Business & Politics

This category contains 9 posts

The Discrepancy of Professionalism

Aloha Readers! Apologies for the extended break in writing, I just relocated to a brand new city! The preceding blog post is written with the hope that when you become successful (if you aren’t already) in business, you will avoid the pitfalls of the professionalism paradigm discussed below.

Conditioning Starts Early On

Before embarking on my professional career, I held an idealistic view of the corporate world and business professionals in general. I naively believed professionals acted professional ALL the time, as if it were ingrained in them. As I grew up and launched my career within the constructs of corporatism, I realized professionalism was primarily an act and some were simply better actors than others. I’ve always considered myself a naturally professional individual beginning with my humble familial roots conditioned to be well-spoken, well-mannered, upright demeanor, and so forth. Having researched employee case studies, reflecting on my own professional ventures, and conversing with acquaintances about their experiences with the idea of professionalism in the workplace, I realized that much of it is a stage for actors. Allow me to explain.

A script is written, often by Hollywood. The westernized arena of the professional world is marred by the recruitment videos of the early 60’s; movies depicting ruthless but clean business dealings and an under-arching belief that professionals are completely capable of doing the jobs they are tasked to complete. The real world often contains characters unfit to handle the tasks they attempt to perform; yet they lead organizations and divisions nation-wide. This script can also be referred to as social conducts, social conformity, and organizational socialization processes.

Organizational socialization is crucial to the formation and production of actors (potential employees). For example, it’s not always enough if you have the credentials for the job, but it’s a question of do you fit within the corporate culture or do you know someone within the company to make an introduction? A free-enterprise economy, also known as capitalism, sets a professional standard defined by an organizational structure and culture, and keeps its minions shackled to the expectations of advancement through capital gain.

Examples of professionalism gone awry in a business setting are as follows:

  • Double standards of professionalism. Employer can get away with not demonstrating a high level of professionalism whilst the employee must continue to maintain theirs.
  • Experience is everything, even if the individuals are nothing (of substantial value that is).
  • Do what you’re told, not what you see. (Because the current idea and standing of professionalism is an illusion).
  • If you don’t fit the business self-image, you’re out. Not everyone fits into a designated molding of the illusory concept of the business wo/man; yet their talents, skills, and contributions are disregarded if they do not fit the mold.

Whether you’re a freelancer, working for a corporation, a start-up, or self-employed, professionalism is crucial in all areas of business and personal life; however this standard and idea of professionalism must not be restricted to a limited arena as corporate culture, mainstream cinema, or any other form of unrealistic expectation. This causes an imbalance in our economic infrastructure and rejects people not based on their talents and skills, but on not conforming to an absurd standard of a business image imposed upon us through irrational, unequal means.


A Gift Worth Paying For: An Alternate Economic System

In our modernized system, it’s not as simple as identifying as a Karl Marx fan or a capitalist devotee. The economic infrastructure is an intricate design involving a multi-faceted platform with many entities. Economics is at the center of everything. Every choice we make, be it within the constructs of relationships, business, education, consumerism, politics, religion, health, communications, economics is taken into consideration. For some, that may be an unsettling thought, but it doesn’t have to be. Economics in itself, as a discipline, practice, or theory is not negative. It can become negative through how we define it, attribute value to it, and interact with it. A concept called Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein led me to carefully consider a few things about our current economic system. The video is definitely worth watching.

“Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution” (http://bit.ly/VxHigR). The term Sacred Economics actually refers to an anthropological and social science of a Gift Economy. Wikipedia defines it as:

In anthropology and the social sciences, a gift economy (or gift culture) is a mode of exchange where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (i.e. no formal quid pro quo exists). Ideally, voluntary and recurring gift exchange circulates and redistributes wealth throughout a community, and serves to build societal ties and obligations. In contrast to a barter economy or a market economy, social norms and custom governs gift exchange, rather than an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.

You may wonder how this type of economic construct could apply to a modern system. Essentially, in science and technology, a gift economy prevails.

Engineers, scientists and software developers create open-source software projects. The Linux kernel and the GNU operating system are prototypical examples for the gift economy’s prominence in the technology sector and its active role in instating the use of permissive free software and copyleft licenses, which allow free reuse of software and knowledge. Other examples include: file-sharing, the commons, open access (Wiki).

Market economies were established when city states became more prevalent, and a more complex money system was necessary. Take into consideration the eruption of social media tools and management systems. Social media operates on a gift economic infrastructure in that it differentiates itself from a market economy on three accounts – context (relationship rather than transaction), earned rather than bought status, and the creation of social currencies.

