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

Let Them Be Fragile Around You, Not Defining You …

Once upon a time I worked with a male creative who was one of the most sexist pricks I’ve ever met. He was condescending, patronising and – even worse – did all they could to stand in the way of female talent.

There was one situation where he actively tried to stop me from hiring one of the best planners in the World simply because she was a woman … knew more about sport than him and was much better at it as well.

He tried so hard to find fault with her, when all the time he was revealing his fragile ego.

And while I dealt with him – resulting in us hiring this brilliant planner who has gone on to have the sort of career most people could only ever dream of having – the fact is, her career could have been severely undermined if he had got his way.

What makes it worse is he is a loving father of daughters.

If anyone should be treating female talent with respect and encouragement – surely it should be someone with 2 daughters of their own. But then I remembered watching the ex-Prime Minister of Iceland – Vigdís Finnbogadottir – in Michael Moore’s documentary, ‘Where To Invade Next’ who explained things perfectly.

“While men would never want another man standing in the way of their daughters career potential, that attitude only extends to their daughter … not women in general”.

Of course she’s right.

That’s what’s so fucked up. Especially about men.

As is the vernacular they use to describe female colleagues.

Calling them emotional.



And while I would rather work with an emotional, sensitive and compassionate person any day of the weak, the fact is women are way stronger than the vast majority of men I know.

Fuck, my wife has shown more courage than I could ever hope to muster.

From saying yes to moving countries with a man she had only known for 6 weeks to carrying our kid for 9 months and then PUSHING HIM OUT to just embracing every challenge that has been put in her way … everything about her is stronger than Superman and more inspiring than any Nike spot. [Sorry Swoosh, you know I still love you]

Then there’s the fact the vast majority of female leaders [of which there’s still too few] actively bring their whole team along with them versus a lot of men, who just want to take themselves forward.

And yet, despite all this, women continually face gender devaluation by many men – specifically white men – which is why I bloody love the poster at the top of this post designed by the brilliant Kat at Colenso designed from this amazing quote by Rahul Singh Rathour.

Which is why I hope women embrace being fragile like a bomb … because it means those around them will fear them rather than them having to fear those around them.

26 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I love you Robert Campbell.

Jem xoxox

Comment by Jemma King

stop fucking encouraging him.

Comment by andy@cynic

Keep going Jemma.

Comment by Rob

i was going to say youre in danger of doing something useful with your life then I saw your corporate toadying to nike and everything is back to normal. hope the prick who tried to stop you hiring talent is working for a female boss. little fucking prick.

Comment by andy@cynic

He’s only mean to brands that don’t have something he wants for free.

Comment by DH

If it’s free, then I like every brand. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob

never a truer word ever fucking spoken.

Comment by andy@cynic

like the fragile like a bomb. i may even tell my own daughter that. how mental is that fucking idea.

Comment by andy@cynic

This is alarming news.

Comment by DH

I think her Mum has already told her that a million times.

Comment by Rob

you fucking better believe it.

Comment by andy@cynic

“While men would never want another man standing in the way of their daughters career potential, that attitude only extends to their daughter … not women in general”. Exactly.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Yep. It’s perfect.

Comment by Rob

Well said Robert. I do like the expression of Rahul Singh Rathour very much.

Comment by Lee Hill

That quote from the Icelandic PM is great. Sounds like that was the problem with the creative you wrote about. Can I ask how you dealt with him and is he still in a position of power?

Comment by Bazza

if you didnt punch the fucker youre a fucking sellout.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hahaha. I dealt with him, I didn’t bury his body.

To answer your question Baz, I spoke directly to him. I asked for his rational for the stuff he was saying then explained mine. I also made it very clear that while I want him to be excited about the hire, it was my call and responsibility and would expect him to support my choice as the goal was to add to the quality of the work and the thinking.

When I discovered he was continuing to lobby against this person with others in the agency – I elevated it to a global level and he was dealt with officially. The great irony was that he was upset at me for doing this – completely regardless to his role in all of it. Which just reinforced why he was such a problem.

He’s no longer there but apparently his antics continue.

Comment by Rob

I read a story the other week that described how parents who have baby girls for their first child are more likely to divorce when the child becomes a teenager – because they argue about how to bring them up.

Except – when the dad grew up with sisters, the effect is negated. Because they actually understand a female point of view.

I know many people including my own wife who have experienced this, luckily she also is fragile like a bomb… a nuclear one.

Comment by Rob (The other one)

(Experienced the work sexism, not the daughter thing)

Comment by Rob (The other one)

It’a also good growing up with older sisters because they’re actually a lot tougher than men and all that macho rubbish. It takes much more strength to be kind.
That said, anyone hurts me and they’ll rip their throat out

Comment by northern

What would you suggest for people when hiring? I have seen enough talents who have had their chances sabotaged at the stage when they met their peers – people who were either less experienced or at the same level as them. The stories I often heard was either they weren’t even allowed to tell their full stories as they were constantly being interruped or they got asked stupid questions such as “So you have spent the last 6 years in XXX. So this means you are not familiar with YYY (their hometowns and they started their first 10 years of their career there)?” or “Why didn’t you work for ZZZ (specific names of companies)?”

Comment by Jackson

Please answer this Rob. I know you have some great examples that will be really useful.

Comment by George

Well for reasons I don’t want to explain, I’m still up so can answer now. But why the hell were you George??? I have diva rock stars as my excuse, what’s yours?

Hello Jackson. Sadly that shit is not rare. When I moved to Australia someone asked if I knew a small town there in a bid to catch me out. I explained I’d just moved to the country then asked them if they knew where West Bridgford in England was (my hometown) When I said “do you think you could find out with a map?” they answered in the affirmative and then I said, “guess you know what I’ll do then”.

Despite me trying to prove their stupidity they weirdly offered me the job. But that was a 1000 years ago. I personally believe the job of a boss is to make the decisions. Of course you should have the team meet them but their likability is not the issue. It’s more about if they’ll add something to the tram rather than duplicate it. The problem is many see new people as competition and try to push them out. The thing is when people do that, it actually makes me question them more than the person they’re trying to undermine.

It’s hard. But for me it’s always about building a relationship with the person that would be the ultimate decision maker. It doesn’t always work but it’s better than ending up in a cauldron of spite that sadly many companies encourage to allow them to still control the individuals as they choose.

I’m not really giving you a good answer so if there’s anything more specific, please drop me a line and I’ll try and be more useful.

Comment by Rob

were you getting a kicking from someone?

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for alerting Rob about my question and thank you Rob for answering it.

Comment by Jackson

It is lovely to see Rob and Northern back here. Your brains have been missed gentlemen.

Comment by George

Leave a Reply