Men in Management – Myanmar and Beyond

Myanmar - Yangon Men In Management-1

“Progress isn’t made by early risers.
It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” 
~Robert A. Heinlein

What more needs to be said?  This is a perfect quote.

For us men, we take to heart the point of “while appearing lazy, we actually accomplish a lot.”  A thought I toasted many a beer to during travels in Myanmar with our guide Mr. Thu.

Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-2

Conversely, my sister Sandi and our other guide in Myanmar, Ms. Kay-K, had the opposing view, and while they agreed with the first part of the assessment of “being lazy”, they vehemently disagreed with the last part where men actually accomplish anything.

In fact, if I remember correctly, Kay-K’s comment was simply “men accomplishing something?!?” before she broke out in laughter along with my sister.

Inle Lake Myanmar - Men In Management-3

It was at this point I realized this may be a long trip.  The banter began the first day during our drive out into the countryside and witnessing an endless amount of roadwork taking place.

The roadwork included strenuous labor; baskets and baskets of rocks being carried to-and-fro, digging, leveling and preparation of the road by pick and hand as the crew worked on repairs.

Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-4

It was a matter of time before my sister asked the logical question, “Thu, there are only women doing this road work… where are the men?”

With a start, Thu snapped out of his nap, looked outside the car window, and nonchalantly replied: “Oh, the men?  The men are in management…” and closed his eyes to go back to sleep.  I stifled my laughter.

Monks at Play Myanmar - Men In Management-5

I thought Thu’s response was perfect, even though over the past decades of tormenting my three sisters about the ‘wonders of being a man’ I should have known a storm was inevitably brewing.

Hiding my smile, I would have high-fived Mr. Thu if he wasn’t fading back to sleep and I didn’t have a beer in each hand…

Yangon Myanmar - Men In Management-6

“It sounds like the old boys network,” my sister said to Kay-K.  “Men in power, pretending to be significant while the rest of us do the real work that keeps us moving forward.”

“Of course, it is the same everywhere isn’t it?” cooed Kay-K, casting a wary eye my way.  “Dalo, were you part of the old men’s club with your work in the USA?”

“Well, yeah, I suppose I was…  I was part of a male upper-management team.” I quickly inhaled the last of my beer, a little worried at what I was getting myself into.  Mr. Thu just opened one eye looking back at me as if to say  “feign sleep, it’s your only way out…”

Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-7

Yet before I could put my head back and close my eyes, Kay-K was quick to ask, “And was working with this company good for you?”

“Uh, yeah, it was nice.  I was able to buy a nice house, save some money and take such nice trips as this…” I added, wondering where this was going, although knowing it was not going to end well and too late to do anything about it…

“And how about the company now; the common employees?” she looked at me inquisitively.

Yangon Myanmar - Men In Management-8

“Uh, well, I left the company last year but I do know that the employees there are struggling a bit as there have been huge cuts within the company, but they did announce record profits last year.” I smiled, and decided now was the time to close my eyes and try Thu’s trick of feigning sleep.

“Making cuts?  Record profits?” Kay-K questioned, and laughed with a sharp tone, “and let me guess, the old men in the executive positions are walking away with big bonuses…”

With eyes closed, I let out a couple snores, hoping to dissolve the conversation.

Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-9

Not sure how much time passed in our conversation, but the ‘pop’ of a fresh beer opening gave me away as my hand shot-out instinctively and Kay-K replaced the one I was holding with a fresh one.

Slowly squinting, I opened my eyes, checking to see if all was well and turned to look outside.  Could not have been worse timing, as immediately we passed a group of women working the fields, and I felt Kay-K’s stare burning the back of my head.

Women of Bagan Myanmar - Men In Management-10

Cracking a meager smile, I turned and said, “If I have learned correctly, the men are in management, elsewhere, correct?!?”  Thu lifted up his beer in a silent toast as sarcastic jeers came from Kay-K and sis.

Inle Lake Myanmar - Men In Management-11

Ahead of us was Old Bagan, with some of the most beautiful landscapes one will ever see and I anxiously prepped my gear for a nice evening of shooting.  As we started walking to one of the temples, Kay-K flashed a smile and said, “so, you take photographs and drink beer…that is very nice.  You’d be a very good Myanmar man…”  And with a laugh she ran and caught up with my sister.

