A small, but meaningful Victory

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And another proof that I was born for Marketing…

Today I got quoted on the most prestigious business and management newspaper in Portugal, Jornal de Negócios:

ARTICLE – On the Path to Success, Failure is an Option

Still everybody asks me “Where’s your pic?”… give it time guys… give it time and work.

Disney and The Celtic Jinx

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Thank you for Inspiring me, Sunshine

I haven’t written on the blog quite as often as I should, although the ideas and theories never stop running through my head. I write them down in my notebook, but they stay there waiting to be freed… in this case waiting for me to have a life outside of work.

A few weeks ago I went to see Brave with a friend of mine (yes, the darkest of sins, I missed a Disney movie premiere) and although the movie was good, as all Disney’s creations are to me (each in their own way), once again The Walt Disney Studios* fell short on (re)creating a Celtic tale. The movie had some harsh reviews, but like most of the reviews we read, they were subjective to the bloated egos of their authors and were completely over the top, Brave is a good movie: technically brilliant, smart sense of humor, wonderful new characters that you know you’ll remember for years to come and the unmistakable seal of Disney’s, that splash of magic that only Disney can weave. Nonetheless, you expect more from the creators of mind-blowing masterpieces like Snow White, Wall-E, Peter Pan, Toy Story, Lion King

Brave was a very small splash of magic compared to what The Walt Disney Studios can do and, believe it or not, this is the 3rd time that Disney attempts to bring to life an Arthurian-like tale and misses the mark. This is a phenomenon that I like to call Disney’s Celtic Jinx.

This started in 1963 with The Sword in The Stone, Disney’s adaptation of T. H. White’s story, that portrayed the life of the young Arthur and his education in the hands of Merlin until he finds Excalibur. The movie totally misses the ambiance and tone of White’s story and although you have some funny episodes and some memorable landscapes and background animation, the action is poorly connected and the character development is shallow, none of them has that magnetic power that Disney’s characters usually exude. The movie was a hit in the box offices, but failed to win the hearts of the “fair audience”, it is one of Disney’s least remembered animated features.
In 1985, Disney released their 2nd jinxed epic remake, The Black Cauldron, oh let me guess… you’ve never heard of it?
This “Tolkienesque” adventure was based on Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain and it was an overly ambitious project for the unstable times The Walt Disney Studios (Walt Disney Productions back then) was now facing. The Black Cauldron was a much too complicated project to be taken on by a new generation of artists who were not yet attuned to Disney’s spirit and to each other’s work. With the legendary “Nine Old Men” leaving, these young artists, although very talented, were still very green and the production of this feature dragged on for years, becoming more confusing by the hour. The movie release was a fiasco, the action and sets were too gloomy and excessively soaked in mythological cliches. The Horned King, one of the visually scariest Disney characters, is two-dimensional and completely out of place, there is nothing in that character that makes you say, “this is Disney’s work”!

And we’ve reached the 3rd jinxed attempt of creating a celtic-like myth. Although Brave is an original script, it still disappoints: the beginning of the plot is very promising and the characters have that incredible liveliness and uniqueness that only Disney characters have (just watch the expression on Fergus’ face), but the story inevitably falls into cliche, stumbles all over the action and crashes into a nonsensical order of events and character interaction. Don’t get me wrong, it has deliciously funny moments and characters, sweet contagious optimism and magic, but it leaves us hungry for more… I guess after the 3rd jinxed attempt we are waiting for the final redemption. The 4th is a charmer, doesn’t the story goes like this?

What will it be Walt Disney Studios? will we have a 4th attempt that will make us forget the Celtic Jinx saga?

*Note to the readerThe Walt Disney Studios encompasses the creation, production, promotion, sales, distribution of live-action and animated motion pictures, home entertainment releases, music and soundtrack recordings, and live stage plays. The Walt Disney Studios business segment includes the following brands: Walt Disney Animation Studios; Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Disneynature; Marvel; Touchstone; Disney Music Group and Disney Theatrical Group.

The Corruption of Curiosity

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That’s why children never stop consuming information and learning, because they’re not afraid to ask WHY? They’re not afraid to be curious and ask someone about something they don’t understand.

