25 Apr 2012

Happy Secretary's Day! How's Your Vag?

Care for a side of horrifying along with your morning coffee? Yes?! Your non-wish is my command.

When you were preparing for your career, what kind of advice did you get? Take some courses? Dress for the job you want, not the one you have? Learn Photoshop already and stop depending on MS Paint to relay all your visual thoughts?

Well, if it was 1959 and you were a secretary (that's old timey for "Administrative Professional") and were reading the career advice book, The Executive Secretary by Marilyn C. Burke, you'd learn that you could gain an important professional advantage by keeping the lady bits in check.

I shit you not:

"Now that we are smartly dressed, our hair and nails well-groomed, and our faces at their best, we can ruin the entire effect in ways that even our "best friend won't tell us about" ... perspiration odor, unpleasant breath, or the telltale scent of carelessness about our feminine hygiene. So many of us are careless about unpleasant odors about our persons. We have a tendency to feel that "if I can't smell it, it isn't there." Unfortunately, unpleasant body and breath odors are like an unfaithful mate - the possessor thereof is quite frequently the last to know!"
 ...
"Women must be even more careful about the unpleasant and very obvious odors that may accompany "that time of the month." A frequent changing of sanitary napkins and the use of any of the deodorant powders that are available for the express purpose will do away with any chance of offending during this period of the month."
Luckily for secretaries concerned about "feminine daintiness", help is around the corner - one need only ask the building's janitor for a helping hand.

Amazing.

Read more...

19 Apr 2012

"Brain-storming"

Here's a fun picture I found in the 1948 career book, How To Be A Successful Advertising Woman by Mary Margaret McBride:

"One agency technique of developing advertising-copy themes and merchandising and promotion programs is through idea-sessions, sometimes called "brain storms." The rule in brain-storming is absolutely no criticism. Anything goes. Nobody says "But that wouldn't work," or "How silly!" Try it yourself. Get a gang of your friends together - concentrate on a single problem. Watch how one good idea sparks another, how that sets off a third - and before you call it a day you may have some original and highly effective thinking on paper."
Anyone else out there believe that the people who are adamant that "there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm" are the kind of people who exclusively come up with horrible suggestions? (Based on their expressions in the photo, I think the plump brunette and the annoyed blonde on the right agree with me. That is the look of people who have just heard a stupid idea. Trust me, I am sadly VERY FAMILIAR with those glares.) Under normal conditions, the contributions of the unimaginative would be Darwin'ed out of contention, and so they use this weird brainstorm rule to swaddle their ideas in bubblewrap and trot them on stage as if we were all at a body-positive open-mic poetry slam and not at a business meeting.

Jen's Jerk-off Opinion of the Day: Crappy ideas shouldn't have a safe place.

I'm not saying we should attack ideas mercilessly (in business, be kind! Always!), I'm just saying we shouldn't pretend they're just as valid as a really creative / thoughtful / strategic suggestion. If there's an obvious problem with an idea, shouldn't that be pointed out before the team dedicates any more time to it?

What do you think?

Also ... don't you love it that in the picture above, "brain-storming" was still new enough to have quotation marks around it? Remember when they were so foreign to us that we had to use quoties around "web site" and "viral video" and "Spanx"? Aww ... those sweet, slimmer days of yesteryear.

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5 Apr 2012

What The Hell, Dude?

Remington Rand ad
from the January 1953 Charm
That was the subject line of an e-mail I received from a blog reader who wanted to know what was up with the lack of food pictures and overly sentimental fawning for the oldy times on this amazing space on the Internet.

There are a few well-known bloggers who have taken steps away from their public spaces because of things like divorce, death and depression.

My absence is because I lost my goddamn mind:

I got a full-time job.

What the HELL, dude?

I know, right? It kind of came out of nowhere. I was minding my own business, freelancing without a care in the world, when BAM! Full-time employment.That's really how it happened, sound effect and all. I was freelancing for a Toronto ad agency for ten days, told the CEO that I should probably work there forever, she agreed and said that was her secret plan all along, and all of a sudden I'm wearing pants with a zipper and getting up before noon on a regular basis.

What the HELL, dude?

It did not hurt that I'm basically the most awesome employee ever who is oozing with talent. Well, that, and the CEO is a former boss of mine and someone that I'm good friends with. Heh. Welcome to Nepotism. Population: Me (And My Friends and Family).

What the HELL, dude?

Eh, that's getting tired. Enough of that. So, yeah. Not only have I been working full-time, I've been working, like, double full-time. The agency is so swamped with work that I clocked 270 hours at the office in March, which is basically the sort of thing that happens right before a person runs into the street naked and starts pounding their hands in the pavement. Or something.

But as I've gotten the hang of the role, started to make positive changes in the department, and knocking things off the clients' lists, things have been much more reasonable lately. While working at an ad agency is never going to be a 9 to 5 gig, I feel like things are normalizing.

And y'all know I don't "do" normal.

So, as long as I don't regularly end up staying in the office until 10 PM, I'll be embarking on a supremely flawed lifestyle experiment to compliment the 50s Housewife Experiment:

The 50s Career Girl Experiment!

Eee!

I've been collecting oodles of books, magazines and articles that deal with working women in the 1950s, and it's time that I shared all this horrifying marvelousness. I'll attempt to follow career advice, business etiquette, marital advice, home keeping advice, and fashion and health suggestions that were given in the 1950s for "the girl with a job".

It will be all kinds of wrong as I'll still be living in the land of laptops and cell phones, but I'll do what I can to explore the decade's advice and put it into practice. And, naturally, because of the industry I happen to work in, there will be a somewhat annoying desire to label what I'm doing as "Mad Men'ing" ... but, eh, if the shoe fits ...

It'll be a little while before I put everything up here and set the experiment up officially, but I hope to share fun snippets and crazy tidbits here and there while I get this latest gong show rolling. And here's one to get us started, from the introduction to The Executive Secretary: Techniques for Success in a Secretarial Career by Marilyn Burke (1959):

What the HELL, dude?

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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