Say My Name, Say My Name


During dinner with a social group, a gentleman, who has a female sounding name, mentioned how it can lead to confusion when applying for jobs. Here, the potential interviewer will expect a woman but ends up meeting a man. No big deal, right?

Then the conversation shifted to ethnic-specific last names. One person pointed out that it is better for someone with a ‘different’ last name to use a generic ‘white’ surname (for example: Anderson or Smith). The purpose is meant to get the person applying passed any initials prejudices that a potential interviewer may have that would deter someone from being called in for the initial meeting.

Hello, My Name is RFT.

Hello, My Name is RFT.

I have seen this tactic described in a job search book. The author used examples where names (first and last) were slightly altered to sound more North American. While the author is white, he adds that this is a suggestion, and only to be followed if a person feels comfortable. I know of people from China and Iraq who use English first names but keep their original last name. I understand this, as the first name is said so often. From there, people have short forms or nicknames (mine is RFT). However, keeping a surname is important and totally eliminating traces of ethnicity is not the answer.

In principle, everyone should be given a fair chance based on their name. I realize that there can be hidden racism in the workplace. However, conforming to a perceived comfortable ‘norm’ and using ‘North American’ last names is giving up too much. By doing this, a person would be giving up a sense of their own identity. But more importantly, it will prevent long-term progress of allowing people from various backgrounds to be, not only acceptable, but unexceptionable (nice word that I’m borrowing from linguist Steven Pinker).

In Barack Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, he describes this frustration as, “the minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around. Only white culture could be neutral and objective”. He argues that minorities were never seen as individuals. While, his name may not sound ‘American’, by becoming President, his name being connect to USA can only help shape the future views of different cultures achieving in North America.

 Barack Hussein Obama. As a kid, he was called Barry.


Barack Hussein Obama. As a kid, he was called Barry.

However, lots of celebrities use ‘stage names’. Nicholas Cage was once Nicholas Coppola and Natalie Portman was born as Neta-Lee Hershlag. The difference is that these people are using names for a very wide audience to become familiar with them. Jamie Foxx claimed on a late night interview (probably Jay Leno again) that his family refers to him as Eric. When most people are applying for a job, their audience is also intimate. Most people don’t deal with a nation-wide fan base, but rather, real peers and family, like Foxx and his loved ones. Entertainers, creators and artists are known for their art and creations for the public. They are seen to many as a ‘version’ of his or her real private self.

Jamie Foxx is actually Eric Bishop.

Jamie Foxx is actually Eric Bishop.

With that said, actor Leonardo DiCaprio refused to change his name to Lenny Williams (as his early agent requested since his real name sounded too ethnic) and Indian-born director M. Night Shyamalan kept his real last name (where his name is actually the selling point in his films’ advertising). Both seem to be recognised just fine in their respective fields.

Born Manoj Shyamalan; director of Signs and The Sixth Sense (I see dead people).

Born Manoj Shyamalan; director of Signs and The Sixth Sense (I see dead people).

Against Me lead singer, Laura Jane Grace.

Against Me lead singer, Laura Jane Grace.

Another acceptable name change is embracing an identity, not hiding or giving in to the norms. During the summer, I saw rock band Against Me perform headed my singer Laura Jane Grace, formerly Thomas Jane Gabel (oh, and formerly a man). She knew her true and authentic self, and made changes that make her comfortable and proud of her new image.

Don’t lost your true identity to trick or sneak your way into the workplace. If an employer does refuses to accept people with foreign names, it will be the company’s loss. More ‘different’ names (like Barack Obama and M. Night Shyamalan) need to make an impact in the workforce in any industry until they don’t seem ‘different’ any longer.

Leave a comment

Filed under social culture

Keep Warm and Keep Laughing


The weather really changes fast in November. Last week felt like a nice autumn day as orange leaves decorated the ground. However, a few days ago, I watched a parade in Toronto; as I stood outside I realized that the longer I was outside watching the wonderful floats and bands go by, the less feeling I had in my toes.

Dinosaur float from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Dinosaur float from the Royal Ontario Museum.

photo 3 (1)

Warm up with some coffee and donuts!

So what does one do for next time? Wear double socks!

But, it also made me think of other possible (yet interesting) tactics to keep warm this winter. Then I came across Huffington Post; check out some hilarious clothing items they show to stay warm during the winter:

A tiny hat for the top of your ears.

A tiny hat for the top of your ears.

Lumberjack Beard Warmer. I wish I could grow something like that!

Lumberjack Beard Warmer. I wish I could grow something like that!

And lastly, the Baggy Bulldogs blog has the answer to keeping your feet heated:

Aww.

Aww.

It’s great seeing these amusing ideas. How are you getting through the winter?

- Ryan RFT

Leave a comment

Filed under social culture

Survivorship Bias


If you enter a bookstore, you can find many biographies and memoirs of celebrities and experts that tell you how someone has overcome the odds and made it big. Recently, I read Total Recall, which reviews Arnold Schwarzenegger’s incredible endeavors through body-building, real estate, movies, and politics. Then I thought, how could anyone relate to someone who always wins?

Arnold's Book - even he admits, it's unbelievable.

Arnold’s Book – even he admits, it’s unbelievable.

This had me thinking about the possibility of inspirational non-success stories; with all the documentaries, articles and movies about those who made the journey form the bottom to the top of the mountain, I became curious about those who have not ‘made it’, in the conventional sense.

Last month, I was at an improve panel, where comedians, and aspiring entertainers discussed the difficulties of making it onto the likes of ‘mainstage’, a part in a commercial, or a starring role on a TV show. Essentially, few will make it while countless others will work the grind with the dream always there.

This can apply to many jobs; NBA stars, movie directors, actors, and singers. If Justin Beiber can upload videos on Youtube and become an international star, others can view that as an inspiration to upload their own songs.

In his book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli describes Survivorship bias, where people “systematically overestimate their chances of success”. There is so much competition out there, and our view of our chances is altered because we only hear about the success stories.

Perhaps, this should not be the case. We should hear about those who didn’t make it all the way.

This is not to have a negative view on things, but rather, a way to see how certain people changed their outlook to keep going in life. It may be intriguing to learn about LeBron James’ basketball teammates right after high school, or those guys who tried out for New Kids On the Block but ended up waiting tables, or the aspiring sci-fi director who couldn’t get his foot in the door of Universal Studios, let alone get out of his mom’s basement.

This is from 2003. LeBron looks much older than his teammates. Photo: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2009/12/lebron_flourishes_as_a_student.html

This is from 2003. LeBron looks much older than his teammates.
Photo: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2009/12/lebron_flourishes_as_a_student.html

The show 16×9 showcased Canadian professional wrestler Devon Nicholson, who dreamed of making it to the WWE, his version of the top of the mountain. After working so hard for many years on the independent scene, he finally received a developmental contract, only to have it cancelled when they learned he tested positive for Hepatitis C. We appeared on cameras in tears, saying he would quit the business as he did not want to waste anymore years of his life.

In the ring he is known as Hannibal!  Photo: http://blogs.hepmag.com/devonnicholson/

In the ring he is known as Hannibal.
Photo: http://blogs.hepmag.com/devonnicholson/

BUT… who would want to be featured as a failure?

Good question. Not me. Well, it does not necessarily have to be viewed that way. The feature ended as Nicholson wrestled his last match before retiring. It would be nice to know how he has lived life after leaving wrestling.

These stories can actually be an inspiration by learning about how people deal with similar crushing situations and take a positive outlook, making the most of their journey.

- Ryan RFT

P.S. Since the 16×9 episode, Nicholson has been cured of Hepatitis C, has been working at a group home, and won a lawsuit against the wrestler who gave him the disease. He now looks to continue his career.

Leave a comment

Filed under social culture

Fall-ing Back (on posts)


It’s already autumn; the leaves are turning orange and Tim Horton’s is offering Pumpkin Pie donuts and I realize that I have not posted anything from this past summer.

So here is a really brief update on cans found throughout a trip to Europe a few months back.

Paris_Coke Light_edit

Coca-Cola Light from Paris, France on top of a map of the very complex Metro system.

DSC04871

Found this is Brussels, Belgium – goes well with waffles.

It was hard to not attract a little attention when standing and taking the picture below.

Italy diet coke

A ‘fashion’ statement Coke Light can in Rome, Italy.

Holland Coke Zero

Coke Zero can bought outside Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

And now to the present…get you Pumpkin Pie donuts! Photo credit:

pumpkin-tim-hortons2

Photo credit: insidetimmies – Ian Hardy
Thanks,
– RFT

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Christmas from Ireland!


Hi everyone, it has been a while (over a year), but here’s an attempt to get back into this.

Earlier this month, I visited Ireland for the first time and had the opportunity to view some incredible scenery.

ooh ahh!

cliffs – so nice

But while, I was out and about in the main cities, I noticed there seemed to be a few ads and promo items that mention ‘Christmas’. Check them out below:

Double decker bus!

Show You’re ‘Up’ for Christmas…on a double decker bus!

Made with 100% Irish beef.

Made with 100% Irish beef.

Belfast City Hall - Happy Christmas!

Belfast City Hall – Happy Christmas!

Previously, I posted about some Hong Kong Coke cans that did a similar thing.

In parts of Canada, where populations include many different cultures, a lot of the packaging, ads and promo displays will instead use ‘Happy Holidays’. I was reminded of this in Ireland where it was pleasantly refreshing to see Christmas mentioned everywhere.

And now, for old time’s sake; a Pop Element moment from Kilkenny, Ireland…

I climbed that Church tower (thought I should let you know)

I climbed that Church tower (thought I should let you know)

Thanks,

- RFT

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, design

GR8 PL8 (Great Plate)


Driving around Ontario, I always notice people from outside the area from their license plates. They stand out to me due to their interesting colours and designs.

Image

Alaska plate reads : I C RUSSIA ------ Thank you, Sarah Palin

I’d say compared to many U.S. states and other provinces, Ontario has the simplest design being plain and white. Some of my favourite designs from the States include:

Utah (Arches National Park) and Arizona for being very scenic and New Mexico and Alaska for having nice colours.

However, I’ve got to say there is one part of Canada that has a really ‘cool’ plate:

Image

A polar bear shaped license plate from the North West Territories; how creative.

2 Comments

Filed under branding, design