Enlightened Conflict

you can only see as far as you think (and women)

July 31st, 2014

 women change the world stump


“What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination, the eye that sees no farther than its own lashes. All things are possible. Who you are is limited only by who you think you are.”

Egyptian Book of the Dead


thinking multiple thoughts

“We’re all in the same game, just different levels. Dealing with the same hell, just different devils.”










I could write for days with regard to how little we actually see because of the way we think.



But instead I am going to begin by sharing a TV commercial focused on changing the way we see things <and how we should think>.



And, oh my, what a fabulous message … what a fabulous visual <that could have been miserably produced if not done carefully> … what a fabulous commercial:


women mans world

Break the Box: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2GIu5ZpnTM


<note: this may be one of the best commercials I have seen in a while … and yet … I would give it a D- grade for meeting its objective … but give it an A+ for inadvertently delivering a better message>





Here’s the deal.



To me this commercial isn’t so powerful because it is against sexual violence … I think it reaches a higher level … and that is good.



I think it elevates to the bigger idea … that one person thinking differently … and acting upon it … can make a difference.



A HUGE difference.


I sometimes think we forget one person can make a difference as we get all caught up n the rhetoric with regard to what we are acting upon.


Words get in the way.


We want to label everything.



And as soon as we label something … it is like heuristics .. that simple label creates an image, and a thought, and a perception … and sparks an attitude.



We see and think one thing.



And that one thing can stop the one act that can make a difference.



“Sometimes, all it takes to save people from a terrible fate is one person willing to do something about it.”

Veronica Roth



Speaking of taking action.



The commercial you watched.




To give credit where credit is due … the commercial is from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault <TAASA> who launched a statewide education campaign about two Texas sexual violence directed state laws.



The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is a group committed to ending sexual violence in Texas through education, prevention and advocacy.

They support survivors on their paths to hope, healing and justice. They are a unifying force bringing together parties involved in and affected by sexual assault as a catalyst for change.

TAASA aims to achieve their mission and reach their vision through educating our communities about sexual violence, advocating for public policy change that confronts sexual violence, and finally, addressing and eradicating the myriad root causes of sexual violence.

The campaign can be found at www.HopeLaws.org.


woman when i grow up





That is good stuff.



And with sexual violence in mind I will focus on women, how society <and men> look at women … and some of the ‘labels’ that affect women … and how society kind of sees women because of these labels <perceptions> … and therefore thinks about them … and then inevitably how we behave with regard to women.



And I also imagine I am gonna have to mention that godawful word ‘feminist.’



This ‘label’ may be one of the most polarizing … and detrimental discussions … revolving around women and issues.



I don’t have to be a feminist to believe in gender equality.



Nor do you have to be a feminist to discuss women in society and the workplace.



I am going to use it in the following frame of reference <just to be clear on how I think about it>:



“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”

G.D Anderson




The word feminist creates a variety of absurd images which make many people only see so far.



Unfortunately the word, the label, I think also impacts women … how women think about themselves and how they think about each other.



And that is a shame.


It is more than unfortunate.



Women can be bludgeoned to a point where they maybe lose sight of making a difference as an individual.



But … one person can truly make a difference.


And <maybe tritely suggested> that one person almost always is you.


The individual.


And where they can make the biggest difference is actually with themselves.


Therefore if someone has the opportunity to ignore society they then have the opportunity to not ignore how you think about yourself.




“Why do you put your self esteem in the hands of complete strangers?

Helena Bonham Carter



women rebellion Jett



By the way … this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek support or look for some affirmation with regard to how you think.



But it does suggest that some of the simplistic labels may have to be ignored in defining your own esteem or how you define yourself.







I do not hesitate to tell anyone that I love the way women tend to think about things … and at times I believe the world would be better off if we had more female leaders <countries & businesses>. It may simply have been my management style … but the women in my groups and companies tended to outperform the men.



But suffice it to say that, at minimum, I believe we would be a better world if there were a better balance in the women to men leader ratio.






How does a woman find support in a society which often bludgeons them with words, labels and images suggesting they are disadvantaged in some form or fashion <beyond a state law like Texas>?








Women speaking out for women is tough.


That may sound weird but hear me out.




Older women speaking out sound … well … old.








Even if they are not really any of those things.


<we see only as far as we think>



Most celebrities don’t sound credible.
<we see only as far as we think>




And the most credible rarely get heard.


