The much anticipated release of the larger than life F. Scott Fitzgerald book, The Great Gatsby, recently hit theaters. Ever on cue when it comes to trends, here’s the key takeaway from this month’s box office hit:
1. Covet Decadence
The latest style in business, from office décor to graphics, as been clean lines. Ask yourself how many white on white offices you’ve seen in the last couple years. If it’s not white, it’s clear acrylic or a combination of the two. Gatsby’s release marks a shift in the one way spectrum swing. We’re done with clean on clean. We want more life, more character, more personality – everything we see in the heralded film. So if you’re looking to redo your brand, your office, or even plan your next corporate event, remember that “more is better.”
Liz Kelley, CEO of the employee engagement consultancy, Brilliant Ink
, would rightly argue that internal employee communications should be more clear and concise, like Hemingway, and less reminiscent of the flowery language we see in Fitzgerald’s work. She’d be right. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be gained from the rich language in Gatsby
. On the contrary, I think we need to look to the film for authenticity. In business, we’ve developed our own type of exuberant doublespeak that half treats us like nitwits and half relies on a sense of urgency about how great every half-baked idea is. We’re tired of it. We’re tired of the business doublespeak that removes a layer of raw character from each of us. Gatsby
marks a shift back toward real language, real people, and away from droll behavior. There’s a sense of fullness and vibrancy that we’ve shaved off over the years.
3. Play Your Own Game
Especially in the rich Gatsby world, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all. Its author and his wife, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, were guilty of the same. The Great Gatsby didn’t have the readership and fan following in his debut as it did later in the years when the roaring 20s were looked back upon with romanticism. The husband and wife, desperate to keep up appearances borrowed and went broke trying to maintain the lifestyle around them. We may not have the same glitzy lifestyle now, but in a way I’d argue we do. With constant social sharing across Instagram for example, plus the endless photo filter apps, makes our lives seem bigger and brighter than they sometimes are. Too often, we completely lose context inbetween mass image sharing. This likely explains where there was a recent backlash to “stop sharing your perfect life on Instagram.” So what’s the lesson here? Well if you’re company is feverishly advertising on Instagram, try creating a new blueprint for how you can inject authenticity. I’d do this by showing the good and the bad. Not every moment is perfect and showing something less than perfect can have a more powerful effect than being flawless does.
4. Dorks Rule
Sure the lead female character in Gatsby was never one that was particularly attractive. Daisy is kind of your girl next door. Still, Hollywood has a habit of ruining everything doesn’t it, especially when you consider their sycophantic need to cast perfect looking alienoids for even most humble looking characters. Not so much anymore. Take a look at the casting choice here, Carey Mulligan: unsexy, plain, so next door. It’s not just one rule. Check out Lena from Girls and even Mindy Kaling from the Mindy Project. These are all normal, often even dorky, girls. The rule here is that people want raw real characters; they want people they can relate too. We’re tired of perfect.
The real life application to your business can take on several forms depending on your industry. If you have the budget, create personal narratives with real people or at least real-looking people. If you are your own boss and then base your brand on your merits and your flaws. Whatever it is, just be your authentic self. The overall goal is to embrace and even reach for vulnerability despite our otherwise perfect life.