Public speaking coaches are making a bundle helping executives, politicos, and even plain-vanilla working stiffs looking for jobs be "authentic." The BigAuthentic has become the price of entry for success. Those perceived an Not Authentic aren't allowed into the game.
Few see through this current craze. The exception is those in the legal sector. From the get-go, lawyers are trained to put on a face to meet the faces out there.
That ranges from the best fit of a persona for a blue-collar jury to the poker face at the negotiating table. Laterals prepare for job interviews by collecting and analyzing data about the law firm culture. Based on that, they put together an appropriate presentation of self.
The great thought leaders had no time for the myth of authenticity. William Shakespeare had down cold that all the world's a stage and we are all players on it. Sociologist Erving Goffman taught his student that even the most unsophisticated resident of a French village got it to put on different faces for meeting and greeting each social circle.
The Machiavellians among us, of course, will continue to leverage the concept of authenticity, though. That's what you do if you want influence and power in a society which has lost its ability to insulate itself from the field force of nutty memes.
Maybe some brandname law firms can get away with the new trend: Establishing Gilded Age kind of offices. Those allow for special events. And they regularly serve clients fine cuisine and provide them access to a wine bar. In The Wall Street Journal, Sara Randazzo details this. Mayer Brown LLP's New York office is an example of a law firm adopting such lush surroundings.
But, come on, even the folks on "Downton Abbey" are recognizing the need for cost-efficiency. This coming season will feature plenty of belt-tightening.
What reasonable client entering aristocratic quarters doesn't panic, thinking: Hey, my company is indirectly paying for this. Increasingly, corporate clients have to be accountable, just like every other department, for their budget. So, they must go in search of the best deal.
Frequently when I am involved in writing the text for board presentations, the client tells the graphics staff to make the visuals look "cheap." Otherwise some member of the board will make a point of the assumed expense which went into the seven-minute talk. Heads will roll.
Perception is everything. Law firms simulating a "Downton Abbey" elegance will be perceived as wasting clients' money.
Some of us who endured consequences for our political stances during the CounterCulture look back on a lot of that as, well, Sweet Suffering.
Me? Formerly a Good Girl, I had the experiences of a lifetime. In the process, I lost a part-time when campaigning for black students' rights.
But it was a time of affluence. So, suffer? Not much. And the union representatives got it back for me. The Quid Pro Quo was supporting one of theirs who was running for office. Overall, a good time was had by all. I got to feel noble. Made new buddies. Even became cool, for a while.
So, I am among those wondering if Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is enjoying this 21st century version of Sweet Suffering. She refused to marry couples of the same sex. As USA Today reports:
" ... U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning found [Kim Davis] in contempt of court ... [and] placed her in the custody of U.S. marshals and had her taken to Carter County jail."
Davis may not be conscious of the joy involved in being a kind of martyr. But, I have a hunch, based on my own experience, it makes up for any inconveniences of jail life.
"[Michelle] Carter is accused of involuntary manslaughter after [Conrad] Roy, 18, had siphoned carbon monoxide into his truck - a method recommended by Carter in text messages - in July 2014. Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo argued in New Bedford Juvenile Court last week that his client was 'brainwashed' by Roy into helping him commit suicide, and that her text messages violate no law in Massachusetts." - Klye Clauss, Boston Daily, September 2, 2015. Here is the article.
Usually the people who bang up against the law in suicides are the angels of mercy who assist the terminally ill. Despite their noble attentions, the law tends to be the law. In this bizarre version of that, a young girl allegedly coaches her young boyfriend to off himself because he is in "bad shape."
Reading the text messages breaks our hearts for the confused young man. At some point in our youth, we have probably been as unhinged as he was. And his "coach" comes across as knowing exactly what buttons to push for influence.
If the allegations are proved, I hope Carter receives the maximum sentence in prison. Since inmates are no stranger to suicide, she is bound to not have an easy life in the slammer. Most of those inmates struggle to help keep their own alive, despite the despair that hovers over those behind bars.
The odds are that no one has asked you what you are doing Labor Day. At least not in terms of enjoying a day off. It's assumed that you will be working. Or, just as likely, pretending that you are.
Vacations, even a day or two here and there, don't exist any more. At least not for those who want to protect their brand identity. And, have a shot at getting ahead. If you're off fishing you will be perceived as not totally and absolutely committed to work. That's just the way it is.
