Tag Archives: transparency

‘Know Thyself’ – Applied To Your Brand

Like any worthy communications geek I am a firm believer in the value which authenticity creates for a business and subsequently in establishing a brand’s reputation. The creative process is vast and nuanced. The ‘thing’ that drives a creative person forward is their passionate commitment to manifest their vision. Perseverance, certainly a measure of luck, but mostly (I believe) it is infusing authenticity into every detail which makes the rest of us take notice, purchase, and eventually become brand ambassadors. Creative people don’t (necessarily) set out to win accolades, while those are very nice and certainly add to financial success, innovators simply mean to honour their passion and provide those like-minded with their solution. “If you build it…”

I’ve recently encountered two Scandinavian businesses creating global buzz within their respective niches. So completely have Sweden’s ASKET and Norway’s Maaemo gotten it right I want to share them with you as a sort of litmus test for building your own brand efforts. The online identity for both companies is austere Scandinavian – clean, contemporary, timeless, and compelling.

One company offers a permanent (non-trendy, wearable) collection of things men want to wear (and women will likely ‘borrow’) in 15 different sizes, the other gently guides your perspective about sustainability, localisation and cultural heritage through gourmet (nearly private dining) experiences. What these three men, August Bard Bringéus, Jakob Nilsson Dworsky and Esben Holmboe Bang, have in common is their openness about their philosophies, they take us on their journey and they put their names ‘on it’.

ASKET tOf course there is an element of personal branding to this but less than might be found outside of the Nordics. Resonance drives our desire. We want their end products (or experience) for ourselves because authenticity and transparency (even so far as breaking down precise costs) are so integral to their brands.

I had multiple windows open on my laptop when the Maaemo movie began playing. Thus, my initial exposure to Maaemo’s story was through the thoughtfully selected ‘sound’. I knew (without looking) I was about to experience something reverent, primal and ancient, something which would awaken my intellect and senses and move the needle on my perception of Nordic gastronomy. Something the storied Michelin guide recognises in Maaemo having awarded Esben and his small team its third Michelin star.

“To me, the smell of Norway is fire, smoke, salt and drama. There is a useful pain and nerve in the history of the Norwegian people that affects the food in a good way.”                                                                                                                                  ~ Esben Holmboe Bang

asket pileEqually so the perfection offered by August Bard Bringéus. He wanted a white t-shirt.

What both August and Esben have in common is that they view themselves as ‘outsiders’ (either to the culture or the industry vertical) and their efforts are their personal interpretations which they offer for our consideration.

So much about ensuring we even have a planet to call home is about making conscious purchasing choices, buying less but of great, lasting quality – equally valued whether experiential or material, and aesthetically exciting. We don’t get to that purchasing decision without the creative efforts of others. Without their peeling away the layers of their journey we are stuck with simply buying a sweater or eating a meal. As the specter of mediocrity runs rampant perhaps in 2018 examples such as Maaemo and Asket can serve to remind us, might ignite our collective consciousness, to elevate our consumption. Regardless, the way they have aligned their brands with their respective ethos sets standards worth emulating.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Seeking, and finding, the elusive soulmate

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The Red Balloon, 1956 Oscar winning film by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, found its soul mate! Click image to watch.

Our condition as living beings demands connection, and to some degree or another we are all seeking the elusive resonance with another person that is generally referred to as finding our soulmate. Some, I am not one of them, can ‘settle’ just to be able to feel, to have a partner in life’s activities, to have a bedmate for sex, or someone to bitch at – how can this be ‘enough’?

An acquaintance made through OKCupid has written two drafts of a paper for publication that he enthusiastically has shared with me – I am very flattered – for myself there is a single sentence that stands out from amongst the current 3,000+ words:

A soul mate is not an object, it is a state of being.

~ R.S.

This, I love. A soul mate is a state of being.

This isn’t “The Secret” but, THE SECRET!  The fullness of being necessary for ourselves and without which we cannot be in a state of preparedness of our being to resonate or recognise its ‘other’ (or as RS points out the potential of many others over the course of our lifetimes).

