Press play

My parents were both teachers and were pretty big on manners when my brother and I were growing up. As a general rule we spoke when we were spoken to, only took something when it was directly offered and religiously said please and thank-you. This upbringing did little to enhance the relationships within our nuclear family, but on the outside people often remarked what nice, caring children we were.

So where’s the problem?  Well I guess that agency life has done something to challenge this conditioning. I arrived in this territory with a work-hard ethic that was entirely based on prescriptive management. It was less a matter of using my initiative and more a fear of offending someone if I attempted something that was self-initiated, rather than a request.

At Blonde, I have had to get used to “Play”. When someone sends me a YouTube link I sometimes have to force myself to watch it because it doesn’t feel like work and that generates guilt. It’s a ridiculous and out-dated perspective considering some of the most interesting content on the Web is a result of “play”. I can’t believe I’m even admitting to this…

It’s not just a mental work block either; for years my dad drummed into me that I should finish everything on my plate and everything that was put in front of me. All this did was generate a plump child and a not-altogether-healthy attitude to food. It has taken years now to only eat when I’m actually hungry and to avoid feeling guilty if I leave food on my plate. It is a good thing to leave the table feeling comfortable!

So not a very cool admission… and very non-digital-planner-PC, but perhaps a view that may generate more resonance outside the agency world? I’ve been doing a lot of social media research recently, particularly within the financial services sector and though there is seismic shift towards social networking, there are still lots of people who don’t feel comfortable here, consider it to be something for the “kids” and space that is just about personal messaging.

I’m making progress with The Guilt, but “making yourself comfortable” is something that I often include in community handover information for clients…. You have got to get used to being here for work and play and familiar with the sound of your own voice (though hopefully listening to and accommodating the voices of others as well!). Personality is fundamental to the success of any social media campaign and even if you hire the coolest agency to execute the best strategy, this means nothing if you still don’t know what you want to say the world.