In the Pacific Northwest, native tribes developed the ritual of the potlatch. Status was given not to those who accumulated the most wealth, but instead to those who gave the most to the community (http://bit.ly/MvjAuC)

Perhaps this type of economic philosophy sounds like fluff and infeasible to execute, but consider why you would think that. Our modern system no longer entirely operates on a gift economy so it’s difficult for society to comprehend an alternative economic operative process. Given our complex and expansive global economic system, an integration of a market and gift economy would be an optimal model to consider. How would we incorporate this? Would we refer to the mechanical and social operations of media, technology, and networking? Which entities would be involved? This would require a complex, collaborative process, but it’s completely plausible to execute. More on this in my next post.

-Share and spread the economic gift-

Anti-Muslim Video: A Sentiment Towards Differences

The barriers of cultural communications. The power of a message. The global accessibility of technology. Should there be a regard for ethics and cultural sensitivity when it comes to conveying a message? In the United States, citizens utilize their freedom of speech brazenly in comparison to other cultures; yet should this human right allow us to publicize content on a global level, specifically targeting cultures which indubitably do not exercise the freedom of speech to the extent westernized culture does? The key to artfully communicating is catering your message to your audience. The internet is a global technological platform for communication which places a great deal of responsibility on content creators.

Hillary Clinton’s response to Anti-Islam Video

This article is a response to the Anti-Muslim Video which has caused riots, hate crimes, and wide-spread violence world-wide. I believe that it is the responsibility of webmasters to empower users before viewing content. This can be done by providing a synopsis of the content, i.e. tagging videos as satire or inappropriate. These warnings could also be added post video upload by YouTube users based on votes. The issue at hand is not one of religious difference or the intent of the film maker. It’s an issue of communication in terms of technological accessibility, cultural awareness, and the power of a message. A simple resolution to this problem would be respecting a social group by not creating a film which blatantly depicts a parody of sorts about the Islamic culture. However, it’s obviously not that simple. Due to language and cultural barriers, what appears to be a parody to one group of people is simply an insult to others. One should have the freedom to express a message in any form in order to make a statement be it religious, political, sexual, etc. So perhaps we can develop the technology to communicate the true intent of our online content, while working to prevent and stem the outrage of unsuspecting users.

They must first provide a description and rate its content based on level of controversy. In that case, those who still wish to view it after they have read the warning (description of the content) will take responsibility. This may not seem like a significant step in improving such a matter, but psychologically speaking, if one is given the choice to view content that may stir controversy, one will feel like s/he made an independent choice and that will increase the probability of the person taking responsibility for that choice.

If anyone else has an idea on how to improve a situation as this in relation to technology, power of a message, and cultural communications, I’d love to hear your comments!

Say You’re Wrong So You Can Be Right

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, talks about resolving conflicts in any situation through self-empathy. In order for you to empathize with someone, you must first connect with yourself. The idea of putting yourself in someone elses’ shoes seems like quite an elementary idea, but it’s evident that this concept is very difficult to execute depending on the situation. In his audio book, Dale Carnegie provides many examples of when you admit your fault before being reprimanded by the person you faulted, it significantly increases your chances in establishing a peaceful alliance. Most people want to feel important and significant, as well as, being told they’re correct in their thinking or behavior. Carnegie gives an example of arguing with a police officer. Does this ever resolve the problem? However, if you admit your fault before the officer even has a chance to reprimand you, you demonstrate self-empathy and the ability to be objective about the situation you’re involved in.

In my previous post, The paradoxical entanglement of the self and the otherI discuss the complexity of self-empathy – the ability to understand someone else’s standpoint and act accordingly. In other words, being able to admit your folly and resolve the issue through an effort in understanding your similarities and differences. Referring to Carnegie’s 4th Principle, Begin in a Friendly Way, he quotes Woodrow Wilson.

‘If you come at me with your fists doubled, I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from each other, understand why it is that we differ, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.’

Often we think most disagreements are because of our differences, but in actuality, the way we communicate those our disagreements are the primary problem. Rather than trying to resolve the conflict by focusing on the differing views, try to focus on what you have in common in relation to the issue/s at hand. This will create a mutual alliance through shared interests and views and leverage the differences at hand. Leveraging a difference produces strength. The strength produced will manifest in the relationship and benefit both parties. Diversity, differences, and conflict should not intimidate you and/or instigate negative reactions. Through self-empathy (understanding yourself in connection to the other) and a genuine willingness to solve the problem/s at hand will establish a peaceful alliance. The main reason people resort to violent forms of communication is because they don’t want to invest the time and energy required to solve the problem by executing the steps mentioned. However, if you do invest the necessary time through non-violent communication, you will realize that not only does it get easier every time, but that you would have spent more time and energy in violence and warfare. Be smarter, not harder.

