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When Business becomes Pleasure….it becomes ART

Some people live by the adage “never mix business with pleasure”, but is it so hard, really? It depends who you are dealing with. For those that don’t, or can’t, it’s usually about retaining power and control. I work in the creative industries, where lines are very squiggly and grey almost to the point of disappearing - your work is your life, your colleagues become your best friends and often your life partners. Those rules can’t really apply to us. But there are times when you wish you could extricate yourself from a situation and its all so tied up that it becomes impossible. Creatives however tend to think less about control and more about opportunity, so our fluid lives tend to recover in differently from those kind of setbacks. We have mediums through which to exorcise our hurt and disappointment, and will invariably end up mending more fences than we burn… 

For some, power matters more than anything else, and for those people, yes, business cannot truly become pleasure. A line has to be maintained, one over which the person who holds the least power cannot be allowed to cross via intimacy or friendship. Those people cannot see how power can be shared, given, exchanged in a fluid way and at an appropriate time for an appropriate need. For those people the need to have separate lives is as important as it is for me to have one tightly contained, unpredictable one, where roles interchange and flex, the powerful becomes the powerless. This is probably also true because in the arts the hierarchical nature of work relationships is different - it interchanges; at any one moment you could be working for a friend who in another capacity works for you. Its complex but to us, its second nature. 

As much as a lot of artists may seem ‘control freaks’ or ‘precious’ we’re not really, we can’t be. Art is about losing control, about going down a rabbit hole. We are just focused on the journey and often can’t see the other paths that run alongside. The moments of collaboration, interception are there but have to be entwined into that artist’s vision and process. Again, complex, but its what makes us, us. 

My business will always be pleasure and my life will always be a complex matrix of interpersonal and professional relationships dictated by passion not power.

When Business becomes Pleasure….it becomes ART

Some people live by the adage “never mix business with pleasure”, but is it so hard, really? It depends who you are dealing with. For those that don’t, or can’t, it’s usually about retaining power and control. I work in the creative industries, where lines are very squiggly and grey almost to the point of disappearing - your work is your life, your colleagues become your best friends and often your life partners. Those rules can’t really apply to us. But there are times when you wish you could extricate yourself from a situation and its all so tied up that it becomes impossible. Creatives however tend to think less about control and more about opportunity, so our fluid lives tend to recover in differently from those kind of setbacks. We have mediums through which to exorcise our hurt and disappointment, and will invariably end up mending more fences than we burn…

For some, power matters more than anything else, and for those people, yes, business cannot truly become pleasure. A line has to be maintained, one over which the person who holds the least power cannot be allowed to cross via intimacy or friendship. Those people cannot see how power can be shared, given, exchanged in a fluid way and at an appropriate time for an appropriate need. For those people the need to have separate lives is as important as it is for me to have one tightly contained, unpredictable one, where roles interchange and flex, the powerful becomes the powerless. This is probably also true because in the arts the hierarchical nature of work relationships is different - it interchanges; at any one moment you could be working for a friend who in another capacity works for you. Its complex but to us, its second nature.

As much as a lot of artists may seem ‘control freaks’ or ‘precious’ we’re not really, we can’t be. Art is about losing control, about going down a rabbit hole. We are just focused on the journey and often can’t see the other paths that run alongside. The moments of collaboration, interception are there but have to be entwined into that artist’s vision and process. Again, complex, but its what makes us, us.

My business will always be pleasure and my life will always be a complex matrix of interpersonal and professional relationships dictated by passion not power.

Power Corrupts? What kind of a leader are you?

Power. Most people have some. Most people want more. Whether it’s over their own lives or others, the insatiable desire for control takes over with sometimes devastating results. To understand an individual’s motivation is key to understanding their actions, but doesn’t necessarily excuse them. How many of us think that the means justifies the ends? Unfortunately too many. For a person with the greater good in mind, how that good is achieved often becomes greyer and less important than the end goal. What happens if in your race to the finish line, someone’s hand gets trampled in the mud? Do you stop? 

There are many types of leadership, but for me, true leadership is the enabling of others, a finish line passed hand in hand. Our achievements only mean something if we are well enough to enjoy them, not fearing the light turned out when we have to face our deeper selves - the compromises made, the manipulations and finessing of others to get….There. 

