Jun 16, 2009

Be Yourself, It's all that you can be

It’s all way too confusing! While looking for a job you have to be 100 people at once, you have to be yourself and not be yourself, you have to brand yourself, but be what the employer exactly wants you to be, you have to be perfect, but still come up with something that is negative about you, you have to follow the guidelines of how they want you to act, but you still have to be original, they tell you to be humble, but what they really appreciate is when you’re proud. It’s just preposterous, annoying, tiring!

My approach to life for as long as I've been analyzing my behavior and personality (since I was 4), is to act as myself and, if people misunderstand me is because they’re idiots. Well this approach would work perfectly for a column righter or working in the staff of Bill Maher of the Real Time who also thinks that 90 percent of people are idiots (I think it's 100 percent), but working in advertising, marketing, and whatever, which is where I’m ending up applying for (no other choice, coincidence, need money, don’t want to talk about it), they say is a field that requires the ancient Customer is Always Right, and when you’re looking for a job the company you’re applying for is your customer, the one that will be buying you. But do I really want to brand myself and be sold to a company?

I’m not for sale! What an interesting slogan that was, persuading young women to be cautious against predators for prostitution, but what about young women (or men) who have been studying for four years and now want, actually need a job, to be cautious against conformism, and roboticism, and marketing themselves, just to get a job? What happened to I want to be original? I’m a movie person, and in movies, even if I use a perfumed pink colored paper for my resume, I do end up getting a job. Even if I’m not being taken seriously in the beginning, because I’m original, I end up surprising people because of it (like solving a court case because I know how much time you have to wait before you wash your hair after you have permed them). 

I just believe that in the end of the day, after all the mathematical calculations about personality have been made, after all of the tests, and scrutinizing according to a pro-con list have been made, after all the personality tests, and the excel and other computer program tests, after all the GPA and other stuff in the resume have been taken into account, you must know what people like and check, and evaluate, and choose is: people.

It doesn't matter whether you are acting the guidelines perfectly. They do not need an actor, or a great pretender, not even in sales. Customers have realized it, people working in the business of marketing communications have realized it, business people have realized it, that people are not rational, people are emotional, people are just idiots (including me, and you, don’t think you’re left out). People are not computers! 

Did you know 70 percent of the purchases in a supermarket are spontaneous, thought at the moment? People choose what attracts them at the moment, they may think of buying as if it were a rocket science to choose the best product and spend less money, but they usually never act on buying as if it were rocket science. And you do realize that in the supermarket of thousands of new graduating products, whatever your life, or parents, or school, or peers, or experiences have branded you with, it’s just that 1/5 seconds of eye contact in the shelf that counts, and they won’t read your resume, they won’t care who you are, they will see probably the name of the company (school, place you worked before) and associate you with it, but you should know that in the end they will just go by instinct. They will choose you because they feel like it. (Damn they will call you for a second interview cause you stand out, and not for those notes they pretend to take, while in fact drawing dragons and robots). 

Oh I know different people act differently, that’s why we segment the market. That’s why we analyze those instincts, those attitudes, behaviors, habits. Am I supposed to segment the different companies that may check out to buy me? No way that’s too much, because I don’t want to be sold! I don’t want to be branded! I’m not a package of cereals for reason’s sake. I want to be recognized for all the hard work, and even for all the hanging around like a couch potato watching TV or just losing time watching chick flicks, or horror movies or checking mangas, or comic books, or chatting with strangers, or playing games, or solitaire, or spending time in a coffee shop or at the hairdressers’, because all that “useless” stuff that is not written in my resume makes me who I am, and even though I can act a different person, for the interview, I can’t keep it up for long. The workplace takes more than half of my daily life. And for those who have checked soap operas, when you act a character for a lifetime, that character becomes unbelievable, robotic, not real, because no writer, not even the best ones, not even the epic Balzac can invent a real human character. A made up character can fool you for 90 minutes or for 5 seasons, but then it's just made up! It's not real! Some things are missing! 