Pindaya Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-12

The evening shoot was magical, the spirit of the people incredible…peaceful and playful.  Mixed within these incredible archeological sites, Thu and Kay-K talked a lot about the history and culture of the land as well as the men and women.

“There is a saying that my Dad taught me and I take it to heart.”  Thu said, “For men who think a woman’s place is in the kitchen, just remember that’s where the knives are kept.”

Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-13

“Myanmar not too long ago was a matriarchal society, and women held all the right to inherit wealth and were leaders of villages…” Kay-K smiled.  “Most men hate to admit to it, but it was a very prosperous period for our country.”

Kay-K Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-14

“And when women were forced into the background, guess what happened to our country…” Kay-K added, “power struggles, egos of men creating chaos.  We lost generations of fresh minds and new ideas…it is sad.  Why are men so moronic when it comes to fighting?”

Monk and Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-15

I rubbed the small scar on my chin, a result of a long ago fight that even during the brawl I don’t think anyone knew what we were fighting for.  Hmmm, probably not the best time to tell that story.

“We’ve always had a feel for progress and for freedom, and the men know it…perhaps their knowing it makes them so lazy.” Kay-K sighed.

Myanmar - Men In Management-16

“Men know that we will cleanup their mess, so when things get tough ~ men turn to us, but hate to admit they need us.” With that she grabbed my sister’s hand and both of them tromped off to the market to find some exotic foods for dinner.

Inle Lake Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-17

I look at Thu who shook his head and smiled.  “She is a little troublesome…but it is true.  Men can either fear and repress women, and watch the world fall apart.  Or men can proudly promote women and enjoy their greatness and prosperity.”

As he popped open a couple of beers, Thu settled down underneath the shade of a tree with a newspaper in hand and added, “Me, I’d rather enjoy their greatness.”

Old Bagan Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-18

From the front page of the paper Thu was reading, the word “Hope” stood out followed by a discussions of two future elections.  Elections that may just see a change in the theory of ‘Men in Management.’

Myanmar 2015 Presidential Election:  Aung San Suu Kyi
United States 2016 Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton

Hope for the Women of Myanmar - Men In Management-19


Old Bagan Myanmar - Men In Management-24

“Say Romeo, what about your promise to the He-Man-Woman-Haters-Club?”
“I’m sorry, Spanky.  I’ve got to live my own life.”  – REO Speedwagon, Hi Infidelity Album

171 Comments on “Men in Management – Myanmar and Beyond

    • Hey there, thank you! Planning on heading back in July if I can squeeze the time in…I’d like to see the rainy season very much.

  1. Hello Randall,
    It’s so exciting to see a new post from you. As always, I am awed by your capture of the perfect moments. I could almost feel as though I too, could join the experience. I am happy you ‘survived’ the more ‘dangerous’ parts of the trip 😀 Thank you for sharing.
    Best wishes,

    • Thank you Takami, if there ever is a place to enjoy photography, Myanmar is definitely one of the top places I’ve been to…captivating place. Best wishes to you!

  2. What an incredible post. To be able to see other parts of the world from the comfort of my chair, is a Gift. Thank you so much for showing me Myanmar. xx Amy

  3. Beautiful as always! 🙂 Fantastic post and images!! Thank you for taking me along on your adventure … reading this reminded me of the a small sign the desk in my office… “Would you like to speak to the man in charge, or the woman who knows what’s going on…” LOL 🙂

    • Ha, perfect sign and there is always so much truth to it ~ I suppose part of the fun of life is figuring it out 🙂

      • 🙂 I couldnt help but smile reading about you and your sister ~ my older brother teases me unmercifully about this very thing 🙂

      • I think it is in our ‘code of brothers’ booklet somewhere 🙂 Especially when reminded daily that it really is not actually the case.

      • LOL ~ So that’s it!! I think he’s got that particular piece if literature memorized 😉

  4. I enjoyed this post a lot! Your photos are incredible and I loved the story! 🙂

  5. What beautiful people and landscapes! Also, nice humorous touches in the post. I’m glad to know the States aren’t the only place where we seem inept at becoming complementary strengths to each other 😉

    • Thank you, the people are incredible there, such a strong part of the land, and it was great to see these young people so in-tune to their personal freedom/hope and their great humor. Such a great place.

