Shadi Mirza

Marketing sherpa. Digital content wonk. Serial blogger. Not following your passion is death.

They go beyond the fact that friendship is magic

Pinkie Pie

Few things on the internet have made me genuinely angry. I consider myself inoculated from the tsunami of vitriol and self-righteousness found on sites like Twitter, Reddit and Quora.

But, every now and then, someone comes along and says something so crazy that I have to take a siesta from the computer. This Quora question is one of them:

I caught my 14 year old [sic] son watching My Little Pony. What should I do?

Oh my God, man. Uncovering all the underlying assumptions in that question would be like peeling back the layers of an onion. And I’m not going down that rabbit hole. Instead, I’ll offer a very simple suggestion—one favored by the kind of person who takes an interest in the things their child likes:

Watch it with him.

As the parent of a five-year-old girl, I’ve had the good fortune to be introduced to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. These are some of the show’s qualities, which I honed in on as a totally woke 36-year old human male:

  • Strong female characters
  • Humor that’s aimed just as much at adults as it is their children
  • Narratives emphasizing friendship over cattiness
  • Catchy songs

Heaven forbid a teenage boy be exposed to those things. Parents really must be pining for the days when cartoons aimed at boys simply glorified war and served as long advertisements for toy lines.

But while every character in the Mane 6—including Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy—is cool in their own right, the dopest is probably Pinkie Pie. Here’s what she can teach us:

1. Partying is a lifestyle.

I’m not talking about the do-football-field-length-lines-of-coke and drink-until-you-puke kinds of partying. Pinkie Pie embodies partying as a mindset. Smile, laugh and, yes, break out into song every now and again. Life’s too short to be a sad sack, and Pinkie Pie’s there to remind us not to go around being a colossal buzzkill.

2. Baked goods make the world a better place.

For several months, I made it my mission to bake cookies on Sunday and bring them to work the following day. People would stop by my desk just to see what new and exciting creation I had made to share with the team. It even came up in my annual review.

People love sugar. It may be bad for your teeth, but it’s a morale booster. And believe people who refuse freshly baked treats on principle kind of suck.

3. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Call it her own version of a Swiss army knife, a deus ex machina for a lazy writers’ room, or what-have-you, but Pinkie Pie’s party cannon, which shows up throughout the series—as well as the movie—is a metaphor for the importance of keeping a well-stocked toolbox.

4. Your fears can’t control you.

Pinkie Pie literally laughs in the face of danger. It’s refreshing not just to see a female character overcome obstacles through sheer pluck, but a show that wants to teach boys and girls that the things you’re afraid of only have the power you give them.

#parenting #fatherhood #life

Why dish out emotion like some spoiled rich kid when you can ration it like a miser?

Did you wake up this morning in your heated house, eat breakfast in your cushy flannel pajamas and think to yourself, Damn, my life is really freaking amazing?

Nah, you probably grumbled about the cold, cursed about how high up the cereal is in the cupboard and pined for the days when food scientists will be able to engineer corn flakes that stay crisp in milk.

That homeless dude begging for change near the freeway on-ramp during your morning commute? You didn’t touch the void for a moment and imagine an alternate reality where you were in his shoes. The thought didn’t even cross your mind. What really ground your gears was the car that cut in front of you without signaling.

Totally not a pyramid scheme If you spent even a month in college, you’ve probably heard of Mazlo’s hierarchy of needs.

Basically, Mazlo theorized that a person had to take care of their physiological needs (food, clothing and shelter) before they could worry about safety (a steady job, among other things). If you believe Lazlo, a romantic relationship is nigh impossible without first addressing the bottom two tiers of the pyramid. But it’s not hard to imagine a homeless person having a low sense of self-worth.

In essence, you can’t magically get to the top. You have to work your way up.

When the bottom drops out For many of us, the most essential of human needs — the bottom of Lazlo’s pyramid — are little more than an afterthought. All our emotional energy is expended on stuff that matters less:

  • The barista who made you repeat your order at the drive-thru
  • Shitty drivers
  • The fact that Hulu’s servers are down, again

Be like Scrooge Pretend your fucks are a massive vault filled with gold coins. Yeah, you could build a diving board and jump right into that filthy lucre, but life isn’t like the cartoons. That shit would hurt.

No, you should stand there and admire those riches. Be a miser. Ration your emotional energy and spend it on the things that actually matter — like being a great parent, creating killer art or running a marathon —the long-term pursuits that make life worth living.