Love is the only just and holy war. Two friends pledge loyal opposition to one another. I vow I will defend the integrity of my separate being and respect the integrity of your being. We will meet only as equals; I will present myself in fullness of being and will expect the same of you. I will not cower, apologize or condescend. Our covenant will be to love one another justly and powerfully; to establish inviolable boundaries; to respect our separate sanctuaries. We will remain joined in the sweet agony of dialogue, the contest of conversation, the dialectic of love until we arrive at synthesis.

—Fire in the Belly: On Being A Man© Sam Keen, 1992

There are few and rare people who find in one another (despite distractions) the perfection of their being and love with their partner.  I am just finishing reading Marilyn Yalom’s fantastic How the French Invented Love, Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance which has lead me to further explore the 50 year relationship of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.  But first, as Ms. Yalom quotes at the beginning of chapter fourteen:

My love, you and I are one, and I feel that I am you as much as you are me.

Image~ Simone de Beauvoir to Jean-Paul Sartre, October 8, 1939

 Never have I felt so forcefully that our lives have no meaning outside of our love.

Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir, November 15, 1939

They were far from perfect, after a decade it seems that their intense sexual energy for each other abated, they each took lovers, transparently shared every detail with the other, there was (as the expression goes) “collateral damage” from their threesomes, and pain for Simone especially when Jean-Paul ‘got too close’ in prolonged affairs that encroached on what was theirs, yet, as Colette Audry, a teaching colleague of Beauvoir’s in the 1930s, wrote of them: “Theirs was a new kind of relationship, and I had never seen anything like it. I cannot describe what it was like to be present when those two were together. It was so intense that sometimes it made others who saw it sad not to have it.” They were committed without the formal legal framework of marriage for fifty years and yet wound up sharing a single grave in Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

For a tiny bit more on Sartre and de Beauvoir I suggest you start here and then if interested you can expand your reading and also watch this documentary.

My point is that sometimes ‘it just happens’ as it did to Sartre and de Beauvoir when they were 21 and 23, it, as the French express – coup de foudre, happens when Imagesomeone ‘sees’ you for who you really are.   I don’t think this can happen until you are really ready to be seen and doesn’t (necessarily) require a physical connection to express the truest intimacy that you can imagine existing.  Our transparency isn’t verbal or emotional, it is energetic – the tuning fork which finds us inexplicably drawn to other people that make us more as a result of being ‘with’ them.

Aristotle wrote:

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Then what makes us stay up at night, or rise early, to simply witness a lover sleep, denying sleep and work, commitments, and other friends to spend ten more minutes (or ten more hours) talking to them because the cup truly runneth over in the place that is uniquely ‘yours’ and to cease the sharing of thoughts, music, books and life means to stop living altogether (or so it seems) is all part of the equation.  

Over and over during the course of the last 10 months I have woken in the middle of the night, and it has always been because a man in a different time zone on the other side of the planet has just sent some kind of digital message to me. I am not responding to the input of their message but the energy of their thoughts toward me that prompted them to reach out to me in the first place.  I respond because the connection between us has become hardwired on my circuitry – the intensity of these ‘awakenings’ seem to be happening ever more frequently so I have to believe I am ‘getting closer’ to the convergence of metaphysical and physical.  I hope you are also so blessed.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my print or ebook from Amazon, please click on the cover art of my book, ebook also available through Barnes & Noble and Lulu, thank you! 

Authenticity

ImageMany years ago, in my second job in the high tech space, The New Yorker magazine ran a cartoon by Peter Steiner.  My senior management team loved that cartoon because it perfectly exemplified the business case for our B2B enterprise solution – credential issuance, authentication, and instantaneous revocation (where necessary) and an assurance model for high value transactions rooted in commercial bank relationships.  In 1998 this was a paradigm shift so far ahead of its time it took until 2004 for the concept behind it and platform to be accepted and subsequently deployed at the global Fortune 50 firm where I was brought into to serve as the project lead for the related communications and change management.  The journey of finding love, in particular almost exclusively relying upon a single online dating site, is not one that promises authenticity.

On the Internet – now, just as in 1998 – you can be anything you want to be and, sadly, an awful lot of people do exactly that.  Recently I experienced both extremes of behavior. Three weeks ago a man asked to ‘take our conversation outside of’ the site and provided an email address.  The next email included five photos allegedly with his son.  But ‘the little voice’ suggested ‘trust but confirm’ and with my reply I asked for him to connect via Linkedin or Facebook; not surprising there has been no subsequent communication. In contrast, in the last 24 hours, a man has so thoroughly astonished me with his transparency as to truly reaffirm my belief that all things are possible.