The Pedagogy of the Ivory Tower

Whether you’re an academic, graduate student, or simply an entity within an educational institution, you’ve probably heard the term Ivory Tower referring to academic elitism. As within any social group, there is an acquired language and behavior associated with the group. As a participant of that group, you learn the language, mannerisms, behavior of what the group requires in order to discover your place within that group. This is typically known as a socialization process. There are cultural, social, political, economic standards a member must adhere to in order to find her/his place in the group more adequately. Education as an institution is not any different from other institutions and/or groups such as business, the arts, fashion, technology, or religion. Even within these main groups, there are subgroups with differing standards leading to a lack of cross communication. Given this is a communications blog, this post will cover strategies to improving society through the ability to interact with different institutions.

What makes academia different? Why is it often referred to as an Ivory Tower? Knowledge and language are two of the most elemental driving forces in creating operative processes. It creates power structures and a hierarchical order, sometimes without any form of accountability. A conundrum: what use is knowledge if most people cannot comprehend the language in which the knowledge is communicated in? This is problematic on an institutional level within the educational system, especially in higher education. On the other hand, should an academic (someone who has diligently worked to reach a level of intelligence) translate her/his production to a more ‘common’ form of language so that the public can understand? Or perhaps a communicative, technological tool should be used in order to solve such a problem.

We shouldn’t expect academics and scientists to translate their work into a more common language shared by most people, but we can advocate for a communication platform in which it is translated for the general public. Most pedagogical research focuses on developing equity centric frameworks for those already within the educational system. A recent development are ivy league institutions offering free classes online to the public. This is a great leap in the right direction, allowing a greater majority of people to increase their knowledge, but this avoids the problem with the pedagogical processes and academia itself, the general public is still unaware. To solve the original problem, translating existing scholarly work into a common language, would require a large workforce or an advanced program.

This would require an intricate, complex design involving technology and communication devices. How would this advance humanity?

  • It would allow access into other social groups’ language, trends, organizational processes for growth and development.
  • It would create a better understanding and mutual alliance amongst diverse groups.
  • It would help people reach their potential and develop a sense of accomplishment.
  • An established interconnectedness amongst humankind through the comprehension of universal knowledge.
  • A cessation of social, economic, political, educational hierarchical barriers between groups.

These are just a few reasons as to why an alternative platform needs to be developed. I can understand why an accomplished academic or scientist may have a problem with such a platform given their process in achieving such credentials, but isn’t the purpose of achieving such impressive credentials to share your knowledge, discoveries, insights in order to cultivate a greater understanding and interrelatedness with others? Beneath our accomplishments which were achieved through a hierarchical process, don’t we all share a common trait – being human?

La Mode Des Consommateurs

Source: fashionindustryconfessions.tumblr.com via Edith on Pinterest

For those of you who studied Spanish, not French, this post is called The Fashion of Consumers. I attended a fashion show this week held in downtown Portland, Oregon called Fashion’s Night Out. I’m not a devoted fan of the fashion industry, but initially I couldn’t resist the free cocktails, goodies, and food. This particular fashion show deviated from others I’ve attended given the show was open air and featured free pedicabs; although I opted for walking and being whisked between participating stores. An instigation of conflicting feelings and ideas began to consume me that were of much surprise. I had always committed myself to the belief that the fashion industry is a cultural, social, and economic space for the mass production of consumerism, a capitalistic playground, and a regression of female identity. Discussions and debates on the fashion industry rarely changed my mind even after attending fashion shows in Europe with friends in complimentary industries like film who invited me. Sure, I considered their ideas that the fashion industry aided individuals to discover a solidified sense of identity through the embodiment of fashion or that the industry offered consumers choices in identifying with these style of choice. However, as someone with a strong background in marketing and advertising, I could not be convinced.

However, there is something positive I realized while attending this particular fashion show. I always associated fashion in its entirety to be negative, but the expression and communication of fashion can actually have a positive influential impact on the economy, the consumer, and the construction of identity. There are 3 immediate issues which need to be addressed in order for this transformation to take place.

