Inside The Ivory Tower

Everyday

During my senior year of college, I took a course entitled, “The Cultural and Intellectual History of Europe from 1780 to Today.” Despite the long and boring title (and the fact that we were expected to read all of 12 books in three months), it became one of my top five favorite courses I ever took. The things I learned in that class really stuck with me and changed how I see the world. One of those things was the concept of the Ivory Tower.

Throughout the semester, my professor led me and my fellow students on a crusade to discover the critical thinkers and power players of the intellectual explosion in Europe during those pivotal years. We read Karl Marx and George Orwell, studied the Spanish Civil War, and analyzed wartime poetry and political essays. Each time we met a new great thinker, my professor would mention something he called the Ivory Tower. You see, all these great thinkers spent time secluded from the world/culture/society physically or intellectually before they stepped out into the real world and made their mark. They worked in their “ivory towers” until their thoughts and ideas forced them to action. They’d stew over ideas for new governmental systems and dream up new ways to treat workers and wallow in their own suffering. Their time in the Ivory Tower was valuable, pivotal even. But there came a time in each of their lives when they had to stop theorizing and dreaming and thinking and get out there and live it. And they changed the world.

I really locked onto the idea of the Ivory Tower. I’ve found that it is as meaningful today as it was back in the nineteenth century. After all, we all have our own ivory towers inside of our heads. It’s where we ponder and scheme and dream and think. But there comes a time when we can’t think or plan anymore. We have to go out into the world and make our dream a reality. We have to write that novel. Or start that small business. Or apply for that position. Or join that protest. We have to break out of the ivory tower or else let our dreams gather dust on the shelf.

For the past several years I have felt like I’m trapped in my own Ivory Tower. While I don’t compare myself to great world-changers by any means, I do feel like I can accomplish much more than what I’m doing right now. Right now I’m just reading and thinking and deciding what I think about the world. But shouldn’t I be doing something about it? But something else my professor taught sticks with me. The Ivory Tower isn’t a dungeon: it’s a thinktank. It’s a place where no idea is stupid or plan too lofty or dream too unrealistic. It’s a place to play, learn and experiment. It’s a playground of sorts. A gift. We just shouldn’t stay there forever.

Now, I’m trying to enjoy my time in the Ivory Tower. I pray that when I leave it, I’ll be ready to change the world in my own way.

What are you doing in your Ivory Tower? Have you left it? I’d love to hear about your brain journey.

Dear Sister

Poetry

Dear Sister,
This is about a girl who just caught her bus.
She is one of us.
She wants to be everything at once.
But mostly feels like nothing at all.

She wants to be tall.
She wants to be taken seriously,
But is usually taken for granted,
And now is being taken to the corner
of Grant and Avenue D.
She is part of you and me.
Her hair is a mess
And she’s wearing a dress
That hasn’t been washed in a while.
She cracks a small smile.
At the boy in the front
Who just shot a glance her way.
But he’s not looking at her.
Instead he looks at the seat
Next to hers where he meets
the eyes of a girl
Whose dress is clean.
He wasn’t being mean.
But she felt in his eyes
a life’s worth of lies
She’d been telling herself in her dreams.
The lies that crept in her head
When she laid in her bed
Wishing the sun not to rise.
Clenching her eyes.
The lies that said she wasn’t good enough.
Not smart enough. Not pretty enough.
Not tough enough.
Her heart was rough.
The soft tissues that grew
Were now black and blue
From the beatings she gave to herself.
She put her dreams on a shelf.
Since she’d never achieve them
She’d much rather leave them
Far out of reach.
If she only knew
That the lies were not true.
But they tore through her like bleach.
Fading away, a bit everyday,
her marvelous, colorful hue.
This girl is me and you.
Constantly bombarded
And hopelessly guarded
from a world that demands nothing less
Than perfection and grace
Power wrapped in lace
A maiden who’s not in distress.
Because heaven forbid we feel stressed
And wear a dress
with hair that hasn’t been washed in a while.
Heaven forbid that we smile.
If the world only knew
All the things we could do
If left to achieve our own dreams
But the world isn’t as cruel as it seems
If we stand hand in hand,
Change from ask to demand,
We can finally go the extra mile.
We can learn to truly smile.

