas that may better meet your underwear requirements?

The key is to explore new experiences in your work life that may lead to exciting and stimulating innovations of thought that you may have only dreamed about. If we stay in the same job and don’t challenge ourselves to test new frontiers, you will quickly fall into a rut and corporate boredom will prevail. This applies to the organization as a whole, not just the individual.

So if your business has that stayed underwear feel about it where corporate life is becoming a little bit faded, shabby and a tad loose fitting, may I strongly encourage you to introduce some creativity into your work routine as the resultant feeling, with something a little bit different, may just provide that required motivational step you are looking for in your career and place of employment.

Go on, give it a go!

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