  • The redistribution of production, including restructuring the labour market
  • The re-conceptualization of the identity, through the re-branding and marketing of the fashion industry.
  • Change the way the consumer interprets and relates to fashion, so that it induces feelings of psychological and physical well-being. Not a market for competition of bodies and an emphasis on the capitalization of the economic being.

Is it valid that the marketization of fashion offers consumers choices in style? Of course. However, those choices are economically structured. Certain brands and designs are ranked of higher quality which means a higher price. How is that assessed and/or qualified? It’s simply qualified through what the consumer desires. If there are people willing to pay a certain amount for this ‘art’ if you will, then the demand increases as does the economic value. It’s really a game of numbers. The socially elite, the focal group of fashion patrons are the ones who construct and define the fashion industry. Similarly, it’s the idea of the artist discovered – an artist is made through the recognition of the elite patron.

Fashion in itself is not oppressive or destructive, but the systematic prSource: pitiskises.tumblr.com via Vanessa on Pinterestocesses behind it is. The belief that the fashion industry is ranked through a legitimate assessment of ‘high quality’ production is false. The industry primarily “relies on low-paid female, and often child labour, not only on a national but also a global level” (Joanne Hollows). The social and economic process is clearly more complex than what I have described, but I wanted to provide a general systematic idea. Not only are icons in the fashion industry representatives of eating disorders and invalid reproductions of gendered identities, but it advocates a hierarchy of styles through economic branding. Identity in this sense is an illusory concept. Our identities are not simply based on our style of choice, but the style of our earnings. That style of choice is essentialized and processed through an economical hierarchy, and the psychological alteration of the mass consumer through marketing, branding, and the misuse of identity.

Fashion can be enjoyable, stimulating, and part of a larger social phenomenon, but it needs to be re-configured to truly endorse a humanistic approach. Join me in producing this change by sharing this post on your social networking space!

The Rhetoric of Persuasion and Everything in Between

Here it is folks – The Republican National Convention. What we’ve all been anxiously waiting for. Even for those of us who do not identify as a Republican or perhaps don’t care much about politics, it’s difficult to not take a peek at what’s taking place at this convention. I was too tempted to not take the opportunity to analyze Paul Ryan’s speech, ‘College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms’ found on Yahoo News. Topics such as unemployment amongst college graduates, Obama’s healthcare plan, the housing and financial crisis were covered in this approximately 30 minute video. I paused it periodically and solely observed his facial expressions, bodily movements, and affective mannerisms. Most of us know there is a social psychological component to public speeches. In other words, have you ever asked yourself why so many political speeches sound similar (sort of like company mission statements)? Why is it that they seem to say so much, yet so little simultaneously? And what is the common leadership trait of a successful politician? That’s right, transactional and charismatic leadership.

In comparison to many charismatic religious and cult leaders, politicians utilize a persuasion-emotion based communications approach. They are taught to place a great emphasis on their non-verbal communication and inflection of their voice.

  • Using bodily movements. This makes an impact on what you verbally express by demonstrating your body (being) is connected with your mind.
  • Emphasizing facial expressions. Your face is important given it’s what people pay most attention to as you speak. It reflects how credible and genuine you are in accordance to your words.
  • Inflection of voice. If your voice gets louder when matched with a motivational statement requiring a response such as, ‘We can do this together America’! That provokes a reaction from the audience.

These forms of persuasive strategies are essentially the utilization and execution of physical stimuli. If you deconstruct any human interaction in any context, you are left with the basis of physical stimuli. From an evolutionary psychological perspective, physical stimuli is the basis of all communication and existence. In critical discourse analysis (CDA), “an interdisciplinary approach to the study of discourse that views language as a form of social practice and focuses on the ways social and political domination are reproduced in text and talk” (Fairclough, 1989), essentially analyzes powers structures in relation to language construction. In saying this, although the premise of charismatic leadership lies at the core of physical stimuli, what you say matters as well. However, how much of what a leader verbally communicates actually matters?

In Paul Ryan’s speech, he initially establishes his authority stating:

I accept the duty to help lead our nation out of a jobs crisis and back to prosperity — and I know we can do this.

I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old — and I know that we are ready.

The importance of these statements center on: I accept the duty to help lead; I know we can do this; I accept the calling; I know we are ready. A few sentences later he proposes we need change and that Mitt Romney is the man for the job. The audience responds by clapping and loudly expresses their praise. Why? Because of the strategic steps Paul Ryan took in establishing his authority, communicating his purpose, and providing a benefit/solution.