They aren’t famous and they don’t get the microphone that often.
<we see only as far as we think>




The young sound … well … young.



And maybe a little naïve on occasion.


Sometimes their lack of Life experience makes it difficult for them to articulate thoughts in a way that makes them relevant to a larger audience <they just sound young & inexperienced>.
<we see only as far as we think>


Therefore … when a youngish articulate female rolls around with the articulation skills to make people listen … and listen closely … I think feminists <or whatever you want to call someone who wants women to have a fair shake in the world> should be shoving them out into the public as often as possible.


<note: I have said this before and until proven otherwise I think Katy Perry, Jennifer Lawrence and Selena Gomez … and maybe Maria Sharapova fit the bill>







I hate the words we use around discussing women … disadvantaged, unequal, strong women … well … add something to the list … women are … well … other humans … other individuals.



I tend to believe they mostly are ‘disadvantaged’ by nothing more <albeit it is a big nothing> than how people think.



They may be disadvantaged by heuristics … the labels and words and silly soundbites we want to use in today’s society to summarize more complex ideas and thoughts.


We should be thinking broader.



We should be thinking beyond some labels.


For example:



“Screw writing “strong” women.

Write interesting women.

Write well-rounded women.

see with your heartWrite complicated women.

Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner.

Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband.

Write a woman who doesn’t need a man.

Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks.

THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN.

Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people.

So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong.

Write characters who are people.”



I like this because I don’t like comparisons between men and women.


I tend to believe we should address all people issues equally.




And I think this way because I tend to believe many of the issues which are often deemed ‘gender specific’ would be alleviated <or lessened> if we thought this way.



I do think it is kind of crazy <as a man> that there is any discussion about ‘well … why are we so focused on women … men have issues too.’




It’s crazy because something like nine out of 10 eating disorders are suffered by women



It’s crazy because something like 95% of cosmetic surgeries occur with women.




It’s crazy because while men are more likely to experience violence on the streets than women … can a man really suggest that they understand the feeling that there is no point that a woman doesn’t think about security when alone on a street.



It’s crazy because while men may be physically stronger than a woman <in some cases> that doesn’t mean men are in any way mentally stronger than women <and we men seemed to get this shit confused a lot>.






Seeing as far as you think.




Back to that thought.



Oddly … I find the labels surrounding gender equality create debates which end up being very inward-looking <men to men & women to women>, hostile and relentlessly futile and extremely off putting.



What about simply being … well … a humanist.



Because … simplistically … limits on what anyone can be should not be defined by anyone other than yourself … and certainly not by society.



“Why do you, or they, or anyone get to determine my limits?”

Veronica Roth



This puts all onus on the individual … you alone … with no one to blame if it doesn’t turn out the way it ‘is supposed to.’


I know.


I know.



Society doesn’t make this easy.




A society which sees only as far as it thinks.powerful beyond measure 2


And to conclude … that is why I like what Sarah Silverman says:


“Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. Not because they can’t, but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t.”

Sarah Silverman




Addictive song: New Low

January 10th, 2011

The band is Middle Class Rut (also known as MC Rut). They are a Sacramento alternative rock duo consisting of a vocalist/guitarist and a vocalist/drummer.

The song is “New Low.” Awesome song.


I first heard these guys on a local show months ago while driving home after dropping my mother off one Sunday. In the same show I heard Civil Twilight (another cool band I have written about) and these guys came on with this song and I turned up the volume and thought about driving faster (although tough to do on golden gate bridge).




Being a local radio show they skimmed over the name of the band and all I heard was “Sacramento” and that was that.


Months later and an Atlanta radio station drops the song into rotation.



The following quote summarizes these guys sound:


“…it’s mind-blowing to witness the sheer depth and complexity of the sound these two guys are capable of unleashing on their own…but once the novelty subsides, you’re left with incendiary post-rock with visible traces of ‘90s alternative.”


Here is the song and video:

New Low: http://vimeo.com/14815536



The following is a bonus.


This was the first song they released that was worth a shot and was a cult favorite:


Busy Being Born: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prwWpwDGyeM



All Dollop-ed up with No Place to Go

September 27th, 2010



(this is how Bruce starts a lot of his posts, and I didn’t want to startle anyone since I’m just “guest-ing”)


Is it just me, or are women’s magazines really just ONE magazine with different covers?  Granted, there are a few exceptions out there (Oprah readers, just stand down…), but after a week cooped up with the world’s worst sinus infection and every magazine I could find, I can confirm that many, many, MANY women’s magazines are indeed little clones of each other.

