This is the wrap-up to my original "run" of Stereotype-fu columns. I'm sure there will be more, but I've covered most of my intended materials.
I'm going to close with a piece of advice near and dear to my heart: Being Stereotype Evolved.
We ARE going to get stereotyped – we're geeks, fans, nerds, sports nuts, metalheads, emo kids, etc. This will happen on our careers because it happens in all of life – be it a co-worker, client, boss, or a person under us. It happens because, often without malice, humans use stereotypes as a kind of mental shorthand. Humans are efficient, even if it's annoying.
As I've noted there are many ways to choose, deal with, manipulate, and turn around being stereotyped – what I call stereotype-fu. Think of it as the social martial art of turning stereotypes to your advantage.
One of the final "arts" (perhaps the finishing technique?) is being what I call "Stereotype Evolved" – the art of picking a stereotype and creating a "new" evolved version of it to use for yourself. Claim, alter, and OWN the very stereotype that may be used on you.
It's personal branding as turnabout mental martial art.
For instance I call myself a "Professional Geek" or "Geek 2.0" (the evolved geek). That's part of how Iíve owned the geek stereotype (one I honestly deserve), and made a positive version for MYSELF. I'm the next step in geekery, the evolved nerd, the upgraded fanboy.
I created a new, positive, evolved version of the stereotype and I actively use it to refer to myself.
The advantages of this:
- Recognition. I've got a way of "labeling" myself that's positive, and at the same time turns a stereotype around.
- Positivity. I've owned the stereotype in a positive and even fun way. I also give other people ways to look at themselves.
- Contrast. When you actually use a stereotype to label yourself in a new way, it has a shocking, memorable effect. When I call myself a "Professional Geek" it's memorable as I've got a recognizable stereotype I've expanded and owned.
- Pre-emptive. I've already realized how I'll be labeled – and found a way to turn it to my advantage.
Choose your next stereotype, choose how you're labeled, turn it around.
What are you? What is your evolved stereotype? How are you going to own the future of how you'll be perceived?
Keep practicing that stereotype-fu and putting stereotype-fu into practice!
– Steven Savage