The damage we do to ourselves and others in striving for power, can’t be undone. It can be ignored, placed in the psychological basement with the other demons, but emotional dysfunction doesn’t hide well. It just bides it’s time. 

So when you are goal setting, don’t just look to the what, look to the how. Build yourself in time to breathe, reflect and make sure you are the kind of leader people follow because they want to, not because they feel they have to.

diasporicroots:

Huey P. Newton 1942-1989

‘My parents taught me to be unafraid of life and therefore unafraid of death.’

Huey P. Newton (1942-1989) founded the Afro-American Society and was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, serving as its minister of defense during much of the 1960s. Later he turned to community service for the poor.

Huey P. Newton was born February 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. The youngest of seven children, Huey was named for former Louisiana governor Huey Pierce Long. The Newton family moved to Oakland, California, in 1945 to take advantage of the job opportunities created by World War II wartime industries.

Huey attended the Oakland public schools where, he claimed, he was made to feel “uncomfortable and ashamed of being black.” He responded by constantly and consistently defying authority, which resulted in frequent suspensions. At the age of 14, he was arrested for gun possession and vandalism. In his autobiography, Revolutionary Suicide, Newton wrote, “during those long years in the Oakland public schools, I did not have one teacher who taught me anything relevant to my own life or experience. Not one instructor ever awoke in me a desire to learn more or to question or explore the worlds of literature, science, and history. All they did was try to rob me of the sense of my own uniqueness and worth, and in the process they nearly killed my urge to inquire.”

According to Newton, he did not learn to read well until he had finished high school. “I actually learned to read—really read more than just ‘dog’ and ‘cat,’ which was about all I could do when I left high school—by listening to records of Vincent Price reading great poetry, and then looking up the poems to see how the words looked.” In order to prove that high school counselors were wrong in saying he was not college material, Newton attended Merritt College intermittently, eventually earning an Associate of Arts degree. He also studied law at Oakland City College and at San Francisco Law School.

Newton claimed he studied law to become a better burglar. He was arrested several times for minor offenses while still a teenager and he supported himself in college by burglarizing homes in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills area and running the “short change” game. In 1964, at age 22, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to six months in the Alameda County jail. Newton spent most of this sentence in solitary confinement, including the “soul breaker”—extreme solitary confinement.

While at Oakland City College, Newton had become politically oriented and socially conscious. He joined the Afro-American Association and played a role in getting the first black history course adopted as part of the college’s curriculum. He read the works of Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and Che Guevara. A child of the ghetto and a victim of discrimination and the “system,” Newton was very much aware of the plight of Oakland’s African-American community. Realizing that there were few organizations to speak for or represent lower class African-Americans, Newton along with Bobby Seale organized the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966, with Seale as chairman and Newton as minister of defense. Like a wary panther that would not attack unless attacked, so too was the organization regarded.

Cop-haters since childhood, Newton and Seale decided the police must be stopped from harassing Oakland’s African-Americans; in other words, to “defend the community against the aggression of the power structure, including the military and the armed might of the police.” Newton was familiar with the California penal code and the state’s law regarding weapons and was thus able to convince a number of African-Americans of their right to bear arms. Members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense began patrolling the Oakland police. Guns were the essential ingredient on these patrols. Newton and other Black Panther members observed police procedure, ensured that African-American citizens were not abused, advised African-Americans of their rights, and posted bail for those arrested. In addition to patrolling the police, Newton and Seale were responsible for writing the Black Panther Party Platform and Program, which called for freedom, full employment, decent housing, education, and military exemption for African-Americans. But there was a darker side to the group, described in Former Panther Earl Anthony’s book, Spitting in the Winds a party created with the goal to organize America for armed revolution. Moreover, Washington, D.C., intelligence spent many years trying to bring down what they believed to be “the most violence-prone of all the extremist groups.”

Huey Newton proved to be as violent as the party he helped to create when he was thrust into the national limelight in October 1967; accused of murdering Oakland police officer John Frey. In September 1968 Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two to 15 years in prison. In May 1970 the California Appellate Court reversed Newton’s conviction and ordered a new trial. After two more trials the State of California dropped its case against Newton, citing technicalities including the judge’s failure to relay proper instructions to the jury.