  6. Dalo, do you believe that EVERY woman is capable of being in charge and bringing good changes? Anyway, enjoyed the post and photos.

    • Thanks JF. As for every woman, I no more believe that than any man. Every successful union is when both sides begin to understand that working together and playing off on each other’s strengths is where real success can thrive. Strength of a team is always more powerful than the strength of one. Cheers!

      • I asked you only because you mentioned Hillary. For me she can’t have anything to do with hope.

      • Understood, I do hope that in ’16 we have a good group of candidates to choose from and not just politics as usual. 🙂

  7. Hi Randy I really enjoyed reading this and seeing all the beautiful photographs. It sounds like Kay-K is a great feminist and Mr Thu is so cool!! I love the feigning sleep part. I did that once on a train when an agitated stranger sat in front of me, shouting away, I figured it would be better to pretend to be asleep than to be shouted at for accidentally catching their eye. It’s really bad of me I know, but at least I avoided a brawl… About the being lazy part, well when I was a student my aunty used to say to me: Que estudies poco y que rinda mucho. It means something like: I hope you study very little while you absorb tons of information. Yeah, it’s better to think up more efficient things than spend all day wasting out time on something menial. Eh, I think they would have accomplished more if women were in the management and the men where working in the street 😉

    • Thank you Sofia, you would have enjoyed Thu and Kay-K very much, they had so much personality. Feigning attentiveness is a great gift (and I agree 100% with your Aunt…absorb experiences, not words from a book!). I may have to write a ‘Women in Management’ post down the road 🙂

      • The world will be disappointed: I work from home, sometimes I visit clients and famous beauty and fashion magazines though half the time they are nowhere near as glamorous as they make out to be in their glossy pages, so that would be a mayor disappointment. Sometimes I take the train to Madrid (the scenery isn’t very fascinating). Madrid is more elegant than Bcn, so your readers might like that part bit more…

    • Very good. When I wrote it, it was a good, fun release ~ nice way to start the weekend. Cheers.

  8. Thanks for this great story and the beautiful pictures.
    It’s allways a pleasure to read your posts.

    • Thank you Amy, I enjoyed the last shot as we were pretty much lost, wandering and then this serene scene came along.

    • Thank you. The quote did lead to a bit of disagreement, but it is a pretty evocative quote.

  9. A most excellent post Randall! I enjoyed your story and am marveling at your images. The one of the two men on the boat is stunning. All are wonderful, however, and if asked to choose my favorite I would really struggle. The colors are so vibrant and the faces…oh those faces, so beautifully captured.

    • Thank you so much Robyn, it was quite fun to write up and use these photos ~ I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed shooting as much as I have in Myanmar.

  10. Fantastic pictures and feel like being there from reading the conversations along. Very nice post!!!

    • Thank you, there were a lot of great personalities there and the landscapes were just incredible. Cheers!

  11. Women still rules, we only make the men believe that they are the greater than us. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and the photos to go with the story are stunning.

    • Thank you, and I think you are right…men just kind of play along with the role. Overall, though, we all make a pretty good team. Glad you liked it.

  12. Sight unseen, I like Mrs. Kay-K. She pretty much nailed us, especially with “Why are men so moronic when it comes to fighting?” Love the saying about where the ‘knives are kept.’ But above all, your photos bring it even more to life. Much appreciated, Randall.

    • Thanks Eric, I tell you I was not more surprised by the young men & women of Myanmar. They are looking outwards, wanting to discovery what life has to offer ~ and have this great sense of freedom (power of the Buddhist monks (politically) makes it real). And yes, Kay-K and many more I fear :-), have us figured out. Cheers.

  13. Boy, Kay-k had your number for sure, Randall. The nonchalant air that oozed out of Thu had me smirking and nodding away. You tell a fine story, Dalo, from the double fisted beer consumption to your understanding that the conversation was truly larger than you, I was hooked. You have a wonderful sense of humor.

