I Am, I Know

I’m (Not) Sorry If My Hair Offends You

I’m on the left. If my hair offends you, I’M GLAD.

It’s not unusual for me to get enraged watching the news or reading the newspaper. There’s just so much stupidity in this world, it’s hard not to.

And so, just this afternoon, I stumbled upon an article (if you can call it that), in Melbourne’s The Age.

Curls: shabby or sexy? (Yep, the big issues).

Here are a few pearlers from the piece:

“Curly hair is, by its very nature, unpredictable and untamed, which business specialists insist reflects poorly on the professional, however well dressed.”

“Casual is not an image pursued by corporate headhunter Rose Filippone, who spends “quite a lot of money” having her head of ringlets polished and smoothed. “I have never seen a corporate man – a CEO, a director, a financial controller – with curly hair.”

“Filippone says curly hair looks unkempt. “The person may not be, but would you walk out of the house looking like that? Not if you’re in a suit. We’re not DJing. Let’s remember where we are. It’s not allowed. It’s the unspoken rule. Men do it quite well.”

And this, from HR executive Louise Adamson: “It’s part of the corporate image. Curly hair is always going to look slightly messy unless you’ve got a hairdresser walking behind you with a comb.”

I just don’t know where to start without being incredibly offensive or swearing my mouth off.

I understand that this article may grate at my core more than that of others – it’s no secret I have curly hair – but it’s also terrible, lazy, bullshit journalism.

I love the occasional lifestyle piece in my newspaper. In fact, the only reason I even buy the newspaper anymore is for the lifestyle lift-outs on weekends, but I’m not sure utter trash like this qualifies as lifestyle.

It’s pure and total crap, complete anti-curl propaganda.

The reality is, curly hair is beautiful. I’ve never been ashamed of my curly hair. Nor, I should point out, has my curly hair restricted me from advancing in my career. Just this afternoon on Twitter someone told me that their Senior Manager in Banking is a woman with curly hair – that’s also dyed pink. I’d love corporate headhunter Rose Filippone to cop a look at her.

“Articles” like this just perpetuate the myth that every person with curly hair is a free-spirited hippie, and people with poker straight hair are stone-faced, heartless monsters.

What I’d like to say to “journalist” Natasha Hughes, Rose Filippone and Louise Adamson is this; IT’S FUCKING HAIR. Most of the population has it. And it can’t all be the same. There’s different lengths, and thicknesses, and colours, and styles, and textures. IT DOESN’T DEFINE US. OR THE WORK WE DO.

We were born with it and to suggest that the follicles on our scalp outline the rung we can take on the career ladder is a FUCKING JOKE.

It’s ignorant, biased and completely stupid. And so are the people who believe it, or are martyrs to their straighteners living in fear of it.

Guess what? I have a hairy dog, too. SUCK ON THAT.

I’ve only ever been told how lovely my hair is, not unprofessional or untamed. Adamson’s suggestion that my hair is “always going to look slightly messy” has actually made me develop a slight twitch.

Curly hair might not be easy to manage for those with very little idea, but for those with some smarts, it’s a simple matter of finding the right technique and product. I spend very, very little time on my hair. It gets washed and styled. Not combed or straightened. And it always looks good.

Perhaps Adamson should spend less time on her own head of hair, and more time partaking in intellectual activities. And as for Filippone, maybe she should invest more of her money in learning how to accept and love what she’s got, than trying to be something she’s not. And Rose, love, I walk out of the house every day with my curly hair. And I’m no DJ.

I’m quite happy to fly the flag for the curly-haired folk of the world – maybe if more people were less ashamed, these kinds of articles wouldn’t get published.

And maybe The Age needs to start seriously thinking about their relevance and outdated business-model in an ever-evolving world and addressing issues like their dwindling readership and general public apathy amongst Melbourne readers, before hitting the publish button on articles that are further tarnishing their masthead.

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I Do, I See

Wonderful Weekends

It wouldn’t be a wonderful weekend without this guy…

I love a good weekend.

And for quite a while now, they’re the only kind I’ve been enjoying.

Ever since I decided to shut the laptop and switch the smartphone to silent come Friday night, I’ve enjoyed weekends more than ever.

I’ve discovered that I’m more productive from Monday to Friday after two work free days; I’m more motivated and more refreshed when it’s time to get stuck back into it.

I’ve realised that no matter how much you love something – writing, social media, Internet surfing – that a little break each week results in a much less stressed, more content working week. And so that’s how I treat my weekends, as treats. That I’ve earned. And don’t need to feel guilty about. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that if you can’t finish your work in five days of the week, you’re either incredibly overloaded or incredibly ineffective.

Belgrave’s End of the Line Festival, featuring a sneaky snap of Des the Wizard.

