The weirdos make change happen.

Historically, the weirdos make systemic change happen.

Le duh: generally, the people inside a system are the ones enjoying all of the upsides of it. Why would I topple my awesome sand castle? It is awesome!

(And sure, there do exist rare souls who benefit from the status quo and are willing to give up some sweet-ass advantages because it’s the right thing to do. They are maybe 0.04% of any system’s membership, she says cynically but with a lot of historical precedent.)

But the not-quites, the outcasts, the weirdos and the misfits…

They aren’t in love with the status quo – it gives them much less, less often, and generally with a brightly patronising smile. They stand to benefit from changes to the system – it can’t be worse than what they have now. And, as anyone who has read a musician’s biography knows, the weirdos have fewer distractions. They’re in their bedroom instead of at the rave/beach party/doof/whatever-the-kids-call-it-nowadays-I-am-old-and-cheerfully-uncool. And they spend that extra time, often, getting very very good at what they do.

Insiders protect the status quo, outsiders change the status quo.

So, I have advice.

Give It Up

You are an insider. Even if it’s as small as having better parking options because you moved in before the zoning laws changed, there are places where the system favours you. And if a new tenant wants to swap car spaces because she has knee problems, your crocodile will get all, “NOPE MINE MY THINGS ARE MINE AND ALSO NOT YOURS MINE MINE.” Understandably, over the generations nature has selected pretty strongly for some kinds of selfishness.

Biological determinism can get fucked.

Stepdads aren’t allowed to kill their new stepkids even though they are competition for the same resources as their biological ones. Lions do it, and plenty of other animals, but “Your Honour, it’s a common mammal behaviour” still doesn’t get the charges dropped.

Learn to let go of advantages, especially when they are unfair. Learn to take a detached, impersonal view of any of the systems you are inside if they are making life shittier for anyone else. Argue vociferously with other insiders. Publish insider info. Get that crowbar. Smash the state.

This applies to your life and your business equally, as I am sure you had guessed. Extra, please teach your kids and also every person you meet ever.

Do Not Dismiss The Weirdos

It’s easy to, ‘cos they’re so… weird! My weirdo is not your weirdo is most assuredly not my cousin’s weirdo, but we all have one.

And we reeeeeeeealllly want to ignore them. We let the label-pinners write off the misfits and sweep them into the dust-bin of blahblah, and then we are shocked, utterly shocked, when they come out of nowhere (nowhere we were looking, anyway) and BAM they revolutionise. Which includes launching a new product or service, a new business model, a new marketing strategy… not just kinda new, but ground-breaking. And there you are, standing on the broken ground, wondering what the fiddly fuck just happened.

Go read How The Mighty Fall, Jim Collins’ dissection of the failure of big businesses, to see it play out over and over. Ignore the weirdos, and you just give them less distractions to worry about, and thus more time to (unintentionally, usually) pull your underpants over your head.

Embrace Your Weirdo

It sucks to be an outsider. It hurts. But it is also liberating.

You can see clearer from out here, darling. Spend your energy writing killer riffs or creating the next piece or serving all the other weirdos, ‘cos we sure don’t get enough love out here.

And then, as needed, pick up that motherfucking crowbar.

I love you, brave soul.



How does your business respond to a tragedy?

Three things from the last week:

  1. Yet another African-American has been killed by the officers who swore to protect and serve him.
  2. My country had an election. We voted back in a scorchingly racist woman who vows to prioritise the terrible evils undermining our society, aka halal and climate change science.
  3. Daesh (an infinitely better name for ISIS) have destroyed any claims they made to religious commitment by bombing one of Islam’s holiest sites during one of its holiest times of year.

I have strong feelings about all of these events.

If you care, what do you (a business owner) communicate?

Option #1: Say absolutely nothing, anywhere.


  • No customer backlash.
  • No awkward conversation with your much-more-racist-than-predicted cousin.
  • Brand consistency, probably.
  • Avoid saying something cringeworthy (especially likely if you’re outside the persecuted group.)


  • You are a coward.
  • Your silence encourages the repugnant status quo.

Option #2: Talk about it in your personal channels, not the business ones.

Many channels might be an amalgam of your business and personal selves, which sometimes makes this a bit blurry. You decide what constitutes personal.


  • Keeps the business message consistent.
  • Adds another smidgen to the scales.


  • Since most of your personal followers will be like-minded darlings, you tend to be preaching to the choir. (Aside from aforementioned cousin.)
  • Can create smug pridefulness, when all you did was change your FB profile pic.

Option #3: All in

Talking about the issue passionately, with fierce clarity, in your business’ social media, blog, newsletter, etc.


  • Much greater spread, since your clients are often much more diverse than your personal circle.
  • May be (knowing you, dearest, probably is) aligned with your business brand and values.
  • An excellent chance to clarify your target market.
  • Guaranteed non-beige, riveting marketing.


