The Link That Keeps You Together

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There is a small item of clothing that circumnavigates the midpoint of human creativity and has been used by mankind for generations.

It can be customised to meet the individual preferences of the wearer, and can effortlessly accommodate fluctuating changes in personal demeanour and appearance.

When absent, one’s self esteem can lead to unwelcome embarrassment where the observer may be shocked, or excited, by the unhindered display of private persona.

However, those in the fashion industry have been happily entwined by its functionality and fully utilise its support and timeless stability.

For those of you that excel in cryptic mental aptitude, you will have already determined that I am alluding to the creative virtues of the mechanical device colloquially known as the belt.

Without a belt, human creativity would have been severely limited as ones hands would have not been free to gesticulate innovative ideas, to constructively work requisite equipment, or walk in unperturbed inspirational thought, owing to the need to maintain a sense of dignity with one, or two hands continually stopping the dropping force of unplanned clothing gravity.

From a spiritual sense, the belt allows the clothing wearer to focus on thoughts deemed from above, rather that those below their waist, well, in the majority of cases anyway.

A single belt can transfer its supportive benefits between many users regardless of their sex, nationality, history or age, and is unperturbed by the status of the previous wearer.

So if you want to maintain a look of complete confidence in your creative work and social activities, make sure you wear a belt and the innovative support you seek will be continually maintained.

Work Wear for the Active Martian

Jean Shrimpton - photo by Richard Avedon for HarperÕs Bazaar, April 1965

“It’s the year 2165 and we have been living on Mars for the past 30 Earth years and we still can’t differentiate the shape of a woman from a man when we are working outside on the planet surface! These old fashioned, unflattering, NASA styled baggy space suits all make us look like we are living in the 1960s! Enough is enough, it’s time to modernise our Martian appearance and to bring a long overdue standard of fashion to this red dusty plant.”

Yes, we hear you! So, you will all be pleased to know that the Galactic branch of “Space Road”, the leading fashion designer of casual clothing, has now expanded their work wear to accommodate the needs of the discerning Martian resident. No longer will women and men be visually indistinguishable. Yes, we understand the needs of the Martian worker and have developed a unique clothing range that will ensure the wearer is seen on this planet as a stylish leader in your chosen work team.

To cope with the extreme temperature fluctuations, and those pesky and highly unpredictable red dust storms, we have developed a remarkable lightweight fabric that provides optimum thermal protection, together with an inbuilt anti-static additive to repel dirt. This will ensure that the wearer always feels comfortable, refreshed and has that all over clean and stunning professional looking appearance.

The fabric comes in a range of colours and patterns, and there is even a transparent selection available, however owing to the high levels of solar radiation, we would recommend that only those with a large body hair covering choose this one to avoid potential discomfort.

I can hear you asking whether the fabric is clingy? Absolutely is the answer! The wearer will now be able to show the Martian civilisation the complete personality attributes of the individual without any physical limitations from gravity typically experienced when on Earth. There will now be no doubt as to the gender of the wearer, however, for those that are a tad more traditional and conservative by nature, blue and pink fabric selection options are indeed available. We at “Space Road” are also thinking ahead and should the human race mutate with the influence of some potential yet unknown alien relationships, we have reserved a number of unspecified gender colours, just in case they are required at some point in the future.

This modern leading edge Martian wear also fits comfortably into your space boots, gloves and helmet ensuring a snug and compete seal for added protection. Our new solar season range of clothing will soon contain a stylish helmet, which unfortunately wasn’t available for release in this clothing catalogue owing to some slight teething issues with oxygen leaks, a minor problem which we will quickly remedy I’m sure. Please ensure you send us your Martian email address so we can add you to our distribution list for when this helmet, and other cosmically exciting fashion items, become available.

We look forward to servicing all your Martian fashion requirements. For further information, please go to our website in about 6 months as we await the launch of our newly built Telstra 10G satellite which will soon be orbiting Mars. We at “Space Road” thank you you for your patience, but you know what it’s like getting a new satellite these days!

Image: Jean Shrimpton – photo by Richard Avedon for Harpers Bazaar, April 1965

You have Changed!

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Yes, my friends were right, it was just like “Dorian Gray”, I had changed. To confirm their thoughts, I decided to review images of myself over the past few months, just to see if there were any visual signs.

I perused Facebook and a multitude of iPhone images and aligned them in chronological date order hoping to find a clue. I quizzed my friends as to what differences they were observing in me, in particular, when they thought the change may have occurred? I needed to discover my behavioural tipping point and it’s potential origin.

I spend the whole night pondering my notes, looking at photographs and at 11:34 PM that evening, I noticed it.

The initial change was subtle, but the time comparison between then and now was momentous. Yes, I had changed, and in a big way.

