The Modern Chonmage – The Man Bun

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The year is 1585 and a drip of beaded perspiration slowly meanders down the nose of Okudaira’s servant as he carefully shaves his master’s head to accentuate the grand chonmage of this great samurai. His trusted servant is all too aware that should he impart the slightest blemish on this feared warrior’s scalp, he too will quickly experience an even larger, and yet more terminal, cut upon his own head. After a few more tense moments the servant finally relaxes as Okudaira grunts with approval as he gleefully looks at his long, oiled, black hair topknot, now fully emphasised against his scar ravaged battle weary freshly shaved smooth skin.

But this chonmage was not worn for fashion. No, it was used by the mighty Japanese samurai to securely affix their helmet in place during battle; otherwise it would slide off their servant shaven heads leading to unthinkable catastrophic consequences. As the years progressed, this small clump of hair came to signify their high standing in society and a symbol of their fearsome military innovation and creativity.

Today, the samurai no longer roam the Japanese countryside, but the memory of their fortitude still remains and is seen on the heads of many young men and women in the form of the “man bun” or the ponytail.

Why is it done? Well, hair just seems to get in the way of those individuals who display that “can do” attitude and aggressive fighting spirit. Therefore, the only solution left to these hair embellished individuals is to tie it up and keep it in submissive order, or go the full head shaven bald look, however, not everyone suits that suave look of awesome sophistication.

Yes, it seems that there is a directly observable correlation between an individual’s ability to participate successfully in a physical activity involving agility and fortitude, with that of their hair containment (or no hair). If you like to have long hair, the obvious answer is to focus on those restful pursuits where your hair can avoid repressive entanglement. However, if you want to have the best of both follicle worlds, then maybe seek out the career of a Judge, as you have enjoy the benefits of minimal hair retardation, and can wear a wig.

So if you want to be a winner in life, control your hair, wear a “man bun”, grow a ponytail, or shave your head for maximum benefit.

Or, be bold, be bald.

The Moodification Shirt

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Forget packing your vast array of shirts next time you travel on business because the “moodification shirt” is finally here! Yes, after years of secretive wardrobe testing by a leading Melbourne apparel designer on many willing, and some less so, randomly body shaped men and women, the fashion solution now sits comfortably on your back.

As the name suggests, the “moodification shirt” quickly adapts in a most unassuming way to all your changing psychological and physical needs.

According to the marketing blurb, this remarkable shirt provides the following phenomenal wearer features and benefits.

  1. Over indulgence rectification
    You have just consumed a little bit too much dinner and your shirt is starting to have that feeling of unwelcome tightness. Relax, as the “moodification shirt” will surreptitiously respond by expanding the fabric to the next shirt size thereby relieving the increasing tension growing your stomach.
  2. Increased heart rate
    Following some unexpected exercise, or a welcome romantic distraction, your heartbeat suddenly increases to a point where a traditional shirt no longer meets your requirements. The “moodification shirt” senses your increased blood palpitations and nonchalantly loosens your top two buttons to allow additional airflow and chest cooling.
  3. Fashion
    Although the “moodification shirt” appears to be white, it can quickly change colour and pattern via the pressing on the two buttons hidden in the lower body of the fabric. Pressing the white button changes the colour, the black button alters the pattern. Through a careful combination of the white and black buttons, the wearer can achieve a full colour array, vertical or horizontal stripes and even checks. For those that want the paisley pattern, at a small additional expense, a third shirt button can be purchased, but only for those individuals that meet the creative persona mindset qualifications.
  4. Hygiene
    No time for a shower? That’s no problem with the “moodification shirt”. Each shirt has an inbuilt odour sensor that is sewn into the collar. When the wearer’s personal woft reaches a discernible value, a pleasant to the nose sanitiser dust is quietly released from the fabric and quickly permeates throughout the shirt.
  5. Stains
    For those unexpected interactions where a pen, lipstick or other stain may find its way onto your shirt, there is no need to panic! By holding both the black and white buttons (see item 3) for 5 seconds engages an emergency colour coverup mechanism within the shirts fabric where the whole shirt changes to the colour of the stain, so it is completely unrecognisable.

So where can you buy this remarkable shirt and how much does it cost? Just go to any reputable retail store and ask the manager to see their range of “moodification shirts”. They won’t be on general display for all the common riff-raff to see, but are normally hidden in the private area allocated to the innovative business purchaser with creative clothing tastes.

The Link That Keeps You Together

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There is a small item of clothing that circumnavigates the midpoint of human creativity and has been used by mankind for generations.

