Wily Mktg

BITN: A Royal BreakAway, Travel Trends, & Back to Work

Posted on: Monday, November 11th, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

The interns never sleep at the BreakAway HQ. Here are 3 ditties that caught their wired eyes, and why…

Yes, even the Royals, in their own words, get “tired and even burnt out.” So they’re doing the right thing, and taking 6 weeks off—having endured the birth of their second child, a rigorous travel schedule, and (of course) relentless media attention.

Meghan referred to their whole rigmarole as, “existing, not living,” when they recently appeared on an ABC interview. It’s easy for us commoners to scowl at their ills, perhaps coveting their fortune and popularity. Still, they just want to focus on their family, their missions in Africa, and finding sanity in their incomparably complicated reality. We emphatically approve of their majestic yet humbly human aspirations.

Sure, Travelers Today may not be T&L, but we like their observations—like these rising trends: Green; Canada, solo, and nomadic.

The nomadic approach seems to be appealing to families—who like to pack it up, leap into home-schooling, and take advantage of a key benefit of the growing freelancing economy: Freedom. Freelancers and nomads rarely know exactly where they’re going, and that’s exactly the point.

Having been there (all over) and done that (going wandering with family), I personally offer a standing O and advise everyone who can conceive of the notion to keep that faith alive. Life offers few profundities that compare. Your children will be forever transformed and, whatever may happen in the hectic years that follow, you’ll cherish those ever-vivid memories.

Yes, this topic fills the sabbatical nets, and typically focuses on women returning to the office after family leave. I politely like to remind these influencers that men also take family leave and BreakAways of various kinds. (That said, most of the advice, if not the approach, is rather gender neutral.)

Target market or not, Jennifer Gefsky has published a book, “Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks—A Working Mother’s Guide.” Her Fast Company “5 Minute Read” offers these tips: Revisit past successes; Put yourself in your kids’ shoes (and stay positive for their sake and good modeling); Take a risk (request a big meeting, speak in public); Tell a friend (take on an accountability partner); Don’t over-question yourself—because sometimes the answer really is, “I don’t know.”

  • Who knows?

She’s right. “I don’t know” may be the answer to many of life’s hardest questions. Will we save the planet? Will America ever encourage career breaks, family leave, and nomadic escapes? Will YOU embark on the BreakAway of your dreams? Will I…again, and if so when?

I don’t know. But let’s keep asking, writing, photographing, and chasing dreams. For fun, for art, for life, and for Mr. Chekov…

‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ ­

– Anton Chekov

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FOTOFRIDAY: Stay Bullish

Posted on: Friday, November 1st, 2019
Posted in: Spendology, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
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Stop SM and Smell the Roses

Posted on: Sunday, October 13th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

A shocking amount of both sabbatical and SM news arrives from India, Europe, and places that have forever taken free time seriously. FBOW, we often overlook it like arrogant Americans. But sometimes, one realizes that, rather like the lessons of travel itself, there’s much to learn beyond the pond.

Recently, Mumbai’s mid-day.com published a warm and provocative article about a successful pop musician, Vasundhara, who one day realized that SM had taken over her life, damaged her career and real-world interactions, and brought on a case of anxiety that was causing bodily harm. “Likes” had replaced hugs—and the results were toxic.

Her solution? A 6-month SM Detox. The cravings hurt at first. But she pushed herself toward impressive projects including a teaching position in the arts, singing lessons that improved her ability to sing with the whole body and increased her range, a new single, and a how-to book for musicians trying to break into the industry.

In other words, all those hours of SM posting may have seemed like savvy, modern-day marketing. But when compared to face-to-face connecting? Waste of time!

She’s returned to SM, but selectively. Her new discipline allows 40 minutes every other day. And she aims to never turn back. As she says, she’s realized the “superficial information” from SM floods you with false impressions of people, and that, “We have forgotten that we are wired to wired to look at a person, get non-verbal cues, and hear their voices.”

A psychologist who helped with this story + the BreakAway Board of AdvisorZ recommends you can read all about it and study their excellent SM Detox tips here.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Amazon Brings IT!!!

Posted on: Friday, October 11th, 2019
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

This perfectly mediocre picture may elicit mixed reactions. For me, another Amazon package arriving might make me excited about my new thing…angry about their wasteful deliveries and packaging…sad about all the local, face-to-face businesses that have died…and worried about materialism, neighborhoods, and their underpaid employees.

Travel can take you away from these worries. And my next major-league BreakAway should be Amazon-free—where no giant PRIME trucks block quiet streets. Where children don’t consume on their phones as a routine pastime. And where chirpy shopkeepers take pride in running a family business, and somehow make a living doing so.

I’ve been to these places—and hope you have too. The villages of Italy. The ports of the Caribbean. Small towns in the Midwest. And independent countries all over the planet that think outside the envelope. Meantime: I’m guilty as charged. When you need a THING, it’ll magically appear on your door the next day. May you shop in interesting times.

