This is a fable I used to hear from my mother and grandmother. Last year my rabbi started telling it to me before I cut her off since I knew it backwards and forwards, so I suspect it’s got a “Jewish” history, but I can’t find it online (too many vague terms to search for), so I’ll retell it (and I’m sure bastardize it a bit). Continue reading Teamwork
And now I’m perfectly tender.
Don’t really have much to say about this one — no deep thoughts or analysis. First sent this around to an internal group around 10 days ago, and I’ll just quote what I wrote to them, which pretty much covers it.
I’ve apparently become too comfortable in NYC. This happened all the time where I came from in one manner or another.
Spotted on the lawn in front of [A major building near the Fin. District] this morning on the way to kid’s school. Thankfully he wasn’t paying attention and doesn’t read that quickly yet.
Another rant to a fellow twitter/blogger/parent (who may not want to be mentioned here so I’ll leave her name out) went more like this:
What the F___? I spotted this on the lawn in front of [same major building] (0.08 miles from my apt’s front door) this morning while taking my 5yo [yo is net shorthand among parents for year old] to school. Thankfully he wasn’t paying attention and doesn’t read that quickly yet.
It’s 2010 in downtown NYC and we still have this s___ to contend with. I hate/dislike plenty of people, but not because of their gods, skin color, etc. Mostly it’s stupid that bothers me and stupid is totally equal opportunity. Ok. Again, sorry to impose – I should know better, I’ve lived near the sticks. End Rant. Thanks.
Everyone’s responses were very helpful — thank you all 12 of you.
And it’s 10 days later and I’m still at a loss for what to say / think.
I’m not naive. As mentioned I’ve lived near the sticks – I’ve been evacuated from synagogues because a bomb threat was called in, gone to buildings that because of who occupied the building had swat-esque armed security in place, lived in cities where defamation of synagogues was a monthly event. Been there, done that, thanks. It’s one of the reasons we moved to NYC – so that if you say you’re living in a certain part of town people don’t look at you and ask “Isn’t it kind of dark there?” And they don’t mean the amount of light. (No, I’m not kidding).
I know had this happened in another year the kid would’ve been able to read it quickly enough and understand all the words that I’d have to start explaining hate for the sake of hate, racism, bigotry and all those fun states of mind that only exist because they’re taught. I’m not looking forward to the day I have to explain these concepts to a 6 or 7 yo and that because of the religion he happens to have been born into one day he may encounter someone he’s never met who already hates him.
That day, now that day will be classic – you’ll see some high-level PR-Worthy spin. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Takin’ part of Thurs off, ttyl folks.
Please ignore that headline — It’s misleading at best, and just a ploy to get you to click on the link at worst…but now that you’re here, an explanation….
The fantastic Elizabeth Sosnow posed a question the other day that I knew would spend time bouncing around in the back of my head until I sat down and tried to answer it (or the answer came forwards all on its own). It could also be that she was just sitting in traffic, bored and wanted some dialogue and I got stuck in the trap (headline tie-in — trap…get it? Watch for the rest of the tie-in, below). That question — well here you go….
Thought Leadership…trap..get it? It’s funny, no?….laugh damnit! (No TJ, you can’t copy edit those sentences and I won’t use the Oxford comma here =] ).
Ok, so there we are.
Like any overeducated, overthinking professional I began to consider the question, analyze each aspect of it and pry the question apart.
That’s not true.
What I did, like any overeducated, otherthinking flack is begin to construct ridiculously configured long flowy Philosophy 302 paragraphs while skipping the substance of the question itself. Yes, I was seduced by the mystique of a good question, a chance to stretch long dormant muscles.
Then I sat down to write and reread the question and realized I actually did not have a good answer.
So let’s examine the question first — let’s figure out what a “thought leader” is. It turns out wikipedia can answer the question for us and get us to its first usage. A thought leader is “a futurist or person who is recognized among peers and mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights.”
So the leader portion refers to the person’s ability to lead, not the concepts the person themselves creates as leading (groundbreaking) opinions. So basically we’re talking about smart leaders.
Not a lot of help for Elizabeth’s question because now we have two questions:
- Are leaders born or self made
- Are thought[ful / thinking] people born or self made.
Let’s attack #2 first. Cop out on this one — these kinds of people (we’ll call them ‘smart’ for these purposes) can be both self made and born. We’ve all known the guy (or gal) in the office who has that spark — can walk into a room, look at a problem the rest of the team has been puzzling over for days and say, “turn it left 90 degrees” and suddenly the problem is fixed. He’s the guy that can intuit the answer to the problem at hand. The problem with innately smart people — it always comes easy to them and so they frequently don’t need to work particularly hard because they don’t have to. There are definitely some who still work hard, but from my own experience they rely on their innate talents far too long and have a hard time picking up the skills required to do the hard work when it’s time.