“Hello. Is there any possibility to date with me?”

I emit a heavy sigh when I see that he is 24, and lives some 6000 miles away from me.

A friend (also attempting to find love) points out ‘it’s not like you are ever going to meet’. Well, perhaps not but still, a conversation never hurt anything, right?  As has previously been my reply to expressed interest by someone so much younger than myself this is also one of polite dissuasion. But then what is a number? If it doesn’t bother ‘the he’ then why should it bother me? But it does – a bit less than when I started this journey but still…

“Many thanks for your supremely flattering desire to take me out – truly lovely. Aside from the geographic challenges involved I have no immediate plans to be in Istanbul and surrounds – sorry. But if something changes I will certainly let you know and would delight in meeting you for tea.”

A decade ago a girlfriend commented that the 18 year old renter who lived downstairs had a crush on me and would hum Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson, Imagethe theme from The Graduate, every time Daniel left our company.  When ultimately he not only made a pass but pinned me to my sofa in amorous intent I was, as the Scots express, gobsmacked.  When he subsequently held my hand and stole a kiss in front of his (all male) friends in the 19-22 year old range I was as embarrassed as a 13 year old.  This was the extent of it because I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was a year older than his mom! Now, ten years later here I am being charmingly wooed by a man who was four years YOUNGER than Daniel was when he originally pressed his suit. (Shaking my head, heavy sigh.)

My new friend Momo, age 25, wrote this morning “sweeti, u r really something special” (spelling is his own).  I should believe this, understand it at a most cellular level, but the truth is I think I am rather ordinary. When it comes to being the focus of any male attention I feel like I should be looking behind me at the real source inspiring their words, I am overwhelmed and seriously under prepared. Having shut myself off for far too many years to count from the potential pain of being betrayed or hurt in a relationship all this is surreal to me.

Serhat’s reply leaves me breathless (unedited).

“Your reply proved that how true my decision; I sent message to you. I am sure you know everting about man, how to make him happy. 🙂 you are so cute thank you for your nice message. I want to date with woman that older than me at least once.. ı havent dated yet. But if ı date she should be like you. İf you havent planed your vocation you can take into consideration izmir also. it is really nice city you can search from web. and I can take you to showing around , be sure if you are with me anyone can’t it beter 😀 ( maybe litle bit embellishing) but ı am sure ı can make you happy. (by the tis way ı have a car) maybe it is litle bit rude but ı should mention that because it is big easiness to reach somewhere. ı can make a food for you that girls always says “delicious.” if you dont think to come izmir it is not problem first year of next year ı will go to riga (latvia) as a student maybe ı can go to sweden from riga to see you. ı have saved you as my favorite see you”

This is all on the assumption that I am successful in making Stockholm my home.  From my agreeing to meet for tea when/if I should make my way to his native Turkey (which isn’t such a reach as one of my dearest friends in the world lives there) to the above.  But it is lovely, isn’t it? In a world where we are so cynical about everything the kindness and enthusiasm being shown to me makes me want to believe that somehow I have fallen through the best kind of rabbit hole and time has stood still, that I am like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray without all the debauchery and moral repercussions.  Or, maybe something else is really at the root of this.

Concurrent with the decision to get serious about finding love, I discovered a British man (age 26) name Matthew Hussey. Matthew is a life coach, dating guru and author whose universal wisdom exceeds that of men twice his age, he is also spot on in identifying ways to foster success in dating (for both sexes). I don’t need most of his practical advice about body language, confidence and self-esteem but I find the habit of receiving his blog posts reassuring as I navigate these oceans again.  But I think that just maybe (as Matthew challenged mom’s to help establish a standard for how women should be treated by raising their sons ‘properly’) men in their twenties have learned the new paradigm of courtship. They don’t seem to be hung up on the number but (in my new, limited experience) are really interested in the woman, who she is, how she thinks, what makes her heart race, how to make her feel like a goddess. I know it’s narrow in my view to assume men (even in) their forties are clueless (let alone older than that, men who are my peers and older still) but it strikes me that the confidence and bar no holds attitudes of reaching out and making it clear what they want belongs uniquely to the domain of twenty-something men.  Even as I am trying to politely extract myself from dating men less than half my age I am exploring the kind of man I do want – regardless of his age. There is a line from Steve Lopez’ The Soloist which resonates with me on my journey “… I’ve learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in, of holding onto it. Above all else, of believing, without question, that it will carry you home.” I am loyal to the idea that while I am not perfect, nor is it likely that the man I eventually find will be such, I believe that some place in the world a man exists that is perfect for me.

