On people who ignore your invitation for coffee

They probably haven’t had to build networks outside of their home town, school and family who have connected them to opportunities.

They probably haven’t tried to branch out of a skill set or industry they already are connected in.

They probably don’t understand that even if they can’t do something like hire you, that just spending some time over a coffee, perhaps sharing a suggested connection or some insight, is so incredibly helpful too.

They probably don’t understand that taking the coffee invitation is a clear sign that generosity is a part of their character, and ultimately someone you’ll always hope to do a good turn.

They probably aren’t worth worrying about.

Being ignored sucks, but chasing people who lack empathy and generosity is even worse.

How do I know this? Because I have lovely, privileged, smart and powerful friends who I watch ignore invitations because they don’t get it, and have never needed to get it. I hope they will get it one day, and I hope, in the meantime, whoever is sending those invitations is moving right along without losing too much sleep.

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I started carrying a notebook around 4 or so years ago. It’s the catchall for ideas, packing lists, sketches, quotes, books I’ve read… everything and anything really.

The best feeling is finishing a notebook – the absolute best feeling! I stick a label and number on it, and add it to my pile.

It makes me smile so much to remember all the little sketches and designs I have done over the years, and the dreaming about being a designer, but feeling like it wasn’t really meant to be because… well… I don’t know why. Because now I’m studying design and the sketchbooks are filling up faster than ever and I am just in heaven.

So if you are dreaming of doing something – please do it. Who cares about making careers of it, or being any good at it. Just marinate in the gloriousness of pursuing it.

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Baby Boom: How far we’ve come, or not

I saw Baby Boom, a 1987 film starring Diane Keaton, the other day, and I loved it (but yes, had to cringe through some bits). But I just had to share it with you, and how much I really wish it was a relic to our past work lives.

Firstly though, Diane Keaton (playing J.C. Wiatt) is my girl. Love, love, love her. Not so much love for shoulder pads though. RIP.

So have we really made some strides?

Okay, this scene is amazing – it’s J.C.’s boss hinting that she’s up for partnership, but that she’s going to have to make some sacrifices. And then he grills her on if she’s planning on getting married to her partner, because “what if he wants a wife?” And  then goes on to explain how he can have it all because he’s got a wife.

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How far have we come? We’ve come to the place where this is un-pc, but probably not unthought. And it’s certainly not unfelt by both of the sexes – just last night I was complaining about not having ‘a wife’ for myself. I mean, who doesn’t want free labour?!

And then Baby Boom! A baby arrives on the scene. The baby, Elizabeth, is so damn cute. But also reminds me of a baby James Corden.

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Alright, in this scene below, J.C. is doing some guilt shopping because she is seriously considering adopting out her surprise baby (from dead relatives). You know what is AMAZING about this scene? The toy store guy is totally goading on her guilt for his own benefit “You’ve done the right thing J.C. You’re going to be partner for Christ’s sake! Your career comes first.”

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How far have we come? Um…. not at all… Pretty sure most ads to mums prey on that guilt factor a lot of the time.

Next we have a heart breaker, when J.C. decides that she will keep Elizabeth, and her long-term partner tells that he “just, I can’t”. It’s a beautiful calm scene of two adults, who both knew what the price of admission was to their relationship, can understand that something has fundamentally shifted with a baby in the scene.

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And moving onto this scene where J.C. is getting used to the whole deal of working and being a mum. Shock! Horror! Her baby comes to work for one day! She assures her boss “I’m hiring a nanny tonight. She’ll never be in the office again.”

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How far have we come? Well thanks to technology, hopefully a lot of parents have options like working from home available to them, and when child care falls through, they have some flexibility. But no, it’s still a total mum-shamer to bring your kids to work.

M*therF!#@ker of a scene where J.C. is told she’s being taken of the big account that’s earning her partnership because “I mean, you’ve lost your concentration.” Then she’s told she’s going to be put on a dog food account so she’ll have “more time for her child” and when she looks like she’s been hit with a bus, she’s told “swallow your pride, J.C.” It’s brutal, but done by a boss who is caring for J.C.’s wellbeing, right?!

The news settles in for J.C. and she tells her boss “I can’t go out there now”, he replies “well you gotta do what you gotta do.” And just like that, J.C. is unemployed.

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How far have we come? Flexibility, job sharing, maternity leave… yay! Options! I think there has been some improvement, so that hopefully poor J.C. wouldn’t have to take a crap account or leave. But the fundamental attitude to employees who have to drop and run for a sick kid? I don’t think we’ve evolved past that yet.

