Confidentially speaking…

In the immortal words of Billy Joel, it’s a matter of trust.

I don’t plan to dwell on the **eh-hem** surprise events of 2016: I suspect they will be well-documented enough. But they have left me thinking about sources of information. And whether you can trust them.

We all know the pollsters got it wrong. Perhaps nothing new about that, they’ve got it wrong before.  But have there ever been so many political polls that were so consistently and confidently wrong?

“In the immortal words of Billy Joel,

it’s a matter of trust”

And what of the pundits? Much wailing and gnashing of teeth has been heard in the mainstream media.  It’s nothing new to suspect that for all their different view points and pitiless, many media commentators are part of the same clique, a gang that circulates in the same pubs and swap in and out of the same interview hot seats.
But this echo chamber effect is massively amplified online where people surround themselves with like minded people. Bewildered by recent outcomes, commentary often seems to stray into “how could this possibly happen? I don’t know a single person that thinks that way”.
Therein, I suspect, lies the problem.
And you can’t even rely on the bookies these days. In the run up to the US election the odds lengthened on a Trump victory, and early payouts were being off
ered on a Clinton presidency.
The polls, pundits and even the bookies have got it wrong before, but what surprised me was the sheer volume of news stories that weren’t just misleading but plain made-up.
My fear is that as people grow in their mistrust of mainstream media – the polls that don’t predict the outcome and the pundits that parrot each other – they will increasingly turn to online news stories shared by their friends, sources unknown. But how much trust should people really have in them? How much trust do they already invest in them?
Perhaps we should commission a poll to find out…?
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Are we all getting work wrong?

Working on a start up is an interesting case. The temptation is to get up early in the morning and finish at midnight after countless pro plus and cups of coffee. But, coming out of the mainstream environment, I want to ensure that I learn from all the mistakes that I have made. Believe me when I say that I have made them all. I have been guilty of working too hard on all the wrong things. Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One says something like this. He says that if you are working for a company where the demonstration of work is more important than the work itself, get out. It will only cripple your creativity and in the end you start believing that everything you are working on is equally important.

Ask yourself this question – what do you think the company you work for wants from you? I found this article in Thought Catalogue fascinating as it puts it quite simply. CEO’s are not interested if you are working until midnight or at weekends, they only care if you do what you say you are going to do and that you have the ability to manage your workload.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/auren-hoffman/2015/01/a-ceo-reveals-two-rare-and-underrated-skills-most-employees-lack-yet-anyone-can-learn-them/

Both of these are more easily said than achieved. It takes a very strong Account Manager to manage expectations about their ability to manage a workload. It’s a lot easier to take it on the chin and just put in the hours. However, if you look at the really successful people you will not see many that have ever done the grunt work. They all have the ability to focus on the 20% of work that is going to have 80% of the effect. They are also expert delegators.

Luckily there are a few things that you can do that will make a real difference. One is to stop focusing on the now (I know, not really trendy and all mindful) but think about what you want to be doing in a year or so. If you have ambition, and it is completely ok if you don’t, I would start managing expectations now. If your Manager or CEO is not happy with this, easy, find one that is. Have the confidence in yourself to make a career change and find a business that fits you a lot better. Imagine the satisfaction of getting this right.

Next, ask yourself if what you are doing is going to make any difference. If the answer is no, just stop it. Nobody cares. Think about what is going to make a material difference to what you are working on and do that well with all your attention. That’s work. Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Work Week (the clue is in the title) tweeted recently- ‘Slow down and remember this: most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness. Lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.’

 

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A Trip to Maun

On the 22nd November The strong man competition happened in the dusty town of Maun in Botswana (Africa). It was a fundraiser for Banabaletsatsi.org which helps, in a large number of ways, vulnerable and orphan local children. One of our Directors sits on the Board of that NGO and he was on the ground to donate and help organise the event.

We have some wonderful photos of the day, which tell the story better than words could.  Our proudest moments come from the Bana Ba Letsatsi graduates team proving that pride and grit can outclass any amount of muscle. (All photos with huge thanks to Mike Holding from Afriscreen Films)

The ‘Earth Mover’ Tyre: The first flip was just manageable, the 4th a test of stamina, the 5th and 6th all attitude or impossible.MSM (16 of 185)

A ‘real’ Strong Man shows how the car pull is done.