To which point I finally took a deeper look at my potential suitor’s profile and discovered we actually have a great deal in common.

“Thank you, truly. You have a vibrant wonderful smile and what shines through is your happiness and joy for life. I am, again, deeply flattered that you have chosen me and find my profile worthy of saving to your favorites. I will do so as well and will keep my promise. So, yes, if not Izmir then definitely Riga or Stockholm.”

I don’t know how, in the space of 24 hours it goes from:

“I will be waiting you.”

To his creation of a private Facebook page (we are the only two members of the group, and he migrated it from being a closed group to a secret one within an hour) but it has. Here he is sharing his family and friends and providing links to their Facebook profiles, essentially bringing me into his world and making himself utterly transparent in the process.  It might be the one truth we can all agree upon that “On the Internet no one knows if you are dog” but in Serat’s case he is proving that he is certainly a man worthy of knowing in the real world.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Secrets

A friend mentioned over breakfast recently that there had been too many secrets in her marriage – on both of their parts. She is taking on enough guilt and sadness for both of them secretsand he seems to be incapable of taking any responsibility but sure seems capable of expressing a great deal of anger.  On the other hand I am entering into the discovery phase of what will either be a short term, grand, erotically charged passion or which will eventually become something of the former but also sentimental, tender and nourishing and because of both circumstances I am perhaps a little more aware of the need for transparency than usual.

Having just re-read Michael Ondaatje’s book The English Patient, listening to the magnificent soundtrack over and over again throughout, and then finding the link to watch the (multiple) award winning film online I was reminded of a rather appropriate line of poetry offered on a Englishscrap of paper tucked into the copy of Herodotus (c. 484-425 BCE) kept by the books’ fictionalized character of Count Laszlo de Almásy.

Betrayals during war are childlike compared with our betrayals during peace. New lovers are nervous and tender, but smash everything. For the heart is an organ of fire.

~ The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

­­­­­­­­­If you haven’t seen The English Patient since it came out in 1996 (or, shockingly, if ever) nor read the book, then doing so NOW makes a great deal of sense. Ondaatje weaves the truly cooperative nature and passion of archaeological exploration and discovery against the political landscape offered by the years before and during WWII. With actions interpreted as betrayals and espionage by some of the ‘innocent’ characters and those actually engaged in the trade of secrets and reconnaissance held blameless.

Of course the headlines of late have cemented this for me.  I am struck by the distinct memory of President Barack Obama’s memorandum issued to his department heads based upon his promise:

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency”

And, the words of John F. Kennedy, Jr. expressed when I was just a toddler:

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”

And yet.

ericThere is the great current debate over whether Eric Snowden is a whistleblower or a traitor. There is the hypocrisy noted by scholars, civil liberties defenders, human rights protectors, Nobel Laureates, Allies of the United States and our ‘enemies’ alike, by, in fact, a global community and an awful lot of Americans too that the United States government is failing to live up to the standards to which it holds other nations.  Spying on our Allies impeaches our credibility even further.  How can we fail to understand that we, as Americans, have more to lose by restrictions to our liberties, to a lack of transparency, to secrets and spying, invasion of privacy imposed upon us by our own government than any potential duplication of 9/11? As someone who was asked to shuck all of my clothing by a TSA matron at Reagan National Airport in the summer of 2002 because of the metal supports pinkfound in my underwire bra, in the heels of my Manolo Blahniks and the chain at the hem of my Chanel jacket set off security maybe our paranoia is going too far.  (It should be pointed out that more Pakistani civilians have been killed by US drone strikes than the losses suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks. And we are ridiculously naïve if we don’t understand these actions will create greater anger and increase potential reprisal attacks on Americans everywhere. But that is for brighter minds than mine to provide comment on.)

