Thursday, April 29, 2010

Company Dog-Sniffing 101

I hate being asked what I do.


It’s one of those dog sniffing things that we all do to make sense of the world and sort people into little piles of understandingness.


It’s up there with ‘what part of Auckland are you in?” (socioeconomic profiling) or by far the worst “what did your parents do?” (bloodline check-excuse me have we gone back 300 years?)


I fluff around and run a few words together depending on the company. Suited types call you a ‘contractor’, Chuck Taylor creatives call me a ‘freelancer’, the Company’s Office calls me a ‘director’, conference bios say ‘consultant’ and receptionists tend to call me a ‘temp’.


When I tell people what projects I’m doing they often question the role “yes but who do you report to? Do they not have a very big communications department? Do you have an agency as well -I suppose most of it gets outsourced to a ‘consultant’.” What would probably be more useful would be telling them the amount of projects that I HAVEN’T got. Literally hundreds. I’m serious.


Perhaps I’m the wrong gender, height, flavour, shoe colour or astrological sign but I’m not quite sure what a whatever- I- am is meant to look like but clearly it’s not how I roll out of bed most days.  


If you get a chance, head over to Facebook and watch the video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at the F8 developer conference.


He’s a 25 year old nerd, in mom jeans, in a zipped up hoodie, with bad gingerish hair. He is also one of the most powerful men (boys?) in global media with bucket-loads of cash. He is a terrible presenter. The most surprising thing I learned from the keynote was that Mark has a girlfriend….go Mark!


See I do it too.  We all want the quick and easy “are you a red one or a green one, poke poke” answer to socially organising people. It’s a bit like search engine tagging.


Watching the video made me think that if IT helpdesk sent some little nerd burger over to reset my password and we started talking about web apps, would I take notice? Would I listen to him or would I think “you’re an IT guy, you don’t know anything about media or communications or advertising. Go home and play World of Warcraft Mark Zuckerberg ITC co-ordinator person.”


It’s a very common organisational burn to discriminate by department and dismiss ideas because you feel threatened in your own little patch. It can be quite humbling having some little freak breezing through the job that you’ve been doing for 30 years, and it’s a very natural reaction to dehumanise someone by tagging and pigeon holing. I’m going to make it my new hobby to be a ‘Zuckerberg’ spotter. I’m sure there’s some vanilla, totally forgettable, ugly, mutated person out there that will cure AIDS or make me look like Rachel Hunter or create a cool web app. I’m pretty sure they aren’t the company stars or the person that has the most friends on Facebook. Maybe it’s the receptionist that asks me every morning “do you enjoy temping?”


I’ll go and suss her out.








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1 comment:

Simon said...

Nice one Courtney. As I look back on my life and my decisions about people I realise that so much depended on the brand/stereotype I had for them. We are all so much more complex than that. So thanks for being whatever the heck it is you are! ;)