I had a professor while at Marist that shared the unhealthy, manic lifestyle of his students. He'd come into class - over caffeinated and wearing a four day beard - and tell us about the essay he was trying to finish on a tight deadline. He was very easy to relate to, although it didn't hurt that he was one of the younger professors at 32. I remember one time, before our first test, he had a review session at about 8 P.M., at least twelve hours since he got to work. The inspiring part wasn't that he was still working - anybody can do that - but that he was still gushing energy and happiness to perform the most fundamental part of his job: teaching students.
When I think about the perfect leader, I usually come up with an image that one of my favorite writers, Robert Greene, would call the "Hustler King," a leader that is still in tune with the daily struggles of his enterprise. That proximity is the source of his strength. The person grading his students' papers, learning their ideas, is the professor; the person solving the client's problem, sharing their frustration, is the CEO; the person behind the camera, explaining to customers what went wrong, is not the PR people, it's the person who was responsible for the mistake.
At some point in time, every job gets delegated down to somebody else. Professors have TAs, CEOs have employees, and companies have PR firms. This is the typical way organizations develop and grow. It's average. It's normal. It works. But with that delegation comes an almost aristocratic distance. Being far away from your students, your customers, your clients, your audience...it robs you of that intimate knowledge that breeds real intuition. That's what I want for myself one day.
I see that professor as an example of a Hustler King, jubilant to still be helping his students learn at 8 o'clock at night. What other Hustler Kings are out there? Do you know any that inspire you?
When you're on Twitter everyday, it can seem like a very impersonal tool. I recently read this post titled "Learn From Your Friends To Make The Most of Twitter." He mentioned my company's Twitter, @tcgagency, but this was my favorite part:
"By now, there’s been plenty of blog posts written about the various ways to effectively use Twitter, so I’m not going to bother writing what they are. Instead, I wanted to give some “props” to the people who have helped me build my Twitter account and communication skills on the site. They exemplify what I feel to be the foundations of a successful Twitter profile: community, value, authenticity, and sharing."
This is a smart and very communal idea. Behind this, is something very similar to Follow Friday (#FF) - where users recommend people whose content they enjoy - but with more authenticity and expression. Anyone can tweet a few account names, but it takes more time and thought to write something about them. It's a gesture that shows you've been paying attention to someone and it makes for stronger bonds.
Twitter makes it easier than ever before to communicate with someone, but with that ease comes laziness. A lot of accounts will just tweet links to articles - it's amazing how many places you can get the latest from Mashable - without any indication that they read or even something away from them. These pusillanimous accounts are half way between nonsensical spam and users that really try to build relationships.
There's a good amount of talk about just how powerful bonds built over social media are. I think a good rule of thumb is that you're more likely to build a relationship if you feel like you behave and communicate similarly offline and if you take chances, even if you are a little shaky (fast forward to 12:42 where his company, that made a video amidst a PR crisis received playful, sociable responses). Because if you don't show people that you're human and trying to get involved in the conversation, than how are they going to find out?