The Bitch Slap: Be Offensive

offensive content? think againI posted the following status update on my Facebook Fan Page yesterday while waiting for my return flight back to Denver following a weekend in Chicago at SOBCon (and a huge shout out to Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker for making it one helluva event):

“If you find that, at the end of the day, you haven’t done something that would potentially offend someone, what did you *do* all day? Stop acting as if the opinions of others matter more than your own and start LIVING. #shitivefiguredoutafter37yearsonEarth”

I’m unfiltered and unashamed. I’m having the love affair of my life with ME. And I’m never afraid to offend. If there’s one thing that I took away as a firmly reinforced rule by which to live and work is this:

If you don’t know who YOU are, how will anyone else?

Granted, there’s always the “fake it till you make it” element when we wander into a new space. I’m not talking about that. There’s also the evolution of a brand. Not talking about that either.

It’s the essence of YOU. Coca Cola and Dyson aren’t confused about who they are. I sat in front of Jay Jay French, Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Steve Farber, Hank Wasiak and an absolutely adorable bartender at Morton’s Steakhouse this weekend (sorry – no weblink available) – confidence in who they are shimmered from every pore. (Dudes “sweat.” They don’t “shimmer.” I get it. Take the damn compliment.)

Look at your brand today, whether it’s YOU, YOUR COMPANY or YOUR CLIENT.

WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHAT TO DO BELIEVE?

You cannot appeal to everyone at all times. But I think a pretty good goal is to appeal to the people with whom you want to have a conversation.

Your audience does not sing kumbayah. They do not believe in wishes, unicorns, ponies with magical manes, Candy Mountain, fluffy pillows and walks on the beach.

More likely, they believe in things like family values, our nation’s president, that avocados and olives are the devil, cheese will kill them, The Oatmeal is funny as shit or that Suze Orman is a waste of tits.

Embrace them and give them a place to feel safe and hold conversations. If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. If you don’t make your legs out as clear appendages, then the fall is twice as hard. Why are we so afraid to upset the apple cart? Maybe the folks on that cart aren’t the folks we want to talk to in the first place. Perhaps they are and you offend them anyway. If they run screaming, fine. If they engage in discourse, even better. If YOU engage with them over the subject of offense, then who’s the winner?

It’s YOU, buddy. Yeah, you (gives reader a noogie).

Go out today and be offensive. I’m not talking run-through-your-office-with-no-pants-on offensive, but grow a pair and have the audacity to put something out there knowing there will be backlash.

That’s when change happens.

39 comments
The Redhead
The Redhead

Aaaand - what SHE said! (sitting down, shutting up)

WickedShawn
WickedShawn

I wonder how many voices out there with something worthwhile to say are never heard simply due to the fact that they fear speaking in a manner with the conviction and (excuse the male only reference) balls to potentially offend. You certainly are aware that I give a fuck less if someone is offended by my opinions. My advice in business is very much the same. I live by some very solid rules, I keep my mouth shut and my ears open when I am learning. I stand my ground and speak my mind freely when I have been contracted to fix your team. If you didn't know you needed me to begin with, you would not have hired me, now it is time to shut the fuck up and listen to the painful truth of your fuck ups.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Aaaand - what SHE said! (sitting down, shutting up)

WickedShawn
WickedShawn

I wonder how many voices out there with something worthwhile to say are never heard simply due to the fact that they fear speaking in a manner with the conviction and (excuse the male only reference) balls to potentially offend. You certainly are aware that I give a fuck less if someone is offended by my opinions. My advice in business is very much the same. I live by some very solid rules, I keep my mouth shut and my ears open when I am learning. I stand my ground and speak my mind freely when I have been contracted to fix your team. If you didn't know you needed me to begin with, you would not have hired me, now it is time to shut the fuck up and listen to the painful truth of your fuck ups.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for waking up with me!Ohhh...wait. I...oh, nevermind.For the record, I like avocados (a new like) and hate cheese (an old nemesis).

