Published on: May 7, 2015
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe. This is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
One of my favorite phrases - and those of you who have been reading MNB for a long time probably are tired of it - is that retailers need to be a resource for information, not just a source of product.
That approach probably reflects my general approach to life. I'm a sucker for an educational experience. Always have been. It's the thing that probably gets me up each morning to do MNB - I get to learn stuff.
I think, as the world grows more complex, this is going to be increasingly important to all of us. We can't depend just on what we know to help us navigate through life. Whatever we do, wherever we are, we have to know more. Because there's just stuff out there that many of us never thought we'd have to wrap our heads around, but reality requires that we understand it.
Lately, I've found that my education has been coming from some pretty unorthodox places.
For example ...
There seems to be no question that the Bruce Jenner interview in which he announced that he is transgender and transitioning to female was an educational experience for anybody who watched or even parts of it. To be honest, I don't even watch reality television and I'm tired of the whole Kardashian three-ring circus, but at the very least, this put a face on something that most people don't understand. We learned stuff.
A couple of days later, there was a segment of "The Nightly Show" in which host Larry Wilmore interviewed a transgender person just for some basic definitions. Again, I learned a lot, and I thought it was tastefully done. (Far more so than the Pinocchio segment that preceded it ... but one has to remember that this is a comedy program.)
For anyone in the business community, I think these are important lessons to learn ... if only so you can understand at some level things about people who may be working for you, and who may be your customers. Even if it makes you uneasy, it is important to learn stuff about these trends. Just hearing or reading the word "transgender" can be scary, because it reflects an experience foreign to many of us. But when you see and hear someone who has gone through that experience, some of that mystery falls away. Hopefully, that's when people become more compassionate and tolerant.
By the way, speaking of comedy shows ... the other day I was watching a show on Comedy Central called "Inside Amy Schumer," and once again, I learned stuff. There was a very funny sketch about football and rape (I know this sounds inconceivable, but she hit the nail on the head), an interview with a different transgender person than the one interviewed by Larry Wilmore (maybe comedians are just able to ask questions the rest of us can't ask), and a great piece about how women are objectified until they reach a certain age, and then essentially marginalized. Again, you have to get through a lot of vulgarity and profanity and just plain filthy humor to get to some of these segments ... but I learned stuff, and learned how other people may see subjects and issues differently than I do.
That, I think, is the key. Another term I use a lot here on MNB is "epistemic closure," which is defined as assuming the world is the way you perceive it, or at least the way you want it to be.
I don't care who you are ... the world has grown so much more complex and diverse that none of us can completely comprehend it.
Smart business people, I think, will embrace the opportunity to learn, but also find opportunities, when appropriate, to teach.
I hope so. Because, as I say, I'm a sucker for a learning experience.
That's what's on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I ant to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: