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Staying Connected in Times Like These

July 3, 2020 - Reading time: 3 minutes

One of the most rewarding activities is having a good time with friends. Now with one restriction after another appearing through the coronavirus pandemic, this once simple task has become a challenge. And in times like these the the benefits are in drastic need. Spending time with friends serves not only to relax and help us, but rather to support and help them. This is the reason I have network of contacts.

It's important to grow your networking whenever you can and with network I mean actual physical people, not social media friends! These are all types of people, you need to think about the relationships you want to have tomorrow and start building them today. This goes for the business side of things of course, people prefer to do business with their friends. According to my high school career counseling, nine out of ten jobs are achieved by such contacts. And I can attest to this, my fiancée got his job out of college through the father of his best friend.

Here are some tips how to take advantage of our personal relationships:

Make a list of the 250 people most important to you: business leaders, community leaders, friends, and family. This can be anybody really. The list should contain anyone we can offer something to or who can help us or who we can help. Start cultivating these relationships. I am not just talking about calling people by phone. Create long-term relationships that are lasting. It is important to remember the birthday or hobbies of our friends and contacts. Remembering somebody on their birthday is a nice gesture and it is easy to reach out to them.

Identify your attributes and improve them. Determine what you can offer others instead of only seeking people out for what they can offer you. The more we can offer the more interested people will be in helping us.

Analyze events well that pertain to your social circle. This is important because in order for us to be accepted by our contacts, we must be aware of news, events, and among other things changes in the way things are done. In addition to providing you with information, this will give you material to start conversations in any situation.

Always treat everyone at the same level.

Nothing scares people away more than a negative person. Always be optimistic, think positive and show it in your conversations. Listen, however, and let others speak. Don't talk without knowing what is being discussed.

Create a good impression from the start. It is helpful to move to the introduction stage quickly. Talk about hobbies, children, health, or other topics that will put people at ease.

The people that have complained the most about the lockdowns that are going on were the people without many contacts to start with. Don't let yourself get shut in.

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COVID-19, Work Ethic, and Unemployment

June 22, 2020 - Reading time: 5 minutes

For many of us the coronavirus has meant less money, either through fewer hours or layoffs. This lack of social and economical means has caused estrangement in our society. Regardless of the necessity to further infection control actions aimed at delaying the spread of the disease by minimizing close contact between people. Methods like quarantines, travel restrictions, and closure of schools, workplaces, stadiums, theaters, or shopping malls are important. People can also apply methods of social distancing by limiting travel, avoiding crowded areas and physically moving away from sick people. Many areas now demand or recommend social distancing in the regions affected by the outbreak. Yet, this has meant a major cut in our daily lives, socially as well as economically. Which brought me to think about the different aspects of work.

Why do we work?

What is our motivation to work? Are we motivated by money, for a need for attention and praise, or for something that matters more? What drives us to work and get it right?

There is no doubt that economic remuneration and the desire for promotion are two of the most important motivating factors, but will they be the only ones? Will they be the most important? I don't think so, there are more and more indications that we feel driven by others, such as obtaining a better "mental salary" (salary related to quality of life) or even more importantly, by something more internal, by our desire to do things right, either by spiritual motivation or to overcome the personal limitations that we all feel sometimes.

Understanding what drives us to work can help us focus, it allows us to see what's really worthwhile, get past stages where you feel everything goes wrong, or that you're bored of work, or that your relationship with other employers is bad, because you know that what you're doing has a value that goes beyond your paycheck, or of getting along with your boss. All of these represent challenges and they are simply a personal challenge that has a motivation of its own. By having that personal motivation, it immediately makes you work better, harder, more dedicated and that often makes the difference between a good employee and an excellent one.

A great example was Konosuke Matsushita, a Japanese industrialist who founded Panasonic, the largest Japanese consumer electronics company. Here is an excerpt from the book entitled "Matsushita Leadership" by Dr. John P. Kotter, The excerpt gives us good insight into the character of Konosuke Matsushita.

A frail, sickly bicycle apprentice who survived unspeakable childhood tragedy, Konosuke Matsushita lacked formal education, wealth, charisma, connections and even a special talent. Yet, early hardships produced hidden strengths which opened Konosuke Matsushita's mind to the collective wisdom of others. The author reveals how a lifelong thirst for learning fueled the passion that led this humble, shy 5-foot-5-inch humanitarian idealist to pioneer management practices and advance his philosophy that the mission of a manufacturer is to relieve poverty and create wealth, not only for shareholders, but for society.

His brother-in-law, Toshio Lue, said of him: "I don't think Matsushita was a brilliant person or a man of great talent. However, his zeal and dedication to the work were exceptionally elevated." Surely many "gurus" would have said that Matsushita triumphed by having an outstanding IQ, and a spectacular vision, but his brother-in-law, who knew him well, chose something as far from it as commitment and dedication to doing things well.

The trick is not to look at the events that happen to us impatiently, stop measuring projects or jobs in terms of weeks or even days. Life must be given a chance, with short-term visions where we can focus and do our best regardless of the monetary reward for completion. With no work to do, the ethics associated with it do not generate distinctive value. The negative ethics of work and power structures that do not value the work done or attribute it improperly (in ethical terms) have dissolved the ethics present in society and emphasize individualism. Moreover, urbanization and large-scale businesses lead to the elimination of vital learning from work-related concepts.