Steven063
Steven063

G'Day from down under. Very good read first thing in the morning, got the brain ticking over bright and early. Always believed in the saying "Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream". I think your post puts a new light on the subject and might get a few thinking about the questions you pose as to who am I? What do I believe? Which I believe will be a good thing. Might upset a few apple carts, but so what.Be who you are, say what you believe & feel, then you and no one else will be in doubt as to who you are.Well done.Take CareSteven :))P.S. I also like Avocado's and cheese

The Redhead
The Redhead

Wasting tits is *never* a good thing. I agree. They're delightful.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Hey, I still believe that animals wouldn't taste so damn good if we weren't supposed to eat them ;-)And online, we can EDIT. I wear the HELL out of a backspace/delete key. (no-no-no-no-no-oh god no-no-no)

Kim Woodbridge
Kim Woodbridge

I so agree with that. I refuse to say venti or whatever it's called and always ask for a medium or large.I think that's actually too easy to offend online - I've had people get angry, stop following me, abandoning me on Facebook for seemingly innocent remarks. One guy got all pissed off because I thought we should devote more time and money into renewable sources of energy. And because I'm a vegetarian, which I never shove down anyone's throat, people get all defensive and like to start arguments with me.I do find, however, that I tend to be nicer online than I am in person. I've wondered about that and I think part of it is that I find it more difficult to be sarcastic through the written word.

alexwhalley
alexwhalley

Thanks for such a refreshing post Erika! I second Leon's colloquialism. Bloody oath it was good to read. Honestly though, really nice to happen upon a post that reflects what I often think but (and this is stupid in hindsight) never want to act on for fear of 'upsetting the balance'Fuck the balance! The balance is, to use your words - 'a waste of tits'! (I dont even know what that means, but it upsets the male in me. How can anything be a waste of tits?!?! - except Rosanne barr)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Leon-Damn, I love that accent and it's always welcome here. I've never received a complaint about using Disqus as my comments engine, however. What's your beef? That you have to scroll past Related Posts to get to it? Do tell.

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika,If you'll excuse the Great Australian Adjective-or even if you wont- that was bloody refreshing, even entertaining. So I'll accept your invitation. Here goes.....If you really want our--safety in anonymous numbers--comments, please place a large sign at the end of each post saying "leave a comment here." Stop making us click all over the site to join fellow 'Irreverents."Of course, if you don't really want our comments......RegardsLeon

marianofranco
marianofranco

Who made swearing offensive? I'd like travel back in time just so I could kick each one of those people in the balls or the vagina. I like to swear. No, take that back, I fuckin' looooove swearing.I'm guessing it was the same group of nerds with embarrassingly low levels of self esteem that made talking about sex in public a taboo... embarrassed women for having an equal or greater sexual appetite than men and coined the word "SLUT" to fuck with their heads... then, used the LAW of marriage to handcuff women to them in an effort to keep the ladies from only banging the cool guys for whom they felt genuine attraction for, and in the shortage of truly awesome males, resorting to shacking up with the dweebs for security. But studies prove to this very day that when a nerd forces a woman's hand with social pressure and the institution of marriage, he STILL ends up raising the stud's kids an eerie percentage of the time. I'm glad the tides are turning though and the "Moral Majority" is losing their grip on the ring in society's nose. 10-20 years ago it would've been almost impossible to find an author that endorses offending people in print, of whom you don't wish to fraternize with. The Internets with it's infinite ability to publish WITHOUT censorship has knocked the righteous, repressed and religious for a loop of which they are reeling from. And the heathen in me rejoices in it. Great post Erika. Keep the jaws of men and women dropping while strutting around town bra-less in your t-shirt. And keep frying the circuits of the prudes by talking about how much you L-O-V-E the dick. Love your voice, talk soon,Mariano Franco

The Redhead
The Redhead

I think what we're learning today is there are many words that can be substituted for "offend." Challenge, take a stand...I love being challenged - it's hows I grows :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Indeed, m'dear. I'll have a real, MEDIUM latte every time. ;-) Screw Starbucks and their vernacular, I say! I WANT A DAMN MEDIUM!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Let's face it - we're not always going to be popular. Why assume we are? :) Screw it, indeed!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I admire the lactose tolerant. I truly do...

Peter
Peter

I completely agree with everything here, except two things:Avocados are really good.Cheese is also really good....Otherwise, you're spot on.

Erin
Erin

I firmly believe I need to piss people off more. I'm too nicey nicey sometimes, afraid to step on toes. So I walk on eggshells. Screw it.