    The 11th picture down really stands out for me. I find it exotic, extremely sensual and breathtakingly beautiful. I agree with the others every picture suits the story perfectly. The women gorgeous and the men oddly intriguing. Haha. Thu is to blame for that, I think. Sleepy little dude. And you trying to fake it right along with him. Ha!

    Thrilled to have this story to read, as I relax in this hotel room in Oklahoma City tonight.

    Dig the woman haters club and the song… 🙂

    • Great to have you kept you company in OKC Audrey, and yes, I was definitely swimming in rough waters where I did not belong with this post 🙂 But that is what made it fun to live and write up. Such great personalities on this trip, The guy in the 11th photo was a friend of Thu’s, lives on Inle Lake ~ always something intriguing and exotic about another culture…makes travel that much more. Cheers!

  14. Beautiful pictures and insightful writing, as always. It’s a similar culture here in Vietnam in some ways – it sometimes seems like it’s the women who do all the hard work. Looking forward to more posts from Myanmar.

    • Thanks Jon, it is pretty interesting to see ~ the women seem to be the catalyst in making sure the basics are taken care of… And of course, as with you, photography can be such a great tool to understand more about the people & culture.

  15. Methinks Thu is a rather clever fella 🙂
    Randy, you have indeed perfected this act of gently pulling us (me) in. I absolutely love every shot in this one, and despite the deep wisdom and fair (using this very cautiously) argument on both sides, I believe I found my best quote here.

    “Men can either fear and repress women, and watch the world fall apart. Or men can proudly promote women and enjoy their greatness and prosperity.” Full and final stop!
    You do pick them well buddy 🙂 Be safe now.

    • Dotta, so great to hear from you ~ and yes, I learned quite a bit from Thu… The quote you chose is my favorite as well, so much truth to it, and such a simple truth as well. A team is always stronger than an individual, so yes I agree it is a good place to stop. Take care, and thank you.

  16. A very nice read for my Saturday evening. Middle management, anywhere above administration in a big fancy corporate office, I reckon is one of the worst places to be. Yes, it’s a predominantly-men field, a field where there is an intense competition to meet deadlines and produce profits. Men – and women too – come across as lazy working in their so-called “management jobs” as these roles involve a lot of talk and discussion.,.all in the midst of keeping their colleagues around them and below them happy. Which is not an easy thing to do since we all like to whine about different things 🙂 Sure, we can complain that there are very few women in management but that’s another political story altogether. Funny how you talk about laziness in this post. A couple of days ago I had a thought about writing a post about being lazy.

    Stunning photos as usual, but I’m sure you already know that 🙂 By the way, how did the name Dalo come about?

    • Thank you Mabel, I always manage to joke about the ‘men in management’ and this post seemed a perfect time to write about it… Dalo is a name I am rarely called ~ I was named after my great uncle (Randall) and in his day he was a bit of a maverick & horseman and Dalo was his nickname. While I go by Randy, Dalo is this adoptive nickname used in my family 🙂 Cheers!

      • I thought it was great that you adopted a light-hearted approach to the issue of men in management. A great way to get people thinking about the topic and all the other related issues like feminism and gender.

        Thanks for sharing. I think I will still call you Randall from now on…or should I go back to Dalo, haha. I usually go by Mabs, or Mabes. Since I started blogging, I’ve never heard people address me by Mabel more in my life 🙂

      • Yes, light-hearted approach these days on this topic is often the best approach…Thanks Mabs 🙂

  17. Your photographs are simply breathtaking, Randall. I think you managed well to capture the amazing, resilient spirit of the Mayanmar women.

    • Thank you Jolandi, it is amazing to see such strong and resilient spirits. Makes me feel great about life ~ a lot of good out there to discover.

  18. As always, beautifully done Randall. Your photography is lovely, and as much as I hate to admit it, you are spot on in your observations. Women, you gotta love ’em. 🙂

    • Thanks Ron, it is tough to finally have to admit to it…but there’s just too much evidence to think otherwise 🙂 Cheers!

  19. Hi Dalo, I know my thoughts are aside of this particular post. But, my personal long experiences of working for man and woman who are at the top managers/Adm level are different (day and night). To be short, women tend to micro-manage that is our nature, they worry about details and want to achieve perfection than men do, thus they put themselves in a position that they have to work harder and work longer hours. On the other hand, my male bosses used to let me handle, thus I had the handle of my job that made me want to do more. Also, I do think men in the modern world are changing, my SIL does as much house work as my daughter (except the cooking/shopping) and repairs almost everything in the house and fixes the yard; my husband has been taking more daily responsibility. That probably doesn’t explain the the photos you’ve posted 🙂 Enjoyed reading your story.

    • Thanks Amy, I think that is why they make such a good team ~ taking strength and guidance when needed.

  20. Somehow you keep creating posts that surpass even my high expectations of you Randall. This one is just wonderful. The story made me smile and the photos are your usual perfection. Great eye, great post – truly enjoyed every moment of it.

    • Hi Tina, thank you very much for this special comment ~ this post was pretty fun to write and the travel was truly eye-opening both the friendly banter and the great personalities and hope.

  21. So simple and humble life of a beautiful people

    I loved those very beautiful pictures dear Randall 🙂


  22. I love everything you posted. But, my favorite is the third one–I so love it, and so all the words that knit your masterpieces. Thank you for amazing us and continued hardwork and excellence! Aloha = )

    • Thank you Aina for your kind comment, the third shot I enjoy quite a bit too, laughing and sharing with friends is a great way to end the day. Aloha ~ I always feel good saying that word 🙂

      • That’s why I keep saying. The elements you’re using are powerful, and only a few in your field (photography) could take amazing shots like those. So, all thumbs for u, my pal. = )

      • Nope, just being honest. Nature is always easy to use as a subject. But to use people, especially, random? Candid? That’s hard! You earned the credit.

      • Thanks, you’ve given me reason to crack open a beer and enjoy the sunset here in HK 🙂 Aloha my friend!

      • Put down your cam, and have fun. It’s 22:37 here in Hawaii. Seattle is I think 4 or 3 hours ahead. Anyways, just have good time. Nite

  23. Yup that is their culture. I’m always interested to see another culture. Fantastic travel stories @Randall. Anyway your photos are very fabulous. I love it! Thank you very much for your visit! Regards @Della

  24. Such beautiful looking people, captured doing normal everyday stuff. Brilliant! So much is said within each photo.

  25. Wow Dalo, finally got a moment to read through your post. Laugh. Smile. Nod. Beautifully done! I applaud your people pics — they always seem the most difficult to me. You not only caught the place, but the life of the place — in the people you photographed. Small moments, captured, that blend together and tell a distinct story. (Along with your narrative, WOW! :))

    Come to think of it, I never really thought about the kitchen and the knives being so close . . . Now that’s a feeling of power!

    • The personalities on this trip were great, made it a lot of fun and a bit easier to feel the culture. Thank you Dawn, and very happy you enjoyed the post.

  26. Exquisite shots of the ordinary. The 3rd one is amazing, the last so beautiful. So the old boys’ network…even out there, eh? Fascinating. And also the observation that they had thrived under a matriarchy. Even in swing dance, it is the skillful, confident male leader who makes the woman look like a queen, by the way.

    • Love the dance analogy, both sexes working together in unison, and while the man leads ~ it is the queen that makes the dance so elegant. Thank you D. for the great comment, and while the old boy’s network is strong, there is the history of a matriarchy still in the minds that keeps things moving…

  27. Quite a journey, and in more ways than one. You should have learned from Thu and feigned sleep a lot earlier. 🙂
    Seriously, a very interesting read and wonderful photography as usual.

    • Yes, I was a little overwhelmed…should have just followed Thu (as they say, “When in Rome…:). Thank you Lignum. Cheers.

  28. Abbiamo bisogno di contadini, di poeti, di gente che sa fare il pane,
    di gente che ama gli alberi e riconosce il vento.

    Più che l’anno della crescita, ci vorrebbe l’anno dell’attenzione.
    Attenzione a chi cade, attenzione al sole che nasce e che muore,
    attenzione ai ragazzi che crescono,
    attenzione anche a un semplice lampione,
    a un muro scrostato.

