Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah: Giving Thanks For The Fire That Burns In All of Us

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I am certainly not even close to catching up to the thousands of bloggers who are talking about this year’s first merging of two iconic American Holiday traditions since the late 1800’s – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, also coined Thanksgivukkah, among other cutesy holiday sniglets.

Being both American and Jewish (at least by birth on both counts) and an Anthropologist with narcissistic tendencies, I am inclined to ponder the two traditions and what they signify both separately and as a joint effort.  Traditions are actually one of my favorite things as a general rule.  While I might not religiously observe most traditions I do observe them.  The reason: traditions and ritual are the same thing and rituals remind us that we are human.  They connect us in spite of our differences to remind us of our similarities and shared history.  The rituals and traditions that surround our holidays and celebrations remind us that this human experience is something we can make meaningful and work with to forward our spiritual ambitions.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah both have a lot of baggage in that regard.  Both stem from religious persecution and a people at odds with their earthly environments who came together to commemorate our need to stick together and have faith in one another as well as the forces at play we don’t see.

I found this fun article on time.com about 5 things Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common  that gives some fun and factual background on these two very American traditions.  As both secular and religious traditions, both these rituals offer a unique window into how American as consumers like to “consume” our rituals – with food and family and faith and a fair amount of gratitude.  Not uncommon from most human traditions you would find just about anywhere else.

I am thankful for many things – from friends and family, to friends who are family to being lucky enough to have light in my life last as long as I have faith in it.  And I am ever faithful that as spiritual beings on this human journey,  humankind will continue to seek and embrace our common bonds and “be the change” we want to see.

There are, after all, many things to be thankful for and many lights that miraculously burn bright to warm us in spite of unfavorable conditions.  It’s just up to us to notice, to be thankful and to pass it on.

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Ethnography, Holidays, Jewish Culture, Rituals, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Future Dream Job: DEO

And by dream job, I mean – this is the role I will create for myself. It’s all about self-authorship and the image below is the “cloud” of my life.
I am reading Rise Of The DEO  by Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland as research for a client white paper I am writing on prioritizing macroforces and identifying trends in the “golden triangle” of business, government and civil society (NGOs, etc.).

It’s my favorite time of year when my most forward-thinking clients call me to use their remaining budgets to help their organizations think more critically about their business strategy by getting a sociocultural perspective on “whats going on out there” , “does it matter to us” and “if so, what should we do about it”.

In this case I am thrilled to find that, despite my frustration  of late with the misguided grind and the slow pace of change among corporate leadership (those Boomers just can’t seem to get with the program!  😉  ),  I can remain affirmed that my way about the world is not just a whimsical cartoon drawing flitting about  and disrupting an otherwise very carefully constructed  and delicate matrix, but indeed at the apex of change.

So, go forth ye dreamers, risk takers  and socially aware people-persons – you are on the right track and I hope to work with you at the end of the rainbow and the beginning of the next big thing

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Categories: Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Culture, pop culture, sociology, Trends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From The Mouths of Millennials: Why They Are Awesome!

people-silhouettes

Since the day I walked into my first job as a consumer culture researcher and brand strategist,  the number one “target” for the roster of companies on my client list was Millennials.  Then:  tweens and teens ready to enter the working world and start driving cars –  but influencing the spending of their parents in a big way all around.   Now:  a final generation of teens all the way through a bustling populace of full-fledged adults, many already in their early to mid thirties.

This is a generation that has been pined over,  studied and marketed to for over a decade.  Brands have been coveting their share of wallet, and HR departments have been scrambling to figure out what to do with this workforce who by most counts is vastly different from their boomer predecessors.

On the flip side – Millennials are not immune to the scrutiny they have been receiving, growing up under a digital, big-data  microscope.  Many Millennials have taken on the task of examining themselves and relaying the blogosphere their impression of the world they have been raised up in and points of view on their place in it.

Some of my favorite Millennial-authored blogs include:

So Called Millennial , written by Rachel Gall, who is also the editor in chief of Life of a Mom-ennial  for Monogram Magazine .

James’ Room  and American Males  for a Millennial male perspective.

Entitled Millennial , a blog that started as a project geared at examining and redefining the term “entitlement” – one often used by boomers and older adults to describe what they see to be the main “fault” of this up and coming generation.

And yet another, which I am showcasing today:  Working Self – a blog by Millennials for Millennials dedicated to conversations about creating meaningful work.

In the article I have re-posted below, the conversation is an empowering Millennial perspective on whats shapes their attitudes toward life and work – an essential read for any employer seeking to lead with empathy in their attempt to grow a happy and productive Millennial workforce:

7 Habits of Awesome Millennials: A Guide to Understanding Gen Y

millennials

Today’s guest post in the Millennial Perspectives series comes to us from Debashish Das of Quit, Be Free. I had the good fortune of being placed in a triad with Debashish during Jenny Blake‘s Build Your Business course last May and we’ve been supporting each other ever since!

The world knows us as millennials, yet there’s no clear definition of who is or is not a part of Gen Y. Depending on who you ask, millennials are born somewhere between 1977 and 2003, but no one can agree where to end or begin.