It can be customised to meet the individual preferences of the wearer, and can effortlessly accommodate fluctuating changes in personal demeanour and appearance.

When absent, one’s self esteem can lead to unwelcome embarrassment where the observer may be shocked, or excited, by the unhindered display of private persona.

However, those in the fashion industry have been happily entwined by its functionality and fully utilise its support and timeless stability.

For those of you that excel in cryptic mental aptitude, you will have already determined that I am alluding to the creative virtues of the mechanical device colloquially known as the belt.

Without a belt, human creativity would have been severely limited as ones hands would have not been free to gesticulate innovative ideas, to constructively work requisite equipment, or walk in unperturbed inspirational thought, owing to the need to maintain a sense of dignity with one, or two hands continually stopping the dropping force of unplanned clothing gravity.

From a spiritual sense, the belt allows the clothing wearer to focus on thoughts deemed from above, rather that those below their waist, well, in the majority of cases anyway.

A single belt can transfer its supportive benefits between many users regardless of their sex, nationality, history or age, and is unperturbed by the status of the previous wearer.

So if you want to maintain a look of complete confidence in your creative work and social activities, make sure you wear a belt and the innovative support you seek will be continually maintained.

Claim your Pantaloon Freedom

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On standing up from my desk chair, I immediately felt the unexpected gaze of my colleagues. Some of the looks were based on admiration; others on envy, there was even the occasional involuntary gasp of astonishment. However, to me, the experience was refreshing and reminded me very much of my younger days.

Regardless of your sex, you have all experienced the feeling. It was in the days when we were unashamed to flaunt it all, our bare skin, free to the world, purposefully unhidden below any wads of consolidated fibres of corporate cloth.

We wore our innovative adventures with pride, and accumulated countless scars that testified our forays into the carefree and creative world in which we lived, unperturbed about the potential future consequences.

In our unprotected state, we immediately experienced the changing moods of our surrounding environment. For those of us with an abundance of hairs, these quickly stood erect in complete barometric harmony with the prevailing climatic conditions.

Yes, we were the wearers of shorts and our knees relished in their uncovering.

But at a certain age, our lives changed significantly when we decided, or were instructed by those that knew better, to wear trousers. At this point in time we became pantaloon conformists. No longer would our knees enjoy that continual breeze woft that symbolised our youthful exhilaration of openness.

As the years progressed, that haphazard child-like naivety and knee-free explorative thought slowly became extinct, particularly for those in the corporate office who habitually and unthinkingly wear a suit.

But relax, yours knees are quite resilient and will with the right air stimulation quickly revert back to their native state of youthfulness and inspiration. The corrective process is simple, just start wearing shorts in the office.

Don’t worry yourself about rules of fashion, you can wear long walk socks, short ankle length socks, or go ankle commando.

For that professional look, a tailored short does look the best, together with the belt that used to reside in your conservative suit trousers that will instantaneously welcome your new, and refreshing lease of life, now less rigidly “waistful”. Should you wear a business shirt, tie or jacket with your shorts? The choice is entirely up to you, but definitely not the corporate branded T-shirt, as you will want to vehemently maintain the creative personal innovation that your knees have fought so hard to physically obtain.

Yes, I was enjoying the experience of wearing shorts in the corporate office. My knees were once again unhindered, and so was my thought. In direct thoughtful knee correlation, my mind now gratefully welcomed its cloth shackle-less freedom, and acknowledged that I had once again rediscovered my true source of innovation.

Jazz – The Poignant Innovation

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Looking for business improvisation in your office? Well, focus on music as it provides a poignant innovation key.

According to one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians, the answer is to deliberately focus on the “white”, and not the “black”. Most traditional players of music are captivated by those pesky black notes, carefully placed with much thoughtful deliberation by the composer on the five well regimented lines of the staff. The orchestral focussed musician then, without any allowable hesitation, follows without question the vast array of strategically positioned crochets, quavers, semibreves, and even the occasional minim, with a well-practiced systematic bow, blow or beat of their beloved instrument. The result is a perfect and consistent replication of the musical selection, just as the composer had stipulated.

However, if you are a player of jazz, you tend to not be a musical conformist, but one that focuses more on the creative freedom represented by the unrestricted white score background devoid of all black notation. These innovative musical entrepreneurs utilise their deep, fundamental understanding of their instrument to collaborate in joint mutual harmony with a range of other diverse thinking performing colleagues to create the true essence of improvised jazz.

