I was listening to a story being told about a keynote speaker at a conference. The speaker is huge in the innovation industry, has a number of books out, and is kind of up there on the awesome scale.
The woman telling me the story had no idea who he is.
She works at a firm that can seem a little “behind the times.” From a number of talks on Brazen and on Twitter, I know most of you feel you’re the one clued-in person at your fretfully behind companies. This scenario isn’t new to us.
Back to our story: I’m listening to this woman tell me how amazing this keynote speaker is. Since I’m well-acquainted with the speaker, his books, his articles, and again, his awesomeness, I’m thinking: Wow, what a great opportunity to hear him speak!
She then says, “I wonder if my company would hire him…”
All of a sudden, I realize she not only doesn’t know who he is, but she doesn’t have any concept of how these innovation thought leaders are treated. His speaking fee is probably the same as most people’s salaries at this woman’s firm. His expertise isn’t just in a couple journals, but on NYT Bestseller lists and constantly in the press.
She sees him as just a smart young fellow with Ph.D.
The sad part is that this story is just one version of others out in the world. For example, a Brazen webcast was talking about Dan Schawbel and his partnership with the community. He was online (we all said “Hi”), and then it started: “Who’s he?” “What’s the big deal?” “Is he famous or something?”
I don’t expect everyone to know Dan, but if you’re on a webcast, surely you have Google at your fingertips. It wasn’t shocking that people didn’t know, but that people weren’t taking a couple seconds to research and then show some kind of respect to the man. Instead, it was a lot of “Why should I care about you?” Talk about a WIIFM.
Same thing happened when Penelope interviewed Seth Godin. People thought Penelope was just some moderator instead of realizing she’s a thought leader in her own right.
Perhaps we’re such a self-centered world now that people only want to know the WIIFM instead of realizing that maybe you’re not the Sun. That maybe you need to Google a few things before making remarks. That people deserve you to hold up your end if they’re sharing expertise or bending over backwards for you.
It only takes a couple seconds to look like an idiot or look like a rock star. Which will it be?
P.S. The speaker was Dr. Chip Heath…of Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick and Switch. Shocking, right?