Know Your Enemy

So we’ve just completed day four of Occupy Toronto and while I agree with the general notion of the movement, it doesn’t really seem very focused.  The lack of cohesion in the movement has already been well documented, so I’m not going to go on about that, but what I did want to write a bit about tonight was how the protesters could really take a few lessons from their Bay Street enemies.

I know, it sounds a little strange saying that the people protesting should learn from the same people they are protesting against, but if they want to further their cause, they have to learn a bit about their enemy.

A friend made a comment to me a couple of days ago that protesters are never taken seriously and I said that maybe that’s a sign that it’s time for protesters to change how they protest.  To what extent does that change need to happen?  Well, to be honest, the Occupy movement has demonstrated some of the power protesters have assumed through the use of social media, but I’m not talking so much about the use of technology.  I’m talking a little more old school.  They need to think like the guys in the blue suits.  The onus isn’t on the public to take protesters seriously, it’s on the protesters to present themselves seriously.

I was reading the other day how protesters were awoken in St. James’ park by the church bells ringing.  I thought to myself, wow, the day is already underway, people are showing up to church and the protesters are still sleeping?  Let me tell you something about the guys on Bay Street.  Whether you like what they are doing or not, these guys don’t sleep.  If there’s something they want, they will do whatever it takes to get it done.  If it’s a big deal they’re trying to close, they’re going to work on as little sleep as possible until things are developed enough where they can take a step back.  If they’re willing to do that, shouldn’t the protesters be willing to do the same?  Just how important is change to them?

I remember sitting in a presentation once where I heard an executive say that his company wasn’t always the one to come up with the groundbreaking idea, but when another company did, they would sit back and learn…and then come out with something even better.  The Occupy Wall Street movement took a while to organize and while I can appreciate Toronto wanting to get on board before the movement possibly lost some of its momentum, they really needed to take a look at what was taking place in New York, focus on its weaknesses and then plan before things got off the ground.  There are too many competing goals and not enough action…and that’s a bad combination.

The top guys on Bay Street are good at what they do (enter joke or statement here about exactly what it is they do), but the true elite on Bay Street know the things that they aren’t good at…and they know who to task with those responsibilities so a) their company will be a success and b) they will come out looking good.  They put the right people in the right place at the right time to keep things moving.  In the Occupy Toronto movement, how many times have you seen somebody carrying a sign with serious grammatical errors or somebody using the opportunity to make a joke?  I know, you can’t control the public and the messages they want to convey, but if you are one of the so called spokespeople for Occupy Toronto, it’s up to you to make sure that the right images are conveyed to the media.  You need to make it look like you have everything planned and you have taken time to communicate your message.  Opportunities like this don’t come along every day; it’s time to capitalize on the occupation.

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