The fact that in the aftermath of Snowden’s disclosures that the United States government was indeed monitoring ALL communications of US citizens was ‘quickly’ addressed by Senator Rand Paul – making both James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and Eric Snowden guilty of crimes.

In the wake of our global discussion over leaking secrets, spying and so forth, Army Private Bradley Manning’s court martial is ongoing.  And it should be noted that a Nobel Laureate has a very different perspective on his actions than, of course, the United States military does.  1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan-Maguire likens Bradley Manning to Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo both of whom were awarded the prize while persecuted and imprisoned in their home countries.  I love Corrigan-Macguire’s choice of words:

“Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. …[Alfred] Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact.”

It remains to be seen what the history books will say of Eric Snowden and Bradley Manning but truth is often at odds with agenda.  It can be uncomfortable to live within once espoused but our humanity, our personal relationships, our own authenticity and integrity often demand that secrets not be kept.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the “price of a cup of tea” in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Predicament

I arrived at the local library essentially to scope out new book offerings (yes, I am one of those who clings to the smell of paper and ink, the sound of pages turning, the visual harmony created by a talented graphic artist, the stimulation spilling forth into me like a latte stoking the caffeinated amongst you).  Inspiration for writing comes as much from reading other words as observing life – my timing could not have been more perfect.

As I climbed the stairs to the second floor I was met by a couple of librarians, two moms and three very little girls – one of whom had managed to stick her head between the supports of an upcoming event sign and was now STUCK.

ImageShe wasn’t hurt or crying (thank goodness) but she was bent at the waist, head through the uprights, curls tousled about her like a halo, tiny ruffled skirt balancing the horizontal image before me.  I commented to the pony-tailed woman on the floor trying to extricate the brunet china doll that her curiosity should be commended.  The mom replied, “Oh Gawd she’s not mine, I am just watching her for a friend!” and, thus, the predicament inspiration.

Not all knowledge is gained from books (despite my penchant for them) most of it is acquired by the roll-your-sleeves-up-jump-in-there methodology.  We learn hot and cold from touch and taste.  We learn to trust that internal voice from repeatedly feeling ‘off’ in circumstances, the gut instinct honed. We learn to dress appropriately (hopefully) by fashion faux pas committed when the stakes are non-existent and we are still in single digits.  We learn from observing and mimicry of our elders and mentors how to speak, walk and be kind.  And within that space of discovery is the ‘feeling an imposter’ syndrome that all of us – the Rhodes scholar and average Jane alike – go through at some point or another on the path to who were are meant to be.

 “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” 

 Amy Cuddy, PhD, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

Belief in self is more often realized because we keep trying at what we feel we are drawn to ‘do’; the ROI being competency in place of doubt (which may have) once existed. You are lying to yourself if you have never had a moment of absolute terror at being ‘discovered’ a fraud when faced with a challenge you had yet to tackle.  I recall sitting in the security office of a global pharmaceutical company many years with four other individuals all waiting to begin our on-boarding processes. The unknown man who would soon sit opposite me turned and in barely a whisper said “I feel a like a pretender it’s been so long that I have been looking for work. What if I can’t do this anymore?”  Two things struck me about his statement; the first was the transparency, the second was the vulnerability.  I believe we gain strength from exposing our raw underbelly – selectively. The stars might have been aligned when he chose me to express his doubts (there would never be a chance of betrayal as my own leap into the Pharma environment was just as unlikely).

Late last year I stumbled upon Amy Cuddy’s TEDGlobal speech about how our body language shapes the perception of not only those around us but also ourselves.  This brilliant woman had struggled with ‘feeling a fraud’ and was counseled to not fake it till you make it but rather fake it until you are it.

I ‘wasn’t’ an entrepreneur, or an author. Long before those choices I wasn’t in high tech, politics, Tall Ships, or boxing tournaments. All of those words, all those stories, put into communications practice because I discovered upon becoming a 17 year old tour guide in Niagara Falls that I could help people to understand things which were ‘foreign’ and unfamiliar to them. Yet, at the same time I felt a fraud in teaching 40 year old history teachers how-to be good tour guides.

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It’s too soon to know what ‘discovery’ the toddler ultimately takes from her predicament of this afternoon but perhaps the cheers received on earning her freedom formed a future Cirque du Soleil star.

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