A personal trail of synchronicity

Tag: identity

Identity: The Company Men Movie

I saw The Company Men and loved it. Three men from three different tiers of the same corporation who’ve been given the pink slip have three different outcomes. One has a golden parachute but questions the morality of his profession.

The second realizes he’s utterly worthless without his job and too old to compete with college graduates willing to do the same work for less pay.

The other comes to grips with his pride and lack of interaction with his family. Based on these realities, they all make decisions that help them face “the humbling” that has occurred.

Do I have sympathy for any of these men? I do. Somewhere, deep down inside, I have a desire to live that kind of life—to put on a tailored suit (again), make 6 figures (for once—or twice..or on retainer) and help others make more money to advance whatever their company’s mission is.

But I’ve finally accepted that’s not my lot in life. Creating a consultancy for monetary gain, vs. sustaining a ministry for social good is a tension I’ll probably always be faced with.


Because, I have great ideas. And I know how to strategize, network and implement those ideas. But I also have a desire to teach and give advice that doesn’t increase revenue but incites a revolution—at least an internal one on an individual a basis.


This movie is worth a watch to figure out which type of person you are and how you handle failure and major adjustments. One didn’t handle it so well. Another wasn’t willing to change his trajectory, just the ethics behind it. Another finally accepted his lot in life in working what first seemed like a “lower” position, and just when he got settled in, he was called back into the corporate fold—but now he has a new perspective.

So..which company man are you?


Identity: Your Dark Knight “Deshi Basara” Moment

Remember when Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne was stuck in the pit Bane threw him in, after breaking his back in The Dark Knight Rises? He eventually healed and tried to escape, but kept falling short of the rocky ledge that separated him from freedom and ultimately saving Gotham.

Why did he keep missing it if he was fearless? How was that possible if he wasn’t afraid of death and felt like he had nothing to lose? It’s because those were the very reasons he could make the climb, but not the jump. Aren’t those the qualities you need to make it out of the pit alive? Yes—and no.

You will only make the climb and the successful jump out of your hole of despair (or unemployment, obesity, self-doubt, etc.) when you do have something to lose (in the case of obesity, it’s got to be more than pounds of flesh). Fearlessness will get you up the wall. But fear—healthy fear—will help you make the jump.

It’s similar to how your passion can guide you to a purpose and kickstart your productivity, but commitment will keep you in the game when passion ebbs and flows—you need both emotion and logic. For the climb and jump, you need both bravado and butterflies—lots of them. In Bruce Wayne’s case it was bats—lots of them. But you need both courage and anxiousness, not anxiety. Too much fear and you will paralyze yourself, miss the jump altogether and fall to your proverbial death. You need the hubris of being a conqueror and the humility of just being mortal.

You get the idea.

And I have a feeling you don’t have any problems making the climb and scaling the mountain. But you’re struggling with the jump. You lost motivation. You’re tapped out. Going through the motions. Not as sure as you once was in the beginning. It’s because you forgot what you actually have to lose.

You’ve spent so much time in reckless abandonment writing that book, developing that app, designing that website, but you lost steam for the editing, the testing and iterating. You lost the weight and the why of the project, career, relationship and what would happen if it fell and died in the pit.

It’s now time to figure out what you have to lose. Seriously think about it and write it down. It’s why I’ve lost motivation at times. I forgot what it was that I could actually lose if it all went south. What have you got to lose?

By the way, “Deshi Basara” is the chant during Batman’s Jump scene. It means “Rise up.” So rise up. Make the climb. And make the jump count.

Identity: Artists and A/B Testing

Artists really don’t paint to satisfy ‘the market’…artists actually paint to satisfy themselves. And if you’re going to run a gallery that’s something you need to know.” — Diane Keaton in 5 Floors Up

What’s your gallery? Better yet, what’s your form of art? I caught myself looking to adopt a content marketing schedule, begin curating content and finding other ways to make this blog more interesting and valuable. Now, nothing’s wrong with any of those ideas, but at the root of it is the uncertainty that what I’m sharing is actually making a difference for you. Thus, pulling from an external source here and direct quote there and an infographic yonder seemed like the necessary resources to increase its value.

But when will some of us artists just learn to be comfortable in our own skin? You know, I realized something a few weeks ago that made perfect sense after watching 5 Floors Up. I don’t have a native ability to test what I’ve created. A/B Testing or any kind of lean MVP (minimum viable product) creation for quick failure and pivoting doesn’t come natural. It’s not that I’m not capable—it’s just not intuitive. And that’s becuase I’m an artist. I create and design for me first. This blog? It’s a public personal journal, which will hopefully provide some level of value in the process.

Many of us need to stop focusing on learning how to build a stunning gallery and creating marketing campaigns and promotions, and we need to start focusing on our art once again. My God, what if Picasso did A/B Testing for his Cubism style? What is Georges Seurat MVP’d his new-impressionistic pointillism technique? And Jackson Pollock? Ha! He wouldn’t even know where to begin analyzing metrics for his action painting method. Imagine him trying to figure out which drip of the brush or splash of the bucket generated the most traffic.