  • Expect haters. (I still get the occasional comment five years after one inflammatory post.)
  • You can (unmaliciously, unconsciously) start taking advantage of the situation. Not cool.
  • It is hard hard work to write.
    • Correction: to write well.
    • Requires self-reflection, honest admitting of your own failures, bravery and a good grasp of the facts.
    • Again, this is always easier to fuck up if you’re not a member of the shat-upon group.

Option #4: Amplify the voices of others.

Again, this can be done in your personal space, or your business space. (OR BOTH.)


  • Less work!
  • Can rely on experts:
    • People who actually live in the area
    • People who have experienced this before
    • People who talk and write with rage and precision and depth beyond our own
  • Gives more power to the unheard and ignored.


  • You vouched for them by sharing their work. It will suck if they turn out to be factually inaccurate, ethically shady, or straight-up lying.
    • Do a bit of legwork. The internet will provide.
  • It is easier to find reporting and opinions provided by People Who Have No Skin In This Game.
    • Make the extra effort to find voices that share the same skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, etc as the victims.
  • Enraged customers, cousins, etc

Which do you choose?


*cue flat unimpressed look from the audience*

Look, you can’t cover every tragic event, because you would honestly get nothing else done. In regards to police shootings in the US, for example, I go with the personal channels option, and not always then. Not because I don’t seethe about it – o boy do I  – but because a) sometimes I am too ill to contribute, and b) I don’t live in the US. Instead, I am openly committing myself to raise holy hell about Aboriginal deaths in custody, which we have far too many of.

And neither do you need to close down every single other topic when something happens. In fact, since many of them are terror attacks, you definitely shouldn’t stop taking photos of ducklings and celebrating a new product line. Just be maybe a little gentler, especially around the people who are affected.

But what’s the point of just saying something? Only actions matter!

Wrong wrong wrongitty wrong, sugarpea.

Imagine a bell curve. (You have to, because if I want to finish this post I don’t have the energy to make one.)

Down the low end, there are The Heartless Arseholes. Up in the top wedge are The Warriors of Love. And of course, in the middle is… all the rest of us.

We each have a teensy effect, which feels stupendously meaningless. What’s one Facebook post in this world, you wonder. It doesn’t matter at all.

But look at the base line of this bell curve, and realise that it is waywayway bigger than the spot our bell curve lives on. No one, except for maybe the thinnest wedge of Heartless Arseholes, is currently okay with saying, “Slavery is the natural order of things and there’s nothing wrong with it.” (Or in my nation: “This land is totally free of people and so we claim it.”) But not too long ago, the majority of people would have not only been fine with that statement, they would have been taken aback if you disagreed.

The middle was moved.

With setbacks and resistance and petty petty shittiness, the middle point was dragged toward the humane end so that slavery is no longer a norm (and it’s acknowledged that indigenous Australians really do have a right to the lands they inhabited when the whitefellas arrived). Some of the steps were big and bold and historical. But a lot of them were the size of a tweet, or a sign.

With enough small efforts, we can move our bell-curve further away from Inhumanity and toward Utopia.

Be brave, and take a stand on the issues that matter to you. Do it in your personal life, and feel absolutely free to do so in your business. Otherwise, what’s the point of having your own business? If you were planning to shut up and do as you were told you might as well be in a day job.

I’ve tapped out my energy writing this, and I know I have missed plenty of points. Share some in the comments so I can improve this article once I’ve had a long long nap.

tiger money

Tiger money. Umm, what?

You have three people in your brain.

The first is a crocodile. It doesn’t have a name, because it is a crocodile. It gets involved whenever food, safety, sex and air supply are in focus. The rest of the time it just lays there, completely uninterested. Because it is a crocodile.

The second is a dog named Sparky. She recognises her name when it is said. She cares about the pack, about knowing her place in it. She cares about every member of the pack, and will fight to protect them. She gets involved when relationships are in focus.

The third is a robot butler that sounds like Jarvis, Iron Man’s AI. Jarvis knows practically everything, and makes the plans, the predictions, and the analysis. Jarvis is involved when learning something new, when engaging with art, when predicting, when deep in spiritual experiences.

When we lived on the savannah, this system rocked.

Each part of our brain played to its strengths. Jarvis would plan the hunt based on his understanding of the prey’s patterns, Sparky would work in silent co-ordination with the other hunters, and the crocodile would kill the shit out of the prey so it could eat.

But we don’t live on the savannah now.

We live in condos.

We get food from supermarkets, not strategic bludgeoning.

But… the crocodile is still the crocodile.

Whenever food, sex or oxygen are in discussion, the crocodile will be interested.

And when food, sex, or oxygen are threatened, the crocodile will be doing its damndest to run the show.

When dealing with savannah threats, this makes perfect sense. RARGH SMASH RUN KILL is a perfect response to a tiger.

But when dealing with an overdue electricity bill? The crocodile senses a security threat (DARKNESS! COLD!) and demands to be involved. But the crocodile only has seven words in its vocabulary, all of them verbs. What you need is Jarvis, who can balance a budget. And maybe Sparky, who can make friends with the collections guy.

The crocodile is of practically no use in most of our current survival threats, but as soon as it senses a threat it will be contributing. A lot.

