The Answer to that Male Question

Shaving

There is “a question” that has been baffling mankind for centuries, and as “the answer” was unknown, professional men all around the world reluctantly decided to play it safe, just in case they got it wrong. That is, until now!

As I sat in private solace in the world-renowned Corporate Observation Research Zone (aka the Virgin Australia Lounge at Melbourne airport), after many minutes watching my fellow travelling compatriots, the clues to “the answer” slowly became apparent. For those of you that like details, the moment of discovery actually presented itself to me after my third long black coffee.

The attraction of the Virgin Australia Lounge is the diversity of corporate inhabitants that provide a huge array of visual observation fodder. There are men of all ages, some wearing suits, others casually dressed. Some with hair purposefully positioned on their face and heads, some with a deliberate close shaved facial nudified look, even those with an upper head appearance that conforms to their hairless heredity.

“The answer” to “the question” is that it doesn’t matter where your draw that “line of separation”.

Yes, men from the time they first decided to shave have been in a quandary as to where to position that mysterious demarcation line that signifies the end of the side-burn. To make matters even more confusing, should the man be fortunate enough to have a headless head, and has a beard, where should the top of the side-burn commence?

The author of this blog post is pleased to advise that men’s side-burn fashion has now progressed to the point where no facial rules apply. Men are now exercising their innovative side-burn freedom and are letting their razors do the talking without any limitation, or fear of visual retribution.

So men, next time you are confronted with a decision as where to “draw the line of separation”, relax, the choice is indeed yours. And should you make a mistake, all is good, as the hairy, or hairless, problem will be rectified in due course by the planned arrival of the following morning, when next you look in the mirror equipped with your trusty razor.

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.

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.

The Isle of Creativia

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As you fly over the Pacific Ocean at 25,000 feet in the luxurious comfort of your First Class fully reclined leather seat number 1A, the furthest thing from your mind would be the existence of the small county of Creativia located far below. In the time taken for you to scoff your second mouthful of that exquisite, and most decadent, 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, the air turbulence from your plane would have only just tenderly kissed the peaktop of Creativia’s highest mountain. But then again, how could you know that in 20 years from now, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution would prevail, and that you, and all your fellow business travellers that you typify, will then be quite literally extinct. Yes, an unplanned catastrophic business event will exterminate all those corporate organisations that are deemed not up to the required survival standard of innovation and creativity. The result will be the survival of the business fittest, and these individuals will only be the fortunate inhabitants of Creativia.

The origins of Creativia goes back to the early 1960s, when an unknown mutant variant of the human DNA, just happened to form simultaneously by a remarkable freak of nature in many leading industrial countries around the world. Those born with this undetectable and unique gene condition grew up with a distinctively different view of life, business and mankind’s role and place in this earthly environment. For these select individuals, “the glass was always full”, they saw things with a continually positive and optimistic perspective as everything they did was based on an underlying theme of innovation.

These individuals from a very early age immediately understood that they were different from the common populous, and as they grew older and more business savvy, they nonchalantly started to meet surreptitiously in hidden boutique coffee shops around the world. Here they repeatedly tried to quench their endless thirst for creative stimulation with high doses of caffeine in an attempt to satisfy their enduring innovation habits and urges. However, their individual ESP insights warned them of a greater impending creative doom that would soon engulf the business world leading to the complete obliteration of the corporate world as they, and as we, knew it. Like a homing pigeon on a lifelong mission of creative destiny, each of them were mysteriously led by some unknown personal and instinctive force to a small deserted and entirely hidden island, rich in natural resources and copious cash reserves. As the years progressed, these inhabitants waxed strong into a diverse and mighty culture of creative thought. Then, when the time was just right, they as pioneering Creative Ambassadors of Thought, journeyed from Creativia to seek out new and impoverished businesses to rectify the time consuming wrongs of many out-dated CEOs and corporate Executives.

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Twenty years later, it did indeed happen. Looking back, it was a slow, potent, and highly lethal cultural virus that with time took hold and eventually killed the corporate world due to a lack of futuristic and insightful thinking. CEOs from all around the world together fell on their business swords and bleated their proclaimed selfishness in focussing on short-term financial goals and not the longer wellbeing of their corporate organisations. But alas, it was all too late. 

Long live Creativia! 

Problems Solved via The Dream Solution

Sleeping beauty

As we were now at 35,000 feet, the Virgin Airlines cabin crew inflight service announcement was eagerly welcomed into my ears, as I desperately needed a source of mental stimulation to solve a tricky business problem that had been troubling me for the past few hours.

