Industry means depersonalising and replacing human agency with processes, policies, efficiency and replication. This is the definition of industry.
The wedding “industry” occasionally focuses more on the industry part, not the wedding part. I have been lucky this year to have worked only with creatives who focus on the wedding part. This is the people who see far beyond their official job description. They see beyond the contracts, the standard floral arch, the mere logistics, the video of the “normal type”. Instead, they invent a whole new paradigm. The paradigm that does not see processes but people. These are the role models that have noticed the opportunity to enable human connection, validate human dignity and further our understand of individualism and culture.
The wedding “industry” is at a crossroad. It has to decide whether it will focus on the wedding part or on the industry part. Industry seeks standardisation with the least amount of effort. But art seeks an opportunity to create something we get to do – not have to do.
And it all goes back to a basic question: what do we even need weddings for? Weddings do not belong in the basic needs of humans. It is quite possible to get married at the municipality without guests. Most marriages in medieval times were formalised only by a public announcement and a kiss over a local blacksmith’s anvil. It wasn’t until the 19th century that people began to hire vendors to assist. And a primary reason for this (beyond the fact that women started having jobs and less time to plan their own weddings) was… personalisation.
Personalisation and industry do not belong in the same sentence. Industry seeks to depersonalise in pursue of efficiency.
Weddings are an opportunity for people to be seen, to be part of something, to feel connected to each other and to the broader culture. If we are to create weddings that embrace this opportunity, then we need to stop for a minute and think: As photographers, planners, HMUAs etc, are we creating art, or are we replicating a recipe? Are we treating people with dignity or are we providing pretty flowers? Are we enabling the gift of human connection, or are we snapping away pretty pictures? Are we allowing people to be seen for who they seek to become, or are we simply planning logistics? Are we applying a primer on someone’s face, or are we making that person feel that she matters?
So back to the idea: can we hold a couple by the hand and ask them “where is it that you want to go”, vs taking them where it is easier for us?
If we can do that, then, in the spirit of generosity, we can be the pioneers who create a paradigm shift: Because couples nowadays are clever enough to know that it doesn’t take much to click the button of a camera and take a decent picture. It is more effort to engage with their emotional needs, their need to belong, to be respected. If couples are going to pay good money to us, then what they should be getting is not a wedding of the standard kind – but humanity. The humanity of dignity; feeling and becoming remarkable, even if for a single day. And this is priceless.
None of all this is about… “industry”!
November 27, 2022
Our ethical responsibility is to recognise we have a light to bring into the world and that if we choose not to, the world will be dimmer because of it.
Our greatest adventure in life is to lift the maximum load of responsibility we can conceivably bear in order to make the world a brighter place.
November 24, 2022
Would you tip the same if the tip-jar was hidden from anyone’s view?
Maybe you would. But most people wouldn’t.
Because, like walkathons, bikeathons, or fun runs, tipping is not just about the money, but about how it makes us feel. It is about the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. And it all comes down to reinforcing a sense of belonging: do my actions resonate with the person I believe I am? And, where does this position me within society?
A few days ago my family participated in a charity walkathon. All we had to do was “buy” our ticket in the run, which came with a t-shirt, and walk 1 km. Why did we not just buy our ticket, skip the walk and save ourselves from the sweat? A. Because walkathons are fun, and B. because belonging in a group of people who share the same set of values is powerful. A short way of saying this is through the words of Seth Godin: “people like us, do things like this”. There is something powerful in being able to say “I belong among the charitable/ fair/ kind crowd”.
Sophisticated charities have become successful at the fundraising end because they have figured out how to become part of the culture. If culture is the stories we share, then connecting people who can say together “of course I support this, we all do!” is more powerful than simply giving money.
As for that tip jar? It is an act of generosity that goes both ways: it is generous in that it gives a hard-working person some well-deserved extra money to support their family, but it is also generous in that it gives us, the customer, a priceless story to tell ourselves (and to those who observe us) about ourselves.
Every time someone puts 1 dollar in that tip-jar, they are doing it because it gives them 2 dollars worth of value back in the currency of identity. When you start thinking in terms of internal narratives, then your product/ service/ not-for-profit can show up and offer people an opportunity to feel good about themselves and at the same time serve the world, and you begin to realise that generosity is not giving things for free or discounts. Generosity is offering something that’s worth much more than what you pay for. That Luis Vuitton bag? It might be 2000 dollars, but its value is priceless. Those matching walkathon t-shirts my kids and I wore? Priceless. That 10 million someone paid to have their name on the new hospital? Priceless. Generosity has never been about discounts and BOGOs!
The gist of the story? That there is power in giving people a place to belong. That when people reach in their wallets for any reason, they are not buying specs, but stories. These stories are not the one you (the marketer) say, but the ones they say to themselves about themselves. It’s these internal narratives that align their identity, orient their value systems, form tribes, and finally, shape the culture.
November 22, 2022
Love is hoping for the best of things despite their inadequacy or even malevolence.
Hoping: Because if we are able to adopt a courageous attitude in a way that expects the best for all life, then we are enabling a collective metamorphosis towards betterment.
Despite: Because everything and everyone will inevitably somehow fall short (and that’s ok).
November 18, 2022
Who is to blame? Your value system? Your time-management skills? The system (“I am in wrong field/ country/ team”)?
You will never know the answer with certainty. You can guess, but the true answer will always remain outside anyone’s conceptual structure.
The easiest thing to do would be to blame the system.
Once you go down that path, then you are left with two dark choices: A. To become resentful of the world (the route that racists or misogynists take). B. To give up. Mistreat your body, neglect your mind, quit on your dreams.
So, what would you choose? A or B?
Thankfully, there is a third choice. To accept. To accept that you failed and there isn’t more to it. It’s hard to do, because it is easier to act shuttered, ashamed, or bitter – as if failing was inconceivable in the first place. It’s not: if you dared to dream of 6 impossible things before breakfast, then there is good chance 5 or more will likely fail. Failure is the twin of creativity.
To fail is almost never fatal. Unless we make it so.
November 17, 2022
I think the most appreciable distinction between a true professional and an amateur is this:
A professional is presenting a self (consistently and deliberately), while an amateur is revealing the self they feel like being in the moment.
Imagine the waiter/waitress that served your last coffee. If you have been as lucky as me, then s/he was accommodating, pleasant, and even went the extra mile to pull the chair for you. Now, suppose s/he has had a horrible morning. Perhaps s/he had to deal with less than well-mannered patrons. What, then, explains her kindness? Even more importantly, is her kindness “authentic”?
Of course it is not authentic.
Because s/he knows that when she on her mission as a true professional, s/he does not reveal her authentic self. S/he merely presents a self – the self that you expect to see. If one single phrase could sum up professionalism, then this would be:
Your mission is greater than your feelings.
November 16, 2022
Tragedy is not the same as hell.
Tragedy is in the core of life itself (by design of the cycle of life).
Hell, though, is misunderstanding this very reality of life as the world being against us. Self-imposed misery is what hell is.
The world is not against us. The world is chaos.
Let’s accept that the world may be tragic, but not necessarily self-imposed misery. The distinction between tragedy and hell is a personal choice.
(P.S. the same applies for failure and catastrophe)
November 15, 2022