What voice should a brand have?

Corporations, despite continuing to not be people, have a lot of opinions. Usually that opinion is “buy our stuff,” but sometimes they try to sell us something deeper, something better. Gilette’s Super Bowl ad is the latest example of this, with a #MeToo era-themed comment on toxic masculinity and the harmful nature of the “boys will be boys” mindset.

The ad begins with men catcalling women, laughing at sexist jokes, and being forced to “toughen up” in response to bullying, while the actions, both those that harm others and those that cause them harm, are brushed off as “typical” male behaviour, locker room talk. Then the focus shifts, to strong fathers guiding their sons (and daughters) to resolve conflict, promote self-esteem, and learn how to “be a man,” in the best sense.

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Building balance to beat burnout

Last year I had a job I couldn’t quit. When I left the States, my plan was to leave the job as well, but I couldn’t resist leaving the door open (the job was online so I could work from anywhere). When I got a job in Wellington, I intended to leave the other job, but I told myself that making extra money was always good and it wasn’t like I was doing much in my evenings anyway. Essentially, I had two full-time jobs for most of my year in New Zealand. When I moved to Australia, I finally sent that “Sorry, I won’t be able to do the job any longer” email… but I still left the door open for a return.

It’s not because I love the job or even the pay; it’s because I feel like if I’m not constantly working, I’m doing something wrong. Right now, I’m “funemployed” as I look for work here in Australia, but I’m keeping busy in addition to job-hunting. I ran 50km last week, I’m doing yoga every day, I’m updating my blog more regularly than I ever have, I’m reading, I’m doing most of the grocery shopping and laundry and almost all of the cooking. I’m hardly just sitting on my bum watching Say Yes to the Dress reruns (I mean, that’s what I’m doing right at this moment, but in general).

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Creatives for Creatives: my favourite podcasts about the art & business of creative work

I’ve written before about how much I love listening to podcasts during pretty much every waking moment. Walking to work? Podcasts. Freelancing? Podcasts. Out for a run? Podcasts. On a long drive? Yep, podcasts. Most of the time I listen to podcasts for entertainment, whether they’re fiction or true crime or, my favourite genre, folklore and paranormal. However, there are also plenty of great podcasts out there that can educate, inform, and best of all, help you with your creative work.

Obviously, podcasting is a creative medium in itself, but it’s also increasingly becoming a way for creative business owners to share their secrets, talk to other creatives, and discuss the process of creative work. Whether you’re a blogger, a wedding photographer, an artist, or just keen on learning about how you can enhance your creative process or maybe even turn it into a side-gig or a career, here are some of my favourite listens for getting the creative juices flowing.

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Jobs for now: secrets to scoring a great temp assignment

I’ve always thought of myself as a career-minded person, so for me, the one big downside to long-term travel and moving around a lot is not getting the chance to search for my dream role. Although I wouldn’t trade my travels for the world, living in four countries in the last four years (soon to be five countries in the last five years as Steve and I are planning to move to Australia after our New Zealand visas finish) means that I’ve done a lot of job-hopping. When you’re not staying in a place long-term, companies are hesitant to hire you for a position that offers career growth, and even if they were willing, it feels a bit pointless when you know you’re going to be moving on soon enough anyway.

Now of course, even if you’re not building your career, you still have to work (unless your parents give you a $1000 per month allowance and pay your rent, I guess). On working holiday visas, many choose to do seasonal jobs like fruit picking, while many others go for hospitality and tourism roles. For myself, I go for temp work.

I started doing temp work before I really started moving around. The summer between college and grad school I didn’t want to go back to a previous summer job like lifeguarding, but I also didn’t want to sit around all summer (nor would my parents have let me). My mom suggested I apply at a local temp agency and hopefully get a few days of data entry or call centre work. I didn’t really know what a temp agency was at the time, but off I went to fill out the paperwork, take the Microsoft Word and Excel (yuck) tests, and have a quick meeting with one of the recruiters. The very next day I got a call with an offer to be their office receptionist for three months until I moved to Ireland for school.

It turned out to be the perfect way to get a short-term role without too much hassle, so when I returned to the United States after my master’s and moved out to Seattle with no job lined up, I immediately started applying to temp agencies again. Sure enough, I was quickly offered a temporary role as a copywriter at an e-commerce site. After a few months as a temp, I was offered a full-time job and continued on at the company until I moved to Vancouver.

Because I’d had these positive experiences with temp agencies in the past, of course when I moved to Wellington and started looking for a job here, registering with recruiters was my first step. Within two weeks, I had been offered a four-week assignment (that ended up being four months… a fairly common occurrence for temp roles). I’m now on my second temp role here in Wellington, and when I move to Australia in November, I will definitely be registering with temp agencies there.

While there are definitely downsides to temping—limited job security, usually no health insurance—the flexibility and convenience can make it a perfect option for short-term and transitional periods. Here are some tips for getting a temp role and making the most out of your temping experience:

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Inspire art: supporting your favourite creators (with more than just money)

If you’ve got a creative bone in your body, you know how hard it is to make a living from your craft. And if you don’t know, someone will tell you. Unsolicited and often. Most of us will only ever write our novels, take our photos, play our instruments for fun, and we accept that our passion will probably have to be an evening pursuit after our time spent at the workplace. But for some, making a living from doing the creative work they love isn’t just a pipe dream.

There’s a certain feeling of pride and jealousy combined that comes up every time I read about a friend’s book deal or see their byline on one of my favourite websites. It’s amazing to see people achieving their dreams, especially if they can actually pay the bills with it. While I’ve been lucky enough (or, sometimes I think, unlucky enough) to incorporate my love of writing into my work, it’s definitely not easy or lucrative.

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Tracking Every Dollar I Spent in February

One of my favourite things to read online is Refinery29’s Money Diaries. This ongoing series features a different subject each time, recounting a week’s worth of expenses in their city of residence. A week in London on a 50k salary; a week in NYC on a 12k salary; a week in Dallas on a 200k salary, and so on. From the good (detailed budgeting from people with similar jobs and incomes as me!), the bad (the people who’s parents/partners/gift cards pay for everything so they don’t “count” those expenses), and the lol (that writer who spent 70 quid on cocaine and then got her credit card declined at a takeaway), it’s always interesting to get a glimpse behind the curtain of someone’s financial life.

When I moved to New Zealand, I sadly had to mostly give up on using my favourite budget tracker, Mint. While I can still log in to keep an eye on my American accounts, my New Zealand bank is not supported on their interface and so I can’t connect it for all-in-one account-monitoring convenience. The exchange rate also makes the budgeting feature fairly useless. However, as tempting as it is to use this as an excuse to let my expenses be a free-for-all, I decided to track my spending the old fashioned way and see where things were at.

So for the month of February, I made a list in my bujo of every single dollar I spent. Whether it was several hundred dollars for rent or a single dollar to contribute to the work lotto pool, I accounted for all my spending. Now, unlike R29’s Money Diaries, this isn’t an anonymous post, so I’m not going to share every single detail of where my money went, but here’s a look into the cost of living in Wellington, NZ (all numbers in NZD unless otherwise noted).

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