Tuesday, May 26, 2009

15 minutes of fame

Andy Warhol said in 1968, "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes!" By the late 80's it had become a reality for many. Simon Cowell, a.k.a. Spice Girls and American Idol, suggests that with reality TV "everyone can be obscure for 15 minutes". And now with face book, blogging and other social media, everyone can be famous to at least 15 people (not including my mum).

Warhols 15 minutes refers to the fleeting condition of celebrity that is a result of some fickle media grabbing onto some often self-created buzz.

I don't like the idea of celebrity!

I don't think those who have it like it very much either. A certain Miss Hilton aside most, would rather you watched their movies and enjoyed their acting, not their very human relationship issues. I don't like the idea of celebrity and certainly not the light entertainment magazine selling kind. I think it is a consequence of exposure without substance. I'd almost prefer notoriety where I am known for disagreeing with some famous stance. Or "IDEAreity' where I am known for something I said or thought.

When people follow what you wear you are a fashion celebrity. When people discover in you a way to express an idea they themselves have had but could not explain, that's thought leadership. When people get to entertain an idea that they had not yet considered that's thought leadership. With Thought Leadership, you get something way more valuable than celebrity.

Your thinking is more important than your styling, but stylish thinking will win on both fronts. Let's start a magazine called ‘The Idea' and replace ‘No Idea' on the news stands. Let's make it sexy, full of well-crafted ideas, ideas that contribute to a conversation or contradict a conversation.

Thinking needs an extreme make over. It needs a U2 soundtrack and an OBAMAesque charisma. It needs to inspire not just inform, it needs to engage the right hemisphere and not simply be logic to the left.

Thinking is no longer the realm of the clever PHD waving residents of Ivory Tower. We need to popularise ideas. We need to shape them into sound bytes and deliver them Haiku style on a long tail to all who will listen. Ideas shape thinking, thinking will save the planet, change your world and deliver fulfillment on a scale we can't even imagine.

Here are 15 minimums of claim, a prescription for Thought Leadership…
  1. Claim a piece of mental real estate; own an idea
  2. Start a blog on that idea
  3. Create a screencast about your idea
  4. Publish a book
  5. Mentor someone
  6. Give a speech
  7. Start a movement
  8. Write a white paper about your idea
  9. Contribute to an existing conversation
  10. Contradict an existing conversation
  11. Create a conference around your idea
  12. Start a Twitter on your idea
  13. Create a network around your idea
  14. Publish a newspaper on your idea
  15. Invite others to evangelize your idea
Create extraordinary ideas and share them with the world.

Learn. Think. Share.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Say whatever you want, just be profound

I am a big fan of TED. (Be sure to check out the TEDx Sydney Event in 2 weeks time by the way)... I have it on good authority that the speaker briefing before you go on stage to 1000 of the worlds leading thinkers is..."Say whatever you want, just be profound!"

No pressure. Be profound! Sure, no problem…

But it makes sense, it's not only at the wildly amazing event like TED that you need to bring your thinking. Thought Leadership is the new imperative.

It's getting harder to stand out in your career or business.

It's also getting competitive out there as the gap between the developed and the developing worlds close. India alone is creating thousands of technically qualified accountants, engineers and IT graduates each year. Knowing something is now not enough. It gives you less and less competitive advantage. The world is most definitely flatter.

It's also hard to know who to trust when it comes to the presentation of ideas. Do we trust the newspaper, the 6 o'clock news? Do we trust our politicians? Our Priests? Individuals are the trusted advisors again - not brands. Political parties, Church's are definitely brands. It's the individual within those brands that matter now. Maybe we are in the age of the rockstar thinkers. Not necessarily the classical thinkers.

There is an exponential increase daily in the amount of information we could choose to be across. The amount of knowledge on the planet is not only doubling every time you blink but the ability to access that information is accelerating as well.

In a recent Wired article, a case was made that scientific method as we knew it is dead! It used to be that clever people had theories and that these were thrown at other clever people who either tried to prove or disprove theories. Now its less about clever theories proven and more about the ability to gather vast amounts of data and extrapolate or recognise patterns.

In short, now is the time for Thought Leadership. It's time for the sharing of great ideas. In fact, going beyond sharing and activating great ideas on the planet. Regardless of your personal position or politics, it's the way in which the Al Gore Documentary; An Inconvenient Truth is pitched that made it work. It's the same with Barack Obama and his run to the whitehouse.
A You Tube video can achieve cult status in days if it presents an idea whose time has come.
Increase your Thought Leadership…
  • Write something and send it out.
  • Volunteer to present at the company conference.
  • Offer to mentor others in your business.
Be a Thought Leader. Who knows, your business might thank you for it!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speak as though you are certain, listen as though you are not

Leadership requires you to sometimes be the fearless leader communicating direction with clarity and great vision, mobilising your forces in pursuit of a better future. At times it requires the exact opposite, a capacity to empower others to lead and find their own inner wisdom. The directness is tempered by a certain enabling of others to achieve their greatness. You have to know when to tell them and know when to ask them. (I was singing a Kenny Rogers song as I wrote that last line.) A balance between ‘I am an authority follow me!' and ‘You are an authority, what would you like to do next?'

This is the difference between speaking to the team and coaching individuals in the team. The problem is that we as individuals often show a tendency toward one or the other. Here is a quick pop quiz to get you thinking about the various modes of information delivery you, as a Thought Leader, need to develop.

Download and complete the quiz here

If you downloaded the quiz then the following model makes sense…

It comes down to a simple case of punctuation. Sometimes you speak as though you're certain and finish each sentence with the verbal equivalent of an exclamation mark!!!! And sometimes you finish each sentence with a spoken question mark???? Balance your ask/tell ratio and increase your leadership and communication effectiveness.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Omm not Umm; The Power of a Mantra

A great idea can be expressed as a short statement. A slogan if you will. The word mantra has Hindu origins and means, a word or formula, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer. Now, I am not suggesting you get people chanting your key ideas, but it is the effect we are going for.

A great speaker creates memorable phrasing. It's almost as if they are suggesting a language people can then use to express how they feel, what they need to do next or perhaps even simply to show they belong. It happens in conferences from time to time. A speaker leaves such an indelible impression that for days afterwards people are using phrases from the speech. This is not just a self rewarding goal, it's indicative that your speech, your words have touched and influenced the audience in a positive way. You have made sense of their world. You have provided a frame of reference that is so agreeable the individuals in the room choose to carry it forward for you. They become Thought Repeaters and in each utterance and use of language from your speech you increase your audience beyond those who were in the room when you spoke.

The question is… How can you do this?

Here are three ways you might increase the likelihood that your points are carried on by the audience into the rest of their life.

1. Use the phrase in a story.
One way to increase the memorability of the speech is to wrap your language in a story. People then use a sentence, point or object from the story as a label to explain in short hand the essence of the idea expressed in the story.

2. Use the phrase repeatedly.
Use the phrase repeatedly. Use the phrase repeatedly. But...it's actually got be a meaningful phrase, not just any old words said again.

3. Use poetic phrases.
When there is a certain rhythm and rhyme to your language, a Hip Hop esque feel, people will dig it and be down with that. Yo know what I mean? (I am so uncool… I can hear my eventually teenage kids cringing at my middle age attempt to be relevant and in touch). Martin Luther King had a rhythm and a poetic coupling of words.

We are all so busy it's hard to remember to pick up the milk on the way home! Your key ideas and messages need to be easy to remember, they need to be chant-able. Mantra's are good for the memory and key to the message.

Ommmm.ommmm.ommmm… not um, um, um….