After his release from prison Newton overhauled the Black Panther Party, revised its program, and changed its rhetoric. While he had been imprisoned, party membership had decreased significantly in several cities, and the FBI had started a campaign to disrupt and eventually bring down the Black Panthers. Abandoning its Marxist-Leninist ideology, Newton now concentrated on community survival programs. The Black Panthers sponsored a free breakfast program for children, sickle-cell anemia tests, free food and shoes, and a school, the Samuel Napier Intercommunal Youth Institute. However, as before, the Black Panthers were not without controversy. Funding for several of their programs were raised as the result of the co-operation of drug dealers and prostitution rings.

Newton tried to shed his image as a firebreathing revolutionary, but he continued to have difficulty with the police. In 1974 several assault charges were filed against him, and he was also accused of murdering a 17-year-old prostitute, Kathleen Smith. Newton failed to make his court appearance. His bail was revoked, a bench warrant issued, and his name added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted list. Newton had jumped bail and escaped to Cuba, where he spent three years in exile. In Cuba he worked as a machinist and teacher. He returned home in 1977 to face murder charges because, he said, the climate in the United States had changed and he believed he could get a fair trial. He was acquitted of the murder of Kathleen Smith after two juries were deadlocked.

In addition to organizing the Black Panther Party and serving as its minister of defense, Newton unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party in 1968. In 1971, between his second and third trials for the murder of John Frey, he visited China for ten days, where he met with Premier Chou En-lai and Chiang Ch’ing, the wife of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. While there he was offered political asylum. Newton studied for a Ph.D. in the history of social consciousness at the University of California in 1978. In 1985 the 43-year-old Newton was arrested for embezzling state and federal funds from the Black Panthers’ community education and nutrition programs. In 1989 he was convicted of embezzling funds from a school run by the Black Panthers, supposedly to support his alcohol and drug addictions. By this time the Panthers had turned to less violent activism. On August 22, 1989, Huey Newton was shot dead in Oakland, supposedly over a drug dispute. ironically in the same city streets of Oakland that saw the rise of the Black Panthers 23 years ago.


Source: http://www.africawithin.com/bios/huey_newton.htm

(via diasporicroots)

Flying past the Glass Ceiling. Leadership by oestrogen….

The Glass Ceiling. Does it exist? Silly question, we know it does. The figures are irrefutable. However, traditional leadership models were created by men for men, so is it really surprising? Instead of going to tribunal, hitting the Merlot, or bowing down, an increasing number of women are side stepping the drama and creating a paradigm shift by developing their own businesses and social enterprises. 

Is it necessary to create woman led organisation to get on? No. But leadership for women often looks very different for us. I’m inspired by many of the women I work with and know, but between us we often find ourselves working for and with men who seem to manage us into secondary roles, one way or another.. So being able to bypass those assumptions, misunderstandings, or just plain old testosterone fuelled deep set prejudices, makes perfect sense. However a female led organisation doesn’t need to look like one - women are not a homogeneous group, there’s no one fit all solution or a need to be identified as a women led organisation. For example take Cause 4, led by the exceptional Michelle Wright. 

As far as leadership development is concerned, I don’t think it happens sitting in a conference room, listening to what leadership is… especially in the creative sector. Working with my team, Im going to create some leadership development programmes that are based solely on active experiences and inspiration. Pivotal moments, that lead to an individual mapping out a leadership narrative that suits them - not merely a networking opportunity that looks good on the CV. Forgive me for wanting to be innovative, but if you can’t do that within the creative sector, where can you?

Howdy Partner…

image

Sitting here in Harlem planning the pre-production of the film project I’m working on, i started to reflect on the importance of partnerships. Most of the projects I will cover in these 5 short films, are based on partnerships. So little in this world is accomplished alone, yet the culture of the individual is rammed down our throat constantly. “be YOURself, do some work on YOU, love YOURself etc etc.. Whilst we all do need to work, reflect on  and love ourselves, we almost aways need to do more with others if we want to achieve something worthwhile. With an ever increasing ageing population and divorce on the rise, the danger is that you may very well end up with plenty of time to be on your own in future.