You are a real human being. You cannot be created by a writer, or a marketer, or an image consultant! All of your life experiences have made you who you are. Embrace them, don’t try to change 180 degrees just because they tell you so. You might be an idiot but still you’re a different idiot, so don’t change, cause we’re all idiots and it’s really best if you know it and show it. The world is beautiful because it's different. And you cannot be supersmart in everything, or able to communicate with all kinds of people, and able to excel in all kinds of areas. Just act yourself and one moment or the other you will be able to find your natural habitat. Just like a free electron you will end up finding the right atom for you, because it’s all natural. Don’t force yourself to fit in, because you cannot be glued to something that belongs to a different material, at least not in the long run. Don’t listen to what stupid career advisers, and school counselors, and internship teachers bloody tell you, and don’t care about rude receptionists, and vain and snobbish HRs, cause even if you are their best student, or you seem like the perfect guy for the job, they will like the one who stands out more, because that person always surprises them. 

Remember when you were a kid in school. There was always someone who was prepared every single time, always knew the answer, always raised their hand (phh) always wanted more tests, and the teachers hated them (damn I hated them, and not out of jealousy): They were boring! The teachers paid more attention to that naturally smart kid who came in class half the time, but still managed to get some laughs or even good grades. Out of all of the things I have studied in my classes, the only thing worth remembering when going out there, is that People Like People, Not Results. 

People, customers, like real people, real products. You can brand them, you can put them in a nice package, you can advertise them, you can propagandize them, you can rationalize them, but people will see you for who you are, or at least will see that you were not real to begin with. Yes they are idiots, but they are idiots who can recognize their own species. So don’t try to fool them. Too much effort, no long-term result. 

In my daily life, I have noticed that I either give excellent first impressions, or horrible ones, but in the end when people give me a second look they realize who I really am, for better or worse, (for instance you may be offended that I call you an idiot since the second paragraph, but then you should be able to realize what that word really means if you read through till the end). I don’t try to be someone they can like, it’s too tiring, and if I try I know that it won’t last for long. Even with politicians, they may deceive you and buy your vote, but in the end they will show their real faces when they don't keep their promises. 

If you want a job to marry, and not just a one night stand job, don’t pretend to be somebody else, if they won’t like you for who you are, why the hell should you want them? Do you really want to marry into a company that doesn't let you be yourself? And if no company wants to hire you, if your personality is so weird and people have already been robotized so much that they want to make you a robot too, just start your own business, get across your own ideas in some way or another. We live in the era of amateurs, of self-broadcasting, of ultimate free-expression, in the era of being yourself! 

While high school made you a nerd, a cool, or a freak, in real life you don’t have to categorize yourself anymore. You are an original genetic makeup, blended with an original history of life experiences, and sprinkled with an original map of stars and planets and moon influencing (if you believe in that stuff). Just be yourself then. Every successful marketer, or advertiser, knows that the products and brands and companies and ideas that work in the long run, are those that have lots of truth behind the packaging. They will try you out, like a sample of a new energy drink and whatever advertising of that perfect curriculum of yours says, they will know what you taste, and you know that peoples’ tastes are different. 

You may calculate the image you will send of you to them, you may even calculate their psychographics  and demographics and predict how they will perceive you, but you cannot calculate their tastes, because people do not represent those segments you are rationalizing upon, people cross those segments, people surprise you, people act instinctively, people change, people are unpredictable, and once again people are not rational (that’s why I don’t dig economic theories and studies, they’re full of crap) people are emotional (or another word for idiots). And as all advertisers know, what works after all the thinking and brainstorming is those original, creative ideas. People will choose those brands, those people, those idiots, who are creative, original, unpredictable, and no calculation stands up to original creation (that’s you)!

And that is how I like people, proud to be idiots, because it’s the idiots, or the emotional people that will surprise me, and will be surprised by me, another idiot. Maybe you can listen to those career advisers and teachers now, and calculate and program yourself and be diplomatic instead of being an honest full-mouthed person like me, and you may find a job before I do, but will you be happy? You think you can calculate yourself, and people's impressions, but as all marketers and advertisers, and even political races poll makers know, no matter how much you calculate, you cannot be certain of the results, because people are irrational. You cannot calculate life; life will surprise you, and you will surprise yourself and others when you let yourself go, and stop freaking calculating!!!