Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pan-African Festival, Silver Spring, MD - Sat 9/27/14

Sorta a line dance, exercise class type thing.. Chuck Brown, a Washington  DC music icon, is playing in this video. Everybody is really getting deep in the groove. There were grills serving halal goat, lamb... There were clothes vendors, jewelry, etc. Silver Spring has some kind of event every Saturday when the weather is warm.

Authority is bad

Exercising authority over someone that isn't your child, is demoralizing. Authority is corrupting. Its corrupting because without the ego cancelling affect of parental love, having authority over people inflates your ego and forces the one under authority to condescend.

No grown man wants to have another grown man tell him what to do to make a living. No grown woman wants another grown woman to lord over her. In this capitalist society, that's exactly what we were being asked to do.

There are archetypes in the human psyche. One of them is Parent and Child. That's something that goes back millennia. There were no bosses in prehistoric times. There were alphas, but that was only if you choose to live in a collective. You could opt out. The only way to opt out in capitalism is to become a capitalist. Start a business, work for yourself, but then you become part of the problem.

When we force people into these artificial positions because of Authority, one group acts like parents and the other acts like children. Why? Because authority over adults is unnatural. So they rebel. If you rebel against authority you're acting like a rebellious child. The authority figure has to bring you back in line, like a parent. Both exercises are degrading and unseemly.

We need managers because we can't easily make a living doing what we love. We can do it, but there's a period when the necessities of life may be in doubt and everybody can't wade through that period successfully.

What I'm advocating is the abolition of capitalism, money and wage slavery. Collectives of people should ban together and build the necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter, education and healthcare for the masses. Thereby creating leisure for human being to explore what they are passionate about and pursue it.

To quote Oscar Wilde "the government will make what is useful. The individual will make what is beautiful.." There are articles all over the net about "flat" companies. Companies without managers, they just hire talented, passionate people to do a job they love and let them do it. How wonderful that must be. How like the first state of man it must have been.

Authority is a symptom of disease. That disease is called fear. We, as a society are afraid of each other. We are afraid of being taken advantage of, afraid of asking for help, afraid of being labeled. The anonymity of the internet, seems to eliminate some of that angst.

I hate telling people what to do, but love organizing people around a task to be completed. I just asked that you do your piece without my consistently checking up on you. The institution leans on you it that, but I know it distort my personality and character. Try as a I might. I'd be a fool to think I'm not tainted by Authority. Maybe I can write myself into a career as a writer with bosses and without becoming a boss. It sucks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lessons from Film

I have four disposable cameras on my desk. They're old, older than a few years. In technology speak, they are ancient. The convenience of going to the drugstore to get them processed is long gone. Even department stores phased out this service. Specialty shops are my only option.

There was a time when I took lots of pictures, at those times I wanted to remember things. That time is not now. Many of the things I'm experiencing, I don't want to relive in a photo.

We create so many of our own problems, stresses and hells. The most difficult thing is really learning from these experiences so we don't repeat. If I could capture that in a photo… if I could take a picture of me smiling and thinking "Glad I learned that lesson" that would be a photo worth saving.

A picture says a lot, so does my reflection in the mirror this morning. It says, I ate too much salt last night and I really am under tremendous stress. No photos please, but… if I had that other camera. The one that could take the "after" picture, where I learned from my mistake and everything worked out. I would carry that picture in my wallet forever.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Manager 3 - Book Thief

There an old saying about taking a page out of someone's book, to become more successful. As a new manager, there are a couple of books I'd like to rob.

One book is called, Living a Lifetime Every Weekend. There's this manager who always has a great stories to tell, seems he doesn't really think about work on his weekends or vacations and come in on Mondays ready to seize the day. For me, Sunday is Monday Eve. I gotta take a page out of Rocket Man's book.

There a book which is more like an address book, has tons of people in it, all friends, all with great stories. These friends, mostly girls, are sounding boards for difficult decisions regarding work. Women are generally smarter than men and this book is like a think tank. I mostly have guy friends and we all think the same way. I really need to take a page out of Officer Friendly's book.

One last tome. This book is full of green leaves, maybe a billion. It details the story of how a fortune was made and possibly some good things happened because of it. I'm sure some bad things happened (lessons learned), but maybe I could side steps those. There are a couple pages I'd like to take from this book, not because of their currency, but because of positive influence they could have on a generation. Would love a few pages from Big Pimp'n's book.

Of these are metaphors for people I've encountered in my professional life, hopefully I can learn from them, be a better me. People are books after all.


New Manager 2

There is a concept called necessary evil. I didn't understand this as a young Christian. Now as an agnostic and a new manager, it's crystal clear.

People, including myself, are motivated by necessity and incentive. When I say motivated, I mean breaking out of their inertia (usual routines) and become more productive. I thought just showing respect, providing more resources and showing that I care about them as people was enough to get folks to be productive. It's not. Seems to do the opposite, if it's not balanced with clearly defined expectations and consequences if those expectations are not met. I'm working on that part, the consequences.

Years ago I was a young art director. I had an enviable position at a young, forward thinking magazine. I was able to hire, as a freelancer, an older graphic designer I met. He had been in the magazine layout game a long time and was familiar production. Gave him a small layout job which he turned in at the last minute and the work was crap. That was the first time I ever raised my voice and fired a freelancer.

Looking back, I should have been keeping tabs on him and the rest tof the freelancers. Should have had a clearly laid out production milestones and penalties if you were late. Penalties for missing deadlines are evil, but necessary.

Evil, in this context, is the unpleasant action taken against a staffer, who refuses to improve when coaching and incentives fail. I wish it wasn't necessary, but I'd be lying if I said wasn't motivated by same factors. I know the root though.... it's the Ego.

Freeing ourselves of ego would also free us from the carrot and stick cycle (employee karma)... of course if all of us left off the ego tomorrow, there would be lots of career changes would there?

Yes, there would.



New Manager 1

Everybody has those moments of doubt. I had one this morning. Usually I just let the feeling pass, this time I challenged it. In the last ten years, I went from a cashier in a coffee house to a manager at top notch company. I've created and hosted three different podcasts, one episode got 5,000 listens. I've written four different blogs, several short stories and one unpublished novel. I haven't been sitting on my hands this last decade, not exactly.

I've been given the opportunity to manage a talented group of people in a high stress and rewarding environment. My team all know their jobs, but some folks don't always put forth that extra effort.

I've managed before, as an art director. It's was a little different than this gig. Models, photogs and illustrators are doing what they love, good at taking direction and (this is key) will go the extra mile to do a great job. In my current position, I feel like I'm paddling harder than some of my direct reports.

I have great management above, great colleagues beside. It's just a matter of learning fast, then implementing what I've learned faster. My only real "enemy" in this scenario is time.