MSM (61 of 185)

One of the Bana Ba Letsatsi team win the hearts of the crowd. No one thought he could pull the vehicle, but barefoot in old suit trousers he proves us all wrong. Simply awesome.

MSM (49 of 185)

Greening up. You could buy the Hulk into your team for some extra help.

MSM (92 of 185)

 

 

The press up relay. One Female contestant managed almost 90! (wish we had a pic of her)

MSM (146 of 185)

 

The winners of the stunning team trophy- Wilderness Safaris. Not the ‘muscliest’ team, but proof that attitude trumps muscle.

MSM (178 of 185)

To find out more about Bana Ba Letsatsi (Sunshine Children) or get involved see their website Banabaletsatsi.org – They do need your help.

 

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Apple Addicts Need a Diet Plan

PRJane_logo_whiteLast year I was tasked with organising a friend’s birthday celebration, prompting many a furrowed brow over issues of such earth shattering import as venue (sweltering, and seemingly staffed by cloned Eastern Europeans), catering (negligible), dress codes (see catering), and a guest list. Whilst most of these ended up taking care of themselves I was struck dumb by an particular RSVP from a couple who (unapologetically) refused attendance on the grounds that they would be spending that particular evening sharing a sleeping bag on Regent Street awaiting the release of the iPhone 5. Perhaps I would have been more suspicious of –and indeed more irked by- their refusal had one of them not spent a solid hour of our previous encounter extolling to me in exhausting detail the many various ways in which his present iPhone was clearly the best thing that had –and possibly would- ever happen to him. This was by no means the standard ‘My phone has a great camera, look at this over-saturated and in no way staged Instagram of my cat looking startled on a seesaw’ sort of a chat. There was nothing brief or even conversational here. Rather his tone was fully fledged sermonic and I was a halfwit heathen, ripe for conversion.

 Regent Street

Regent Street Apple iPhone 5 release day queue, September 20th 2013. Apple Missionaries, devotees, and perhaps a few who just love a good queue.

Now I’m not a technophobe or some kind of a disappointed luddite. On the contrary I probably find advances in our interconnectivity a bit too fascinating. I happen to quite like being able to settle an argument by retrieving an item from my pocket that weighs less than a paperback and yet has immediate access to the sum total of human intelligence at the touch of a button. What I can’t grasp however is the point at which the item itself became a legitimate conversational topic, and nevermore so than with regard to the devout fervour and unnerving sanctimony that accompanies a chat with some* iPhone owners. For a start, it’s never just a chat, more like a full on sales pitch. Is there some sort of owner’s commission scheme? Brand loyalty has morphed into advocacy, and from there to evangelism till we reach today, where it seems the brand itself has become some sort of new-fangled people’s opiate. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind if only it wasn’t such a bewilderingly self-defeating triumph of style over substance. Iphones, as is the Apple way, seem to be carefully constructed so as to be fiendishly difficult to customise, personalise, or even repair. Instead users are left to pay a hefty premium for a pretty fascia inside which you have the same drivellous content as everyone else. Only you’re apparently obliged to tell everyone about how marvellous it is continuously. At least all the happy folks tucked up in their sleeping bags on Regent Street won’t be stuck for something to talk about.


*In my experience you all do it, but the laws of large numbers and libel mean there’ll doubtlessly be exceptions.

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Art’ing about

As a Media Evaluation firm we saw little reason to interview an artist in our Spinning Room and, as a result, instantly liked the idea. We love a good stereotype, and when Adele Zaslawska described herself as a solitary figure beavering away at her art in secrecy whilst enjoying only veggie snacks we knew we had to interview her. (Though not before cynically pointing out that vegetables are what food eats).BircgL7IMAA8X8bPhoto above: Adele’s stunning piece for PR Gym

Adele creates mosaic marvels out of broken pottery, and her wit and talent are immediately evident in her work. As proud owners of a piece ourselves, we decided she should sit on the extremely uncomfortable arty chair shaped like an egg upon which we lavished £thousands. (Obligatory employee quote “Looks great, but is total crap as a chair”)

Adele Camping

Photo left: Adele ‘pretend camping’

 

 

 

Q: When pitching this interview, we consulted our Marketing Director who could think of no crossover between the Gym and your art, and therefore no good reason to do an interview. This lack of good reason was reason enough for us to pursue it, and so here we are. Also, we hoped that maybe you’d know better than our marketing ‘guru’- Is there good reason to do this interview? He has never once made anyone coffee, so it’d be great to rub it in his face…

A:What can I say? Your Marketing Director sounds like a sound kind of fellow. And too much coffee is bad for you anyway.