I was now a much more confident, outgoing individual, with a continual smile on my face. My business attire of the traditional and conservative dark blue suit with white shirt, and boring striped tie, had been replaced with a stylish array of coloured shirts with cuff-linked sleeves, bow-ties, pocket hankies, and an impressive daily shaved smooth slick head.

The point zero appeared to coincide when I began working for a new company, one that had an amazingly vibrant work ethic and culture. As a pondered and thought about this further, the term “cultural chemicalization” came to mind. For those of who reading this blog post let me explain the concept further.

If I were to look up the term “cultural chemicalization” in a dictionary, it would say: “the subconscious absorption (or chemicalization) of an organization’s culture by an employee where a change in behavioural state occurs”.

Yes, I had subconsciously, and quite happily I must admit, absorbed the positive culture of my new place of work, and the more I thought about it, so had all my fellow colleagues. The result was an amazing environment where creativity and innovation excelled to the fullest.

The process of “cultural chemicalization” begins with the CEO and the Executive Team. It is their behaviour that sets the benchmark for all employees and those they meet externally. As that saying goes, “what you see is what you get”. As an employee, if you observe a positive, enthusiastic management team, you and your organization will respond accordingly. If you see “nothing”, then that’s exactly what you will receive and experience.

Yes, my friends were right, I had changed, and I was loving it!

Try using these WORDS!

I stopped in my tracks and said, “You look absolutely gorgeous!”. I walked on another ten feet, stopped again, turned around and said, “You really do, I mean it!”

Twenty seconds earlier, three woman, who I’d never met before, walked out of the clothing store onto the footpath and stopped in front of me. One of them, dressed in a green tightly body hugging winter jacket, asked her close friends for their opinion; “Do you really like the coat?”. Before they could answer, I made my initial comment of genuine positive affirmation, which I repeated without hesitation a few seconds later. The smile on her face was ecstatic and her friends laughed with gleeful intent. If I had lingered a moment longer and not continued my ‘walk of thought’, I’m sure my new ‘best friends’ would have invited me to lunch!

There is a moral here for the corporate office. How often do we compliment our colleagues with constructive reinforcement of their behaviour, their manner, a risk they may have taken, or how they dress? I suspect not that often?

Why not?

Many offices these days have become rather sterile environments where only ‘approved’ comments of corporate acceptance prevail. To demonstrate the point, how many organisations have implemented the corporate branded ‘Thank You’ card which you are encouraged to complete, then hand to HR, who then distribute it to the nominated individual some days, or weeks, later after the words have been vetted for any corrupt intentions!

Let’s explore this further and consider a highly functioning sports team. What is the key to their success? Nothing too complicated, really, it’s just called ‘talking’.
But, those involved ‘talk’ with ‘words’ of encouragement where they compliment each other on what they did well, or provide words on impending danger from the opposition, or give words of constructive criticism. The words of feedback tend to be immediate, or whilst the game is fresh in the minds of those involved.

So why not give it a go in your corporate office? If you are a tad timid to praise a colleague publicly, then use an E-mail or an SMS, but make sure it has your name on it as this personalised message of word positivity is much more powerful than words of anonymity and will mean much more to the recipient. Make praise a habit, and I’m sure that you and those around you will benefit greatly from the word experience.

And if that gorgeous woman in the green coat is reading this blog post, yes, I’m still available for lunch, just send me the “words”!

Image: Sophiaclothing

Small, Yet So Influential

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I looked intently into my colleagues deep blue eyes and asked if she really wanted to do this, because once we do it, there was no turning back? She nodded with a cheeky smile and said she was up for it, after all, it should be quite an experience! We smirked with a nervous anticipation at each other and the mutual course of action was agreed.

Together, we had the global power and reach to change the corporate business world. We were about to unleash a movement that would have a profound impact on suited workers of all ages.

She was the President of the largest clothing retailer in Europe. I, as her Vice-President of Marketing, was responsible for the viral release of her latest leading edge fashion thoughts and ideas.

I gingerly picked up the chosen fashion item and with great respect, stated how I was in awe of how something so small, was going to have such a monumental influence in business. She laughed and said, “If they only knew who wielded the power in the corporate world!”

With the colour and pattern selection made, I pressed the send button on my E-mail note to which a global fashion communication chain reaction immediately commenced. In the following hours, purchase orders from all the leading department stores around the world came flooding into our New York based Head Office. Production orders were sent to China and the petite clothing items were quickly manufactured on mass, complete with our authentic world-renowned Company label. The price mark-up would be 1000%, but we knew that the consumers would expect nothing less.

For the next 2 years, our sales growth was phenomenal. Our fashion item was seen adorning business suits in all the trendy magazines of glamour, worn by celebrities and many other wannabes, and those that just didn’t know any better.

