We at Honey have been enjoying our SCA half-term break. So, I have cast my mind back to my last much-needed break.
Years ago, I lived in New York and worked in Manhattan Island. About ten months at breakneck pace. It’s a remarkable place, and you get this palpable sense of being in the world’s engine room when you are there. But as a chef working in a fine dining restaurant, I had the good fortune to experience for myself what I now refer to as ‘the economic shitty end of the stick’. One of the outcomes of that experience was that I started to ask whether there was an alternative to our rapacious consumer lifestyles and materialistic societies.
So, I jumped at the opportunity to take a break with friends who practically lived off-grid on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. About as diverse a jump as one could make in the Northern hemisphere. Island life was as beautiful and idyllic as you would imagine. Crystal clear waters, warm people, heart-stopping natural beauty. But modern capitalism was still there, and everyone relied on it in a big way. Amazon delivered to the island. Most businesses were tethered to tourism and needed the support of every imaginable type of transport infrastructure. From planes and airports, docks and ferries, cars and motorways, all this and more to shepherd the thousands of tourists from around the world to this beautiful little island in the middle of nowhere. Can you imagine the carbon footprint?
There is an irony to this story. It was there on the island that I went to escape capitalism, that I learnt to sell. My Manhattan honed skills as a chef, were sought after by the old money that holidayed there and I got a taste for taking money for solving people’s problems. In this case it was dinner. I internalised the philosophy that I now know as, ‘we sell or we die’.
I quickly realised that there is value to this selling malarkey. I started to observe, both in myself and others, how much we all love playing the game of buying and selling stuff. People love stuff. Experiencing new stuff, swapping stuff, selling stuff, being gifted free stuff or getting a discount on stuff, we just can’t get enough stuff.
We are by nature material and worldly, materialism arguably might be a step too far for a balanced life. But whether we like it or not, or what the ascetics have claimed we should deny ourselves, humans like exchanging and experiencing all manner of stuff.
The contradiction at the crux of this, is that being consumed by consumption is killing us. It’s a problem I and many others think about. Thankfully there have always been far wiser people who have faced similar problems (but not to the severity we face today). Their solution to balance the material self, was to develop the spiritual self.
Therefore, my new outlook from the standpoint of a student of advertising–conscious communication. Approaching this work by sharing our gifts of connecting to others, telling a story and promoting a message in an honest way from a place of truth.
The material stuff we will always have to pay for, probably in way of some sort of money or time. But the spiritual, if practised rightly, we give to our fellow man freely. It is not a commodity we can charge for.
We can serve society by selling better stuff and championing the most impactful ideas. By attempting to solve the most pressing problems we face collectively.
Conscious Communication – Live to Sell – Live to Solve.