In any case, millennials are a recent addition to the society, and everybody is trying to get their head around the puzzle that is Gen Y.

Why are they so unhappy? Why are they always glued to their phone? Why can’t they stick to one job? Why do they want to leave everything behind and travel the world? The truth is that we are different, as is our way of looking at the world.

Millennials are no longer the future, we are already here, now. And we cannot be ignored.

If you’d like to know what makes us the in-your-face, world-shaking, agents of chaos, read on.

1. Global Connectors

Anyone who is familiar with Gen Y knows we are addicted to social media. There’s a reason for that. We were right there when internet changed social interactions. While other people complained about the way the world was changing, we took to social media like fish to water, embracing a digital world that was free from the prejudices of society.

Without the barriers of language and culture, we shared our thoughts, ideas, and lives with people from across the globe. Millennials became the first true global citizens. Our food, hobbies, work, and lives are a colorful kaleidoscope of influences from around the world.

Millennials have truly shrunk the world. Social media is our connection to this new world.

2. Defiers of Status Quo

Never ones to take things at face value, millennials are accused of being rebels, a charge we readily confess to. If no one was out there doing things differently, sticking to the known ways, we would still be living in the dark ages. We push the boundaries to see what’s possible. We’re forces of social change.

Even though we are not the victims, we feel for humanity. We believe in a world without discrimination and accept all people as one. We defy status quo because we believe there is better future for all of us.

3. Serial Experimentalists

On the surface, our behavior might not make sense:  jumping jobs, buying gadgets every few months, or pursuing a new project every year. To the world, we might seem like overgrown five-year-olds. Underlying the behavior, however, is a belief in the power of growth. We do not live by the time-tested rules because we believe in living our dreams today.

We seek new things because new is the symbol of progress, an indicator of growth. And growth never comes from the known or the comfortable. It comes from exploration, making mistakes and learning from them. We are willing to fail to be able to learn something new.

We experiment to fulfill our desire for growth, because that is what makes us truly come alive.

4. Fearless Artists

Creativity is our middle name. With the power of the internet and the ready audience of a digital society, we do not hesitate to unleash our creative potential.

Sharing creative gifts with the world is no longer limited to a privileged few. Millennials know the value of their own creativity and are not ashamed to share it fearlessly with the world. Kickstarter funds books and products; Youtube sponsors individual video creators; smartphones and DSLRs make traditional photo studios defunct; not to mention the collapse of record labels and the publishing industry.

All proof of the fact that creativity is appreciated when it is authentic and original. We believe in the creativity that resides within each of us and are not afraid of showcasing our hidden talents. Being a millennial means not letting the world tell us that we are being stupid for wanting to be a writer, singer, or a painter. It means embracing our inner artist and creating our own unique art every day.

5. Real Life Explorers

World travelogues are blossoming all over the web. Some of the most jaw-dropping Youtube videos are captured by personal digicams. Blogs about breaking free from the routine of nine to five and traveling the world are gaining followers like crazy.

For millennials, the whole world truly is an oyster, and one that we seek to explore every inch of, whether by bungee jumping in Queensland, getting lost in the grand bazaar of Istanbul, learning to cook Thai cuisine in Bangkok, or riding a motorcycle on the world’s highest motorable road in Leh, India.

Our thirst for adventure is insatiable. We live for experiences. Especially the ones that take us outside our comfort zone. We do not plan for vacations after retirement. If we want it, we go and do it. It is one of the defining traits of a millennial.

To us, life is not about making bucket lists, it’s about going out there and living them.

6. Economic Revolutionaries

Venture-funded start-ups are old news. The new age of entrepreneurship is here, heralded by the small online businesses and bootstrappers, and millennials are leading from the front.

We want to be rich, and are not afraid to say so. Selling our soul in exchange for chump change is not our style. We want to do things we want, whenever we want, and provide for people we care about while not being slaves to a paycheck.

If we do the same thing that our parents did, and their parents did, how can we expect to live life differently from them? Big dreams require big money. And we want those disproportionate results.

To us, being rich means living life on our terms. Money is not a motivator, but nor do we call it the source of all evil. We seek to make money because it gives us the power to choose how we live. Living a millennial lifestyle is about living with passion, doing what we love, and making money along the way.

7. Freedom Fighters

Underlying all these traits and connecting all these habits is our deep-rooted desire for freedom.

Freedom has no common definition and is absolutely individualistic but it is what lies at the very core of being a millennial. We define our own freedom and take responsibility for it. It’s also the source of our greatest fears. Living a life defined by society, not being able to explore who we truly are, conforming to social rules, and becoming part of the system frighten us to the core. A millennial will fight till the dying breath to avoid anything that is a threat to freedom.

The simple truth is, if you seek freedom in life (whatever its meaning for you), you are a millennial at heart.

This is not a manifesto for why millennials should rule the world. Nor is it a plea for understanding our plight. This is a statement of facts and an effort to show what makes Gen Y tick.  We know we have faults, entitlement issues, and an attitude problem. But we’re also ready to change and adapt.

We’re willing to meet the world halfway. If only the world understood the language we’re speaking.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Corporate Culture, Culture, Generation Y, Marketing, Millennials, pop culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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