Which is why money isn’t just money.

As a shared hallucination, all money looks the same: bits of paper and plastic and shiny coiny things.

But the things the money represents are very, very, very different.

Jarvis thinks of money in abstract terms; in fact, he’s the only one capable of it. Jarvis is the rational actor that economists blither about, able to think of returns on investment, of opportunity costs, of investments.

But Jarvis, physiologically, is the furthest away from the action. Closest is the crocodile.

It understands money the same way it understands tigers.

Tiger money is the money of survival.

It’s the money that buys food, water, shelter, protection from the elements. Possibly medications, electricity, and a few other things that represent security.

When that money is present, the crocodile is calm. As soon as next week’s rent is at risk, the crocodile is going to be very, very active.

Terrible Problem #1: The crocodile will take all focus and energy away from Jarvis, who is the one most likely to be able to figure out how to get more money before the rent is due.

Terrible Problem #2: The crocodile will never understand sentences like, “We need to follow up on that unpaid invoice, and this would be easier if you would shut the fuck up, crocodile.”

Terrible Problem #3: The crocodile will also not understand concepts like ethics, legalities, or brand consistency. The crocodile will just jump on anything that looks food-like and try to eat it. It’s Jarvis and Sparky who’ll have the indigestion later.

When tiger money is at risk, the crocodile WILL get involved.

And it will make things worse. Guaranteed.

You can manage this, with mindfulness and preparation and friends who will stop you from doing anything too stupid.

But it’s infinitely easier if the tiger money is never at risk. Keep that fucker sleeping.

We’ll talk about how to do that next time.

For now, does this make sense? Any realisations? Come tell me in the comments.

I’m back, and I’m full of feelings.

Yesterday's walk

A photo posted by @catherinecaine on

Hello darlings,

I’ve made a lot of space. I ended a relationship, gave away my Elladog, moved 500 miles. (Normally I’d say “800 km”, but that wouldn’t make some of you start singing with a heavy Scottish accent.)

Single, overweight, mid-30s, vehicle-less, one bedroom of possessions. Living on government payments in a share house five minutes away from my parents. It would be possible to see this as pathetic.

But it’s also possible to see this as extremely fucking liberating.

As a Professional Invalid – chronic fatigue still firmly in effect – I have very, very limited resources.

It’s like… being permanently stuck on the day before you realise you have a cold, the one where you tell everyone, “I don’t know why I feel so tired, I slept fine.” (Those are the good days. The bad ones are like the second day of the flu, where you are dying of thirst but can’t make it to the kitchen for juice.)

The mathematics of illness is implacable, unalterable, and mean.

Doing this means I can’t do that. A year ago my list of commitments was massively longer than now: finding exercise for the Elladog that didn’t break me, mowing the massive fast-growing Queensland lawn, doing the majority of relationship work, plus a billion etceteras. I wonder how I did it and remember: by putting a lot of other things on hold. Sewing. Walking. Leaving the house. This website.

It’s been funny and sad.

For so long this business was my life, in a Heathcliffe and Cathy way; almost all my thoughts took a small detour through it.

Suddenly: tornadoed away.

Forced to answer questions like: who am I now? What do I do?

All answered by the void.

Stupid unhelpful-ass void.

But here I am…

In my small crowded room. Doing the shopping with my dad. Laying down as my body dictates. Finally settling in, getting the rhythms, feeling safe, knowing where the strainer is.

Hearing my niece say, “Hello Auntie Cafrun!”

Sometimes – not as often as I wish – going to the beach that I missed so much.

Feeling just the teensiest edge of space open up at times and contemplating what to do with it.

I didn’t automatically think that Cash and Joy would be it.

In fact, I was extra suspicious of choosing to offer up my energy to its altar.

I knew it could be unbearably rapacious.

And it might take less time to build a new thing than to get this one re-operational in any capacity.

But most of all, there was no compelling reason to do it. No why.

Then shittiness happened.

People being terrible and hurtful and destructive. My Facebook feed is full of my darlings bleeding over the page, and I ache in sympathy.

I wanted, oh so much, to do something that would help. Can’t give blood until one of my meds is titrated off. Can’t donate much money due to careful budget. What could I give?

Oh. Oh. I could give them Cash and Joy.

I can, slowly as hell, help my wounded sweethearts to build. Create. Make money. Flourish. Support all my delightful weirdos and my unjustly maligned darlings and my fierce strivers. Write about the practicalities of a business that wants to be ethical, principled, and still pay the bills on time. Talk about sparkling clean marketing practices.

I want you, my beautiful heart, to create an alternative to Business As Usual, which is toxic and shitty and vicious.

And, from a personal perspective, I’ll prob’ly talk about how how to manage it within non-negotiable limitations.

So here I am. *fistfuls of confetti*

I will write when I can, which will vary. A lot.

I have zero plans to make money just yet, ‘cos I can’t afford the extra energy that would require.

I can’t focus for as long as I used to, so articles may be broken up, written over time, or may veer wildly at the end. I’m struggling to finish this now.

I will end with love.

Be brave, dear heart,