In the quiet solitude of our very expensively furnished corporate New York boardroom, I again looked into those deep blue eyes of my colleague and gave an uncontrollable laugh! She looked at the pocket-handkerchief in my suit jacket and said, “Who would have thought!”

It’s That Fabric

Tartan Dress

The year is 649 BC. Snuggled in front of the large open fire sits a cross-legged, middle-aged Celtic man with a scruffy reddish beard. He has just received his invitation to the official lamb annual sacrifice and he is all in a quandary as to what to wear for such a significant occasion. He looks rather forlornly at his tatty worn breaches and looks deep into the glowing wood embers for some fashion inspiration whilst quietly sipping on a wee dram of a noxious fermented barley brew. After a few hours, his throat is scourged of all feeling, his beard is nearing the stage of spontaneous combustion and his eyes are wishing they were positioned in the back of his head so as to avoid the fierce radiant heat. But with a surprising, and somewhat unexpected experience, a creative and unplanned thought begins to permeate and develop.

The year is 689 AD. A fierce battle is being fought in the land of Killiecrankie. Leading the charge is a gallant man called McDonnell. He, and his band of impressive warriors, are bamboozling the enemy with a distinctive coloured uniform that flaps loudly with repetition in the cold Scottish highland wind against their large hairy thighs as they confront their foes with swords extended.

The year is 2015 AD. A young woman walks along the platform of a London underground tube station wearing a patterned red dress that turns many a head yielding a look of awe and bashful uncertainty. The pattern is traditional, complements her lipstick, and is minimal in fabric volume and body coverage. However, the wearer is not perturbed, as it has achieved the required visual objective of individual differentiation.

Yes, there is only one fabric that can achieve all of the above unique personal requirements, and more! This fabric is a creative combination of different colours, lines and squares that the observer could only assume was initially a creative mistake. Yet, it was not made in error. No, it is a handiwork of true fashion innovation and one that has travelled successfully throughout the ages and will continue well into the future.

It is known by the name of “tartan” and it is immediately recognisable by populations and cultures across the globe. It identifies the wearer with a persona of difference, and one that is prepared to cross the boundaries of tradition, particularly in this day of corporate fashion conservatism.

So, next time you are trying to instil and propagate a culture of innovation in your corporate organization, the choice is simple. Wear a tartan item of clothing, and you will be noticed and definitely not forgotten!

Business As Unusual

Another piece of Strange Fruit

When it’s your first time in a new office, you tend to notice things, and I was definitely observing! This place was certainly different!

I sat down with one of my new work colleagues and noticed that he was wearing different coloured socks. Nothing unusual I thought, at least he wasn’t wearing a brown shoe on his left foot, and a black one on his right one, like the guy walking past us!

I then noticed that a young woman sitting near us was wearing a white stylish shirt, but there were no buttons, rather an array of brightly coloured loops that when intertwined kept the shirt together. This was complemented with some stockings under her skirt that had a most unusual motif.

Another work colleague was sipping their steaming short black coffee with a rather transparent bendy straw, the ceramic coffee cup was blue, but the cup saucer was red.

On checking the time on the office walk clock, I saw that the clock hands were reversed, the minute hand was short, the hour hand was long, to add to the confusion, it also went backwards.

Was there nothing “usual” in this office?

I just had to find out what was going on and leaned over to my new colleague and asked him why this office was “different”?

He responded with a most curious reply. He said that here in this office it is “Business as Unusual”. I was sure that I’d not heard him incorrectly and said, “You mean “Business as Usual”? His reply was immediate, “No, it’s “Business as Unusual”. Here in this office, innovation is not a separate business activity defined by a Department of Innovation, nor a Chief Innovation Officer, here innovation is naturally and effortlessly demonstrated in every activity and behaviour undertaken, by all employees. Innovation is not a process that you turn on and off when there is a business need, it is part of your corporate DNA and it needs to be continually expressed, what’s more, it’s expected. Business should never be “usual”, if it is, then innovation has no hope in succeeding”.

“What a great organisation”, I thought. Upon which I decided it was definitely time to do some corporate clothes shopping, I urgently needed some new business attire before I took one further step in this office!

Yes, it’s “Business as Unusual”!

Corporate Dress Design with “Wind Gust Resistance”!

Wind Gust

“There must be a solution!”, I thought to myself as I was walking in the Sydney CBD this afternoon and saw yet another corporately dressed woman holding her skirt as she fought off those all too frequent wind gusts!

For too long, women have had to endure the public embarrassment associated with unwanted underwear exposure!

So as I walked, I pondered some potential ideas to alleviate the occurrence. Now, there does need to be a self-imposed caveat here, mainly because I haven’t experienced that dreaded moment of dress wind gust movement, so I can only speculate as to the impact.