    Oggi essere rivoluzionari significa togliere più che aggiungere,
    significa rallentare più che accelerare,
    significa dare valore al silenzio, al buio, alla luce,
    alla fragilità, alla dolcezza.

    The Management down there knows nothing about Medea…or Aphrodite…but you do know so much about life!!!!!
    Wondeful, wonderful post. Visiting your blog is always such a pleasure!

    • Your Italian is beautiful to read ~ even though I cannot read Italian… Google translate did pretty well 🙂

      I loved your last Italian paragraph: “Today being revolutionary means taking more than add,
      means slow down rather than accelerate,
      means giving value to the silence, in the dark, the light,
      the fragility and tenderness.”

      Beautiful, thank you Luana.

  29. What a beautiful post, fantastic photographs bring your trip to life and a fabulous message. My parents work together in management and they have two other couples that work together. I loved that quote about the knives being in the kitchen 🙂 he he
    Best wishes

    • Thank you Charlotte ~ I think having couples work together can really create great dynamics (working off each other’s strengths). Best to you all.

  30. And poof blaring headache is almost gone. Yay China Sojourns vacations! 😀 Love the one where you captured the smoke the most! 😀

  31. This is so brilliant – are you glad Kay -K thought you’d make a good Myanmar man? You sure can take photos – and I suppose, drink beer, but not so much that you’re prevented from writing beautifully, and creating a perfect rhythm of words and images – just so impressive! The writing or images would have been enough, but together , well, I said it, they’re brilliant.

    • Ha, ha, I think as men we are doomed to being ‘creatively lazy’ in the eyes of women 🙂 And that’s not a bad thing. Thank you for the comment, I enjoyed writing this and reliving those moments. Cheers.

  32. I had to laugh when I read you discussion about men and their hard work. I think I agree with the women in this case… You certainly seem very industrious with all these images you have posted from Myanmar. There are all so beautiful, but my favourite is two fishermen relaxing on their boats in the sunset.

    • So true, the women pretty much have us nailed on this. As for the photography, I do not know if I have shot in a better environment ~ a great rhythm of the land.

      • 30 years ago I visited what was then called Burma – and my camera broke already the first day. That was a truly sad day. No repair shop in Rangoon or anywhere else…

      • Wow, that would have been frustrating ~ yet, still so amazing just to have been there at that time to experience the Burmese life 30 years ago. The one thing about the age of digital, is now almost everyone can carry a simple (yet quality) spare as backup.

  33. Hiiiii Randy, I think it’s great that your sis travels with you and that you guys share the same passion.
    I always had special love for men. When I was a little girl, I always secretly envied my friends who had older brothers. I think all of us girls admire strong men. But sometimes we fall victim to our admiration and start accepting the unacceptable…
    Aaaawww Myanmar, gotta make it my next destination 🙂
    We are getting ready for our one month trip in Thailand, m really excited! Taking my Sony babe for a ride 😉
    Wishing you a beautiful summer xox

    • Hey there, very excited to hear that you are going to give your A7 a nice trip to Thailand ~ should be brilliant and looking forward to see some photos. Never thought about it, but I think my sisters & I learned a lot from each other. Cheers!

  34. A brilliant post Dalo!! Can’t make up my mind which I lik better, the stunning images or your entertaining narrative 🙂

  35. Isn’t this just the best photo blog!? You never cease to impress, Dalo. You make the best even candid conversation. I hate it when other people just continue to make decisions when they are supposed to be actually working. And then, after all said and done, they get all the credits from “making the decisions”. Now that is laziness. It’s crazy how the world works sometimes. A little knowledge of this and that. A piece of paper saying you are qualified for this and that. And you they get more than those who are actually more “experienced”, those who actually have physically done the job before rather than just making “important” decision. Sorry for the rant. Oh, I find your images biased. 🙂 But it’s hard to make that when your images are that awesome! 😀 Did you not really find men working, none at all?

    • Thanks Rommel, I must say that there are some very hard working men in Myanmar, but the vast majority in sight were women 🙂 It seems for SE Asia this is pretty common. Agree with your thoughts of management; true & strong companies emphasize teamwork and getting things done right (zero politics). Cheers!

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