Me and Mr. Jones – The Company Story

Creative minds are funny things. They’re often unorganized, random, and work best at 4 in the morning after days of not sleeping. Sometimes, they don’t work at all. I blame my recent drought of creativity on this unending summer. That’s another thing about creative minds — they’re fickle. When summer first began, I was the first of my friends to already have new board shorts and swim suits ready to go at a moment’s notice. My, how the tide turns once you’ve gained a hundred new freckles, and the space outside of your perhaps overly chilled apartment becomes a claustrophobic sauna. The creative mind cannot be confined! It needs to rebel and plow through molds! It might also need coffee, free-trade of course, with non-dairy creamer.

Perhaps this repressive confinement is why we see so many celebrities and public personas in and out of rehab, going through nasty divorces, in trouble with the law and engaged in so much debauchery. Whether you love them or hate them, these people are creative minds. It takes a certain amount of ambition and craftiness to be a Britney Spears or a Tom Cruise. And then when the media gets hold of them, they become characters. We give them pet names, we give them attitudes, we give them their motivations. We confine them into these roles until at last we watch as these roles become their downfall.

I’ll be the first to admit the completely unnecessary — I love gossip blogs and celebrity news. I’ve been overjoyed watching as Lindsay Lohan goes through periods of enlightenment (usually coupled with asinine public announcements about how she’s changed), as Paris Hilton actually does clean up her act (with not one but three books under her belt now — really, what does the Heiress think is so interesting about herself?), and most especially as Amy Winehouse, not as ironically as the media likes to say, repeatedly says “No, no, no!” to rehab. The Wino’s got some guts, even if they are a little mixed up right now. She’s unapologetic, unabashedly edgy and she’s also one of the most talented pop-stars out there right now.

The media has consistently chastised her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil throughout Amy’s turbulent and tumultuous summer. Their on again off again romance has been put under the microscope more often than Brangelina adopt kids. But this is another thing about creative minds — they need partnerships that inspire them. Without husband of the year, Mr. Fielder-Civil, Amy would not have been inspired to record her second (and most popular so far) album, Back To Black. While I hope that Amy and her husband get better and continue to push out really amazing music, I will not criticize their relationship. You’re my girl, Amy — you do you.

But this brings me to my topic of this week. Partnerships! Partnerships are absolutely necessary in today’s shrinking global community. Apart from the fact that eventually we’re all going to know each other through someone else thanks to social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, it’s just easier to get your word out by partnering with an entity that is able to supplement your product. For example, The Employment Guide likes to collaborate with outside entities. We’ve collaborated with the AARP on a series of job fairs in support of the Department of Labor’s National Employ Older Worker’s Week (Sept. 23-29) that will help provide jobs to older job seekers all over the country. It’s been alleged that Britney Spears partnered with TMZ and several other photog-agencies to generate some good ol’ fashioned buzz to keep her in the spotlight. Even non-profits are getting in on the game.

The often infamous, always outrageous and unique, international non-profit organization, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), is an old pro at collaborating with celebrities that will position them in the forefront. Their galaxy of stars includes such names as Pamela Anderson, P!nk, Morrissey, Dorothy from “The Golden Girls,” and even country stars like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Often these partnerships are used for shock value and to gain media attention — but isn’t that the point? When choosing who to collaborate with, it’s important to keep in mind your target demographic, the message you want to get across, what the most effective way to get that message across might be, and what your partnership will offer both of you. Non-profits like to use celebrities because it gains them an amount of media exposure that would be impossible if their work was taken alone. Celebrities like to partner with non-profits because it helps their PR image. I mean, I know I was quick to forgive Janice Dickinson for being arrogant and often abrasive when I found out she doesn’t support fur. That’s just cute!

So, while partnerships aren’t always celebrated, they’re always important. One man alone can have the vision, but a team can build the connection between what you see in your head and the consumer. Whether the media likes the collaboration or not, it’s important to stay true to who you are, who your company is, and always believe in your vision. Go make lovely things happen!

October Retreat Reflections

Last month a small number of like-minded folk gathered at Currer Laithe Farm in Keighley for our Schumacher North October Retreat. The focus of the weekend was ‘sharing ways in which we can awaken to a deeper connection with life and each other’ and it turned out to be a nourishing weekend for both body and spirit.

Feedback from Retreat participants:

“I really enjoyed the retreat and meeting so many different people with different perspectives on all the issues we face today. There were both formal and informal sessions where we discussed many topics. We were so lucky with the weather which was glorious. I particularly enjoyed going on cold but bright walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside. I will always remember the animals which live at the farm. The dogs which chased after the car as we left and the goats and cows that live at the farm. The food was delicious and it was good to see how creative and nourishing vegan cooking can be. All in all a great retreat again and thanks to Anna for organizing it and everyone for being there.” Mary

I had a wonderful time. Meeting people new and known, seeing developments in people and the world and being given the opportunity to share perspectives. The thing I loved most about the weekend was the shared respect I encountered. Honestly, this is for me becoming a cultural rarity. I came away with an absolute belief that people care and that the issue facing us is a human one, we need to trust each other, listen to each other and act to our individual passions. Coming to the Schumacher weekend for me is like being filled up with hope and it keeps me going. Till next year a very sincere Thank you for arranging it. X x x. Helen

“I really enjoyed the weekend. For me, being clearer about the structure would have made it easier (e.g. when there was “free time, to walk/ nap” etc…) but I know not everyone would feel this way. Big hug”