If you are a fashion designer reading this blog post, please don’t laugh too loudly! However, it may just spark an idea in your minds that might actually make some sort dress design sense? But, then again?

Design Option 1: Underwear Hip Magnets
Now this is a design that would need to be tested first to ensure that womanly comfort is not compromised! The big feature of this concept is its simplicity.
In the skirt there would be a hidden interior pocket strategically placed next to the left and right hips. Should the weather look likely that a wind gust may eventuate; the dress wearer would quickly place a metal disc in the dress pockets. At the same time, a smooth edged, very flat magnet, would be placed into the elastic underwear waist band thereby locking the skirt into position.

Design Option 2: Waistband
Sewn into each dress waistband there could be 5 equally spaced $2 coins which are held in place by a discreetly hidden placed zipper. When the wind gust eventuates, the zip is opened and the coins fall into an inner sleeve positioned in the hem of the skirt thus eliminating skirt flap.
Alternative benefit: should the dress wearer need some money for any unplanned items (such car parking or restaurant tips), there would be an ample supply that could be quickly utilized when required?

iPhone App:
Although not a dress design option, an iPhone App could also be developed that monitors wind gust velocity in the city thereby providing an early warning for the use of the above Design Options?

Now for all you kilt wearers, sorry, I have no idea!

Hopefully, unpredictable dress wind gusts will soon be a thing of the past and all corporate dressed women will be able to walk with confidence in the city!

The Brand

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The Harley Davidson motorcycle hummed past me with that deep-throated gnarly musical sound. Perched aloft the seat was a rather tubby leather clad middle-aged man with a long matted grey beard. Branded across his back was a large replica of his bike’s logo to which a massive “smile” complemented his daredevil face.

A cold gust on the winter wind was thwarted in leaving in imprint on the young woman’s face by her strategically wrapped Burberry scarf. But not to be outdone by this singular and fashionable item, additional clothing with the well-known motif soon appeared to encapsulate her from any other unwanted cold forays of gust. A similar “smile” to her bike riding unknown friend also appeared across her face.

The chanting increased in volume from the crowd all fashionably mimicking each other in their blue and white horizontal striped football jumpers as they took delight in tormenting their brown and gold vertically striped opposition supporters. That “smile” was once again evident.

On walking into one particular corporate office, that “smile” of belonging was most noticeably absent. It appeared to be an office comprised of a large number of individuals all supporting their own “smile” or brand, not one of a unified and cohesive organization.

If we consider the Harley Davidson rider, the Burberry wearer, the football supporter, they all derived some “smile” benefit from their association with these brands. Some corporate organizations, such as Google, McKinsey & Co, Virgin (and many others), do instil brand loyalty and a strong desire of wanting to work there. No, an organization doesn’t need to be a well-known brand to achieve such employee motivation and commitment; similar results can also be attained from a small family business, a school or a local club. The key is in believing that you make a contribution to the progress of that organization and that you also derive some associated personal benefit in return (eg the “smile”, career, financial, friendship, etc).

If you are a CEO in your corporate office, is that “smile” evident in your employees? No, I’m not talking about that polite and courteous smile that employees always make in your presence, but that real “smile” of wanting to belong, as they believe in the organization. If it exists, fantastic! If it doesn’t, then you now have a very important New Year’s resolution for 2015?

Yes, it’s all in the Brand….

Mannequin Motivation

Interview Series, Arlington Street between Boylston and Newbury Streets, Store Window Displays, Ida Claire and Esther Dorothy, Inc.

When walking past any clothing department store, you will typically observe a mannequin in the shop window parading the latest fashions and accessories.

The purpose of this promotional activity is to attract your attention and to entice you into thinking about how those clothes may look on you. As part of this process, you may visualize where you could wear these exciting items of clothing, and also the reaction you may receive from your friends, family and work colleagues. Your thoughts are no longer standing in front of the shop window, they are now travelling to various geographic locations and different emotional states via the use of your imagination.

What about using the motivational benefits derived from these mannequins in the corporate office?

Just imagine having a mannequin strategically positioned in the office foyer as you enter the building. Each Monday morning, the attire of the mannequin would change to provide a theme for the week and to act as a thought provoker. Some potential clothing options:

Personal Wellbeing: sporting clothes (eg tennis outfit)
Creative Thinking: 1960s “flower power” clothes
Watch out for the competition: a suit of armor
New Business Development: a mountain explorer
Appraisal Time: a corporate suit
Holidays: swimwear

The mannequin could also hold message signs to highlight specific business events and communications. For instance, if it was the boss’s birthday, a sign stating “It’s my birthday today, so please enjoy a longer lunch break to celebrate!”….the possibilities are endless!

So next time you walk past that clothing store, think about the “motivational mannequin” and how it could improve the morale in your business.

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