The Effective Introduction:

  • Authority
  • Purpose
  • Benefit

The audience is already excited about being at the convention so all the politician has to do is prove himself even further by executing the 3 simple steps in his introduction. Did Mr. Ryan really say anything substantial in his introductory paragraph? Anything that really made him unique or different from any other politician? Of course not. Political speeches are scripts with differing concepts depending on the political view/s. The same is true for charismatic religious speakers. The approximately 30 minute video of Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC left me feeling disappointed that political speeches still contain sweeping broad statements, and have not evolved past the basics of physical stimuli tactics, leading to unsubstantiated communication.

Outstanding Followers and the Leaders Behind Them

The dynamic between leaders and their followers is one inclusive of many intricacies and analyses. According to many studies within psychology, sociology, business, or communications, there are 2 primary types of leadership – transactional and transformational. Transformational leadership “includes charisma, intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, and inspirational motivation” (Barbuto, 2005). Transactional leadership, on the other hand, is described “as a simple process of creating strong expectations with employees, along with clear indications of what they will get in return for meeting these expectations” (Blanchard & Johnson, 1985). Within a transactional dynamic, leaders and followers decide upon a performance management system where both parties work towards mutual goals.

In recent studies, charismatic leadership has been a form of leadership style that has maintained a great appeal. “Weber (1947) first described the concept of charismatic leadership as stemming from subordinates’ (or followers’) perceptions that the leader is endowed with exceptional skills or talents” (Barbuto, 2005). “Research of charismatic leadership has consistently found significant relationships with follower trust, effort, and commitment” (Howell & Frost, 1989; Lowe et al.,1996). Both transformational and charismatic leadership have a direct, emotive impact on the follower through emotion – persuasion based communications. Examples of charismatic leaders include, Jim Jones (leader of the Peoples Temple), Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many more.

Transformational and charismatic leaders are known to attract many followers given their persuasion – emotion communications approach. In order to evoke emotion from an audience, the leader must keep a few things in mind.

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they need/desire?
  • How will the leader benefit the audience?
  • What are the intentions of the leader?

The leader must persuade the audience of the change, revelation, experience, etc. cognitively, emotionally, and physically. Transactional leadership, on the other hand, is more about establishing a common set of guidelines, mutual agreements, goals with the followers and monitoring the progression. Transformational and charismatic leadership focuses on persuasion through tapping into emotive triggers. Both are beneficial forms of leadership that manage expectations. What a leader must keep in mind is who their followers are and what they need. In my next post, I will give examples of transactional, transformational, and charismatic leaders and the relationship they have with their followers.

Follow the Leader or the Followers?

What makes an exceptional leader? I was watching the widespread, viral video on Todd Akin, Senate candidate in Missouri, Republican Party give his two cents on rape from a ‘doctor’s perspective’ saying that women’s bodies can reject a ‘legitimate rape.’

While most upstanding citizens are baffled by this absurd comment, I began contemplating the traits of his followers. A leader cannot solely exist without its followers. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Vlad Tepes, Idi Amin Dada, or Joseph Stalin could not generate their ideas and execute their plans unless they had people willing to follow in their ventures.

Weber’s great contemporary Georg Simmel was even more explicit, suggesting that followers have about as much influence on their leaders as leaders have on their followers. Leaders cannot maintain authority, he wrote, unless followers are prepared to believe in that authority (John Gardner).

For most, it’s difficult to understand how someone like Todd Akin could have any followers especially after making such an invalid and offensive comment. On the other hand, because of his identity as pro-life and affiliation with the Republican Party, it may be easier for those with similar views to overlook and excuse his comment in order to focus on the bigger picture. Presumably, leaders designate the structural relationship with its follower; however, to what degree do followers also direct the relational pathway?

The communication style is a critical distinguishing factor in whether the leader’s message will be remembered and endorsed. Flauto (1994) determined that every leadership dimension (charisma, individual consideration, intellectual stimulation) was positively correlated with the communication competence construct.  Implicit in this assumption is the belief that leader’s communication competence is a prerequisite for effective leadership (Barge, 1994) (Matveev & Lvina).

This two-way, interpersonal communications model whereby the leader communicates the message to its audience, and through the leader’s ability to communicate effectively, the audience chooses whether or not to follow and develop a relationship with the leader. The leader must appeal to the needs of its audience through a multitude of communicative strategies and channels dependent on the context whether it be religious, social, political, or economical. The communication strategies in relation to leadership management vary in usage and execution. I will provide a more detailed overview of this in my next post.

As always – stay tuned. In the meantime, be both a leader and follower.

%d bloggers like this: