This morning I felt like sending a snippy superior message to someone advertising greeting cards. They’d made a card – aimed at gay boys and girls – with the text saying something like Recycle. Reuse. Repurpose. Rihanna.
Which is funny. Except all I could see was the ‘mistake’ in the spelling of her name. Bloody hell, they can’t even get her name right, what is wrong with young people these days… I’m ancient, you see, and haven’t listened to contemporary music since 1992. I have heard of Rihanna but if she knocked at my front door, I wouldn’t know who she was. I don’t know any of her songs.
Anyway, a small voice said Folks get creative with spelling nowadays; let’s just check if that’s not how she does spell her name … Glad I did. Had I not, this would be a snooty blog about people ruining good jokes by bad spelling. And I would have looked stupid.
If I need someone to do something for me, on a professional level, I mean, I don’t care how they feel about it. I don’t care whether they bounce out of bed like a jack-in-a-box at 6 am to do it, or not. I care about the quality of work they do and whether they deliver, and deliver on time. They don’t have to love what they do. They sure as hell have to do it well.
We live in a world where people claim to be passionate about working in call centres – “I’m passionate about customer service!!!” Really? You lie.
Personal passions can shift and meander; mine sure have, although they always revolve around storytelling in one way or another, whether it’s visual storytelling or creating narrative using language.
I’m not going to sell you my writing or drawing services cos I feel passionate about doing these things, although I really do. Most of the time. Nearly all the time, actually, but that’s beside the point. I may not feel fire in my belly for a project, but I care about doing the best job on it I can. If you’re hiring me, that’s what you want to be assured of.
I’m sick of hearing how passionate people are about their thing. Can’t we simply be dedicated, meticulous and committed to quality? Passion once belonged in the bedroom. Time to put it back.
Thinking about my experiences with the Wellness/Self Help movement …. The language of self help and personal growth informs so much of what we’re bombarded with daily in attempts to induce us to sign up to whatever. So long as people are running their businesses ethically then I have no problem with this. As long as the business owner is operating according to their own principles, fair enough. I’ve had a couple of long conversations recently with someone who’s establishing a new business; he’s determined to provide a service informed foremost by integrity . He’s spent years refining his business concept.
At this stage, as I begin my own small business as a copywriter, I’m thinking a lot about the best way to go about this, how to promote myself, how to create my brand, and about the sorts of things I want to write and for whom.
I’ve read what I think are morally dubious sales pitches, for various online businesses, mostly offering coaching/courses/wellness programs. Many of the marketing blurbs involve a kind of pseudo-feminist rhetoric; a sort of pro-feminist language that has been co-opted in the service of capitalism while pretending it isn’t actually doing that. One successful freelance journalist who sells courses uses a sales pitch to promote her writing program which tells a story about her being gang raped. Her sales message goes along the lines of ‘if I can recover from this and create this mega-successful career, then so can you.‘ I felt uncomfortable reading the story and where it went; it took me a while to articulate my distaste.
This woman comes from a country where misogyny, manifesting as violence and sexual assault against women (amongst many other things), practically underpins society, and yet she sidesteps this cultural and political reality to use the dreadful assault she experienced in the service of her personal gain, at the same time glossing over the reality of systemic female oppression. The rape was presented as out of context. She has every right to do this, of course, and all power to her for recovering from such an ordeal and forging an impressive career. But the whole thing smelled bad. I experienced unease with the implicit message in her words: ‘See how I recovered from this atrocity and triumphed; any woman can! (Let me show you how…’). In truth, the effect of her using this story as a sales pitch made me doubt its veracity. Conflating a career as a writer/journo with a rape seems specious to me; unless one has gone on to report extensively on that or related issues, which she may well have done for all I know.
On the other hand, along with the new business owner I mentioned, I have a friend who runs her own small business: a publicist in the arts, a person of integrity. She is service- oriented, generous and extremely professional. She only represents artists she respects. She gives good service and she knows what she is worth; a good role model.