These are all values my parents hold. Today however, the millennial generation is not identified with work but by their consumerist patterns (use of technology, fashion, popular culture) and not by the traditional concept of work ethic, but by tolerant (liberal) beliefs. This clash has been made more noticeable through the current crisis. In the 1940s work ethic was considered very important, and dissidents (nonconformists) were treated autocratically. The suppression of mood in the workplace was characteristic. A Ford Company worker, John Gallo, was fired for being preoccupied in the act of smiling.

As with all things, however, there is a happy balance, a balance which I hope we'll find before the end of the crisis.

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The "Karen" and Other Memes Against Equality

May 26, 2020 - Reading time: 7 minutes

Is it just me, or is that meme, but do you think that memes have made a noticeable shift, one that has move toward a sexist narrative? For those who are unfamiliar with the expression, Wikipedia frames the meme like this:

A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.

Memes have always been to some extent borderline bad taste, one could argue that they are

One that has been highly circulated of late is the Karen meme. And it is because of this meme that I choose to write this here today. If you aren't familiar with the meme then let me get you up to speed:

"You know Karen right?" "Everyone knows a Karen!" "Karen's a bitch!" In fact the name Karen has become synonymous with a derogative toward women. Hadley Freeman wrote on the Guardian on Mon 13 Apr 2020 that the Karen meme has become mired in sexism.

The Karen Meme

Where did the Karen meme originate from (quoted from the aforementioned article):

Karen” is commonly used in the US to refer to a strident middle-class white woman who talks down to people of colour, usually in serving-staff positions. But the term was never just about racial oppression. As Vox wrote in its extremely extensive history of the trope, the comedian Dane Cook was using it in his act in 2005: “Every [friendship] group has a Karen, and she’s always a bag of douche.” The term went more mainstream a few years ago when someone on Reddit wrote so much bile about his ex-wife that his posts got their own subreddit called “r/FuckYouKaren”. One of the most popular ever tweets using the Karen meme was posted a month ago, just before the lockdown: “I’m scared for people who actually need to go to the store & feed their fams but Susan and Karen stocked up for 30 years.” This was liked 1.2m times, because only women shop, apparently (and shop selfishly).

It isn't just the Karen though, the medium has allowed a highly sexist discourse to develop and become mainstream.

If there's one thing to note about the society we live in, it's gender roles, stereotypes, and discrimination in the age of communication is alive and well. The Internet has made the exchange of data effortless and with that ease it has accentuated certain mindsets, over the years the so-called memes have spread over the web and social networks like a virus. The main memes circulating on the net have a humorous tone and have a general tone, however, they are not limited to that and often can carry a totally different and stereotypical message, especially when it comes to memes about women.

If we look at some of the memes that are shared the most on social media, we see that the current trend is clear: women. They are the ones that appear as the protagonists of discriminatory memes propelled to the central element on which the taunts fall. The typical selfish girlfriend, the hateful mother-in-law or the unbearable wife are some of the most common ones you will see, in addition to the gender stereotypes that are also transmitted over the net. These biases which we have had ingrained in our minds from birth are currently being encouraged and further shaped as memes. The most common memes or trends that are usually covered in them promote the values of a patriarchal societies and through them discrimination against women.

It doesn't matter how far you come you're still responsible for the sandwich

One of the most common topics and forms of sexism is the vision of women as a mere housewife, we live in a society in which still believes at some level that women can/should do nothing but household chores such as washing and ironing clothes or cooking, among others. This belief is coupled with believing that women were born to serve their men, bare children, and raise a family, for it is believed that the perfect woman is that devoted wife and perfect housewife.

The memes we see, show how women are presented as someone who needs a man to live, because if they aren't they'll end up as someone with too many cats. But the main idea is that women are harpies capable of leaving men without money, because it is all they care about. Choose a negative trait for a person and there isn't a question that you won't be able to find a meme for it.

It would be easy to put a thousands of examples of sexist memes together that have gone viral. We could continue to exemplify topics and forms of sexism promoted through these memes such as the belief that women are: weak, promiscuous, frigid, or the belief that women are less intelligent than men, thus, a long etcetera. But the important thing is to highlight the messages in these memes.

Although they may seem funny, thus less harmful, because of their humorous tone, we must not forget that there is sexism in the small things such as a mockery. It does not matter if it is an insult or a meme, because they are messages that, despite so much progress, have yet to leave our cultural consciousness. Instead they have been passed on from one generation to the next, they have been there since our childhood, now they are multiplying quickly and are becoming embeded in our society and once again being accepted as a cultural norm, because in the end, if we end up accepting that they are natural we will accept that our place is reserved for the kitchen. That we have been chosen exclusively for the tasks of the domestic service; that the woman is a piece of meat at the disposal of man; that women are hysterical or that women are "sluts or shrews." Thus, memes shouldn't be so easily dismissed when they come to us, we shouldn't accept them without thinking, nor should we simply ignore them. Because the harm is there and memes carry real consequences, those messages transmit ideas and strengthen agendas and ideologies, and since digital media is easy, instant, and free the cost of creation is small. There are alternatives, they can be used to to promote effective equality between men and women while placing the scenarios that are promoting the stereotypes and roles that are imposed on us from our birth in the spotlight. The medium is the same, the message can be much different.

Now are you ready for a change of pace? Then try these, 50 feminist memes!