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"Aspirational is out. Relatable is in. The age of the macro-influencer is out, and micro-influencers — or what we term as “community-centric” marketing — are in. We will see the future of the creator economy based on the establishment, substance, and growth of communities over platforms."
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Trans actor Bilal Baig wants you to know that transition is a universal experience in award-winning CBC series 'Sort Of'
Earlier this summer, CBC and HBO Max’s groundbreaking TV show “Sort Of” won a Peabody, a prestigious US award. Bilal Baig, a playwright, and actor is the lead of the comedy series. Sort Of Season 2 premieres in Canada on CBC Gem, and in the USA on HBO Max, in Fall 2022.
Co-created by Fab Filippo and Bilal Baig, Sort Of is a Canadian television sitcom, released in 2021. The dramedy explores life at the intersection of identities and social worlds. Baig plays the character, Sabi, a gender-fluid millennial in Toronto who is learning to navigate their own gender and sexuality. They balance roles as the child of Pakistani immigrant parents, a nanny to an upper-class family by day, and a bartender at a queer space by night.
Baig, 27, who lives in Toronto is the first non-binary lead character on Canadian TV. They are also the first South Asian, Muslim Queer lead in a Canadian prime-time TV series. Baig was proud that queer people of color were represented both on-screen and behind the scenes in the writer's room and at the executive level to ensure the show remained authentic.
A major theme is that every character regardless of gender, sexuality or age is going through a transition, evolving, and learning about themselves while holding onto secrets. Baig told Time,
“When we started to understand that we were going to watch each of the characters navigate their own transition—their own relationship to that word—a lot of the nuance came in."
Baig feels it's important to focus on inclusion through the arts and wants to continue elevating other voices. The show even runs inclusivity sessions for the crew and cast with facilitators and psychologists who talk about what means to bring people from different walks of life together. They believe:
"Representation is so important for so many people who feel that there isn't a place for them in this world when they don't see themselves on TV or in film and art and on stage."
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Transitions: How to come out on top when you're at a crossroads
Robert Frost, best known for his poem, The Road Not Taken, wrote about coming to a fork in the road and having to make a choice about which path to take. His choice lay between an easier, successful, but less fulfilling road and a less traveled, more difficult road that would ultimately lead to greater satisfaction.
Most of us have faced a crossroads. Managing a transition can be both thrilling and unsettling. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, confused, and scared. William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, defines a transition as a voyage from one place to another. There's a departure, a disorienting time of travel, and finally a destination. He calls the time between endings and new beginnings the “neutral zone” -- a “neither here nor there” psychological space where identities are in flux and people feel they have lost the ground beneath their feet. They oscillate between ‘holding on’ and ‘letting go’, between our desire to cling to our past and the excitement of moving towards a better future version of ourselves.
It’s important to note that going through a transition and making a change are different. While change is situational, a transition is psychological and happens first. You need to figure out a transition and what needs to end in your life, so you can internally accept and come to terms with it. Making a change is goal oriented. Transitions can be positive or negative and may not be your choice like losing your job or a relationship ending.
The middle feels the most uncomfortable because you’re in limbo - in a “neither here nor there” place. This period can be short or might last weeks, months, or possibly years as you explore new roles, and identities that make sense and feel right. Bridges says that accepting and getting beyond the confusion and uncertainty of the neutral zone is essential for a successful transition to happen.
Tips for a faster successful transition.
Networking skills and cultivating good relationships are important. For career transitions, sociologist, Mark Granovetter published his famous 1973 paper, The Strength of Weak Ties. It examines the role of developing “weak ties” to build highly effective social networks. He found that 16% of educated professionals got jobs through “strong ties” or personal connections from family, school, or previous jobs. A whopping 84% of people found jobs or opportunities with help from “weak ties” or contacts they rarely saw on a regular basis.
We all know people who seem to “know everyone” and are connected to a broad circle of interest groups and people who are not part of their family or work environment.
There are tips you can follow for a faster successful transition. First, follow Gen Z's lead by being curious, authentic, and relatable when meeting new people. Secondly, in a fast-paced world where we’ve all had a bumpy past few years, get past the small talk and delay talking about job titles or what people do for a living. Instead, connect on a deeper level. Be vulnerable. Have more meaningful conversations around your shared values and important issues for both of you. Third, recognize the key to meeting and helping a new contact transition is how effectively you both build rapport, likeability, and trust quickly.
Like so many successful people who came before you, don’t be surprised if connecting and developing “weak ties” with people you barely know, results in 3 to 5 times the number of opportunities compared to most (but not all) of the people you’ve known all your life.
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