To complement the jazz player’s unhindered creative style, no formal orchestral dress attire is typically worn. Rather, you will observe a selection of them occasionally wearing a diverse range of coloured paisley patterned shirts, stylish mod-suits, denim, boots, dark glasses, and even a stylish hat.

Now consider the corporate office with all its conservative business rules and regulations, its staff brandishing the standard business suit, shirt, cuff-links and ties, analogous to the large, classical symphony orchestra lead by the CEO conductor. But don’t get me wrong, as for many businesses to succeed, this long standing and proven tradition is essential in ensuring that all employees are working off the same musical score, are working together with a common objective to manufacture a high quality performance that is appreciated by the expectant shareholder audience.

But should your business be striving for the development of a culture in which innovation can flourish, consider how a “jazz room” environment can be established where your employees can mix with other likeminded paisley clad individuals, can experiment with corporate melodies previously untried or heard, and are free to let their creative talents loose without any critical judgement or fear of failure. With time and practice, the result will produce some new and dynamic sounds that may be the start of a new direction for your business.

So what’s the key to business improvisation?  Try to not always focus on what you typically see, but allow yourself the opportunity to expand your creative horizons and explore the innovative vastness of what could potentially exist in the background.

 

The Cardigan Effect

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If you are still searching for that illusive light bulb moment of inspiration that illuminates you on how to develop a culture of innovation within the corporate office, well, cover your shrinking expectant diluted pupils and look no further!

Those organisations that publicly acknowledge that they have attained this cultural goal of ongoing creative status fully understand, and vehemently practice, a little known law that many of you I’m sure have never heard of, or have ever been exposed to. The law is never discussed in any external academic of business journals, or in a public forum. Those CEOs that utilise this law protect it, and value it on an equal footing with any other prized intellectual property that they own.

The power of this law is like that of a welcome virus, and when unleashed without any senior management constraint within an organisation, it quickly takes hold and generates an uncontrollable innovative forward momentum.

The law is known as “The Cardigan Effect”. So how does it work you may gleefully ask? Let me explain.

The “cardigan” is a metaphor and is used to describe the relaxed, unhindered mental behaviour of an employee when they are not in the corporate office. When exhibiting “cardigan” behaviour, the employee speaks their mind openly; they have an opinion that they happily express with their family and friends. They solve problems, have suggestions and are not scared to challenge the status quo. They may be introverts, extroverts, or anything in between, and are content in realising and accepting their own unique persona.

But when many of these employees enter the corporate office, they remove their snug and comfortable “cardigan” and take on the excepted foreign characteristics and behaviour of the organisation. They become a different person, and all their inherent creativity becomes stifled, suppressed or non-existent.

Those organisations that have mastered the “Cardigan Effect” to drive a culture of innovation within their businesses allow, in fact fully encourage, their employees to wear their personalised “cardigans” in the office. The have created a work environment where their employees want to be their natural selves both in, and out of the office, there is no behavioural separation. However, there is one defining and strategic filter used for this “cardigan” behaviour, that being the organisations corporate values. Here the corporate values are not used to hinder the individual’s creativity, but rather to ensure consistency and a reference point for behaviour.

So how does an organisation create a work environment to fully reap the ongoing benefits of the “Cardigan Effect”? Well, it starts at the top with the Senior Executive team happily wearing their very own personal (not company supplied or corporately branded) “cardigans” publicly in the office. Some of their cardigans may not be that fashionable, may be a tad dirty, or may have a hole in the sleeve, if so, that’s even better. They need to consistently “walk the talk” and wear their “cardigans” everyday, not once off as part of a fad or promotion which most employees recognise quite quickly.

So on Monday as you dress for work, why not leave your usual corporate attire in the wardrobe and pull on your old and trusted “cardigan”. But more importantly, make sure that your home persona accompanies your “cardigan” as you enter the office. Then watch and behold just how fast this new and highly welcome innovation fashion trend quickly prevails!

Read My Lips

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“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.

Just Let Go of the Handle

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Yes, I was getting rather red-faced, and quite ashamedly puffed, as I slowly walked up the steeply inclined hill, dressed in my conservatively fashionable grey striped corporate suit as I struggled to pull my now permanently attached heavy personal load of legacy.

Just then, a woman furnishing a strikingly long blond bouncy pony-tail in a smashing dark blue skirt, and might I say equally impressive matching business jacket, whooshed past me in high heels with a remarkably larger suitcase. I looked in awe at her powerful and decisive walking strides as I tried to fathom out how she managed to do it with such energetic ease!

