Friday, November 4, 2011

Paving a path to the bleeding obvious

People much smarter than me tell me that the generation preceding my boomer group were 'Builders'. These were my parents' generation - people who remembered the deprivations of the Great Depression and the conflagration of World War II. So they were thrifty and did things themselves to save money. Compare this with the great outsourcing Gen X and you wonder how the boomers, who are stuck in the middle, go about things.

Well, I can tell you. For the past few months, I have been posted down on the Mornington Peninsula for days on end, doing it myself to save money. I recall keystroking through the pain barrier in August after the first four days of a marathon garden upgrade, which involves laying over 90 square metres of pavers. As I drank another glass of red to anaethetise the pain, I wondered how it would gel with Panadol Osteo.

Am I typical of the boomer generation - the generation that lived by The Who's iconic lyric 'Hope I die before I get old'? As I get older, living the lyric is getting tougher. Insane decisions about laying pavers, with all that precedes, symbolise the refusal to get old, to prove you still have what it takes.

But you don't. Let me tell you, after four days 'on the tools', I could no longer cut a piece of broccoli. The nerves and muscles charged with that task in my left hand would not allow me to push my fork into the broccoli. The nerves and muscles in my right hand would not permit me to open the screw top on the wine bottle, although somehow it happened - wine over broccoli trumps mind over matter any time.

My wife thinks I'm a nutter, which explains why we filled in separate census forms in August, but my 'Builder' generation parents cheered from the sidelines, even though they also suspect I might be a nutter.

The great thing is that being down there doing landscaping stuff put me back in touch with good Aussies. I just completed an excavating apprenticeship with a local guy called Rutz. Forked out nearly four big ones for the privilege, but education isn't cheap is it? Consulted with another dude, Tim, about putting poles in the ground for shade sails. He was formerly a corporate marketing bloke, but cast that aside, took a big pay cut to work for a builder for a couple of years before striking out on his own. You gotta like doing business with guys like that.

I think the Builders generation had something. Have a crack and see what you can do. While I took leave to landscape in frontier land, back at work they were cranking out a message about the stock market schemozzle, trying to deliver confidence and certainty amid irrational investment markets.

But down there driving a Dingo digger for two days made me impervious to stock market shenanigans. There, I could sink money into something and see the outcome. Yep. Rutz didn't come cheap, but his advice didn't carry a disclaimer and everything was crystal clear.

When it all comes down to it, the generational thing is bollocks. All anyone wants is clarity and direction. We all want authenticity and outcomes. The biggest source of failure in brand and marketing is failing to satisfy these basic customer needs.

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