Short of It
- Are those...?
- Those are....?
- Those are Doc Martens?!?!
- Those ARE Doc Martens!
- THOSE are Doc Martens.
- The boots, the black jeans, the flannel...
- It's like I'm looking at Janeane Garofalo straight outta' the 90s...
Soooo, the story goes like this -
Almost a year ago, I happened to be hanging out after a show at the Punch Line in Sacramento because Ms. Sandra Giarde, CAE had a transaction to complete with Mr. Behrendt involving a Twitter conversation and a box of Keebler pretzel crackers (uh...you're just gonna have to trust me on this one.....).
As we headed out to the parking lot for the Great Cracker Exchange of 2010, I was schlepping along in usual anti-fashion fashion, avoiding eye contact, trying desperately to blend into the crowd and not appear "groupie-esque."
That's when Greg noticed my boots and his genuinely enthusiastic outburst was sublime. Now, really, I do not know the man, don't claim to know the man - I just enjoy the laughs. I take what he gives, tuck the best biscuits into my little container o' funny and go on about my day. But for one moment - a perfect stranger ....understood...(two things are important about this. The first is this happened a year ago and it is still meaningful. The second is the fact that someone thinks I resemble Janeane Garofalo which is fantastic because I LOVE her.)
You see, I am all serious and grown up except for my appearance. Maybe it's a Generation X thing. Maybe there was no transition to "adult" clothing because we were adults at 12. Maybe it was because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Whatever it is - I am a fashion disaster. If there was an "What Not to Wear - the Association Special," Stacy and Clinton would be knocking on my door. I am obsessed with Project Runway because it's like watching the Discovery channel - I cannot believe those awesome creatures are out there and wonder why my DNA is not wired that way.
I can COPY what they do but I can't BE what they are.
Now, we all talk about authenticity and how we want our members to be themselves. But if they are - what do you think happens? I see the eye rolls. I know when people are making fun of me. Cynthia D'Amour blogged about a chapter that had a dress code and kicked a member out. Really?!?! We should all take a moment and really THINK about what that means.
Yes, I have a penchant for Levis, t-shirts and chain wallets. Occasionally I show up at CalSAE or ASAE events in menswear, sporting a tie and Chuck Taylor kicks. It's not a need to be controversial, it's a need to be...me. I don't look right when I try to look normal. So, counterintuitively, I go with unusual as the least embarrassing option. What I've learned is people who still want to talk to me are usually people I actually want to talk to.
My friends generously give of their time and try to help me shop for makeup or clothes. I am always grateful for their input. I occasionally wear make-up, or dye the gray in my hair, or use a hair style other than "at-least-it's-washed." But more often than not, I just sigh, shrug and move on (and thank my lucky stars I have such a great husband). As much as some of you think my shoes are a put-on to get attention, it's simpler than that. They happen to be an important part of who I am.
Obviously, I am a consultant. Part of that gig means "blending in" with a new board and not embarrassing an executive. So, I will roll out the pumps and suit jackets when appropriate. But I am forever pushing those boundaries and so far, I've no inclination to stop.
The bottom line is, if you want creativity and innovation you have to accept those parts of you that don't fit in.
And if you want vibrant member communities, you have to do the same thing.
Otherwise, all you are doing is talking about community and not actually being it.
(I originally wrote this post almost a year ago in my "word of the year is authenticity" fervor. I thought it would be a good post to end 2010 on. The Association Subculture will be back next year with a vengeance and we are taking a new tack in 2011. More "authenticity" to come but with an "evolution" attached. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays folks and I'll see you all - tattooed and pierced - at the Pottery Barn!)
Here is the link to the video, I couldn't embed it. GO SEE Greg Behrendt live - you will not regret it....Chain Wallet