Deciphering Culture

Archive for the ‘Human Dignity’ Category

“Every Life Has a Story” — Employee Education meets Art meets Responsibility

with one comment

I’m blown away by this video, reportedly produced by fast food chain Chik-fil-A as an employee education tool. The company wanted to encourage its employees to see customers and  co-workers as people first. Many companies state their commitment to making life better for their employees and their communities but then fall short. Chik-fil-A may be the real deal. The blog of company President and C.E.O. Dan Cathy, LIVE, LOVE, LEAD is worth checking out. Here’s a sample:

Jun 22

It’s All Personal

“It’s just business, it’s not personal.” You hear that sometimes when people have to make unpleasant decisions or do things that are a little uncomfortable. And it’s a nice phrase to make things feel a little better, but I’ve learned over the years, as both an employee and an employer, that it’s simply not true. There’s nothing in life that is “just business.” Everything we do is personal on some level. Any decision that involves people is by nature personal.

Keeping things personal is one of my biggest jobs as a member of the Chick-fil-A leadership team. As fast and as full as life gets sometimes, it’s tempting to break things down to “just business.” It’s a lot less messy to deal in Excel spreadsheets and categorize employees and customers as numbers. They’re just data. You just need to get XX amount of employees to serve XX amount of customers XX amount of food each day. End of story.

But that’s not true. Those employees aren’t numbers. They’re not just data. They’re moms and dads. They’re college students with dreams. They’re high school kids learning the value of hard work. They’re people just like me with hopes and fears and goals and friends and family. Same with the customers.

The customers are never numbers. They are dads taking their daughters out to dinner on date night at Chick-fil-A. They are moms who need a playground and a healthy meal for kids on the go. They are friends who camp out with me overnight for the grand opening of a new Chick-fil-A.

There are a lot of ways you can keep things personal at your business, but my favorite is to get out from my behind my desk. I like to be behind the counter. I like to serve someone a sandwich or help an employee make a milkshake. I find that dirty hands make it hard to see people as just numbers.

If you’re looking for me on most days, you’ll find me at a Chick-fil-A. Because it’s not just business. It’s not just data.

It’s personal. It’s all personal.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

July 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

For Staff Benda Bilili, disability is just a state of mind

leave a comment »

Most of the members of Staff Benda Billi, a pop band from Kinshasa (Congo), are homeless polio victims who live in or around Kinshasa’s zoo. The founders of the band formed the ensemble because other local musicians refused to play with them. The membership of the band soon was supplemented by street kids, including an 18 year-old boy who plays guitar-like solos on an electrified one-stringed lute he fashioned from a tin can. In the last few years, Staff Benda Billi has found success at home and abroad with successful albums and now a documentary Benda Bilili, which debuted at Cannes this week. Check out the review of the film by Will Gompertz of the BBC:

Cannes: Standing ovation for Benda Bilili

Will Gompertz

Cannes: There are over 1,000 films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which means it’s horribly possible to spend your entire time watching duds. Cannes is a game of chance; we hacks are like metal detector enthusiasts who go out each weekend with hopes of finding treasure but know the odds are stacked against them.

benda_bilili_2.jpgWell, on Thursday, just 24 hours after the festival opened, I struck gold.

It was in the relative backwater of the Director’s Fortnight that I stumbled on a French documentary called Benda Bilili. It opens with a middle-aged man with polio dancing on a dusty street in the Congolese city of Kinshasa.

The story then moves onto its main subject: a group of musicians that goes by the name of Staff Benda Bilili. The words “benda bilili” mean “beyond appearances”; for this band of brothers, it’s a statement with profound meaning.

The group’s original core is made up of three paraplegic middle-aged street-dwellers who live in cardboard boxes in this lawless city and stay sane by making music. They are joined by a 12-year-old drummer and by Roger, a 13-year-old runaway who makes music by connecting a tin can to a stick with a piece of nylon. (to read the rest, click here)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

May 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Music & the Struggle to be Human — Patrice Lumumba (@History is Made at Night)

leave a comment »

From History is Made at Night: The politics of dancing and musicking, a post asserting the primary place of music in the struggle to be human.

O Music, it was you permitted us to lift our face and peer into the eyes of future liberty

Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961) was a leading figure in the struggle for the independence of Congo from the Belgian Empire. He briefly became first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960 before being overthrown and later murdered by Belgian/CIA backed forces. The following extract is from his poem May our People Triumph (full poem here). In it Lumumba puts music and dance (and specifically jazz) at the centre of the struggle to be human in conditions of slavery and colonialism:

‘Twas then the tomtom rolled from village unto village,
And told the people that another foreign slave ship
Had put off on its way to far-off shores
Where God is cotton, where the dollar reigns as King.
There, sentenced to unending, wracking labour,
Toiling from dawn to dusk in the relentless sun,
They taught you in your psalms to glorify
Their Lord, while you yourself were crucified to hymns
That promised bliss in the world of Hereafter,
While you—you begged of them a single boon:
That they should let you live—to live, aye—simplylive.
And by a fire your dim, fantastic dreams
Poured out aloud in melancholy strains,
As elemental and as wordless as your anguish.
It happened you would even play, be merry
And dance, in sheer exuberance of spirit:
And then would all the splendour of your manhood,
The sweet desires of youth sound, wild with power,
On strings of brass, in burning tambourines.
And from that mighty music the beginning
Of jazz arose, tempestuous, capricious,
Declaring to the whites in accents loud
That not entirely was the planet theirs.
O Music, it was you permitted us
To lift our face and peer into the eyes
Of future liberty, that would one day be ours.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

May 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 366 other followers

%d bloggers like this: