Wednesday, 12 June 2013

I've decided to write a series of posts - and knowing my procrastinating nature, it is likely to be sporadically - about women that inspire me. As not only a woman, but a feminist, I feel like these individuals have gone some way in breaking that glass ceiling and are always extremely talented and interesting. 

I'm going to begin with Karren Brady, someone I refer to as a "bad bitch". Vice-chairman of West Ham  United, former managing director of Birmingham City FC, youngest PLC, on the boards of Syco, Mothercare and Channel 4. She could kill someone with a pout and a steely glare of disapproval as she judges their ineptness. I love that. I'm all for strong, independent women and if men are frightened of them too, then that's even better. I'm no proponent of misandry, but in a society where women are often portrayed as being maternal and somewhat lesser than their male counterparts, it's always refreshing to find a woman that can simultaneously be endearing and intimidating.

I watched her Piers Morgan "Life Story" and quite frankly, that's what inspired me the most about her. Anyone who knows anything about Karren Brady (I'd refer to her by her first name but that makes me sound like I know her well enough to send Snapchats and if I refer to her by her last name she sounds like a member of a Bethnal Green street gang) has heard the whole "Ran a football club at twenty-three, sold Birmingham City FC for £82mil less than twenty years after taking charge" speil a thousand times before. Obviously, that's the tip of the iceberg, and I'm not disregarding any of those things. On "Life Story", she was portrayed as being more human. The fact she'd survived a miscarriage, would work twenty hour days and had three days maternity leave (my entire reproductive system aches just thinking about that part) is pretty impressive, but she openly admitted she struggled and that to me was most inspiring. 

(Karren Brady is unimpressed with you and your lack of business acumen, contestants in the 2013 series of "The Apprentice".)

I am an avid viewer of "The Apprentice", for better or for worse (often worse if we're considering the calibre of this year's contestants). It is often that kind of television which some people would like to feel is high-brow reality television - is there such a thing? - when really it's two men in sumo suits depicting the metaphor of business for the enjoyment of the viewer. The contestants are placed in the quasi-reality of business; how often will Alan Sugar's business partner have to star in a fitness video, for example? 

(Some classic Shady Brady faces. All screen captures are taken from this magnificent Tumblr which should be updated more.)

I will honestly say that I'm not a particularly logical person. I have common sense, but I'm naturally more intuitive than logical. I tend to behave on instinct rather than facts. I would be awful in business due to my aforementioned spending problem (in my previous post I casually mentioned my Harvey Nichols affinity and why that is awful for a penniless student without a job or other means of a regular cash flow). It does not take... well, Karren Brady... to guess what is needed to be done in order to win tasks on "The Apprentice". This leads me to the side of Karren Brady which I have affectionately named "Shady Brady". I love her no bullshit approach. I look to Karren's (yes, during the time of the construction of this post we have become acquainted and we regularly discuss current affairs) very telling facial expressions to see where the candidates have fucked up. Shock, these are supposed acclaimed businesspeople but sometimes it looks like a parody of businesspeople.

My friends and I have also crafted a series of Vines which document our quest to perfect the Shady Brady look and we have also captured cruel boardroom moments which also melted my icicle of a heart. We all wish she'd been shady enough to say to Uzma, "If you're in the business of looking good, why do you resemble Shawn and/or Marlon Wayans in 'White Chicks'?" Alas.

(Classic Karren moments from this series include the "Tidy Sidey" debacle where she crushed the girls' dreams beautifully, Luisa "Corporate World Gate" and Francesca "Can you hear what you're saying? Each delivered with such a wonderfully patronising tone. Majestic viewing.)

*On a more superficial note, I've forgot to mention Karren's ever-growing hair, which I believe was a deliberate move on the part of the producers and herself to symbolise her ever-growing power in the boardroom.

If you haven't read this book, I suggest you do it. I felt like such an under-achiever that I crafted a CV, applied to three jobs and I read it in a day. As a person who finds unloading a dishwasher an existential crisis, I felt that this was mass progress and I had Karren to thank for it. It also inspired me to want to power-dress, and this can only be a good thing.

To end this post, I'm going to leave a series of classic Brady quotes for you all to devour. Not the typical ones which I can recite off my head such as the one about work and home personality (I need to stop reading her interviews/books/PRISM details) but another even more enduring one that sums up her ability to stop anyone - man, woman or beast - from taking the piss out of her.

A Birmingham City player mentioned that he could see her tits in a shirt she was wearing on a bus to Newcastle (side note: she said she was grateful to be on the bus to Newcastle but as someone from Sunderland she must have been awfully misinformed about the charms of Newcastle) to which she replied, "Yeah? Well, when I sell you to Crewe, you won't be able to see them from there." She sold him three days later. 


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