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer

Lovely post, m'dear. I sure sleep better at night knowing I was confident enough to be true to what I believe in than being a milquetoast, middle of the road, never want to piss anybody off person. And as we've discussed so many times before (mostly over wine), if that is offensive to anyone, then we have no business being friends, business partners, clients, etc. Be who you are. Say what you mean. Stand up for what you believe in. That doesn't mean you have to be nasty or hateful or spiteful or mean. It just means being honest. And true to self. I don't call that "offensive," I call that REAL. And I'll opt for that (and a latte please) any day of the week. Well done.Shelly Kramer@shellykramer

Tim Bond
Tim Bond

For a short while in my college career back in the 80s I was planning to be a teacher and took a few education classes. I became an academic advisor and not a teacher, so I've remembered one of the main concepts from those classes all these years: Real learning happens best when the learner is challenged.In other words, I'm not sure one has to "offend" folks to get them to think about what you are telling them (whether it is your branding or you are trying to teach them something), but I'd wager that messages are ingrained more deeply when the receiver has to fire a few more neurons to process it. So, yeah, say something that your audience is going to feel at least a little challenged by (and even possibly offended by) so they are engaged with your message and not just passive receptacles. With luck this will encourage thoughtful dialogue and challenging conversation.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And isn't it strange that knowing thyself is the one thing in business we seem to forget FIRST?

The Redhead
The Redhead

Gratuitous offense is pablum. Take a stand and know you're not going to please everyone - THAT'S sex on wheels. And glad I could not offend you ENOUGH. I'll keep tryin' ;-)

Angel K
Angel K

Alright, success again. We're all sitting here coworking (well the others are working, I'm getting my daily dose of internet awesome) and I read out loud to @caligater, @creativekatrina and @juliesutter "Suze Orman is a waste of tits" and we all choked a little on our lattes. Well done, m'dear!

Tyler Adams
Tyler Adams

I'm not sure I would make it a point to be offensive but I would make it a point to have an opinion, to take a stance in what you believe in even if it means people might disagree or be offended. Perhaps, even, especially if it means people might disagree. Isn't this when we truly learn the most and think about things in a different way? On another note, i love that you said "waste of tits", though I wasn't offended so maybe something stronger next time? Good stuff here, as always.

andrewcareaga
andrewcareaga

As the ol' Oracle at Delphi once said, "Know thyself." Thanks for the reminder.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Either love me or hate me...just don't be indifferent! Amen, sister ;-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're a gem, Malcolm. Thanks for stopping by today :)

thatdamnredhead
thatdamnredhead

Well said, from another redhead! I've always subscribed to the philosophy of "if you're not pissing somebody off, you're not doing it right." I'm that person that has to point out the elephant in the room, the one that says what everybody else is thinking but doesn't have the cojones to just SAY. Some people love me for it, others hate me for it -- how DARE I state the obvious and sprinkle it with my opinion?! Sacrilege! Whatever. People can kiss my ass.

maldaly
maldaly

Thx for the affirmation, Red. Disruptive thinking is the soul of change and change hurts and is scary. No wonder the sheep are offended...

The Redhead
The Redhead

isn't that the ticket? Tolerance? Hell, I might not agree with you but your points of view make me a better person because they help ME understand better what I believe.It was a delight to meet you as well, Michael. You're a treasure in the Windy City!

hubbit
hubbit

An acquaintance of mine once left a community magazine he was editing, to start his own weekly news digest. His inaugural editorial stressed that his new publication would take a safe, middling stance and would do its best to respect all viewpoints and avoid offending anyone.I found that in itself to be *very* offensive. In any walk of life, but especially if you're editing a publication? HAVE AN OPINION. I may not agree with it. I may even be pissed off by it. But I'll respect you (the general, collective "you") for having convictions and for standing by them. It was so great to meet you, BTW. You're one of the "realest" persons I've ever known, and that reality-based outlook comes across even stronger in person. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

There might be some BYU alum in that group as well.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks, Grant - and it was great to meet you, too! Come to think of it, I owe you a drink or something for grabbing the cab ride in from Midway. Put it on my tab ;-)

canoelover
canoelover

Wait...is there a carbon-based life form that doesn't like The Oatmeal? I refuse to believe it.Wait (again). No, I can think of some, all Bob Jones University alumni.

Grant Griffiths
Grant Griffiths

Erika - This post is one of the reasons your blog is one of the few I am going to get in my email. Too many people are way too scared of actually being themselves and saying exactly what is on their minds. Thanks for not being one of those uptight buttheads. BTW, great to finally meet you in Chicago this weekend at SOBCon.

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  1. […] The Bitch Slap: Be Offensive – Redhead Writing Don’t know if I have featured Erika on the blog before, but I know I have recommended her writings: […]

  2. […] A recent blog post by Erika Napoletano over at Redhead Writing might be just the kick-in-the-arse I needed to reconsider my muted meekness. I link thee to: The Bitch Slap: Be Offensive […]

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