This weekend started – after morning chats in bed with Kaz – by popping into the Selby Fire Brigade Fair, followed by breakfast at the Kallista Tea Rooms, then some sunshine-filled meandering around our local Belgrave where the End of the Line Festival was in full swing. After ducking off to my new hairdresser for a much needed trim, I spent some time sitting on the deck, reading the papers, soaking in some sunshine. A spontaneous decision to head to the pools resulted in some refreshing splish, splosh, splashing. Then it was back home for a BBQ and creating some tasty Japanese dishes using my Saori Sauces I picked up that morning at End of the Line. Saturday night was spent relaxing, reading, catching up with the in-laws (and catching up on some much needed zzzzzs).

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

On Sunday, after a French toast and berry compote breakfast feast, Kaz and I headed to Fitzroy to prepare for the All India Radio ‘Red Shadow Landing’ album launch. Kaz has been playing with the band for a few years and their ambient rock music is truly exceptional. And by preparing I mean that Kaz was unpacking the car and setting up for sound check, and I was wandering the streets and window shopping.

All India Radio ‘Red Shadow Landing’ Album Launch.

The best plate I’ve ever seen.

I murdered some lunch at The Workers Club whilst chatting with the lovely guys from the band, then enjoyed the gig. That was followed by dinner at Little Creatures Dining Hall with friends, where this small feast was devoured:

Hand-cut chips and hummus with flat bread.

Rocket, beetroot, feta, broad-bean and walnut salad.

Prawn and prosciutto + potato pizza.

Cinnamon doughnuts.

And so, a full and fun weekend, that was also relaxing, resulted in these two happy faces:

The Siegers.

And I think that says it all.

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I Do, I Know

Why Multi-Tasking Is A Farce

I’ve stopped multi-tasking in my job.

And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised – after several years of thinking that doing too much all at the same time is a good idea, and with thanks to business coach Marie Forleo, whose B-School course I have just completed, that multi-tasking is a complete farce.

Yes, a farce.

The past week, I have focused 100% on exactly what I’m doing at any given time – and on that task alone – and I’ve noticed a huge spike in my productivity, concentration and quality of work.

This might all sound very simple. And you may scratch your head and wonder if this ‘lesson’ I have learnt is really that much of a discovery.

But easier said than done.

The truth is, working in the online space is often erratic, frenetic and involves having 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s overwhelm, on your senses, and in every sense of the word.

And sometimes you get to the end of a long day, back away from the computer and think, ‘Wow, today was so busy, it was go, go, go.’

Which it most likely was.

Go from phone call to email, go from Facebook to Twitter, go from YouTube to online magazines, go from writing to editing, go from here to there and repeat.

I have done this long enough to know that a busy day might not necessarily equal a productive day.

So, after reading the stats and research on the importance of banishing multi-tasking, after learning and evolving, I have stopped multi-tasking at work.

And I get so much more done. I now schedule like a mo-fo, I map out my week before it’s even begun, I break tasks down and I set aside sufficient time for them to be completed in.

And I’m smashing it.

Not being pulled and stretched too thin means I’m not worn out at the end of the day, but more importantly, it means what I’m doing during the day is great work, as opposed to good work. There’s order to my day and that order has brought a certain clarity with it that’s so new to me, I do feel a little bit like a new person.

This is a huge shift for me. And whilst I certainly won’t stop multi-tasking outside of work (the washing, cooking and cleaning trifecta is best left alone), I don’t think I can go back to multi-tasking at work again.

Parts of my day still involve tab-jumping and serial mouse-clicking, but I’ve allowed time for that to happen. It’s not my whole day. Whole timeslots in my day are now blocked out and dedicated to just one task.

If you think it can’t be done, or if you’re scoffing at the thought, give it a go.

Don’t make excuses. I used to all the time. All of the reasons as to why I needed this open or that at my fingertips.

The world will not stop spinning if you spend an hour devoted to working. Your client will not die if you call them back 45 minutes after they leave you a voicemail message. You can take four hours to email someone back. That tweet can wait.

We’ve created this idea that we need to be on top of everything, all at the same time; but that’s not only impossible, chances are it’s also damaging your working life (and maybe life beyond that). As I’ve looked around this week, I’ve noticed people declaring how busy they are, how much there is to do, but then at the end of the week, their to-do list barely has a tick on it. And so they go into the next week with the same list and the same thing happens and then a month has passed. And they’ve somehow kidded themselves into thinking this is how work is supposed to be done.

I should know. I’ve been there.

What we need to do is be clear, focused and on task so we can get the job done. And if you can do that with 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree, then all power to you.

But I have finished a week where I’ve given multi-tasking the flick and it’s been the best working week I’ve had in a long time. Even though I worked late into the night twice this week. Even though there were some minor frustrations.

So goodbye, multi-tasking, and hello, clear to-do list.

Let’s rock this.

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I Know, I Write

Why Generation Y Won’t – And Shouldn’t – Settle

Previously published in Trespass Magazine

I once read the opening of one of those ‘let’s bash Gen Y’ articles and it started something like this: ‘They’re hip, smart-talking, brash and sometimes seem to suffer from an overdose of self-esteem. And if there’s a generalisation to be made about young Generation Y people, it’s that they don’t like waiting. With an iPhone in one hand and soy latte in the other (not to mention the iPod earphones surgically attached to ears) they are ambitious, demanding and apparently born to rule. Right now!’

