Communication is the heart of all human endeavour.

Men are from Hooters, Women are from Christian Louboutin

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

By Geoffrey Rowan

Walk with me ladies and let’s explore one of the great mysteries of hetero maleness. You may view it as a tolerable, even comical idiosyncrasy of the Y chromosome, or perhaps a weak insensitivity, a sexist deal-breaker, or just the way it is.

However you deal with it, at some point you have wondered why your boyfriend/husband/employee/employer/father/grandfather or any other hetero man cannot stop himself from ogling the waitress’s bosom when she bends over the table?

Sex in the city shoes

I don’t know. But there is a single word that may help you understand and even related to their helplessness; a word that offers you a visceral, emotional light-bulb insight into their slavering. It is offered here as a public service to increase understanding between the sexes.

That word is shoes.

Like breasts, shoes are functional objects that come in pairs and inspire lust. A pair of one to feed the children and of the other to protect your feet from the elements. You’d think that would be the end of it. What could be more mundane?

Why then must men and boys of every age always look? Science has its theories.
Maybe breast-obsessed men have mommy issues, or have been programmed by media’s constant sexualizing of the breast, or are stuck in an adolescent sex loop. These are all reasonable speculations and there are others. But do any of them satisfy your desire to know why he can’t stop?

Intellectually, you know your contented life partner doesn’t really want to blow up his family in order to get his hands on the freckled cleavage of the bank teller. So why must he look? He is smart enough to silently remind himself “eye contact, eye contact, eye contact” during meetings with his boss. And certainly he knows his semi-salacious, never-subtle-enough glance is not really going to ignite the bartender’s loins or inspire his hair stylist to rip open her bodice and mount him in the chair.

But then, you know that no matter how hard you press your nose against the storefront glass on Fifth Avenue, no matter how profoundly you long and sigh over glossy magazine pages, you’re not going to blow the family budget on that $1,000 pair of Manolos. Why must you look? In your fantasy world, you buy them all.

So, before you bust him for not-so-subtly trying to catch a glance of waitress décolletage, admit it. You had already checked out her shoes. Cute ballet flats. When you’re walking down the street together and he does the head swivel, like radar tracking an incoming brace of inter-ballistics, admit you had already checked her out, and were lingering dreamily on her Prada Studded Shoe Booties in grey.

There are as many attempted rationalizations for women’s shoe-porn addiction as for male titillation, and they are about as reasonable. Some say shoe size rarely fluctuates, so women never have to beat themselves up over not being able to fit into their skinny slingbacks.

Another rationalization in the self-esteem category: heels lengthen the leg and lift the buttocks, highlighting posture and curves in a way that inspires feelings of self-confidence and sexiness.
Maybe, but we’re not buying, ladies. Neither explains the feelings of breathless excitement and urgent desire so many women report having when they look at pictures of shoes, see them on display or fondle them in a store.

Women’s shoes and women’s breasts are sensuous and sexy, to women and men respectively and often collectively. The curves, colours, lines, shapes, supple textures, the ratios and juxtapositions, the totality of the experience and the sublime exquisiteness of each molecule that comprise them. The imagined conversation between fingertips and skin. The intoxicating smell of new shoe/boob. The fantasy. Blahnik, Louboutin, Prada, Chanel. Big, small, pert, pendulous.
Breasts and shoes are secondary sexual characteristics. Each provokes feelings of desire and sexuality, but you don’t actually have sex with them. Well, most people don’t.

“I love shoes, desire and lust after them,” Alyssa Siegel wrote in Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, after attending Shoe Obsession, an exhibition at The Museum of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. “I feel my heart race when I look at shoes I am considering buying, feel a jolt of joy when I wear them the first time.”

She desires them all. “Flats, heels, boots, ballets, sandals, clogs, platforms, wedges, strappy, buckled, lace-ups, peep-toes.”

Compare that to Andre Cross, writing in “Yes, I like big breasts, but I like small breasts as well. I have never encountered a breast that I didn’t like. There are only two things I require from a woman’s breast: nipples and accessibility.