I was seated in seat 3F and was soon greeted by the superbly smiling Flight Attendant named Louise who asked whether I would like coffee, tea, water or a “virtual dream enhancement”? I immediately chose the last option, and enquired as to the choices of dream selection. Louise advised that Virgin had recently expanded the range to include dreams of sporting prowess, intergalactic travel panorama, rock star status, romantic interludes, or the very popular random experience of surprise.

As I had a business problem to solve, I chose the “random experience of surprise” upon which Louise handed me a small vial of a dark blue viscous liquid that I quickly drank. About 30 seconds later, once the tingly peppermint sensation on my tongue had started to wear off, I could feel my body going to sleep and my mind gradually awakening. As with all dreams, my mind quickly experienced a variety of unusual scenarios, people, clothes and the breaking of many laws of physics that are not humanly possible. However, as I was a well-travelled Virgin Frequent Flyer of the Platinum class, I knew how to best utilise these virtual dream enhancements. To do this, I strategically “pre-positioned” my business problem in the front of my mind so it was instantaneously captured and was weaved through all of my random experiences of surprise.

No, I’m not telling you about my dream, as these visual insights into my personality are private, but you will be pleased to know that on arriving at my flight destination, I did indeed have an innovative solution to my business problem.

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Yes, the above is indeed fantasy, but is it? How often do we awake in the morning following a night of dreams in which we encountered ourselves performing an array of activities that we had no idea that we could achieve? And, it all seemed so real! Unfortunately, we tend to quickly forget the euphoria of these dream experiences and happily get back into our daily activity regime.

Next time you have a business problem to solve, why not invoke the use of the dream option? However, make sure you have a small notebook located next to your bed so you can quickly capture those numerous and uniquely distinctive creative ideas to assist you in your work activities later that day.

And should any Virgin Airlines management be reading, please let me know when your do actually introduce the “random experience of surprise” as I can’t wait to try it!

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!

Chatter Vocabulary in the Air

Leather Seats

For those of you who travel regularly by plane, you will know the “joy” of being strapped into your allocated seat for a few hours. You have the smallest possible personal space, and those sitting next to you can be riveting company and fun to be with, or exceptionally dull – unfortunately the later being most common!

This got me thinking…how could we make this journey of travel more interesting and utilize the many creative skills of the passengers who are getting a tad bored?

One possible solution is to invite passengers to participate in an anonymous “chatter” group discussion on a selected brainstorming topic during the flight. To be included, they would press a special “call button” which adds their seat number into the discussion. A Flight Attendant then provides them with an electronic writing tablet that allows communication with the other interested passengers.

Chatter Texts with impressive vocabulary would be then start to quickly permeate through the cabin during the flight, for example:

Seat 12A:   “Oh yes, I agree with you, but have you considered….”
Seat 29D:   “Thank you 12A, but I think it should be expanded to include…”
Seat 1F:      “Interesting concept, particularly if you consider the habitat of the West Australian wombat…”
Etc, etc…

At the conclusion of the flight, those involved could elect to have a copy of the transcript E-mailed to them, just in case there were any creative gems of inspiration written!

To me, this would be a much better use of people’s travel time and would make the total plane experience much more interesting and potentially productive.

Mannequin Motivation

Interview Series, Arlington Street between Boylston and Newbury Streets, Store Window Displays, Ida Claire and Esther Dorothy, Inc.

When walking past any clothing department store, you will typically observe a mannequin in the shop window parading the latest fashions and accessories.

The purpose of this promotional activity is to attract your attention and to entice you into thinking about how those clothes may look on you. As part of this process, you may visualize where you could wear these exciting items of clothing, and also the reaction you may receive from your friends, family and work colleagues. Your thoughts are no longer standing in front of the shop window, they are now travelling to various geographic locations and different emotional states via the use of your imagination.

What about using the motivational benefits derived from these mannequins in the corporate office?

Just imagine having a mannequin strategically positioned in the office foyer as you enter the building. Each Monday morning, the attire of the mannequin would change to provide a theme for the week and to act as a thought provoker. Some potential clothing options:

Personal Wellbeing: sporting clothes (eg tennis outfit)
Creative Thinking: 1960s “flower power” clothes
Watch out for the competition: a suit of armor
New Business Development: a mountain explorer
Appraisal Time: a corporate suit
Holidays: swimwear

The mannequin could also hold message signs to highlight specific business events and communications. For instance, if it was the boss’s birthday, a sign stating “It’s my birthday today, so please enjoy a longer lunch break to celebrate!”….the possibilities are endless!

So next time you walk past that clothing store, think about the “motivational mannequin” and how it could improve the morale in your business.

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