When I first began writing this weekly journal in 2016, I would receive a trickle of compliments each week. Sometimes two or three if I was having a good week.
Almost two years later, I am overwhelmed and grateful for the weekly conversations I am having with readers from around the globe. I lose count as to the number of emails I receive as each weekly article is published.
Responses, praise, support, debates, discussions, agreements and disagreements from as far as Helsinki, Spain, Portugal and India, to as near as a reader who works in the same office building.
I've been overwhelmed over these past few weeks and I'm so very grateful.
I've had clients and colleagues share articles on LinkedIn almost daily, as well as colleagues email me directly with comments and positive feedback — sharing their thoughts and opinions.
To balance this, I also receive emails notes from people who disagree with some of my views — and I value this just as much as everything that is positive. I've had people ask me to take an article down when they've disagreed with my opinion or its content. I've had people ask me to change points of view in my articles under the guise of 'correcting' it. Although this has only happened twice, it has happened.
I value all opinions. But I don't have to agree with them.
Fair, reasonable and balanced discussion and debate is important and it is critical to moving forward in a career; and also within a professional industry context.
Regular readers will know that I'm not one to hold back, and sometimes I can be polarising.
Not rude. Not disrespectful.
And I'm OK with that.
I'm not the type of person who will blush and remain silent in a meeting when someone absolves themselves of accountability — especially when they were the ones who asked for that accountability in the first place.
I won't sit silently if someone is spoken to rudely or treated badly. I don't care if it's a client, colleague or anyone else for that matter. I’ve called it out and recall being on the phone a couple of years ago letting a client know that constructive feedback is to be respectful and kind, not abusive, badgering and rude.
I'm not the type of person who will remain silent when I see young people exploited. A topic I've written about publicly many times in the past.
I won't stay silent when I see, or smell, bullshit. And in my 27 years working in this industry, I've smelled a lot of it and I'm self-aware enough to know, that some of it may even have been my own.
I don't voice an opinion because it's fun. I don't do it because it's about me. I don't do it because of some sense of self-importance. I do it (and also encourage it of others) because it is how we raise issues to the fore and ensure that they're not forgotten and deliberately dismissed.
I was raised to know that you have to 'be as you seem' — an Ancient Socratic proposition to behave as you wish the world you live in to behave.
To uphold values and integrity as you would expect the world you live in to uphold them. It's the Ancient Greek version of Gandhi's 'be the change you wish to see in the world.'
So to be as I seem, I must seem to be a voice that stops the noise that holds us back. This is why throughout my career I've learned that it's OK to say No.
It's OK to disagree with someone else's idea.
It's OK to put your opinion out into the world and have it shot down, and sometimes it may even be raised up.
It's OK to call out bullshit when you hear it, and it's OK to say 'stop' when you want something to stop. When you’ve had enough. When you can’t take it any more.
What is not OK is remaining silent, because when you do — you're complicit.
'The status quo is not kind' wrote Seth Godin in a recent article — and I couldn't agree more.
The status quo is debilitating.
Pushing against the status quo is freedom. It is how we reach our goals and how we create an ideal future we all envision.
Pushing against the status quo is how new ideas are born.
So many people in the creative industries seek 'New' and 'Original' ideas — if only they knew that if they simply push against the norm, they would take one giant step towards true originality.
It's challenging when someone speaks up and says 'No'. It's difficult and sometimes jarring — and the confidence to move a room from status quo thinking to an uncomfortable but possibly fruitful space, is rare.
Yet this is where we grow.
This is where we move forward.
This is the space where we innovate, improve and thrive.
Yet, most people sit still. Comfortable in a cozy centre. Not rattling any cages, not saying 'No' when they should. Working in a quiet regret they call a career.
Most people accept things they should not. Afraid to voice an opinion to the contrary. Opinions we need to hear. Because these are the opinions that move us forward.
You don't have to agree with me — and that's the beauty of it.
If you do, I urge you to voice your voice when it needs to be voiced in a kind and respectful way. Don't fear 'No' because 'No' might be the next step towards a more positive future for us all.
If you don't agree with me, I'm OK with that too. I hope you're happy in your inertia.
"We have to work ever harder on seeing, listening and supporting the quiet voices who have something important to say."
— Seth Godin