Adele Zaslowska, your name is an anagram of “Daze as well as OK?” That’s not really a question, just thought it was worth pointing out.

That anagram comes as a quite a shock I can tell you. I’ve been confidently telling everyone for years that ” Ask Lewd Azaleas” was an anagram of my name. I should have checked the spelling, that’s going to be a mountain of paperwork for me to set things right.

Ed-Oops- we dun gone spelt er’ name all wrong.

You’re an artist. What’s twitter got to do with it?

About as much as loves got to do with it. Yes, I know that’s an inadequate answer, but the fact is I’ve just read the next question and am now having a panic attack and busily breathing into a paper bag in a valiant bid to steady my emotions. I thought you said ” no hard questions”.

Artists like colours. What’s your favourite colour?

Arghh, I knew you’d ask me that. A diabolically fiendish question…. Can I get back to you on that?

Umm, green, no turquoise . Oh hang on I really like purple. That said a bit of gold is good. Look what it did for Klimt. He smothered his stuff in gold and it seemed to go down pretty well with the art cognoscenti.

Adele ElectrocutionPhoto left: Adele ‘pretend electrocution’

You talented sorts are meant to be frustrated, prone to mood swings, terribly introspective and constantly searching for a universal truth which you never quite find. However, your tweets are markedly chipper – this ruins the stereotype for us. What have you got to say for yourself?

As a serious artist my uppermost aspiration is to confound, confront and challenge Establishment ideas and conventions. To defy and resist Laissez-faire  attitudes. Any artist worth their salt is constantly striving to illuminate and give some truth and meaning to the human condition. To show the way, so to speak. Which is, I believe, why my pointing hands are so sought after. People need directions… Err, sorry, what was the question?

 

hand pointing

 

 

You take broken things and make them beautiful and fun. Is this an analogy of some kind? We know you arty-types like to reach depths of meaning that puzzle and confound us mere mortals …

As delighted as I am that you find my work beautiful and fun, the idea that it is analogous to something is, I have to say ridiculous. I think you’ll find on closer inspection the work is obviously metaphorical in its nature. An important difference I’m sure you’ll agree.

If we broke into your gallery and stole your most precious thing, what would we go home with? (We would have said borrow or buy, but liked the cat burglary premise on which the question is built. We imagine the threat of cat burglary is a constant menace for an artist).

cat burglar Photo left: Cat burglars –  a blight on all artists.

 

Without hesitation it would be a half eaten chocolate bar. As to cat burglary, have you seen my twitter pictures of Rumpole? Adorable as he is, he is, just a cat next door, so to speak. So as highly strung and sensitive as I am, the threat of cat theft is not something that troubles me.

You made us a simply stunning piece for PR Gym, then gave it to us as a gift. While we question your commercial nouse, we applaud- nay- adore the sentiment. Things like this just don’t happen to us. There’s a question here somewhere…oh yes, now that you have made us fans of your work, where can we get more?

If I could just refer you to the Biblical sentiment of ” what ye sow, so ye shall reap”, I think you’ll agree I did rather well. I sent you, a frankly inedible mosaic, unlike the rather yummy cakes you generously sent me. BircgL7IMAA8X8b

You might spot some of my work in the higher class establishments of Bath, Wells, Cirencester etc… Other than that, try emailing me @ Sadomosaicism@gmail.com

 

 

Want to say anything nice about PR Gym? We will obviously edit whatever you say so it sounds good. In other words, you may as well!

PR Gym is a charmingly fun, yet discriminating media evaluation service, that is managed by an excellent Marketing Director whose sound and canny judgement is second to none.

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