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Ducks in a Row: Influencer For Sale

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Or not…

Although yesterday’s post about influencers focused on founders, influencers are everywhere.

Influencers effect the entire global population, because they populate social media, new media, old media, and your entire offline world.

Some influencers are real people who are paid real money to endorse a brand, movement, or some other effort, lending credence as well as a halo effect.

Others are faux.

The symbols that identify “real” influencers and provide immediate legitimacy are sold in a black market that is an open secret among those who earn their living as influencers — and they are willing to pay.

For example, Instangram’s little blue check sells for anywhere from $1500 to $7000

More importantly, it’s a status symbol. The blue emblem can help people gain legitimacy in the business of influencer marketing and bestows some credibility within Instagram’s community of 700 million monthly active users. It cannot be requested online or purchased, according to Instagram’s policies. It is Instagram’s velvet rope.

In addition to verification, there are black markets for attractiveness, Likes, followers, and anything else that boosts profiles and Klout scores.

We live in a world where everything is for sale, so when it comes to influencers, caveat emptor is the watchword to live by.

Image credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Ducks In A Row: Leaders are NOT Silver Bullets

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

ducks_in_a_rowRecently Dan McCarthy asked if there was a leadership crisis or is it a branding issue and I’ve been stewing ever since. (Please take a moment to read the post and the discussion.)

I’ve been stewing not so much because I disagree with Dan’s individual points, but because I disagree with the whole leadership-for-the-chosen-few attitude prevalent since the end of WWII.More than that, I am vehemently against the leader-as-a-silver-bullet school of thought.

The extent of this attitude has become glaringly apparent and the Presidential election is the highest profile example.

Yes, I voted for Obama, but not with any expectation that he could take office and resolve the global economic crisis, provide an abundance of high-paying jobs and reverse outsourcing, end our involvement in the wars and provide universal healthcare during his first year—or even his first four years.

There is no human being on the planet who could have accomplished any one, let alone all, of those goals.Hero-leaders, god-like leaders, God-as-leader—none are going to lead us anywhere because none is universally acceptable.

And it is time to stop looking to others to clean up our messes.

Real change starts as a grass roots effort, not as the vision of a larger-than-life figure with a title that is more like a target.

But we love to have a scapegoat; someone to shoulder the responsibility and take the blame for an effort doesn’t work—and that we can laud in the event that it does.

Remember when financial writers talked about share prices and compared 2005 prices to their pre dot bomb highs?

I think that comparing leaders/managers who functioned brilliantly during an up economy to those are performing now is just as ridiculous—there is no similarity between running a company in 1999 or 2006 and now.

Just as importantly, I believe we have a crisis in ‘followers’, both the actions and the brand.

Initiative is expected in the select ‘high potential’ few, but if you aren’t in that group initiative is often shot down. So, by de facto definition, followers are lower; a lesser breed from which to expect little more than compliance.

When high potential is identified early “late bloomers” are often nipped in the bud—or leave to flower somewhere else.

Developing and rewarding initiative, no matter the source, helps build leadership into a core competency throughout the organization.

That, in turn, builds strong, thinking followers and positions the company to thrive no matter what.

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Image credit:  ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

Advice For Followers—Or Everybody?

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Leadership, people either covet it, are tired of hearing about it, ignore it or some, like me, see it as an abdication of personal responsibility (let the leader decide).

By definition, if you are a leader you must have followers, and Dan McCarthy over at Great Leadership wrote a terrific post listing 10 actions required to be a great follower.

I hate to disagree with Dan, but he’s wrong saying they are for followers when, in fact, the 10 actions he listed are just as important for the designated leaders—or for any human interfacing with others.

But nobody would be interested in 10 Ways To Be a Great Employee/Boss/Teacher/Student/Parent/Kid/Etc./Etc.; plus it would be lousy SEO and it probably wouldn’t sink in.

Now, Dan is a terrific guy and I have enormous respect for him, but I also couldn’t resist having a little fun by using his post to illustrate my point, which is this.

Skill and action lists aren’t just for the group described as the target audience. Yes, they may need to be tweaked a bit to fit your own particular situation, but they can be applied to anyone.

Maybe they should all be titled along the lines of ‘<whatever> To Be A Great Mensch’, but that wouldn’t fly with Google.

