Of course, the very act of writing this coming-of-age story forced me to admit that I will never be the wise she-warrior cum world-saver I once believed I would, that I am just another person struggling to make my life ‘mean something’, whatever that means.

Jillian Reilly – Author of SHAME

Writing

Here's a selection of articles and reviews...

Do any of you watch The Fixer?

Do any of you watch The Fixer?

Posted by Jillian Reilly on 30th May, 2016

Do any of you watch The Fixer? (Scandal in the US) The one with Olivia Pope, a woman with a fabulous wardrobe but a seriously miserable life. Good at diffusing scandals, not so good at managing loving relationships. She drinks a lot of red wine, but doesn’t have a lot of fun. I can relate to Olivia Pope. The wine, wardrobe, all of it. For as long as I can remember there was some situation in my life I needed to Fix. Some person I needed to Save. My mother, who suffered from panic attacks since I was a little girl. My parents’ marriage, which was always shouty then silent. (I was voted Best Dressed at Parkway Central High School, because I was desperate to make my life look Perfect on the Outside.) Later there was apartheid in South Africa. Such staggering injustice, how could I not join the movement to overturn it? Then HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. The world’s biggest pandemic. A killer that sneaks into houses and beds on the back of need and desire, AIDS kills you because you desperately want to be wanted. How could I not try to end that pain? And finally a broken system of international aid. A philanthropic sideshow that rolls in and out of towns like a circus, leaving locals to clean up. How could I not try to improve upon millions of dollars of mediocrity? On paper, mine was a noble life. Heavy with purpose. By the time I turned 30, I had never been in love. Hardly ever laughed. Solace came in a glass of red. Having spent a...

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Do Gooding Done Right

Do Gooding Done Right

Posted by Jillian Reilly on 9th Feb, 2016

I never thought I would feel any sympathy for corporates, but these days I do. Well, sort of. Because it’s no longer enough to manufacture cars or deliver parcels. Corporates are being expected to do more. They’re being expected to do good. Now I know most of you are saying, yes, and it’s about time! And I couldn’t agree with you more. It is, after all, about time that some of the world’s profit takers and widget makers did SOMETHING to set the world right. But let’s be honest: it’s not really in the corporate DNA to do good. So a lot of them end up screwing it up. A lot. By writing fat cheques for causes they know little about, putting a fresh coat of paint on a crumbling building or taking selfies with smiley poor kids. Feel good – sure. Do good – not so much. But imagine if they got it right? Imagine all those networks, all that skill, all that money, supporting the world’s change makers? It starts me dreaming. About corporates possibly doing good correctly – or at least with integrity: Start at Home. Literally. Yes, in your own country. Please, please don’t support kids or causes in Zambia or Laos when you’ve got poverty, abuse, neglect and poor social services in your own back garden. Not exotic, I know, but oh. so. necessary. Still, I’m talking about starting even closer to home. In your own company. Don’t even think about trying to help people “out there”, unless and until your own house is in order. In terms of wages, employment policies, environmental impact,...

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Mad Men

Mad Men

Posted by Jillian Reilly on 7th Oct, 2014

When I was first asked to speak at a digital marketing conference, I had to read the email several times. Still confused, I sent a reply to the conference organisers reminding them who my normal demographic is (um, I work in development… you know… with NGOs) and what my traditional public speaking schtick is (and I usually talk about how to do development better?). When they told me that the theme of the conference was “GO DO GOOD” (and, yes, it was always written in caps) the invitation started to make sense. The proposition the conference was exploring was how brands and advertisers could… yes, you guessed it…“GO DO GOOD”. Interesting enough: can people who peddle Coco Puffs and Coca Cola be world changers? Sign me up! So I accepted the invitation, and soon enough began to anticipate the event, seeing it as yet another chance to try out our Troublemakers message. With a decidedly different audience, of course. I would take the opportunity to “disrupt” – yup, I got the jargon – these marketers’ sense of what “doing good” looks and feels like, and challenge them to use their considerable resources and social platforms to make some Trouble in the name of doing good. And maybe I would even make some Trouble, myself. What did I have to lose? As the day drew closer I wrestled with how I should adapt my Troublemakers pitch to my slick audience, and I entertained making a number of adjustments. Every night as I fell asleep, my thoughts went something like: Should I flash some fancy graphics? (Nope. I can barely manage...

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