Isn’t modern technology great? It saves so much time and money. But what’s the real cost?
As I stand at the supermarket checkout scanning my own shopping, packing it and then hailing an assistant to reset the machine because of that inevitable unknown item in the bagging area… my mind wanders to the days when this was done for me by a human who knew how to operate the till.
We’ve all become generalists now. We all do everything because technology has made it possible. But that means that nothing is done with a great deal of skill and our lives are the poorer for it.
This is very relevant to my business in particular because, as a rule, everybody can write to some degree. Twenty years ago no marketing manager would have dreamt of sending a direct mail leaflet to print that she had written herself. She would have gone to an agency and had it written by an expert. After all, print is expensive. You want to make sure the mailshot works well. You need to get a good return on your investment. But everybody sends emails today. It takes minutes and it’s very cheap to do. Spending money on copy seems silly. But does that mean we don’t care so much if it doesn’t work? Will we just send another and another until our customers unsubscribe?
I’m not criticising. I am exactly the same. If I could see the back of my head I would probably cut my own hair.
But this week I had an eye opening experience. I booked a session with a stylist. This was quite out of character. I’m no Alexa Chung but even I fancy I know how to dress myself. But that’s the point. I’m a generalist when it comes to dressing. Turns out, if you talk to an expert and you get a much, much better result.
Geordie Gronn has years of experience as a stylist and she now works one-to-one with clients. She spent an afternoon with me and my wardrobe talking about the style problems I have, looking through my clothes and identifying how I could do things better.
Who knew I look better turning up the cuffs on my tops? Who knew a different denim jacket would transform half the things in my wardrobe? Into a bag marked Ebay went item after item (and I’ve been good. I’ve only rescued two of them). I thought I would hate getting rid of my clothes but in truth it was a relief. I had clothes that I either studiously ignored every time I got dressed or I wore them and felt miserable. Now I’m selling them and the proceeds will go on a small number of items Geordie has identified are missing from my wardrobe. I am genuinely excited about the prospect of loving and wearing everything I own. And I am delighted at the thought of having the right thing for the right occasion. Oh the joy. And of course there are the things I wasn’t wearing that Geordie has shown me how to wear – it’s all in the combinations. I now have a wonderful style file of what works and doesn’t work for me so I won’t waste money buying another thing to get buried in the back of the drawer. Working with Geordie will save me a fortune.
And that’s the point of course. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And that’s cheaper in the long run.
It’s made me resolve to value the skills of others more. What a relief to take my computer to be defragged by an expert. What a thrill to have my house painted by a professional. Just think, if we all paid each other to do what we’re good at we’d all have the income to spend on paying each other to do what we’re good at. And everything would be done well.
I’m going to think about that next time I’m at the supermarket smiling at the human who is scanning my groceries.