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Image credit: dwogen on sxc.hu

CandidProf: teaching isn't just a job

Thursday, July 17th, 2008


CandidProf is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at a state university. He’ll be sharing his thoughts and experience teaching today’s students anonymously every Thursday—anonymously because that’s the only way he can write really candid posts.

What I do is not just a job. I know a few college professors, and several pre-college teachers who see what they do as just a job.  They are not very good at what they do, though.  Sometimes, you have to do more than just stand in front of a class and talk.

Good instruction means taking time to prepare what you are going to say. Yes, I’ve taught for enough years that I can just walk into a classroom, with no notes and no preparation, and start lecturing.  And, my students would learn something.  But they would not learn as much as if I had actually prepared.  Now, I don’t often follow my notes.  I have gone over what I’ve got to say before I say it, and I’ve taught this material for so long that I am quite familiar with it.  Still, I prepare.

That preparation also means that I have to keep current in the field.  What new developments have there been?  What new discoveries supersede what the textbook says?  It is my job to know my field.  That means spending many, many hours reading journals.  It means going to conferences.  It means keeping up with my own research.

And, of course, I need to grade student papers.  I want to give reasonable feedback so that they can learn from their mistakes.  But that takes extra time.  I don’t have to do that.  I know several faculty who don’t give students any feedback.  But for my class practically every thing in the class is a learning experience.  There is a reason that I have certain students go out of their way to take my class.

I am not the easiest professor around. That is clear from the internet sites where students evaluate their professors.  However, I am thorough, fair and my students learn. So, those students that want an easy “A” take someone else’s class and those who want to learn take my class.

How tough are your kids teachers?

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Image credit: nazreth CC license

CandidProf: Leading the unprepared

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

CandidProf is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at a state university. He’ll be sharing his thoughts and experience teaching today’s students anonymously every Thursday— anonymously because that’s the only way he can write truly candid posts.

follow_the_leader.jpgI teach physics and astronomy. Physics, in particular, is a very mathematical subject. That means that students are expected to be able to solve complex problems. The introductory astronomy for non-majors also has some mathematics, though it is very simplistic. Both classes require reading and studying. Unfortunately, most of my students come to college not having learned these skills at the level needed to be successful in college. While teaching any student is difficult, teaching the unprepared ones is particularly challenging.

There are many reasons that students are not well prepared. Where I teach, the state has mandated a series of tests. School funding is tied to these tests. The more students who do well on the tests, the more money the school gets. So, there is pressure to teach to the test, not to prepare students for college or a career. Unfortunately the tests are not good predictors of how students will fare in college. These tests are fairly simplistic. Students learn to memorize key words. This word matches that word. If you ask them the shape of the Earth, they will say that it is round. That is the answer as worded on the test. But, round in what way. A surprising number of my students don’t realize that round means spherical. Many of my students envision Earth as a disk. Anything that is not tested is seldom taught in school. So, my students come to me with great holes in their knowledge and skill base.

Students need to be properly prepared in order to be led to learning. An Army officer cannot lead troops into battle that have never fired a weapon. No matter how good of a leader someone is, he will fail if he tries to lead troops that have never been trained. No matter how wonderful a corporate leader someone may be, he will be unsuccessful in leading an airline that does not have anybody who knows how to fly an airplane. The best surgeon on Earth will lose his patient on the operating table if he tries to head up a surgical team composed of himself and people taken from the street who have never even seen an operation, much less assisted in one. The most loyalty inspiring leader on the planet will fail as a fire chief if no one in his fire department has ever had any fire fighting training.

Now, these may be extreme examples, but similar principles occur in education.

What do you think?

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Image credit: jaden

Leader vs. manager 3/7

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: lusi


leaders_and_managers.jpgThis is the third in a series discussing whether Warren Bennis’ 13 differences between leaders and managers still holds in light of today’s modern workforce.

The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

Are you controllable? Will you give your best performance, offer 110% effort or bring your passion to work for someone who doesn’t inspire you or whom you don’t trust? Will you trust a leader who accepts the actions of a micro-manager/bully/control-freak and keeps that person in a role of authority?

The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.

In my experience, backed up by my reading, very few breathing people, whether leaders, managers or followers, submissively accept reality as it is without trying, in ways both small and large, to change whatever part they believe needs changing. This seems especially true in the workplace.

What do you think?

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