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Five Words: 01 Quirky

The SC Staff are Truly Eccentric

Mon Jun 13 23:53:47 2016

Introduction: The Methodology

I attended a presentation by the wonderful Isla Wilson of Ruby Star Associates (@rubystartweets), she ran a series of small demonstrations. One particular test was to think of five words to describe your business, the opposite of these words had to be a word that you might also use to describe a business, maybe even your business. So the opposite couldn’t be derogatory or a word that wouldn't be used. So unique is out, because who uses everyday, commonplace to describe themselves? And professional is out as you wouldn’t call yourself amateur.

This is a series of articles about my words. You can read the introduction to the series.

Going loco down in...Lancaster

The first word that pops into my head when I think about Shadowcat, its staff, its mindset, its history is quirky. I know a lot of people use the word niche or individual and the over-used unique in the same manner. But I would use Quirky. We are a little eccentric, yes that means a little mad I guess.


  • Pronunciation: /ˈkwəːki/
  • ADJECTIVE (quirkier, quirkiest): Having or characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits or aspects


Synonyms for quirky (adj eccentric)

bizarre, idiosyncratic, odd, off-the-wall, peculiar, strange, unconventional, unusual, wacky, weird, far out, freakish, freaky, in left field, kinky, out of the ordinary, outre, unorthodox

Antonyms for quirky

common, familiar, normal, regular, standard (Navigate here for full reference)

Eccentricity (behavior)

In popular usage, eccentricity (also called quirkiness) refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive. Eccentricity is contrasted with "normal" behavior, the nearly universal means by which individuals in society solve given problems and pursue certain priorities in everyday life. People who consistently display benignly eccentric behavior are labeled as "eccentrics".

(Navigate here for full reference)

I often feel that quirky can be maligned in its usage, people use quirky when they want to be polite about considering something as odd. They might use quirky to patronise an item, or to display fault:

‘Oh what a quirky little shop.’

‘It has a few quirks but is generally a good runner.’

‘You do that every time, it is one of your quirks.’

Enter the Gamer

People who know me well have heard me speak about role playing games, in particular table-top gaming. I have been a gamer for three decades and for almost all that time I have been the person running the games, the dungeon/games master.

One of the systems I used to love was the GURPS roleplaying system by Steve Jackson Games. In it you could choose ‘Quirks’ for your character. These were individual items that gave more balance and variety to the person you were playing. More importantly they weren’t all negative traits, many of them were positive. They just helped to flesh out the character, make them more real, make them individual.

I think that’s why I see Shadowcat as quirky. We are individual, we are quite different to other companies. Our differences give us more texture and shape and they cannot be seen as just positive elements, many of our quirks could be considered detrimental.

And that’s important. I think we have an ethical level of honesty. We try to be as transparent as we can in business while being respectful, especially of a confidfence. So we wear our problems as proudly as our talents. Without any issues how do we seek to improve, to grow, to change and evolve?

Conclusion: People are Strange

“People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven, when you're down
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange“
(The Doors, People are Strange)

Being quirky is often associated with being strange. People generally fear change, they fear what they don’t know, the strange and unusual. In contrast to the Doors song above I think people do ‘remember your name’, they might try to blank it if you are too much in contrast to their social security blankets, but you end up being more distinctive and memorable by your differences.

We should have idiosyncrasies that might be less than positive. Is there any company that doesn’t have something that people might take issue with? That doesn’t agreive someone in some manner? But this isn’t just showing that you have good and bad, or seeing yourself in a balanced light. I am proud to be quirky. I am glad that as an organisation we have these features. They give us texture and value.

Calling us wacky, weird, oddballs, irregular or strange isn’t actually insulting. It is recognising that we don’t dance to a regular beat, we don’t deliver the ordinary, we are special and we see the world and everything in it through that quirky filter.

It is certainly a strong part of why we are good at what we do. We don’t have the same lens, we don’t have the same filters and so we have a different view. This is important in how we approach the solution to problems we are presented with.

I feel very proud to be Quirky, so very proud to be Strange…

Other articles in the series

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