When we grow up, asking questions turns into Tabu: “If I ask a question people will think I’m mentally retarded” or “If I ask about this it will sound like I want to snoop around other people’s lives” or even “If I ask this he/she will think I’m questioning his/her judgment or abilities“. Just admit it, before asking something, these sneaky little doubts run fast through your mind! And that is completely understandable, abhorrent, but understandable…

Since our teenage years,  our education has led us to believe that we are committing some kind of atrocity when we politely address someone to ask him/her a question. Teachers, parents, bosses, colleagues and sometimes friends, most of them get offended if we ask certain questions. Of course, I am assuming (I know I must never assume, but let’s just say for argument sake) that you have enough sensibility and intelligence to understand when questions are just stupid, yes there are stupid questions and don’t even try the “there-are-no-stupid-questions” argument, we all know they’re out there. When I talk about questions, I am talking about honest doubts, pure learning hunger, healthy curiosity and not the petty desire to humiliate or stand out. The sad thing is that most of the times the honest doubt is mistaken for a petty desire of the ego and most prefer to just dismiss it before listening and thinking rationally about it.

Picture this: Mom is screaming at you because, once again, you were playing at old McGee’s abandoned garage. Honestly curious, you ask her why aren’t you allowed to play there and she responds with that mythical “Because I said so“! I am sure this has happened to you before. What I’m not sure is what you did after she counterstriked with that infamous declaration. Where I’m concerned, and since my early years as a stubborn child, I’ve always found this argument completely ridiculous and I’ve always stood up to it even though I knew that punishment would inevitably follow. For some reason, my doubts were always greater than my fears and my curiosity greater than my self preservation or maybe I was just plain stubborn. I have asked questions to teachers that would inevitably put them in the hot spot and in most cases I got punished for that. I had no problem in taking those punishments,  I knew I wasn’t questioning my teachers’ intelligence or abilities, I was simply wondering why were things performed that way, since in my inexperienced head I was having a hard time understanding why! The thing that helped me endure these unfair punishments was knowing that I got my colleagues to think about that too… they too were wondering…

Thankfully I had amazing parents and a spectacular handful of teachers that taught me to question things, to never take things for granted and to WONDER (I guess it isn’t a coincidence that wondering comes from wonder=fascination, amazement) and that somehow reassured me that curiosity and questioning instruments of knowledge and development.

I’m not trying to give you advice or anything of the sort, I am just sharing my disappointment. Curiosity is undervalued and underestimated, people dismiss curiosity just as easily as they dismiss irrelevant information, even worse, people dislike it. After almost 20 years, it still pains me to listen to harsh and instinctive responses to my questions, it still pains me to see that people attack in order to defend themselves from your unwelcome questions, it still pains me to see how people always expect the worst from an innocent question and it still pains me to see how easily people dismiss your “wonderings”… It pains me to realize that arrogance has conquered curiosity.

Curiosity is passion, is willingness to become more that what you are, is humility to learn what you don’t know, is the spark of innovation and evolution.

Einstein on curiosity

I will remain curious, I will always wonder for possibilities and I will always use common sense, respect and sensibility, but I will never stop questioning for the sake of arrogance and hypocrisy.

Hell and Neutrality

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One of my favorite books of all time, Dante’s Inferno, no matter how many times I read it, I always find a new insight and lesson to be learned.

This particular passage caught my attention this 3rd time re-reading the book. Maybe because of the overall crisis Europe is facing and maybe because I believe values and principles are one of the few things that will make people and organizations succeed in the middle of this crisis nightmare.

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries
were echoing across the starless air,
so that, as soon as I [Dante] set out, I wept.

Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements,
accents of anger, words of suffering,
and voice shrill and faints, and beating hands –

All went to make a tumult that will whirl
forever through that turbid, timeless air,
like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.

And I – my head oppressed by horror – said:
“Master [Virgil], what is it that I hear? Who are
those people so defeated by their pain?”

And he to me: “This miserable way
is taken by the sorry souls of those
who lived without disgrace and without praise.

They now commingle with the coward angels,
the company of those who were not rebels
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.

The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them –
even the wicked cannot glory in them.”

And I: “What is it, master, that oppresses
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?”
He answered: “I shall tell you in few words.

Those who are here can place no hope in death,
and their blind life is so abject that they
are envious of every other fate.

The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass.”

And I, looking more closely, saw a banner
that, as it wheeled about, raced on – so quick
that any respite seemed unsuited to it.

Behind that banner trailed so long a file
of people – I should never have believed
that death could have unmade so many souls.

After I had identified a few,
I saw and recognized the shade of him
who made, through cowardice, the great refusal.

At once I understood with certaintly:
this company contrained the cowardly,
hateful to God and to His enemies.

These wretched ones, who never were alive,
went naked and were stung again, again
by horseflies and by wasps that circled them.

The insects streaked their faces with their blood,
which, mingled with their tears, fell at their feet,
where it was gathered up by sickening worms.

Resuming this into one sentence “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”.

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here

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It’s been awhile since I’ve last written here. The thoughts, theories and ideas continue to scream in my mind, but my time, unfortunately, leaves me little space to let them out. But you are not forgotten, I just need to get used to my new life and my new passe.

