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backpack, briefcase, business, business attire, business dress, casual Friday, commuters, computer bag, du jour, fad, men's health, men's style, messenger bag, monocle, musings, professional, protractors, textbooks, three-piece suit, trend, urban, work
While sitting in a line of congested traffic on the way into the office one morning, I observe the foot commuters in Uptown making their way from parking lots and bus stops to high rises and office buildings. This area is one of the nation’s largest urban regions, with more than six million people living within a 100-mile radius, so there’s ample people watching available while traffic inches forward.
One common denominator becomes obvious: a significant number of men use backpacks, while only a handful sport messenger or computer bags, and nearly no one carries a briefcase. For a week after, I keep a vigilant eye open during the morning and evening commutes, and what I see is that backpacks are not just a fad but a trend swing.
Briefcases are for self-important lawyers, not practical accountants. – Reddit user
When I started working in a variety of office environments about 25 years ago, backpacks were rarely or if ever used by anyone; briefcases or portfolio bags were all you saw. However, I did begin to notice a shift about 15 years ago when backpacks started popping up around the office (some the rollable kind with the retractable handle). Businesses embroidered them and companies gave them out to employees.
Sure, backpacks free up your hands, especially while travelling, but I’m still not convinced of their place in business. While I appreciate the comfort level and familiarity of it, the backpack conjures up a time long past: 18 years of schooling (along with the higher education years) stuffed full of wrinkled papers, dog-eared textbooks, broken pencils, unused protractors and smooshed brown bag lunches.
No one cares whether backpack vs briefcase until you make manager. Then other managers may make fun of you for wearing a backpack. That’s about it. But basically no one cares.
While more commuters in urban areas take mass transit, the backpack is seen as convenient, especially if the commute involves walking. It’s also a part of a business culture that is relaxing. No longer is formal business attire the dress-code standard and, in many places, casual Fridays have been extended throughout the entire workweek.
As our culture relaxes, the briefcase will always project a professional image but is no longer the bag du jour; it’s going the way of the three-piece suit and the monocle. Using a backpack seems to be the established trend, although it doesn’t mean you should look unprofessional or a snotty-nosed 12-year-old. Men’s Health offers style tips on which backpacks project professionalism: http://www.menshealth.com/style/backpack-at-the-office.
So which do you prefer – the briefcase or the backpack?
Badgers, Bowl Games, Bucky, Campbell's, College Football, Cotton Bowl, Dole, Football, Goodyear, Kellogg's, Kibbles n Bits, Kitchenaid, Liquid Plumber, marketing, musings, names, Orange Bowl, sponsorships, Willy Wonka, wisconsin
While watching my beloved Wisconsin Badgers win the Cotton Bowl on Monday – Go Bucky! – I remembered when bowl game names actually made sense in the connection of companies and locations that sponsored them. The Cotton Bowl name still fits the location since Texas is/was the largest producer of Cotton but it’s sponsored by Goodyear. I don’t think of anything soft and fluffy – not even the blimp – when I think of Goodyear.
College football is undoubtedly big business and corporate sponsorship and the names of bowl games change year to year. Didn’t Sunkist sponsor the Orange Bowl at one time? Then FedEx? Then Discover? Well, Sunkist was perfect match with King Orange, but now it’s the Capitol One Orange Bowl. Maybe Capital One should sponsor the Spare Change Bowl and leave the fruit sponsorship to the citrus farmers.
So on that note, here is a list of bowl game names I’d like to see that make sense in terms of product + bowls:
Campbell’s Soup Bowl
Dole’s Fruit Bowl
Blue Bunny’s Ice Cream Bowl
Kellogg’s Cereal Bowl
Liquid Plumber Toilet Bowl
Kitchenaid Mixing Bowl
Willy Wonka Candy Bowl
Kibbles N Bits Dog Bowl
Any bowl names you can add? Please put them in the comments.
A few years ago, I worked with a young woman who was interested in defining and creating her own personal brand focused on healthy food. With strong communications skills, a love of cooking and an appreciation for organics, she wanted to be the next Sandra Lee but rather than use a mix of semi-homemade components she cooked with only healthy ingredients. The brand formation was right within her grasp. The problem was that this young woman was very busy and, while she liked the idea of creating a blog site to extend her social reach, she didn’t know where she would find the time to make the commitment to create content and build a following.
My recommendation was to create a cache of blog posts on specific topics that she could then schedule for automatic posting. She could write groups of posts at a time when it fit into her busy schedule. That way she wouldn’t have to frantically write five minutes before her blog should go live or fret that she missed a day. Great idea, right?
She thought so too, but unfortunately she didn’t follow through with writing the posts and her blog never got off the ground. Neither did her brand. It’s unfortunate because she had solid ideas, delicious recipes, and a unique opportunity. It would have taken persistence for her to continue her brand development. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and other priorities overtake the best ideas.
That’s sort of what’s happened with me during the past few months. It’s been a long while, hasn’t it? One, I didn’t take my own advice in pre-writing and scheduling my blog posts. Two, I let life get in the way of reaching out and interacting with so many of you. Third, I decided I had enough and reprioritized my time to ensure I continue to communicate.
Ferris Bueller was one of the wisest characters ever to grace the big screen, and while the intent of his words at that time didn’t apply to a future filled with social media and content development, they certainly do now.
Don’t let your dreams or priorities get away from you, because life does move pretty fast.
It’s really quite easy to demotivate a department, a team or a person.
We all know not every boss is inspiring. Some people are just not born to lead; for others it takes time, training and patience to get there but they can do it. Motivation in a leader is an intangible quality – one you can’t physically see in the person, but it’s obvious in that person’s team and how they operate. Is there joy in the workplace or is there toxicity in the air?
When you work for a great, motivating and inspiring leader, the workplace can be a wonderful place to be. If there is no inspiration at the helm, the days can be long and dark, only punctuated by those ever-flicking overhead fluorescent lights (i.e. Joe Banks with Mr. Waturi in Joe Vs. The Volcano).
Recently, I overheard an executive in a discussion with one of his direct reports. The conversation elevated to the point the executive was yelling loud enough the entire office could hear. Then, the executive didn’t think yelling was getting his point across, so he began dropping F-bombs as adjectives. It was uncomfortable for everyone and completely unnecessary: the yelling was a good enough indicator of his irritation. Afterwards, when I spoke to the employee on the receiving end of the tirade, he shrugged it off and said, “Oh well, that’s his managing style and it doesn’t mean anything.”
But it does. It means a lot. Yelling, swearing and calling out a team member in front of others is demotivating and demeaning, and a sure way NOT to get the best work from a person or team. It also acts like a virus – one that can bring down a team.
In another example, one former supervisor was just not good at managing his people or invoking trust. He was unpredictable, blatantly showed favoritism, and also had a penchant for dating the women on his staff (a whole separate issue I won’t get into here.) One day while dealing with a particularly difficult client, he put me into the line of fire and stepped away. Afterwards, when I went to discuss this situation with him, he told me, “I would never throw you under the bus.” It was truly a matter of semantics, so my response to him was, “No, not under but you’d throw me OFF the bus, make me out to be wrong in front of the client. Then you’d whisper, “I’ll come back to pick you up later.” His response? He laughed, shrugged, and said, “Yeah, that’s probably what I’d do.”
Two good things came out of that situation: 1) I learned how to motivate myself; and 2) I promised myself I would never do to my teams what he did to me.
When you have a leader who is incapable of motivating, you really have to take things into your own hands. Change your mindset and create your own motivators, set your own goals, ask for feedback from colleagues, and build a support system – both in the company and outside. You can’t always rely on someone to be a solid, inspirational leader. Maybe that means it’s up to you.