Breasts have a gravitational pull on hetero men only slightly weaker than the sun’s gravitational pull, right before you’re sucked into it and vaporized. Maybe that’s because the 14-year-old who still inhabits the rec room of the hetero male mind believes breasts are the on button for female sexuality. Push here to ignite. Of course that is stupid (right?). But have you ever seen guys under the influence in a strip club? Not the peak of our self-aware, intellectual selves.

Have you ever seen women under the influence in a shoe store? Same-same. Same feigned insouciance, trying to look just as chill and nonchalant as guys in a strip club, but a little too much animation in the voice, a little too giddy.

Still, if shoe store is to woman as strip club is to man, there are some important differences. You can’t get microwaved nachos in a shoe store, and few have football on big-screen TVs to provide a respite from the constant, emotionally exhausting visual stimulation.

But then, in a shoe store, you can touch the object of your desire all you want with no fear that a 350-pound guy named Tiny will grab you by your upper lip and back of your pants and toss you to the sidewalk. And you don’t have to pay $20 a song to sit with a pair of Manolos on your lap.

In the end, there is no convincing explanation for the lust-inducing powers of shoes/breasts. A breast is an erogenous zone located on a woman’s body. A shoe store is an erogenous zone located in a mall.

Nor should we want to live in a world that has demystified the allure of the shoe/breast. All we should care about is that no shoe/breast goes unadored. A flat can be as sexy as a four-inch stiletto. Strappy, buckled, lace-ups, peep-toes. They’re all good. They all bring happiness.

All except for espadrilles. They are a shoe that says: “I don’t like the way you’re looking at me, and don’t even think about touching me.”

Weasel words and the failure of leadership: we get what we accept

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

By Geoffrey Rowan
TORONTO, March 20, 2012 — Short-sheeting your brother’s bed is a dirty trick.(“Ohh, you brat!”)  Impersonating a government official to rig an election is a felony.
But the sad truth is most of us don’t care. We don’t expect any better from our leaders. We don’t believe what they say, and who can blame us. In the political arena, at least, we have been conditioned to ignore all the faux wounded hyperbole and ersatz indignation of our leaders. Every day someone in government does something so egregious it can only be fixed by his or her resignation, or the prime minister’s resignation or someone’s ceremonial disembowelment. Who’s to know when something serious actually happens?
Many if not most business leaders are just as disingenuous, obtuse, evasive and self-serving. Leadership in the worlds of religion, not-for-profits and at the local community level is no more inspiring. If perception is reality then we are one sorry family of man because around the world we perceive our leaders as a dismal lot.
You know this because you are aware of the U.S. race for the Republican presidential nomination, or our own robo-call scandal, a dysfunctional city council and mayor’s office or countless other examples that range from bumbling buffoonery to malicious malfeasance. I know it because my colleagues in research at Ketchum surveyed people in 13 countries to find out what they think about leaders. The results were dismal. (Here’s the link to the results media release –

There is a huge gap — a 28 percentage point difference — between what we expect from our leaders and what we think they deliver.

Business leaders were the best of a weak lot globally, with a little more than a third of respondents giving them an excellent rating of eight or above on a scale of 0-10. (In Canada, not-for-profit leaders were best.) Even more surprising, among businesses, leaders in banking and financial services rated near the top of the pack. (Leaders of tech companies were rated highest by 44 per cent of respondents for effective leadership, compared to consumer packaged goods firms at the opposite end of the spectrum, cited by just 20 per cent for effective leadership.) 
As jaded as we are in our view of leaders, we’re still hopeful. We want good leaders and believe that we need them to guide us through these difficult times. And we don’t seek the impossible in leadership. Around the world, across many countries and languages, people were pretty consistent about their expectations in response to this survey.