Nonetheless, today on my way back to Lisbon I had time to think about something that I haven’t thought about since 2004. Maybe because it’s Easter Sunday, today I was thinking about the concept of evil and the most terrifying image of the devil that I’ve ever seen in my life: the devil that in 2004 came to life in Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ. Kind of ridiculous to think about this, right?

When the movie was released in 2004 there was a really big buzz about it: people said the images were too strong, critics said the argument was all wrong, people thought the actors were just amazing, and fans cried because Jim Cazievel deserved an Oscar nomination… you name it! Fuss aside, for me, the thing I found most impressive in the movie was satan’s representation and how Mel managed to portray it so realistically.

All our lives, religion beliefs aside, we have been haunted by stories, movies and testimonials about big red horned devils, spitting fire, with a bi-forked tale and with a really scary face and mean attitude.

Satan Image

But not in The Passion of Christ… here the devil has a human form: he talks, walks and looks like one of us. His face is as pale as ice and incredibly thin. His eyes are blue, almost white, completely empty in expression. You can’t really say if it’s a he or a she, it’s both! It has no hair or eye brows or anything that would make it look like a living being. His movements are fluid and ghost-like. In fact, although it has a humanoid form, you look at it and you know instantly that there is nothing human about that creature, it’s void, it’s dead, it’s empty, it’s cold… it’s just pure evil. I don’t know why I react like this when I see the character, but to me, never has evil been so perfectly portrayed in a character.

Another thing I found really curious, is that whenever the devil appears in the movie, he appears among people, he never appears alone, always hidden in the crowd. I find that surprisingly ironic and in some way really disturbing, because most of the times when we come to face evil, it doesn’t come in a horned scary figure, it comes in the form of people’s actions and behaviors. That is why, I think, I find that image so disturbing, because it’s probably the most realistic representation of Evil: it’s hidden among people, you can’t spot it easily because it’s among your equals, it can easily get to you, touch you and you won’t know it ’till is too late.

I’m not a very religious person, I’m kind of sceptic when it comes to Christ, Saints, Prophets and all those things, but as any other person, I know that evil exists, most of us have seen it and, unfortunately, most of us have experienced it and we know it doesn’t need Satan to exist. Like Shakespeare wisely put it  “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here“.

Mel Gibson did a great job, in my opinion, he portrayed the scariest and most disturbing devil in the History of Cinema.

Challenging Conventions

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Original post from The Molempire from the same author.

In 1863, for the first time in centuries, a guy named Edouard Manet challenged what it was then known as “Art”. An anti-academist who rattled a cage that was left to rest in peace for too many centuries. Manet would make way for the biggest artistic revolution ever seen: Impressionism, Dadaism, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Futurism were the cubs of this first step towards freedom in art.

Manet_Dejeuner_sur_lherbe

With his painting Le Déjeneur sur L’Herbe – also known as The Luncheon on the Grass – he caused one of the biggest scandals ever seen in the art world: he represented two characters dressed as bourgeois eating calmly on a meadow close to a naked young lady, the society saw itself represented on the painting with all its flaws and vices, and that, of course, was considered totally inappropriate.

Not only did the painting introduce a whole new thematic, but it also came up with a completely new technique: the painting was compact, without wasted strokes, without flourishes, clean compared to the baroque works that were reproduced to the minimal detail. This single painting opened ground for Impressionism.

With the Impressionism era, artists began to paint according to their feelings and their “impressions” of reality: they weren’t looking for realism, but for emotion and hidden meanings within the strokes. This revolution, freed the next generation of artists, they had found a totally new playground to explore: new perspectives, new meanings, new interpretations, new techniques.

A single painting managed to bore an endless number of art movements; a single man managed to create new horizons for art. Evolution as we know it, is made by Manets: people who rattle cages, people who break through conventions and defy standards, common men and women that dared to be different.

creation-of-adam-michaelangelo

The Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo

“Man was created in the image of God”

Believe it or not, you all have the ability to create: your free-will, your creativity, your personality, your mind are powerful tools. You just need to have the guts to put them to work.

REbranding – gotta know how to do it

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Yes… rebranding is a very tricky thing and in most cases companies don’t pay enough attention to it and so they fail…

How many companies have you seen changing the logo for something completely different and driving customers away? How many times have you said “Why the hell did they do that, it doesn’t seem the same company anymore… is it a different product?” We’ve all seen the problems with GAP’s rebranding and some other major fails.

Of course you also have very good examples of rebranding: COKE for example managed to rebrand itself throughout the years never losing it’s essence and always keeping up with the new realities and publics.

Here is an awesome infographic that’s shows you why these things often don’t work

cereal-box

Not that easy huh?

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