They were the kids in school who didn’t do their math problem sample tests, questions or homework because once they learned to do whatever the question was they could just do it. No practice required. They could sit down at a piano and replay something they had heard days earlier, but better. You know the type. You hate them.
Then there’s the other guy on the team — the guy you hand the problem to who will work at it. He’ll look like crap for days until the problem is solved because he’s at his desk researching every possible solution for way too late every night, looking up the potential answer in texts in sanskrit and because he doesn’t trust the translation he’ll learn sanskrit along the way. He has no flair for the dramatic. When he presents his answer it won’t be “turn it left 90 degrees.” It’ll be 90 minutes of how he got the answer and then end with “and now turn it left 90 degrees.” He’s a great worker, but heaven help him if he has to lie or give an answer on his feet he hasn’t prepped for. You hate him too, but are happy to grab a beer with him.
So — short answer — both.
Now — are leaders born or self made.
All the definitions I’ve found have, in some manner or another, included two primary elements — the ability to ‘rally the troops’ — that is to get people to believe in you and/or your cause; and get them to work to that common end.
Again we’ll dispose of the 2nd one first — a good leader should be able to get their people to follow them in any cause. We’ve seen this power abused throughout history in dictatorial regimes, etc. The ’cause’ is secondary to the ability to get the supporters.
Now, onto the first element. This one seems to boil down to charisma — a leader is a person charismatic enough to get others to follow their lead.
Can charisma be taught or learned? Who knows…but it doesn’t matter because there’s a twist to our question….
The question gets more complex. As a previously shy person, with minimal ‘charisma,’ when I was younger, over time I learned/was taught to come out of my shell and try to be more engaging (not so sure I’d go so far as to say charismatic). Here’s the kicker — I’m not sure I was ever ‘taught’ this. It’s entirely possible the traits/skills were actually just dormant and I became more comfortable with them simply as something that occured as part of the maturing process one goes through in those formative years. Meaning it’s theoretically possible for someone to seem uncharismatic and over time (whether through ‘self-making’ or simple maturity/growth) develops into a more engaging person.
To hell if I know.
But after all this (and most of a serving of absinthe) I’ve decided it doesn’t matter – sorry Elizabeth.
Here’s why — the true thought leaders, the ones that possess all the necessary skills and that spark to put it all together, will naturally emerge in some way — in their own environments, sectors, fields, etc. Some may not go far, but they will be a leader in their own right. The union president — yup, that’s him, give him an ivy league education and he’s a senator. The PTA mom — maybe (she could just be bitter and no one else cares). The SVP that can’t get promoted because he’s too good dealing with operations and actual people — it’s her.
Odds are there’s a single true thought leader of every 100 or more that possess the necessary skills on paper.
There’s no need to identify them and refine their skills. Those that aren’t born with it all won’t catch-up to those that have it naturally and work at it simultaneously. And if someone doesn’t have the complete package or the desire to cultivate their talent — do we really want to force it on them? True thought leaders will have everything needed to break away from the pack, including the desire to do so.
It would seem though, that at the end of all of this there is a single answer (ok, maybe it does matter Elizabeth).
The skillset must exist in the person to be sufficiently cultivated throughout their lifetime that they can lead when the time is right. But they must also have the innate drive to continually self-improve so they know where and how to lead their people.
This was fun.
I’m a long-winded SOB…..so twitter frequently doesn’t give me enough elbow room to do my wordsmithing (or add comments to a RT, etc.). So, I butcher English instead and abbreviate the heck out of everything I can. @PRDude is also a frequent violator, perhaps even more extreme in his abbrs than me.
- WSJ (Wall Street Journal);
- NYT (NY Times);
- State abbreviations (remember, Missouri is MO, not MI; MI is Michigan; not Mississippi; which is actually MS — not Missouri);
- w/ (with);
- w/o (without);
- PRC (PR Cog) [that is an accepted abbreviation, yes?)
- Eff (tho writing this one out can feel better)
- Tho (Though)
- 2 (To/Too/Two–context helps)
- Thru (Through/Threw)
- NE1 (Anyone/any one)
- U (You)
- U’r (You’re)
- Ur (Your)
- L8 (Late)
- c8r (cater)
- Caveats – Abbreviations that make it look like you have a 3rd grade education are NOT acceptable — e.g., never use “Rite” for Write or Right. “Rt” is acceptable for Right. Wood for Would is a no-go, but Wld for would is fine (see below); Abbreviating names w/ phonics is frowned upon, go with initials if necessary. [UPDATE: As @tjdietderich points out RT maybe can be confused for a Retweet. Context is important]
- G’Morning (Good Morning) [It does help if they’re southern expressions]
- G’day (Good Day)
- M’dear (My dear)
- M’Goodness (you see where this is going…)
- Mrkt (market)
- twttr (Twitter)
- Dsk (desk or disk depending on context)
- Abt (About)
- Trn (turn)
- Arnd (around)
- The lst is endlss
- Caveat(s) — Do not drop a vowel when it will make a different word – “they” cannot become “thy.”