And i’m not just talking about the eternal quest to find the one, or have a family of your own. I’m talking about the community around you, the partners that could make your work so much better, the people far and wide who can benefit from you and vice versa. I got this job through being a ‘people person’ - through reaching out, conversing, connecting and being spotted for doing just that. Some of the skills I bring to it, are in recognising the value of other’s partnerships and wanting them to succeed. 

So maybe next time you have a big idea, that could blow the world apart, don’t keep it to yourself and wait to be discovered. Get out there, find similar people, and go and smash it together. Makes the after party so much better too… 

The road less travelled…

Three years ago I made myself homeless. I gave away all my possessions and left for a country I knew little about with £500 in my account. There were no friends to stay with, no safety net. Of course I knew that if the worst came to the worst, I could phone home and get a plane ticket bought for me. However, I managed to stay for eight months. Three years later, I’ve still not put down any roots, have lived in more houses than I can count and have met some amazing people. My horizons have literally widened – not through face-book or instagram, but through the real life experience of meeting, eating with and loving people around the world, including the UK. 

The most constant comment I receive is how ‘lucky’ I am. This is absolute rubbish of course. I made the choices and sacrifices, like everybody else does, every day. I had spent 10 years longing to travel and thinking that I would need thousands of pounds of savings to do so, but in the end all I need was the will power.  My decision was selfish, undoubtedly. I have three adult children and a single mother. Did I miss out some major moments in their life whilst I was away? Yes I did, not to mention that I barely supported them throughout that period.  But I grew up with a much more radical view of women and what is possible within the female narrative. 

I guess the point of writing this, is to encourage others to realise their own possibilities. To get off social media and actually live out your dreams, face the world without fear. You will fail and disappoint yourself and yet still be a richer human being for it. I’m not talking about a gap year, or a carefully constructed internship, but the real world – if that’s what you want. If you don’t, be happy where you are – don’t envy others for their choices; they still struggle every day, as you do.

Now I’m ready to have one front door key for a while and to unpack my suitcase and gather back my books. Travelling in the way I did was risky, at times dangerous and a threat to my emotional stability. There have been times when I have felt bereft, tired and scared. Yet without physically travelling I would never have understood the cultures or formed such deep and lasting friendships that I did. It makes me sad when I see the constant cries of ‘don’t judge me’ on social media. It demonstrates a lack of emotional resilience, neediness and a trend away from critical thinking. Reading this, feel free to judge me for my choices – I’m happy with them anyway. As I reflect on what I’ve learnt over the last few years, about the world, and myself, I feel grateful for the opportunity for my world-view to be challenged and tested. My next adventure is a more internal one, and I look forward to that too.

Form follows function … Join in 2014 to reach new heights you never thought you could. Fully qualified BAGA Gymnastics coax leading the session

Form follows function … Join in 2014 to reach new heights you never thought you could. Fully qualified BAGA Gymnastics coax leading the session

Always a pleasure to photograph the fam, new and old. @balistiq @rebelclash / @killingmehappy have been following us for a while whilst we’ve been following them! Now it’s a #Fam ting #gymnastics #beats #community

Always a pleasure to photograph the fam, new and old. @balistiq @rebelclash / @killingmehappy have been following us for a while whilst we’ve been following them! Now it’s a #Fam ting #gymnastics #beats #community

Love it when I make new #film friends @rebelclash @balistiq - you’ve seen Leo the Last?

Love it when I make new #film friends @rebelclash @balistiq - you’ve seen Leo the Last?

Saw this by accident just after leaving @wereim_at ! Nice exhibition but these things need to engage social media more . And more people need to get off social media and do PRIMARY research - if it’s not in a book - don’t trust it basically .. The Foyle reading room there has the Original docs …

Saw this by accident just after leaving @wereim_at ! Nice exhibition but these things need to engage social media more . And more people need to get off social media and do PRIMARY research - if it’s not in a book - don’t trust it basically .. The Foyle reading room there has the Original docs …

Having chosen the roaring twenties as their era- the Pera Palace Hotel was a perfect location for a shoot. Home to many famous people - Agatha Christie famously wrote “Ten little Indians” there… 

Crossing from the Anatolian side by boat, they make their way through the the medieval streets of the former capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Tomas and Nevin Hetmanek are two artists I’ve been filming & photographing for two years now. Currently they live in Istanbul, where they perform Gypsy Jazz Swing and Blues