Ok… so J.C. leaves (is forced out) her job, and decides to head to Vermont for a lovely country life with her baby. Except it’s not lovely. And she fast runs out of money because the charming country house is a lemon. And then she has a nervous breakdown, and screams at the poor plumber “I need to work!!!!” Amen sister.

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And what do you you know – J.C. becomes a mumpreneur after stumbling into a niche market for gourmet baby food.

Ohhhh yes, that’s right, because if you can’t stand the work world, the next best thing is to make your own job. Also, I love that her business is the 80’s equivalent to an internet company – it’s a catalogue business.

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How far have we come? What bummed me out about this story line, is that it’s such an unrealistic play out of what happens for mumpreneurs. J.C. has the killer advantage of being a management consultant before building her business, but not all people have that experience backing them. In fact, a lot of mumpreneurs are at serious risk of falling into poverty in retirement because their businesses don’t make enough to make retirement savings. I don’t think we’ve moved forward at all.

Anddddddd then J.C. gets an amazing buy out off, co-ordinated by those schmucks that she used to work for!!! BOOM! She strutted in that place like a gangsta!

(Also, I love the irony of how poorly she would have been treated if she just ‘swallowed her pride’ and took the dog food account.)

But J.C. decides not to take the million-dollar offer, because “I mean, I have a crib in my office, and a mobile over my desk, and I like that. Well I don’t wanna make those sacrifices. And the bottom line is nobody should have to.”

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How far have we come? Well I think there’s some movement in the fact that it’s not just a women’s issue now, and people are starting to talk more about how this affects men. But I don’t know about you, I look up that ladder and see those people working incredibly long hours, and think ‘no thank you’.

End of the story is that J.C. ends up going back to Vermont to live a lovely country life with her new veterinarian boyfriend. Good for her!

And now we can go back to our modern lives in 2016, with far less shoulder-paddage.

But is it really that different?!

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There’s an antidote to jealousy

I grew up a terribly jealous child, and I’m glad that it’s something I’ve found an anecdote to as an adult (there are happily far fewer tears over ballet trophies now). I put jealousy and generosity on the opposite ends of a scale, and I have found you can shift yourself to generosity either by effort or conscious choice.

The point of wanting to practice generosity is that ‘like attracts like’, and it’s hell of a lot more fun to be around generous people than jealous ones. Also, when you can be generous with others, you can be generous with yourself, and then failure isn’t such a big deal. I’ve found that loving the process (and not just the outcome) suddenly makes sense when I’m not constantly comparing myself. And strangely, when I love the process, the outcome is better in the end!

Getting to generosity by effort:

When you get to a place where you are working hard enough that you can appreciate the boundaries of your talent and time, you often find yourself able to praise and promote others. Because there’s no shame in knowing your limits after finding them, and there’s so much to appreciate about those who can go further. There’s no losing in that scenario – sometimes disappointment that you’re not the best – but always pride in your effort.

Getting to generosity by choice:

And when you are jealous and judgemental, there’s a lot of valuable information in there. What is it that you feel you could be good at, but aren’t making the effort to explore? Why are you feeling like you are in a zero sum game and someone else’s success is damaging you? When you can answer those questions, you’re well on your way to a better place.

Here’s the craziest thing of all – sometimes the answer to my jealousy question is letting go of ‘fantasy Sarah’ and the crazy ideas I have about how ‘fantasy Sarah’ should be living her life.

That’s where the choice comes in – if this is something that’s for ‘fantasy Sarah’ – can I let it go and be happy for others to pursue it? Because if the answer is yes, I can consciously choose to let this thing go, and what do you know, I swing back into generosity, because “good for them, it’s not necessarily something I would value and invest the time and effort in, but they certainly do, and look at them go for it!”

And if I can’t let it go, then it’s time to get to work (revert to option 1).

What this means for everyone

Well, I think this boils down to one thing – people may find themselves to be jealous and critical (it’s just one of those mosquito emotions), but it’s a choice to stay that way. There’s a certain freedom and dull responsibility when there’s always a choice, isn’t there?

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If the product sucks, is the work worth it?

The ad was so good that it launched the phrase “not happy Jan” in Australia but is it really that good if it was for the Yellow Pages and the internet has happened since?


I’m wondering if the work is really worth it if the product sucks? “Not happy Jan” is some brilliant work, but it didn’t stop the Yellow Pages from going extinct once the internet really got going. But here’s the thing, even after the product has died, the great work of this advertisement lives on… and on… and on.

See – just check out the hashtag #nothappyjan on Twitter – I bet only 1% of those people use the Yellow Pages, but long lives the phrase.

I think that often we can find ourselves working on things we may not really believe in, or can even see the writing on the wall for, and yet we still have the opportunity to make something fabulous. I often use the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’, but hey, lipstick can be goddamn work of art.

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