There’s a time and place for testing. Mine might be now. Yours may be next month. But just remember that you are first and foremost an artist. So get to work.

Identity: What If You Aren’t Who You Think You Are?

They say the mirror doesn’t lie, but what if it does? Sometimes I think I might actually have a severe physical or mental deficiency and my brain did a brilliant job pulling the wool over my eyes. What if I don’t talk as articulately as I believe I do? Or what if my writing is subpar at best, but my own eyes, others’ opinions and even Alex’s voice are playing mind games with me?

What if I’m an amputee with a ridiculous lisp and scoliosis, but my mind has fought every day to make me see myself as “normal”? What if that’s why people are so kind and seem to have a vested interest in my personal and professional endeavors? What if that’s why people merely stare when I greet them on the street? What if I’m in a coma and imagining this very moment and this entire life I could’ve lived, if I made it safely out of that plane crash (I believe there’s a TV series about that)?

What if, what if, what if. Excuse my French, but who the fuck cares? Who cares if you do have a gargantuan mole or a missing eye? The people who care about you look past those things. They love you for who you are. Live your life, whether it feels surreal at times or just a brutal reality. You have a chance to make your real and/or imaginary world a better place. So go for it. But just remember, there are no extra lives in this game—but enough coins and 1-ups to go around.

Identity: Toilet Paper and Paper Towels

There’s a scene in The Devil Wears Prada, where the 1st Assistant gloats to the 2nd Assistant that she gets 5 minutes extra for lunch. Yet, at the end of the day, both assistants do the same job. They report to the same person. They even get similar treatment. Be careful not to laud thyself as paper towel, just because one is not the toilet paper. Both are disposable. You’re just a bit more of an annoyance to flush.

Strive to be indispensable, un-flushable, extremely durable and of high value. But, be careful not to laud thyself as the seasonal decorative tablecloth, just because one is not the dish rag. Both still get soiled. Both still get washed. Both have a specific function.

I think the premium or even average-quality dish cloth is more of a linchpin than the seasonal fancy fabric. Unless, of course, those ornamental threads were custom-made and/or hold a meaningful story that doesn’t end in how much the owner saved with your purchase.*

*Purchase could be a new hire, eventual promotion, some sort of selection or any decision someone has made to acquire your talent, product or service at some cost—whether monetary or otherwise.

Identity: Journalism – Storyreporting vs. Storycreating

After all these years I finally understood why I enjoyed writing, but loathed journalism. It’s because I had more of a desire to create an original story than to retell one. No matter how descriptively well-written, news reporting is a story that already exists. Respect to the seasoned and budding journalists out there, but that’s just not my cup of tea. It doesn’t mean I’m not capable. And if I have to draft a press release or newsworthy article for a client then not only will I rise to the occasion, but I’ll shatter expectations (I hope).

Journalism, however, isn’t only about retelling what has happened. It’s gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It’s about empowering the informed. Perhaps journalism just got a bad wrap over the last couple decades and is only associated with talking heads and cheesy news anchors. In the end, I gather, assess, create and present information to clients. Hm. Maybe I’m a journalist after all. Eh…me thinks not. But, strangely enough, I enjoy editing and giving feedback—even if the literary piece or visual design isn’t mine. What’s a life without contradictions?

Identity: Mad Men, Don Draper and the “Ping!”

I asked this to the antihero circle, but I’ll ask it here too. For all the Mad Men fans out there, how did you feel about the series finale? It seems as if its eight-year run boils down to one split-second moment in the very last scene: The “Ping!”

Was the Ping Don Draper’s lightbulb for the Coca-Cola advertisement that closed out the final episode? Was it a symbol the crowning moment of his rebirth? In other words did the Ping represent his personal enlightenment or a professional epiphany? In other other words’ words, did Don find a new self or a new ad?

Some say it was only a moment of peace, clarity and self-acceptance. Others say it was a egotistical moment of inspiration to create Coke’s most pivotal ad of the 70s—if not ever. And some think it’s nothing more than a literal hippy chime to close out the Ohming scene as Don smiles into Nirvana.

What do I think? I think his smile and Ping was pure. It wasn’t work-related. He didn’t have some great idea for a commercial. And he wasn’t going back to NYC. Yet, I also think there are may be multiple cues throughout the series and also parallels to people in real life (i.e., Bill Backer) that allude to Don coming up the coke ad as a result of his spiritual enlightenment. I know, contradictions—live with it.

If it’s both, then Matt Weiner did a great job of utilizing the hero’s journey and making Draper the master of both worlds. If he were to ever go back to NYC (old world), he’d be operating from his new identity and experiences (new world). The second half of the series begins with Don seeming comfortable with his original (or old) Dick Whitman identity. But he’s no longer Dick. He’s Don. And he’s got to dignify the name he scandalously stole after the Korean War. The final scene reflects the beginning of that honor and acceptance of his new identity. He’s not Don Draper from SCDP or Don Draper from McCann. He’s just Don Draper. And the “Ping!” says it all.