The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Resist The Pressure To Reduce Yourself To Others Standards …

Many years ago, I wrote a training guide called, How to ask questions without being a bitch.

It happened because a junior account service colleague at Wieden didn’t know how to get clients to acknowledge her and the questions she had.

This was not because she wasn’t good, but because of gender stereotypes.

Well recently, I had a similar experience, except this time it was a brilliant strategist that a mutual friend of ours had introduced me to.

In my time in LA, I’ve met a whole host of strategists and – as I wrote a while back – many have left me feeling indifferent.

But not this person.

She was more than one of the good ones, she was one of the best.

Sharp as hell.

Unique – yet well thought out – perspectives.

A genuine love of being creative in interesting ways.

Anyway, as we were talking, I said I’d be really interested in hearing – or reading – her perspective on the future of storytelling. For some reason, she said yes and a few weeks I received a great paper with a great perspective.

Except there was one thing I didn’t like.

“The surprising part of this was the fact that my mentor, a white man, erudite and well-known in his profession, cared about my opinion. To give you some background – I’m in my 30s, a mixed bag of races, city kid, raised by a single mom type through and through. I’m a decade into my career and this was the first time I was asked to share my perspective by someone that, for all intents and purposes, matters.”

I hate it.

I hate that this was the first time she felt she was asked for her opinion.

I hate it for the shit she has obviously had to put up with in her life.

I hate the baggage that has weighed her down.

I hate the low expectations she had been forced to endure.

I hate the bosses she’s had that have told her to follow orders rather than encourage her to find her own voice.

And while she finished her paper with a resolve to not let this shit quieten her ever again, I’m still angry that a great talent has had to put up with shit designed to keep her down rather than lift her up, which is why I ask her – and any other planner who relates to this situation – to embrace my paraphrasing of the advice comedian Michelle Wolf received when she was about to take the stage at the White House Correspondence’s dinner, at the top of this page.

Burn it all down.

17 Comments so far
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Comment by Jemma King

You are a good man Robert.

Comment by George

Very good man.
I just wish you wouldn’t apply this approach to your clothing choices.

Comment by Northern

Well done you.

My initial reaction was that the one thing missing here was to stress that many people won’t attempt to burn the place down if they’re not actively encouraged to do so. A fact that is emphasised by a talented person with ten years experience feeling she needs permission to do so.

That encouragement is what managers should be providing. And not only will it improve their team, they will learn a lot because mentorship is a two-way street.

On the other hand, it always baffles me why many people don’t
turn to blogs or Medium to do it themself – if only because the very act of doing it will help them work out their own thinking regardless of whther anybody else notices. Though, they will.

Comment by John

When you work with Rob, you see bringing the house down is the minimum expectation.

Comment by Pete

I agree with you John, but sadly blogs – or any sort of writing to a degree – is seemingly seen as old hat or irrelevant and yet, as you say, it’s not about popularity but getting into the practice of expressing and refining your voice and point of view.

Comment by Rob

I think I remember you once saying your blog was an investment in yourself. After the video I saw on instagram yesterday, you may need to invest in yourself some more.

Comment by Pete

To answer the question you post in the video write up, I don’t know Rob. No one knows.

Comment by Bazza

Whatever you’re on, I don’t want it.

Comment by John

you know you pose no fucking threat to anyone when even the #metoo movement would look at this and laugh.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes. This is valuable for so many people. Stealing.

Comment by Pete

Thank you Robert.

Comment by Mary Bryant

I know you and George are doing this with your 3 … but sadly, when I meet people like the person I refer to in this post, I realise you’re maybe more in the minority than majority.

Comment by Rob

you know what campbell, sometimes youre alright.

Comment by andy@cynic

for sometimes, replace with very fucking occasionally.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for being an ally, Rob. Really important.

Comment by Anjali Ramachandran (@anjali28)

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