I nearly fell off my seat. Excluding the surgically attached iPod earphones, everything else mentioned seemed to fit the bill; I think I’m hip (without intentionally intending to be so, of course), I certainly don’t lack self-esteem, I can be brash and actually prefer to get straight to the point, and I definitely don’t like waiting. I have an iPhone, however I tend to prefer long macchiatos over soy lattes. I’m incredibly ambitious, fairly demanding at times, and love the idea of ruling the world.

I’m Sandi. And I’m from Generation Y.

Without a doubt, we are the most complex generation ever. We lead a life of contrasts and contradictions. We are avid supporters of the environment and recycling, but still buy ‘Balance’ and ‘Fiji’ water with gusto. We support human rights, but would have no problem flattening a fool in a moment of road rage. We’re overscheduled and gadget-ed up to the nines, but constantly crave a quiet holiday in an idyllic location. We reject multi-nationals but are the most brand conscious generation ever. We are the most educated generation yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but will job hop as much as we bed hop. We’re either running at full pace, or strolling along.

For many Gen Ys, there is no such thing as a weekday or a weekend. There are just days. Very few of us have the kind of careers that end at 5pm on a Friday. There is always work to take home. Thinking to be done. Or work to slot in with post-graduate study. We elect to have random days off – like a Tuesday, because we wake up in the morning and see the sun shining and decide it’s the perfect day to hit the beach. We have our fingers in many pies, and as a result, don’t get too many ‘nothing’ days. But stimulation? Gratification? We’re never out of it.

Friendships, for a Gen Y, are as important as family. Television shows like Friends, Sex and the City and Seinfeld may not have featured characters from our generation, but they did feature one common lesson; family sometimes won’t be there, but friends always will. Being the generation with the most experience in family breakdowns, is it any wonder we are more peer orientated?

My family is, by far, the most important thing in my life. It’s just that we, the Gen Y crew, view our family as a combination of flesh-and-blood actual family and friends. Where other generations have always separated the two, my generation combines them. Your friends, by default or choice, become a part of your family.

Generation Y is many things – educated, tech-savvy, ambitious – but there are many things we are not – selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate, unreliable.

I recently read a ‘letter to the editor’ in Melbourne’s Herald Sun describing us as, “a self-destructive bunch that value idiotic and anti-social behaviour. Completely self-obsessed, they have no concern for their community and are an utter drain of social resources.” Pardon? I am much more of a gain for this community, and country, than a drain. Let me assure you of that Mr.Tom, who writes into newspapers with wild, unfounded statements and generalisations. I, like so many other people that make up Generation Y, have nothing but respect for our community. So much so, that we work incredibly hard to create businesses, programs and events to keep our communities alive.

Generation Y is often accused of having no work ethic, shunning responsibilities and throwing money into the wind. I’ve often retorted that people need to have a strong, hard look at the world we grew up in before questioning us – terrorist attacks, unstable economies and nations, natural disasters, the explosion of technology and the digital age – to understand why we may feel that life is fleeting and simply made up of moments to enjoy.

We, the children of Baby Boomers, have learnt a great deal about what we don’t want our lives to become. We’ve seen our parents work in jobs and get slapped in the face after twenty years of service, with not so much as a thank you. Do you blame us for job hopping? We are accused of being spoilt – for not working under a certain pay figure, or under certain conditions, and for quickly leaving a job if an employer bullies or bothers us. If that is what constitutes being spoilt, then I am. I work hard, but I won’t do it for peanuts. I refuse to be unhappy at the end of each day; moan and whine about my job, and then rise the next morning to do it all over again. If my boss bullies me, not only will I leave, I’ll give him or her a mighty good verbal spray on the way out. I know that I am talented and smart enough to get a job elsewhere. If that’s being cocky, or having an “over-dose of self-esteem”, then I am guilty of that. I am guilty of belonging to a generation that values themselves. That takes pride in their abilities. And that refuses to settle.

Generation Y is one that travels the globe and soaks up its beauty. One that wants to see the world and be a part of it. A generation that has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. That wants to know what’s happening from Australia to Zimbabwe. We’re more tolerant of people, races, ethnicities, sexualities and choices than any generation ever before us. We’re curious, honest and have so much to offer the world, it should, and someday will, actually startle you. We’re not the biggest generation – children of the 1980s and 90s were born at a time of rapidly falling birthrates – but we’ve certainly got get-up-and-go.

So, my dear Gen Y-ers, despite what all the reports may say, despite our own contradictions, and individual complexities, never stop believing what will always be true; that you can change the world. That moments really are the only things that matter, so make them matter. That, at any point in time, we are one tiny speck in an enormous universe, and that universe awaits our knowledge, passion and skills. That we may job hop, or bed hop, and that’s our choice. Settle, if you want. Don’t, and do not.  But always aim for blissful happiness. Have your cake and eat it too. And, when questioned on anything, always answer with the only and best response – “Y not?”

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