My dear, dear sister
we all have grown blisters
from where the world has rubbed us
against the grain of our souls.
So let’s make some new goals.
Be messy.
Be graceful.
Be crazy.
Be tasteful.
Be your own kind of strong.
Together, we’ll right the wrong
And tomorrow’s sisters can live the lives we wished for all along.

Ads that make you cry and why that matters.

Advertising

This article was originally published on MMI Agency’s blog. The read the entire article, click here

You’re sitting at your desk checking emails when your friend sends you a seemingly innocuous YouTube link followed by a crying emoji. You take a sip from your coffee mug, glance around to make sure no one is looking, and click play.

In the course of ninety seconds, you are transformed from a slick, confident business person to a weeping infant who would rather be in the fetal position under your desk than sitting behind it. You try to hold it together, but it’s too late. You know that Judy from Accounting has heard you sniffling and the charade is over. You can’t hide it anymore: an ad just made you cry.

Click here to read the full article. 

FOUR WAYS TO TELL BETTER STORIES

Advertising

This article originally appeared on MMI Agency’s blog. Read more here.

In the ad world, it seems we are all about storytelling these days. Everyone is talking about it—and for good reasons. Stories are entertaining, engaging, and valuable. When told well, they create meaningful connections between brands and consumers that move consumers emotionally, and generate conversations that can boost a brand’s visibility, cache and credibility.

Brands do this all the time. Think about Dove’s stories about women discovering their true beauty, or Nike’s compelling narratives about driven athletes who wear its apparel. Chipotle hit a home run with its short film that told the story of a scarecrow as dedicated to healthy, fresh ingredients as the restaurant brand.

Good storytelling takes skill, no question. However, not everyone in our industry has an English degree, studied psychology, or has been the beneficiary (or victim) of a storytelling workshop. But you don’t need those—or a Pulitzer Prize in literature—to be a compelling storyteller (although, it wouldn’t hurt).

So how do we hone our storytelling craft? With training and practice. Before you start telling yourself, “not for me,” consider these four easy ways to become a better storyteller…

Merry consumerism to you!

christianity, Everyday, Rant

Yesterday I went to the post office to buy stamps with a coworker of mine and we ended up having a conversation with a young guy in line ahead of us about the craziness that is the holiday season in America. He pointed out the amazing difference between celebrating what we are thankful for on a Thursday, then fighting over televisions and cheap toys on a Friday. And then shopping all day online on a Monday. Then maybe giving back on Giving Tuesday if you have spare change. That’s crazy, people!

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I definitely took advantage of the awesome deals I found at my favorite online retailers. But getting a deal is not the point. Getting a new TV is not the point. Those things are not inherently bad. It’s the attitude with which we procure those items that leads to a very dark road full of angry mobs and unmet expectations. It’s the fact that we often feel entitled to 40% off and free shipping. The fact that instead of spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, we line up at stores so we don’t miss out on products we can always buy later. The idea that we can actually get disappointed if we don’t get our favorite pie at Thanksgiving or the Christmas gifts we wanted or the right color or the right size, when we shouldn’t expect to get anything at all. Because frankly, we don’t deserve any.

For those who celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas like I do, they know that it is a time to remember Jesus’s birth and the fact that when He entered the world he paved the way for us to have a personal relationship with God by giving Himself up for us and dying on a cross for our sins. So no, we don’t deserve any gifts. That’s a pretty big gift right there.

For those who don’t celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas, that’s understandable. To be honest, the secular holiday has far surpassed the religious one and (let’s be real here) most scholars agree that Jesus was probably not born on December 25. So I get the love of all things Christmas without the Christ. There’s no War on Christmas, no hard feelings on my behalf that you don’t recognize the immense importance of the holiday (although, I would highly recommend you reading the full biblical account). But I also believe God’s gift applies to you as well. We don’t deserve anything, so we should be thankful and grateful for what we are given and take joy in giving to others.

Now to conclude this rather messy rant…I’m not asking for people to stop buying things. Honestly, it’s great for the economy. I’m not asking people to stop giving gifts to each other, because it’s often a great way to show someone you care. All I’m asking is for us to stop and think about our attitudes this holiday season. To really think about our expectations, our perceptions, and our preparation for a season full of temptations and indulgence and opportunities for selfishness. To find joy this season in the gifts we’ve already been given. And that is how you have a Merry Christmas.