The invisible man

I was listening to Radio National recently and heard a very thought provoking discussion about women’s ‘invisibility’ – the fact that in our doubtless misogynistic society (pretty much the whole world as far as I can tell) women are roundly ignored (except as sex objects/objects of desire). One of the speakers (a business leader and renowned public speaker) explained that as a more ‘senior women’ she was seemingly even more invisible – but that she fortunately had acquired the wisdom to remain unoffended so that she could live her life as she wanted – without anger.

It struck me – as I was beginning to get angry about the fact that I too had become invisible (at least to recruiters) despite my male advantage – that I should practice similar equanimity (something my gender did not include in the manual) with regard to my new found status. It then dawned on me that such invisibility could potentially be seen as a super-power (if that makes sense).

When one is ignored by a group the first thing you might feel is disempowered (followed by anger, embarrassment, depression, etc…). We are, after all, social animals and enjoy the comforts and protection of the herd. But think about it. They (the group ignoring you) maybe don’t see you but you can still see (and hear) them. You can study them without their being aware that they’re the subject! As a life-long salesman, and occasional consultant, I can state from experience that the sort of intelligence you can gather when people are ‘off their guard’ can be very valuable – and often impossible to get via other means (even Cambridge Analytica would likely come up empty handed).

Why am I sharing this realisation? Because it may help recruiters understand that if they’re looking for the sharpest strategic sales folk they may want to reconsider the invisible ones – you know, the grey hairs. Gender should be optional (a very 21st Century development – and most welcome I’d further suggest) but their super-powers are the thing!