In the Harvard Business Review, Karen Firestone, a chief executive officer, laments that her employees won't commit to taking even a few vacation days. She calls that "vacation-phobia."
Scheduling a vacation sends a negative signal. It's analogous to premeditation in crime. And it will be counted against you the same way. The minute you block out vacation time you are telling clients and your superiors that you won't be there for them. No one welcomes that in these times when crisis is the new norm. They probably are thinking: What nerve for you to just high-tail it out on them.
You bet, you are heading toward the never-ending work pattern of the Japanese Salary-Man. His only permitted time-out was to get drunk. At that time, he was even allowed to tell off the boss. But, it's unlikely that emotional luxury will be bestowed on lawyers. The law firm ethos is too traditional.
So, the irony is that you, and many others in myriad professions, will be laboring all day Labor Day. My new client has a pile of work for me. LOL.
The very good news is that semester is early. And the job market outside law for those with college degrees, which you have, has been picking up.
For the carless in law schools, there's Uber. Go to your app, and flee campus.
For those with a car, it's a no-brainer to exit right after you read Shannon Achimalbe's description on Abovethelaw.com of #fourthtierproblems when searching for a job in law.
Her brutal experience of being invisible to recruiters has become fairly standard for too many law students and newbie JDs. Those with the #alltierproblems can be called The New Invisibles. Even at top tier law schools they lack the grades, the skill in playing the game, and/or real practice experience to be noticed and then interviewed.
So why wait until your invisibility becomes visible. You can bail out now.
There is a saying, "Get in and get out fast." That's what a few lawyers advised me when, age 40-something, I was admitted to Harvard Law School. I wanted to try it. They didn't consider that a smart choice for a second career. I was browned-out in communications.
It wasn't long before I decided their reservations were on the money. And, as they advised, I got out fast. At my age and with my antipathy for details, I wasn't going to be a star.
I had been a star in communications. After about 28 months post-Harvard, I again became a star in communications. Recently, after losing my confidence during The Great Recession, I am again a star.
Law students on the fence about leaving should seek out the guidance of lawyers they trust. I found my circle of The Trusted in a 12-step program in Greenwich, Connecticut. We had come to know each other well.
When it comes to taking on regulatory and litigation challenges, Uber has always been aggressive. So, it's no surprise that, as MarketWatch reports, it could appeal the class-action status granted yesterday in "O'Connor v. Uber."
The stakes are high in that one. If Uber loses and drivers are granted employee status the on-demand-economy model gets crushed.
Based on the Hillary Clinton emails, a 21-century student of power moves could put together a new kind of Machiavellian guidebook on what is effective and what isn't. Among the tactics to be deconstructed is how attorney Cheryl Mills had positioned and packaged herself in her relationship with Clinton.
Unlike most of those who sought to be part of HillaryWorld, reports Annie Karni in Politico, Mills didn't fawn and flatter. She didn't jump to answer emails immediately. And she strutted a sense of self.
Such a move requires enormous confidence or recklessness. Alexander Hamilton seemed to embody both in his entrance into the corridors of power in the Revolutionary government. Born out of wedlock, he had little to lose by ignoring conventional wisdom of how to get ahead. For example, he would keep George Washington waiting. He spoke candidly.
At one time in my communications career I took the road most traveled. I assumed it was safe to take on the gusher persona. Since so many others were in that space, I figured that was a best practice. LOL.
In the past 18 months I have been experimenting with the Mills' I-know-my-worth stance. The results have been amazing. The prerequisite for that, though, is not really giving much of a damn, not anymore. That lifts you out of the usual power dynamics and you are able to create your own unique space.
The Washington Post reports that a survey found 20% of Rutgers undergraduate females were victims of unwanted sexual activities. Those ranged from being touched to penetration. Similar percentages were reported by women at other colleges and universities across the nation.
To me, that number seems low. In an open society, where females aren't overseen by chaperones 24/7, it's the rare young woman who hasn't received unwanted sexual attention. Just about every woman I knew in high school, college, and graduate school had their stories. In the University of Michigan library, several times men bumped into me as I searched for books on the shelves.
Few of us Baby Boomers reported the incidences back then. Obviously, things haven't changed over the years. Schools at all levels seem unable to protect women.
Perhaps the way to prevent sexual assaults of all kinds is to arm ourselves. Of course, the laws would have to be changed to make it legal and easy for females to carry weapons. And maybe it will have to come to that: A nation of Amazons packing heat, as well as knives and pepper spray.