Thursday, January 28, 2010

#31 The "Poor Chip"

January 28th, 2010

The “Poor Chip”

Ok, I can already tell just by writing this that some of you will get it and others will miss the mark wildly and crucify me as a hater of all poor people and a spoiled brat. For those of you who don’t know me, yes I am spoiled but no I am not a brat. Those of you who do know me would probably disagree. But, it’s my blog and no one is forced to read or endure my opinions any longer than they so choose to. So with that out of the way, let me clarify. I don’t hate all poor people. In fact, I really only despise a small percentage, who through hard work and graft have long since been absent from that socio-economic bracket.

I am talking about those with the “poor chip.” I have come across people, and in particular worked with people, whose belief is that unless others grew up similar to them, ie poor and usually from the North of England or in an old industrial city, then their successes are valued at less than their own. So even though they are now successful and have achieved such success through their own hard work and graft, they will never be as great as their potential. This is mainly due to the boulder sized rock that sits squarely on their shoulder, essentially holding them back. I am using in this article the “poor chip”, but it is easily substituted for any other chip on one’s shoulder.

So why choose this topic for this week? Especially since in my experience only about 2% of the people that I know or meet or have worked with possess such a chip, thus making them a very small group in the overall population of people who grew up less than privileged. It’s probably because having grown up quite privileged; I am always fighting against the poor chip. Working in the City, you come across a lot of grafters. People who will find their way and they success through a mixture of hard work, graft, street smarts and savvy. I really admire these people. It’s so very American. In the USA we celebrate the success of those who come from backgrounds of adversity, those who reach the top regardless of their situations. What many people fail to understand is that adversity and difficult situations are not exclusive to those who grew up outside of the country club. I am by no means trying to gain any sympathy here, but believe me, I know a lot of people who grew up with seemingly everything...aside from being given any guidance, love, support, a work ethic or any real values. That is no small mountain to climb either if that person ever wants to experience success of their own.

Should we value and place a higher regard on Oprah’s success rather than Obama’s? I mean Obama may have grown up without a father, but Punaho is not exactly a school for the underprivileged. Or do we undervalue Bill Gates’ success due to the fact that he grew up with relative comfort and had access to the expensive computer equipment that his inner city peers certainly did not have. No, we don’t do this. I believe in taking people for what they are now and what they have achieved. Yes where they come from is very important and does factor in to a lot of things, but it’s far from being the only thing. The “poor chip” or reversely the “rich chip”, which certainly exists as well, is just a form of ignorance. If you didn’t grow up poor, rich, middle class, lower middle class, whatever then don’t assume you know how anyone else grew up or got to where they are. Take the chip off the shoulder and not only will your posture improve, but that bitter taste in the back of your mouth will miraculously disappear.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Leaving London - An Easy Decision

The new article for Here is the City

Leaving London - An Easy Decision

Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

#30 You Can Take the Girl Out of Newport Beach

January 14, 2010

You Can Take the Girl Out of Newport Beach

It’s been a very interesting past 2 weeks for me. I have been in southern California and a few days in Mexico and it’s the longest time I have spent in this part of the world since I left it 6 years ago, very nearly to the date. In fact, 6 years ago tomorrow, I got on a plane to London to change my life as I knew it. I have always been a reluctant and distant fan of my hometown. One cannot argue with its beauty or lifestyle, but the town and its people always rubbed me the wrong way. When I hit 18 I could not wait to get as far away from this piece of paradise as possible, and I did. And I stayed away for a long time, until now.

But I have come to realize that although I have been absent from Newport Beach for over a decade, it’s never really left me. You can take the girl out of Newport but you can’t take the Newport out of the girl. We’ve all heard this saying batted around and many times Newport is substituted for places like Essex or Queens or Jersey, usually places people don’t necessarily want to be from. However, it fits me perfectly as I rarely wanted to be associated with the vapidness that can be people from Newport. But coming home literally brings it all home. Newport or anyone’s hometown is in your blood. You can never escape it and for whatever reason that comes along, you will often return to it.

Newport Beach has the good the bad and the ugly. Although I have lived and travelled to some pretty faraway places, the fundamental snobbiness that growing up here places in you has never really left me. I have stayed in my 2 pound per night Indian beach huts and have done the travelling thing in the hostels, but where I really want to be is in a 5 star luxury spa retreat with my own butler. Not only do I want to be in that spa retreat, I kind of think I am entitled to it. Why? Because I grew up in Newport and that is the kind of luxury that I have grown accustomed to and for the past 6 years, I have worked bloody hard to get to that spa retreat.