Let’s run down the list.

Health news:  same.

Beauty news:  same.

Fashion highlights:  same.

Diet news:  same.

Pick up any June issue and I bet you find a “summer beach read” list.  With the same books!

Try November’s “stay on your diet for the holidays and gift giving guide” or January’s “get your life organized for pete’s sake” double jumbo issue.


And don’t get me started on the “get ready for your summer bikini” madness.


Another weird thing:  They use the same pep-talk-y happy/upbeat vibe, the same choppy sentence structure, the same weird words — seriously, when was the last time you used “dollop” in a sentence?


It’s bugging me.


Are these insanely narrow topics truly the only things women are interested in hearing about (month after month after month)?  Is my brain degenerating, insisting I consume magazine “junk food” to keep up with my cheddar cheese Goldfish habit?


(another Bruce-ism to keep you comfy…)


In the true spirit of American protest, let’s send a letter:




Dear Clueless Editor People,


As  loyal readers who (for reasons unknown to herself or others) continues to plunk down $5 every month to read the EXACT SAME THING in every women’s magazine (seriously, how do you DO that?), and who are slightly ashamed to admit they read enough of your publications to make this request, we nevertheless hereby request an immediate BAN on the following:



Slather, dollop, scrunch, quench, toss, slick, slake, frazzle, tresses (also “mane”), pop-of-color, sparkle, glide, frizz, spritz, dust, glam, smooth, sprinkle, glow, silky, drench, stress-busting, sun-kissed, (clearly this is a partial list…)



– Lose weight (in a second, a minute, whatever)
– Dress slimmer (in case the previous topic doesn’t work?)
– Just 5 minutes a day for “instant” results (for smooth skin, brighter eyes, better health, blah blah)
– Best beauty products (strange how the list CHANGES every month)
– Have better sex  (well…maybe this one is ok…)
– How to attract a boyfriend/spouse
– How to relate to your boyfriend/spouse
– How to break up with your boyfriend/spouse
– How to relate to your ex-boyfriend/ex-spouse
– Look younger now (!)
– Be happy now (!)
– Be friends with the mom/dad/family/in-law/children/best friend you hate
– Buy these crazy clothes in non-matching combinations no one would ever, ever wear out of the house.
– Pair the crazy clothes with shoes no sane, life-loving person would put on her feet
– Identify with all the 16 year old, size 0 models who do NOT look like any version of you who ever lived outside some alcohol-induced delusion.
– Etc. (you KNOW what we’re talking about!)


We realize this involves re-thinking 90% of your content, but zillions of women will thank you for not considering them lemmings headed toward the cliff whose happiness and self-confidence depends on losing 10 pounds in a day, looking 10 years younger right now, or having their thirst “slaked”, their moisturizer “slathered”, and their lip gloss “slicked”.stupid-men-smart-beautiful-women-1


The Women of America



And there you have it people.


You know, I really could be a modern day crusader — fighting for the right of smart women everywhere to choose and enjoy well-written, intelligent content.

I’m thinking I’m that one sheep in the Far Side cartoon, shouting out to the flock, “Wait! Wait!  Listen to me!… We don’t HAVE to be just sheep…”


On the other hand, I gotta go finish reading “Walk off your Jiggle” now.

Plus the Fall apple pie recipes are out and my cheddar cheese Goldfish just might make a nice crust.

Think + Minds Get Enlightened = Qatar

March 3rd, 2010

Huh? (Be prepared. This is a mini rant on my own ignorance)

So. The Qatar Foundation has a marketing campaign called Think (“unlocking human potential” is the theme). Immediately I thought I would be re-writing my Nigeria re-branding rant using Qatar as an example. Qatar? Open minded? Schools for fresh ideas? C’mon. It’s a Muslim country.

Uh oh. There’s that damn ignorance popping its head up again.

So I did some searching.

First. Idiot that I am, I needed a map to even be sure where Qatar is. Kind of slightly embarrassing.

Second. Yes. Qatar is an Arab emirate, primarily Muslim, on the northeasterly coast of the Arabian Peninsula bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise surrounded by the Persian Gulf.

Here’s the deal. They have an incredible 83% literacy rate. (depending on the numbers you use…USA has an 86% literacy rate). The Qatar Academy, member of Qatar Foundation, recently welcomed leading UK children’s poet and author Nick Toczek to give a presentation of his poetry. Ok. I didn’t expect that either.

