Click HERE to watch video.
Actions Have Consequences.
The coincidence was terrific.
My daughter Aliana’s senior project critique was scheduled on Friday, and I had a free day in Western Massachusetts on that same day between speaking gigs in Boston and Albany.
I asked Ali if it was alright with her if I attended the presentation. Once she confirmed, I checked with her professor to make sure it was okay with him as well.
I was really looking forward to attending. First, I wanted to see the results of all the hard work Ali had put into her last college project. Second, I was excited to see Ali make the presentation. And third, I had gone through so many similar critiques in design school, I was eager to see the similarities and differences and even relive a bit of my university experience.
Just like the critiques I remember from college, some of the kids presenting were good and some were not so good. Same for their work – some of it was quite good and some… not so much.
But Ali’s presentation – and the work she presented – was exceptional. Sure, when it comes to my only daughter, I’m proud and biased and certainly blinded by love. But I’ve also reviewed enough student portfolios in my day to know the difference between good, bad, and OMG!!
Ali’s presentation was one of the best I’d ever seen.
Her subject dealt first with the cruelty imposed on industrially farmed animals in order to meet the expectations of consumers who are more and more removed from the production process and instead purchase sanitary vacuum-sealed packages of meat from climate-controlled grocery stores. She then compared this exploration with the unnatural expectations imposed on women and girls by their sterilized and sexualized portrayal in popular media.
Heady stuff, indeed.
After the critique was over and after I finished complimenting Ali on her work, there was one thing I had to know…
“I’m not surprised your photography is so beautiful. That’s your passion. And I’m not surprised how you compared animals being victimized by industrialized farming to women being constrained by societal views of femininity. Those are your causes.”
“But where did you learn to design page layouts like that? Where did you learn such delicacy with typography? How did you learn to put all this together so beautifully?”
Ali rolled her eyes so hard I’m surprised she didn’t keel over. “Dad…” she said slowly with a world-weariness that belied her age, “…have you ever done a jr. high school science project… with you?”
I believe that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.
Actions Have Consequences.
Fast forward six or so years…
Ali told her mother and me that she was quitting her job at Farm Sanctuary to become a fulltime, professional photographer.
Remembering that day long ago when I quit my job to start my design firm, and recalling how much harder it was than I expected, I asked Ali, “What made you decide to do this now?”
“Dad…” she said in the same tone she’d used a few years ago on her college campus, “…I read your book (Is That All There Is).”
I’m happy to report that Ali is producing great work and that her new business is doing great. You can watch a new music video Ali shot and edited HERE. You can look at Ali’s professional portfolio HERE. And you can book her for a photo assignment HERE.
Once again Ali reminded me that our actions have consequences, whether we think anyone is watching us or not.
Your latest missive about Aliana particularly struck a chord with me…
I’ve been exploring and writing quite regularly during the last year or so on the subject of ‘Ya Never Know Who You Are to Other People’… discovering the impact we have on others – that they have on us – why we connect with some and not with others etc etc etc.
An endlessly interesting topic and once again your way of storytelling always captures my interest! Thanks!
Thank you Karen. And since you know Ali, you know how special she is!!
One of my pet peeves is that our culture does not do more to improve the parenting skills of its citizenry. I mean, it is such a core skill set that creates a measurably substantial value for the nation. (See McClelland’s Achievement Motivation studies from Harvard in the 50s.)
But, as I would certainly expect, you present as a fairly ideal parent. Well Done. Bravo, Bruce!
Thank you Bill!
She does great work, Bruce! The video and photography are top notch.
I agree Daniel. You have very good taste!
I have enjoyed reading your weekly musings since the REALM event in Santa Monica. I have forwarded a number of them as well to friends and colleagues. As a father of two girls, this week’s discussion of your daughter just made me smile. I mean, big proud dad smile—for you. Thank you for sharing as always and if you are ever in Austin I’d be happy to meet up or be a tour guide for you.
Thank you Alex. I appreciate you spreading the word. I’m a big fan of your town and I’m looking forward to seeing Austin through your eyes.
Bruce – great piece- I have often been astonished by the impact a few words or how I reacted to a situation decades ago have impacted the way my children look at the world and interact with it. You must be very proud of your daughter.
Love this story Bruce! What a testimony to your presence with your daughter, Ali and the idea “it’s not what’s taught, it’s what’s caught.” “A Jr High project with you!” Classic!!!! And … “Dadddddd! I read your book!” Possibly you did it all for her and the rest of us are eavesdropping on the conversation.
A proud father moment and secure daughter moment for sure!
I compliment Ali on a photography career. I agree with comments by Jason and Ron. Our children make us proud when they give us some credit for their success.
I won’t comment on sexualizing females in media. But I take exception to her comments about cruelty of farm animals. For example, hogs. Today, pigs are raised in climate-controlled buildings. When a sow is ready to give birth to a litter of pigs she is put in a “crate” to protect the newborn pigs. In the old days that Ali seemed to prefer, hogs were outside regardless of the weather. A significant percent of baby pigs died from exposure to weather or being killed, either accidentally or on purpose, by the sow. Yes, the modern practices that protect farm animals benefit the farmer, and also the consumer.
One great feature about living in America is that consumers have choices. They can buy eggs from “free range” chickens and pork from farms that keep their hogs outside on pasture. Of course, the price is much higher.
Thanks for your kind words, Randall. I appreciate you weighing in with your opinions.
None of us need to agree to have meaningful conversations, but I would ask that you refrain from ad homonym commentary such as “…in the old days that Ali seemed to prefer…”
Truth is, you have no idea what Ali would prefer (and as a committed vegan, Ali would prefer that people didn’t eat pork or eggs at all).
But what Ali or you would, or would not, like, is beside the point. I’m glad that my blog can be a venue for different opinions and will keep it that way as long as all commenters remain respectful.
I can feel the joy and pride jumping through my screen.
Kudos Bruce and Gloria. I know you are both incredibly proud of…and FOR her.
So when is she directing your solo outing
Amazing story. Love it. As a Dad of young ones I can only fathom what this must feel like for you. Truthfully, you as Dad can play favorites certainly, but I believe we are also the most critical of those we love in order to not be biased…and so the fact that hers impressed you so much really says a lot. To click the links and see her work, she has a great gift that has honed into amazing skill. Congrats on this, all of it, and that lessons from living under the same roof have proven as effective as the ones you teach leaders on stages around the world.
Very cool! Nice blog and yes, a wonderful compliment.
I’m amazed at the impact we have on our kids that we don’t even realize. My kids are healthy foodies today and I think it’s because I started cooking healthier about 20 years ago and our family always had dinners together. We didn’t force it on them, it’s just what we did.
On the flip side, my kids would never use humor in their middle or high school presentations. I would always suggest funny lines and they were afraid they would get into trouble for being funny. (“The cheetah’s favorite food is Cheetos”). But then, when it came to college applications, they both wanted help with their essays (“So, that’s why my favorite word is ‘procrastination.’ I would have said more but I put off writing it until it was too late.”)
Of course, I don’t yet know what bad influences I’ve had on them—but I’m sure that will also play out!
I could NOT stop smiling! We are what we do, not what we say. Honor thy father and thy mother means listen and learn – not obey. Your parents paid it forward through you to Ali. Mazel tov!
Thank you Max.