1. Close the Say-Do Gap — People aren’t as stupid as our leaders seem to think. If you say you love people and then you bomb them, or take away their jobs, or their health care, or abuse their trust, they will grow cynical. We want more from our leaders than catchy slogans and lyrical sound bites. We want people who lead by example, who have the courage and commitment to act, and who keep a level head in a crisis.
2. Strong, Silent Types Need Not Apply — As important as it is to act decisively and with integrity, leaders also must keep people informed. In the absence of clear communication – whenever there is ambiguity – we will assume the worst. So, no to slogans and sound bites but yes to clear, consistent communication, with a little humility. Be willing to admit mistakes. Be aware that different situations require different leadership styles, and different leadership styles require different communication styles, but they all require good communication.
3. Don’t sugar-coat it — The survey was decisive on this. Speak the truth with purpose and without ambiguity. We can handle a challenge if we understand it and if we know what our leaders are doing to address it.  
4. The way to be seen to be trustworthy is to be trustworthy — (See No. 1, Close the Say-Do Gap.) For organizations to be seen to be leaders, nothing rated higher in the survey than trustworthiness, including quality of products, services or management, financial strength, or innovation.
5. Let Them Look You In The Eyes — Face-to-face communication is by far the communication channel that creates the greatest sense of leadership credibility. The lack of credibility given to some digital communication channels was surprising given their fast proliferation, but we believe Twitter feeds and social media were useless for leadership is because most of the content doesn’t meet the other criteria for effective leadership. It’s usually bland marketing speak and sloganeering, and it’s rarely actually written by the leader. Does anyone believe Stephen Harper writes his own Tweets?

The bad news is that we have grown so cynical that we expect our leaders are going to be even worse in 2012 than they were in 2011. There is such a powerful hunger in so many to be anointed “a leader” and then to hang onto that perceived power that they have forgotten the fundamental tenet of leadership – that they work for the people they are leading.

And so cynicism grows, and alientation, and disengagement, until we end up with leaders no one listens to, or until a new kind of leader emerges — one who leads instead of manages. That’s where leadership opportunity exists now.


Business, Political, Religious Leadership a Big Disappointment

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Leadership crisis expected to worsen, Ketchum global survey reveals

Canadians rate not-for-profit leaders best of a weak lot of leaders
Globally, business leaders rated first; bankers surprise
  Politicians rated worst on leadership; vast gap between expectation, reality
  Traditional media far outperforms social media for leadership credibility

 TORONTO, March 20, 2012 – Leaders in business, politics, religion, local communities and the not-for-profit sector fall far short of expectations around the world, according to a 12-country survey by global communications firm Ketchum, and we expect it to get worse this year.

The survey found a 28-percentage-point gap between respondents’ expectations of leaders and their view of how well leaders are meeting those expectations.

In Canada*, survey respondents were at least as harsh in their judgment of leaders as elsewhere, but rather than rating business leaders as the best of a weak lot, Canadians gave that recognition to leaders of not-for-profit organizations.

 Canadians gave not-for-profit leaders a mean score of 6, on a sale of 0-10, for effective leadership. Canada’s business leaders followed with a mean score of 5.6 out of 10. Canadians rated political leaders tied for last place, with celebrities, with a 4.2 mean score.

Besides showing the depth of the world’s lack of faith in our leader, the global survey also provides a roadmap for leadership effectiveness. Being perceived as an effective leader requires a combination of decisive action and honest, transparent communication, which is best achieved through a leader’s personal presence and involvement.

“Our study reveals for the first time the full extent of the world’s disappointment with its leaders across every category of human endeavour,” said Geoffrey Rowan, managing director of Ketchum’s Canadian operations and a partner in the global firm. “But the research is also full of practical insights – a clear blueprint for more effective leadership. One point of clarity was how inextricably linked effective leadership is to effective communication.”

A surprise finding outside of Canada, given the lingering global financial crisis, business leaders were seen as the most effective over the past year – beating politicians, not-for-profit bosses and religious leaders. But in Canada, not only did not-for-profit leaders get the highest mean score. They also got the highest number of “excellent” ratings (8 or above on a scale of 0-10) at 23 per cent. Globally, it was the business leaders who got the most excellent ratings, at 36 per cent.