Another part of my being raised here that has never left me is my love for the beach and the ocean. It’s probably quite difficult for people who know me now to think that I was a beach bum because living in a metropolitan city doesn’t give one the chance often to indulge in that pastime, but I do remain a beach bum at heart. In fact, it’s the thing I miss most about my hometown. I love the ocean. Whether I am surfing in it, or paddle boarding on it, fishing in it or just swimming. It’s in my bones and was a huge part of my growing up. I would often go to school in no shoes and sand on my feet and if I did have shoes on, they were Rainbows. Now it’s either Rainbows or Chanel. A truly perfect metaphor for growing up Newport style. I met up with an old girlfriend of mine from my days here and hadn’t seen her for about 3 years when she was in London visiting another friend of ours. It was funny because she was telling me that she was curious to see what I would be like after not seeing me for so many years and then she said, ‘You came in to the bar dressed exactly the same, you even had your Rainbows on in London.’ Guess what? When I saw her in LA over the weekend, I probably had the same outfit on. Jeans, tank top and Rainbows. I guess some things never do change.

So as I head back to the cold, snow and rain that is my adopted hometown of London to live out my final 4 months of being a Londoner, I do so with a new found appreciation. London will never leave me just as Newport has never left me. It’s in my bones and blood now. Just as I replaced walking on the beach with walking in Richmond Park, I will replace my afternoons sipping Prosecco in a gastropub with afternoons drinking Corona Light on a boat. And just as the pull of Newport brings me back home, so will the pull of Blighty. Because no matter how much I complain about both places, and we all know I enjoy and good whinge, I love these 2 towns. And next time someone needs to describe me to someone else who hasn’t met me, they can use this as an example, Corre’s AAhometowns are Newport Beach, CA and London, England. You can take the girl out of either one….

Thursday, January 7, 2010

#29 Starting Over

January 7th 2010

Starting Over

January always marks the start of a new year. People make resolutions and set new goals as they strive to be a better version of themselves. However, January this year marks a new start in more ways than one for me. I am not only starting a new stage in my career, but am doing so in another country and a completely new industry. It’s exciting and scary all rolled into one.

I have once again gone from being top of the tops to bottom of the barrel. One of the reasons I think that I have done moderately well in my career, is my willingness to try new things and to put myself into situations where I am the least experienced. When you come from being the boss to once again answering to a boss, you automatically have to check your ego at the door. I am used to people coming to me for answers and 95% of the time having them. Now I am going to have very few answers and am going to have to go to everyone else for them. This is a humbling thing. But I have done it before and I can do it again. I don’t mind being the least experienced if I am one of the hungriest.

Starting over often means that whatever you have been doing before didn’t work out. Whether it’s starting over in a relationship or a job or a new city, it usually implies that there was little choice involved in the new start. This is where I slightly differ. I am starting over in 2 of the 3 above, however it’s entirely by choice. My old company is still alive and doing well. They are growing and my departure has given 2 of the guys a real career opportunity that has thrust them into a new position that probably would’ve taken at least another year to come about. So all in all, a win win for a lot of people involved.

That being said, I think starting over is going to be a great thing for me. A lot of people have slated me saying that I am running back to CA for the easy life of working for a family business. I have been in London for 6 years and was running my own company. What is easier? To stay in a flat that I own and love, where 90% of all my friends live and my boyfriend and his whole family live, and working for a company which I half own and run and where my entire life is…. Or uproot my entire life, my other half’s entire life, leave my company and my friends and leave London. I can tell you right now it’s not the latter. I can also tell you that working for your family is NOT the easier route. Think of your family right now, your brother or sister, your Mom and Dad. Would you be able to work in a close environment with them every day? When I say close environment, I mean there are 7 office staff and your family, not including you, compromises 3 of them. That is close. Again, not the easier route, but that is another article altogether.

So the start of 2010 certainly has taken on a new meaning as I have a feeling this is going to be a very pivotal year for me. I have now come off a 2 month break and will have another 4 months to go before I am sitting in this very office every day. There are times when I question what I am doing and if it’s the right thing. But I know that change is good, I know that I am a better person for the changes that I have brought about in my life so far, and I know that I like the sun way better than the gray and rain. Here is hoping to an awesome 2010. The year I am hoping to get my sanity back and also my tan.