But my gaze was quickly interrupted by another two sprightly dressed managers running at an even faster pace, both pulling their custom designed Samsonite luggage four-wheelers, each embellished with their own names in large gold font.

Then something happened, I know not why, or how, but that’s irrelevant.

For some unpredictable reason, I’d had enough of this torturous pulling task and quickly made a strategic life-changing decision to let go of my suitcase. A few seconds later, this thought vacuole representing all my personal hang-ups dropped to the footpath with a sound deafening thud.

Everyone around me on the pristinely manicured corporate pathway of business life immediately stopped at this most unexpected strange sight. Many of my work colleagues looked dumbfounded as they tried to comprehend my unforeseen spontaneous action. Those that despised any change in their corporate routine passionately pleaded with me to quickly bend down and pick up my personal baggage, before it was too late to correct. They had obviously assumed that I must have made some unprecedented forgetful error of judgement, or I was suffering the result of various undiagnosed terminal medical conditions.

But it was no mistake.

“Are you OK? How do you feel?”

Questions exploring my sanity repeatedly permeated from all the travellers on the well-worn corporate path. A crowd had now gathered resulting in massive suitcase puller traffic chaos that continued to radiate in an exponentially increasing larger circumference. As the minutes progressed, more and more office workers quickly became entangled in my individual thought encapsulated suitcase stoppage.

Eventually, as my shock subsided, I was able to talk, and the words just naturally came out.

“I feel spiffily brilliant! A mind deadening tumorous weight that has been curiously burdening, and labelling me, for all my working life has now been lifted. More importantly, no longer will I carry the mistakes from my past. From now on, I will start each working day with no encumbrances! I can only urge, and encourage all of you, to join me in experiencing this unique thinking sensation!”

Then to my surprise, one by one, those on the corporate footpath of professional life slowly started unshackling their tightly gripped hands from their own emotional chains of longstanding baggage ownership. A few minutes later, the once neat business path now resembled a crowded luggage carousel at London’s Heathrow airport where a stockpile of randomly placed suitcases littered the path’s perimeter extremities!

The sound of joy, laughter and intoxicating chatter quickly prevailed and reverberated through the surrounding corporate environment as no one elected to pick up their once owned thought baggage.

And so it remained from that eventful day forth.

So next time you travel on business, have a good look at your luggage, and remember with confident assurance that your past has no influence on your future, however, you do need to make the decision to consciously let go of the handle, and never look back.

Words Unspoken, But So Understood

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“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

The Male V

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What was the cause? The effect was indeed quite noticeable, and one that had been surreptitiously permeating the male physique for the past few years with minimal commentary from the more discerning female adult population who normally observe these things.

As I stood shamelessly in front of the hotel bathroom mirror whilst on a recent business trip with all but a white pristine bath towel encapsulating my lower half, I made a virtuous decision on behalf of corporate mankind to try and understand the origin of this visual perplexity. I looked at myself and realised that I, like many other men, was also not immune from this male condition.

Now before I proceed to far, you as an inquisitive reader might be wondering as to the potential side effects of this uniquely male malady, and more importantly, its impact on those that come into close male physical proximity. Firstly, relax, as the influence is positive and one that signals to the naked chest observer that the man beholden to this condition is highly innovative and a vigilant embellisher of a free thought.

The main visual clue is a v-shaped band of thick wavy chest hair that starts just below the male adult neck line and continues for a typical distance of about four inches in a downward direction. After extensive research utilising the detailed observation skills of many office based corporate female colleagues, a uniform and consistent visual theme started to emerge to which there can be no question, nor doubt of authenticity.

The chest follicular condition is believed to have first surfaced in the 1960s and 70s when many a business man elected to have a shirt dress code that was rather devoid of buttons. As the decades unfolded, men chose to portray a regressive and traditionally conservative closed shirt collar policy that supported a full neck length tie. However, over the past few years, men have discarded these formal fashion knotted links to the past and have gleefully accepted an open collared shirt prowess that has been readily approved by the business world as a sign confirming their creativity.

The consequence of this decisive fashion action has been exponential male chest hair freedom, a complete contrast to the historical times where they had been subjected to a barrage of restrictive shirt button protection and coverage. These empowered and unconstrained hairs are now able to reach their full bushy length potential and grow with unity in a v-shaped formation in solidarity with their DNA facial haired brothers.

So, should you, like me, no longer be a wearer of the business tie, may you flaunt your chest hairs in public with pride as you let all onlookers appreciate that you are doing your bit for the growth of innovation and creativity in the corporate office!
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