Ignorance is a scary thing.

The fact I couldn’t mentally pinpoint Qatar on a map without a physical one is scary. The fact for some odd reason my knee jerk reaction to this advertisement was “wow, how open minded for a Muslim country.”

Scary reminder for me how much I don’t know.

It reminds me that the biggest war being fought is not in Afghanistan, Africa or Israel. It is within the individual. It is the war against ignorance. What I know could probably fit in a thimble.

The sooner all of us recognize that (excluding the people who aren’t that ignorant) the sooner we may have a chance globally.

Ignorance is debilitating.

Conversely, curiosity is surprisingly energizing.

It facilitates debate and dialogue and yes sometimes conflict.

We need to remind ourselves that possibly the two greatest libraries in the history of the world resided in Muslim geography – Alexandria and Cordoba (yup. Muslims controlled the majority of Spain for several hundred years…and they had an open society inclusive of Christians and Jews).

I am not defending the religion of Islam (because I honestly don’t care what an individual’s religion is). What I am fighting is ignorance.

So. Here’s the deal. I am using Qatar as an example of perception versus reality. And the fact my ignorance almost made me look quite silly. Thank God curiosity came to save the day.

In the end I guess, despite the fact I just conducted a rant on my own ignorance, this little learning on Qatar has reminded me of three things:

I need a world atlas

90 percent of Muslims (ok, a big number) are not extremists and have always been students of knowledge

Never trust perception (seek reality). Or maybe better said…Always trust Curiosity.

domino’s Pizza turnaround: Oh, We Taste Better Now.(yeah. right.)

January 18th, 2010

Ok. So a friend of mine sent me a YouTube video talking about Domino’s “pizza turnaround.”

Now. I am sure they have a boatload of research (and they show some random stuff on the video) showing that “hey. People think our pizza tastes good now”.


And it sucked before.

So the marketing agency stands up and says “hey, let’s tell them we don’t suck anymore.”

Oops. What I meant to say was “hey, let’s tell them our pizza doesn’t suck anymore.”

Or this situation could be the client just kept stamping his (or her) foot saying “we have improved our taste and we need to tell people!!” (But I haven’t seen Crispin – their marketing agency – bullied into anything in awhile so that scenario runs a far second).

This is the kind of marketing stuff that makes me nuts. Or makes me laugh. Or just makes me wonder if we are really serious about understanding marketing (and the fact that while we always want to talk about ourselves … oh … and sometimes – most times – talking about ourselves just doesn’t matter to people outside the organization). Hey. I am all about internal organization alignment (and I believe this YouTube thing is pretty effective at telling everyone in the organization “hey, we are improving so the entire franchisee organization can be more successful.”)

But. Consumers, the people who buy the stuff, are a different can of worms (not that I believe Domino’s pizza has ever tasted like a can of worms). Taste always shows up as “most important” in research. Unfortunately tastes are discerning and difficult to understand. And telling people “we taste great” is like saying “boy, aren’t I great looking.” (and you look somewhere between Quasimodo and Homer Simpson).

In addition. Taste is relative to the category (a truffle is judged differently than a chewable vitamin). For example, I once had a sports nutrition bar client who kept saying we need to tell them how great we taste.

“Research says our product really does taste good!” Hmmm … well … yeah … maybe compared to other sports nutrition bars.

Hey. When you are at the bottom of the hole anywhere is up. Or. As a past client said to me once “so. You are telling me we are now the tallest midget.”

Domino’s. Heck. I didn’t think it tasted bad. It tasted like delivery pizza. Neither good nor bad. Suck or not suck. It filled a need when I needed it. Unfortunately now they are trying to change my taste perceptions. This is a slippery slope. To say you have improved taste there has to be a demonstrable taste difference (think Tab versus Diet Coke or maybe Gatorade to Tang).

And all these bullshit campaigns on television at the moment where “we brought whatever it is into the restaurant and no one could tell the difference” (not Domino’s someone else but I can’t remember who the heck they are) are kinda ludicrous. Of course people can’t tell the difference. They are in an environment that is affecting their perceptions <and even their taste perceptions>.

Anyway. I will stop.

Taste is like great art. I know it when I see it. And, oh by the way, one person “gets” Picasso while someone else thinks it is the silliest thing they have ever seen. Taste is the same thing.

Enlightened Conflict