Also, appreciate what you have. Life’s too short to worry about soggy cereal, the patch of dirt on your lawn where grass refuses to grow or how boring the latest season of Grace & Frankie was. None of that crap is worth getting emotional over.

Maybe it’s the wine talking Or perhaps I’m just more woke than I’ve ever been in my entire life, or something. But I’m tired of being apathetic when I should be empathetic, and vice versa.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. If so, I challenge you to prioritize what you give a fuck about. Because who honestly cares if the dude at Sonic forgot to put the cherry in your Cherry Limeade, again.

No, I’m not bitter. This is the start of a new chapter for me.

#Psychology #Life #SelfImprovement #Inspiration #LifeLessons

WASHINGTON—Having survived just one year of former reality TV star Donald Trump’s presidency—a year that has included accusations of Russian collusion, an attempt to repeal popular healthcare legislation and a tax bill that favors only the wealthiest Americans—the public is now eagerly anticipating the candidacy of talk show host Oprah Winfrey. “I mean, really, how bad could it be?” asked Brandon McArthur, 25, somehow blocking from his memory the events of the past 12 months—which have been marked by controversy, protests and “covfefe.” When asked to comment on the prospect of a Winfrey presidency, Shawna Miller, 22, said, without a hint of irony, “Donald Trump is the most unqualified president in U.S. history. Oprah 2020!” At press time, a group of millennials gathered in a Williamsburg coffee shop were debating the merits of adding Dr. Oz to the ticket.

#humor #satire

And why you should never, ever repeat them

My office is a revolving door for copywriters. They arrive, full of pluck and ideas (or devoid of both — more on that later), and then they’re fed through the teeth machine that is our rigorous creative process and spit out the other end bruised in both ego and psyche. And they leave.

But before these writers inevitably crash and burn, they express some really dumb opinions—either about our creative process, their abilities as writers and more. Here are some of the things I’ve heard, and my rationale for why you should never let these words pass your lips:

1. I wrote it right the first time. This one’s a real doozy because any writer who says it operates under the assumption that they a) approve their own copy and b) crafted prose so beyond criticism that it should immediately be submitted for a Clio Award, which, unless your name is Luke Sullivan or something, is highly unlikely.

Look, Mr. Sullivan has numerous awards to his name, and even his writing process involves jotting down 100 iterations of the same headline before he lands on the one that’s working. If it takes him that many tries to get into the ballpark, you’re probably still tailgating in the parking lot if you’ve only made one attempt.

Nobody’s perfect. I make careless mistakes all the time, and the stuff I send my Associate Creative Director doesn’t always hit the mark. But, here’s the kicker: I have the stones to admit it. If you want to be taken seriously as a copywriter, grab some humility while you’re combing the aisles of the supermarket that is your giant ego. On that subject…

2. I want to work where there are no egos. Oh, the irony. If these words come out of your mouth, you’re basically telling everyone within earshot that you suffer from a blistering lack of self-awareness. Newsflash:

All creatives have massive egos.

Think about it: as a copywriter, my entire livelihood hinges on an innate belief that the copy I write is good enough to slap on a billboard. As in, my words are the ones Joe Sixpack gets to read because he’s the meat in a sedan sandwich, there’s nothing good on the radio and he’s the kind of weirdo that likes staring at billboards.

If you’re a creative, you have an ego. So take two steps back and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Because admitting you have an inflated ego of yourself and your abilities is the first step towards gaining respect as a creative. It also helps to embrace criticism — listening to and learning from other writers is what’s made me the writer I am today.

3. This work is beneath me. This one wasn’t said by a copywriter with whom I worked so much as she implied it. Many moons ago, my former ACD hired a writer who had written copy for Coca-Cola and other big name brands. This writer was given several projects with varying levels of priority.

But she chose to work on the project with the least amount of urgency because it was editorial. The two most important projects were web pages. She outright refused to work on them. When it was explained to her that she needed to prioritize her work, she balked. Then, she quit.

Getting paid to write is a privilege. I come into the office every day loving what I do and doing what I love — even when what I’m asked to write is a digital banner that probably ten people are going to see. Every project, no matter how small, is an opportunity to flex my creative muscle. That means that when a meatier project comes along, my prose will be properly hench enough to tackle it.

4. This isn’t creative work. Ugh. Please don’t say this. Ever. Because ultimately you’re devaluing what you do as a paid professional. Every project —even a technical manual—requires a creative touch, whether it means coming at the problem from many directions, writing the same exact sentence 100 different ways or doing something as inane as choosing between a comma and an em dash. (Have I made it obvious I’m a fan of em dashes yet?)