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Sabbaticals Becoming Influential Marketing Fad

Posted on: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

Hey, would YOU like $30K to take four weeks off? Or how about being sponsored to spend 3 months in Italy revitalizing a fading village? Or, if all that sounds too cushy, why not embark on a 30-day eco-journey that reaches its peak with 10 days in Antarctica assisting with pollution research?

Sounds tempting, right? Of course! But there’s a catch. For starters, your chance in all cases are about, well, 1 in a million. Then there’s another catch: You’ll have to become a social-media barker for your sponsor. And there are more catches, including that a part of you (and your “content”) will forever be owned.

These are brilliant—and ultimately cheap—marketing schemes by savvy companies who prefer screen-based advertising to traditional tactics. Stok Cold Brew Coffee is behind the $30K sabbaticals. Airb&b came up with the Italian village concept. And if Antarctica is your fantasy, you can thank airb&b for that one too, along with their eco-partner Ocean Conservancy.

The upside here is that these promotions are calling attention to—and perhaps somehow doing something about—sad realities like dying small-town Italy and even-more-dying Planet Earth. (The Stok deal seems to not worry about social redemption—just social media).

On the sidelines, some pundits are thumbing their noses at these efforts. They note that candidates’ selection criteria will be heavily weighted on their influencer power, how airb&b’s success has worsened the affordable housing problem (which itself brings about pollution), and how dubious airb&b’s own record is when it comes to any environmental leadership or guidelines (not to mention that the travel industry is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions).

Welcome the relatively new phrase: Crisis Capitalism. Nowadays, certainly someone will have get-rich schemes from viewing dying species, seeing the ice caps before they melt away, and swimming with the dolphins while we still can. You can track back to Mr. Marx himself if seeking the roots of such opportunistic thinking.

Yet let’s hope the motives of and outcomes from this burst of sabbatical/save-the-world bingo makes some positive things happen. Heck, if the increased awareness about sabbaticals helps people move beyond today’s perceived priorities and toward a path beyond the BreakAway obstacles, then sign me up—however slim the odds I might actually find myself enjoying free lunch while spiffing up ancient Italy.

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Resist SM “Monetizing” by Doing Nothing

Posted on: Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Today we proudly launch a new category, Wily Mktg, to merge the professional pursuits of the Wily Wordsmith and Marketing Consultant with the free-your-time promise of BreakAway. They overlap swimmingly. And my career advisors tell me I should write more about my craft. A new book promoting “doing nothing” provides the perfect starting point.

That book is Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, and it prescribes the medicine we all need right about now.

  • Monetizing the masses

One of my favorite hobby-treats is attending live music. LIVE music. As in, real artists on stage + real people in the audience + all the exciting sideshows that make for the consummate concert experience. Lately, the ultimate sign of audience approval is when people stand up and hold their phones to the show. Recording? Maybe But it feels like something bigger. And sorta surreal.

This ritual happens everywhere, actually—from pro sports events to elementary music concerts. Participating in the present is becoming less important than engagement through your gadgets.

This is one of the themes of a Ms. Odell’s book. She takes a rather deep dive into the political, spiritual, and moral implications of our relatively new fixation—but moreso emphasizes the oft-ignored reality that these beasts have masterfully monetized our attention for the profit of (what are suddenly) the largest corporations in the world. And, by association and with boundless budgets, their advertisers.

  • Where did all the tribes go?

I vividly remember the early days of this technological revolution. While overwhelming, the magnetism of suddenly connecting with people who are also into, say, Kate Bush or rising minor-leaguers made communities and minds and explode. We created and joined “tribes.” “Movements” aiming to change the world sprang up like wild ferns in spring. That’s still around, but buried.

Meanwhile, we have gradually become living, breathing algorithms that allow corporations to do target-marketing with scary precision. We may not like the idea—or we may buy right into it—but Odell asserts that we’re losing our attention span and ability to understand context. We know only, and live only for, the present. The meaning of that “message” on the phone is vague, yet becomes how we perceive and experience the present. Over time, we become addicted to the stimuli and lose touch with the real world around us.

Meanwhile, we become evermore under the control of Big Brothers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon who know more about us than we’ll ever know, keep us increasingly linked, and transform this circle of attention-connection into billions.

  • The solution: Nothing

Ms. Odell suggests an intentional effort to disconnect, or at least walk way from, your devices: “To stand apart is to take the view of the outsider without leaving…It means not fleeing your enemy, but knowing your enemy, which turns out not to be the world…but the channels through which you encounter it day to day.”

The BreakAway premise holds that fleeing is not only fantastic fun, but spiritually transformative. And whether you use your break time to see the world or do nothing are both brilliant ideas.

With any luck, there will be time for both. And freedom means not only taking your time, but also keeping Big Brother at a distance.

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