One year ago today, momversusmarketer was born. Like all milestones, it seems like I was slugging it out on the elliptical just yesterday when the idea hit me. On the other hand I find it hard to picture a time before the blog existed. With 34 posts under my belt, I’ve covered a lot of territory. Everything from strategic commentary on RIM’s management re-structure to personal reflections on my Mother’s life and the lessons she taught me.
Before I quit my corporate job, I kept my work-self and my home-self pretty separate from each other. But now, working on marketing consulting projects at my dining room table with a load of laundry tumbling around in the background, my worlds collide.
And it’s not just me. The digital age is bringing all of us together in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways.
I heard a debate recently over whether it was appropriate for a company to demand access to a potential employee’s facebook profile as a condition of employment. As you can imagine, the candidate was hesitant to grant this access. What if someone, somewhere in the annals of the monolith that is facebook, tagged a photo of her from years gone by wearing a wet t-shirt and drinking beer from a funnel? Would it cost her the job? As long as she didn’t wear that wet t-shirt to work, or drink beer from a funnel at the company picnic, it shouldn’t be a problem, right? But the nagging question is whether or not the company would be willing to see beyond the photo and trust that most people have the good sense to know there is a time and a place for this sort of thing.
We worry that a temporary lapse in judgement will be taken out of context and used against us.
While working as a waitress at Pizza Chief one summer, I deeply regret the angle at which I was holding a young family’s pizza while focussed the jug of root beer I was placing down. Much to my horror, the pizza slid from the pan onto their table, partially upside down in the ashtray. With two hungry kids and a 1980’s industrial oven that required 20 minutes to produce a fresh pizza, the mother chose to brush off the ashes and eat the messy pie rather than wait for another. Imagine the YouTube potential had all this been caught on video! Most restaurant servers have at least one embarrassing story to tell, but what if all these mis-steps were posted for pre-employment scrutiny? Would we eventually all end up having to dine out buffet style?
Transparency is something we demand of corporations, something we desire of our government and something that we count on in our closest relationships. But when it comes to our interaction with the world at large, transparency makes us vulnerable and that can be scary. By far the most frightening blogs I posted over the past year were the ones about my Mom. After posting each one, I closely monitored my readership statistics. I could see that people were reading them but the posts received no comments. I worried that my brothers had taken issue with how I described our Mother. I worried that my business colleagues were thinking that the disciplined business professional they once knew, had into a sappy navel-gazer.
Interestingly, although the online comments were thin, I have since learned that these were some of my readers’ favourite posts. In writing these pieces, I exposed a part of myself that few had seen before. Private thoughts turned public. People got a more complete picture of who I am, where I came from and the experiences that shaped my whole person. And having this insight has made all my writing a little more interesting to read.
So perhaps more transparency is a good thing. Sharing our flawed human experience can help us connect to each other. It can give us broader insights that might make us more forgiving of future mistakes. And knowing that passing words and actions can have permanence in today’s digital age may even contribute to increased civility at large, by motivating people to hold themselves to a higher standard in their day to day lives. Wise words to live by — If you won’t be proud of it in the morning, don’t do it tonight.
I must admit, I’m pretty proud of momversusmarketer. By merging multiple sides of myself (mom, marketer and writer) I’ve developed new insights that I think have made me better on all three fronts. Inner collaboration. Like swamp-water from the soda machine; the magic is in the mixing.