I had a tremendous experience hearing from Tolulope and Zenith Cleaners. While I was thrown off at first by the fact that someone was presenting to us about “cleaning”, and that he actually meant house cleaning, surface cleaning and what have you! When you are used to Ernst & Young executives coming in to show you the latest trends in venture shares for major IPOs, talk about consulting for Wal-Mart and trying to sell their company as the smartest kid on the block. And there we had a guy in his thirties telling us about cleaning… It made me take a step back.
I was confused when he first started telling his story: how could a McGill grad, especially a Desautels MBA graduate, have become a house cleaner? Isn’t that the type of employment that we worked so hard to avoid?? However, Tolulope’s definition of cleaning got me hooked on what he was saying: “Cleaning is the process of removing dirt from any space, surface, object or subject thereby exposing beauty, potential, truth and sacredness”. My initial reaction was along the lines of “I’m not sure what kind of drugs he took to arrive to that statement but it must have been powerful”.
But as I started listening to him, I realized that the notions of stigma that were associated with the job were the reasons I reacted so violently to his opening lines. I did have a prejudice against this type of work. It was not necessarily my fault, as I didn’t know this type of work that well, it simply was natural for me to assume that a cleaner was someone that didn’t have the chance to get an education, and was therefore “relegated” to cleaning other people’s mess.
One of the sentences that resonated with me was along the lines of cleaning being a must. It is an action we all have to do. It is not glamourous, nor is it well viewed by society. However it can be gratifying in ways other employment never would. Tolu managed to link this to the superfluous aspect of many jobs. Cleaning was at least something more essential than marketing for example. I immediately associated this prejudice I had against cleaners to the ones people might have against farmers, or other forms of employment considered “bottom of the chain” or “dirty”. It made me realize that without them, the ones that were built on these foundations would crumble and eventually fall. If what is at the roots of a society becomes cast out, its very foundations tremble.
Matthieu Lefort McGill BCom Student at a guest lecture at McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, October 2014
Hearing you speak, I felt so moved by what you are infusing into our world, culture, and being. It touched me so deeply into my heart, which I still don't understand the complexity of it. I realized in the moment as you were sharing that I had been in shame of this part of my life. I was ashamed that I was someone who cleaned people's homes and offices. I felt that I was looked down upon as less than, and as menial and uneducated. I realized that I created these stories that I in turn told myself. I believed them, and I became these stories of cruelty to myself. I also realized that I was infusing shame and self abuse in all aspects of my life and work.
I am grateful for meeting you and my life has been enriched so much in such a short time.
Tolu’s presentation was my favourite class of the entire semester. The story of a McGill MBA turned entrepreneur/cleaner was inspiring and eye opening. The idea that cleaning can be seen as more than just what we know it as, but as a way of life is something I have looked at my life for. Cleaning your life, and removing dirt and issues to show true beauty is what it is all about.
I liked his analogy of how you need to clean what you use to clean. If you clean the room with a dirty rag, the dirt just gets pushed around. In relation to our world, if we try to fix issues with something that is not pure or clean, we are just moving the issues somewhere else. We are essentially shifting the responsibility over to other people.
I have always wanted to use my business knowledge to more than just a business use. I am an accounting major, and am pursing my CPA designation but I would like to use accounting for more than just accounting. I have always envisioned developing a group that helps underdeveloped areas improve their businesses in a “clean” way. Not by making them change how they function but using it to protect themselves from theft, and have them understand their rights. This would help foster better relationships in community and business and create a network which would help societies function in a way that meets their current needs, and their current practices.
Tolu’s presentation really opened my eyes, and gave me a better view of the world. I will never look at something for just what it is; cleaning is not just cleaning.
Richard Despatie McGill BCom Student, October 2015