“The key to leadership, particularly in the ‘social profit’ sector, is knowing what to do with it,” said Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of Toronto Community Foundation, one of Canada’s most far-reaching not-for-profits. “When working to build stronger communities, cities, and, by extension, a stronger country, it’s important to remain focused, transparent and committed to open and authentic communication. You must be guided by and communicate strong values – be constructive not destructive. “Above all, don’t confuse managing with leading.”

Within the business community globally, knowledge-based industries were perceived as having the most effective bosses. Ranked highest on leadership effectiveness was technology, with a 44 per cent approval rating, followed by media (39 per cent) and telecommunications (36 per cent). Banking chiefs came in fourth overall in the poll worldwide with 32 per cent. The energy sector and financial services leaders were ranked fifth (31 per cent) and sixth (30 per cent) respectively. Consumer business leaders lagged far behind on leadership, with consumer packaged goods leaders being rated effective by only 20 per cent.

Perhaps most significant for the business community, the research makes a direct link between positive perceptions of leadership and business-critical decisions such as a willingness to buy stock, goods and services or recommend working at a company. This explains crisis response being seen as the most important area for business leaders to communicate personally (53 per cent), followed by financial results (48 per cent) and the state of the business (40 per cent).

Personal Leadership and Powerful CommunicationA Direct Link

Clear, transparent communication topped the table of key leadership behaviours globally. For 84 per cent, effective communication is extremely important to strong leadership, while 48 per cent rated it as the number one factor. In Canada, not-for-profit and business leaders tied for top spot in effective communication, at a fairly dismal mean rating of 5.7 out of 10. Political and religious leaders tied with the lowest mean rating of 4.6 on effective communication.

 Action also matters in rating leadership. Being able to make the tough decisions, leading by example and staying calm in a crisis rated immediately behind effective communication. The study revealed that the number one action leaders should take to restore confidence in 2012 is to be open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenge ahead (57 per cent US; 52 per cent Europe vs. 43 per cent China). By contrast, only 17 per cent indicated a preference for leaders to spare them the full picture to avoid panic.

Trustworthiness was seen as the number one source of leadership credibility for corporations, placed above quality of management and financial strength. In order to win that trust, the report found that the personal “presence” and involvement of a leader in communicating was vital. As a result, communication via face-to-face and traditional media left social media trailing. Face-to-face contact provided the greatest source of leadership credibility (50 per cent), followed by televised speeches (43 per cent), broadcast media (41 per cent) and print media (38 per cent). Digital platforms and social media were well off pace, with blogs at 20 per cent, Facebook at 16 per cent, advertising at 13 per cent and Twitter at just 8 per cent.

“We were a little surprised that mainstream media was still far ahead of digital and social media in conveying leadership credibility,” said Mr. Rowan. “The message we take is that most organizations aren’t using social media as a leadership channel. It’s mostly used to push marketing messages, and even when a leader’s name is involved, most people don’t believe it’s the leader who is actually communicating. This doesn’t mean we should write off social media as a channel for building credible leadership but rather that we have to make the authentic ‘presence’ of the leader shine through.”

Visit for additional survey information and materials. # # # About the Leadership Communication Monitor Ketchum Global Research & Analytics and Ipsos Observer, a worldwide strategic business line within Ipsos, conducted an online survey of 3,759 respondents in 12 markets from Dec. 14, 2011 to Jan. 10, 2012. These were the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, China, Singapore, India, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Brazil. The global margin of error is +/-1.6%. About Ketchum Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. Named 2012 Agency of the Year (PRWeek) and the winner of an unprecedented three consecutive PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC), visit About the Canadian Survey From March 15th, to September 16th, 2012, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 1,003 Canadian adults 18 years plus, who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The Angus Reid Forum is owned and operated by Vision Critical. Individuals were sampled according to Census data to be representative of the Canadian national adult population. The full dataset has been statistically weighted according to the most current gender, age, region, education (and in Quebec, language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. The margin of error is ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. About Ipsos Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company. With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011. Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Contact: Sydney Dare —  416-355-7427 —

* The Canadian survey – the 13th country – was conducted for Ketchum by Vision Critical. It was conducted later than the surveys in other countries and asked fewer questions, which may have affected results


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