Steven Strasburg’s Open Leadership Style? Humility

As we get ready for Charlene Li to be the first speaker of this year’s Buzz 2010, leadership is on the minds of many in the association and social media community.  Charlene’s new book “Open Leadership” discusses what strong leadership looks like in today’s open media environment.

As I’ve been reading through the interviews with Charlene at the Buzz 2010 blog and in one of her interviews she touches on the need for humility to be an open leader.  It’s something that I inherently know, have learned from my most influential leaders in my life, and try to practice.

However, it’s not something you always see from people that are put in prominent positions and from whom much is expected.  And this is where my passion for Nationals baseball, social media and leadership collide.

Yes, watching Stephen Strasburg’s blistering fast-ball, speedy slider and wicked curve balls was awesome to watch as he made his debut with the Washington Nationals this week.  However what impressed me the most was his humility.

Here’s a 21 year old who has been welcomed to the city with more fanfare than even Joe Gibbs garnered upon his return to the Redskins.  He makes more money than I can fathom and has more people hanging on his every word than any other player on the team.

And yet….. he remained humble.  He showed his respect for a future hall of fame catcher.  He thanked his teammates.  He respected his manager.  He had a smile and was cordial with all.

And in 7 innings he instantly became a leader.  Not just because of his skill, but because of his openness.

We’ve all worked with that rock-star that can close any deal, create a piece of advertising genius or code his way out of any tough situation.  But if you think about the people you respected and looked up to they were open leaders… and humble.

It’s a good reminder as we remake ourselves for this digital age.  And one that I continue to live by.

Starting a New Adventure

The past 3 days have been quite tumultuous, but remarkably – I’ve approached each one with a smile on my face.

I was laid off on Friday.  In this economy one might be freaked out.  And yet, I’m not.

I’ve been contemplating for a while what it might be to work for myself and set up my own business.  Now seems like the time to give it a shot.  I’ve got about 3 weeks of pay left from my old job until I’m completely on my own, so there’s no time like now to start.

So, I sit here at almost 11 PM on Sunday night setting up my new computer and designing a business card for a Kinko’s run in the morning.  I’ve got calls to make tomorrow and even a proposal or two to put together.  I’m even speaking on a panel at a conference this week.

I’m oddly calm and feeling not-quite-freaked-out.

So tomorrow is the first day of business for van Hilst Communications.  Wish me luck. Send me client referrals. And keep an eye out for cool things to come.

iTunes Playlists Crossing into Real Life

I created a fun new playlist this morning and one of the first songs in it is the remix of Nina Simone’s Sinnerman.  It’s a great song which I’ve loved for the past couple of years since I added it to my music library.

Except it’s been hijacked by a commercial for the Eris phone by HTC.  I’m not sure to feel hip and cool because I’m already in the know or jilted because know I’ll think of the phone everytime I hear the song.

Of course it’s better than the moment I had a few years ago when I hard a piece of easy listening/elevator music while on hold with a doctor’s office and realized I had that song in my library too.  (I’m nothing if not diverse).

In the meanwhile, here’s the video for Sinnerman for your enjoyment.

Smokestacks and Empty Promises

I was inpsired on a car ride over the Thanksgiving weekend and pulled out the iPhone to stretch the creative legs.


Smokestacks and Empty Promises

Silent smokestacks along the Ohio
Rusted metal paints the landscape
A barge pushes the remnants of a now silent economy
As dark skies magnify a disgruntled mood

Memories of a by gone era
When a hard days work provided a good wage
Good times, good living and good friends were once calling
But all that’s left are empty promises

Moving east across the highlands
A scarred earth is all that’s left
Where men descended into darkness
To provide the coal that fueled our lives

Rolling down from piedmont to plains
What passes for civilization rises into the sky
A generation who toils with hands dust free and clean
Forgetting the past we all left behind

Stretch Yourself

I’m not a tech person.

I know that surprises most people that know me.

I like technology and use it. But I don’t write code and open up the guts of programs to figure things out.  The extent of my knowledge of HTML has been copying a YouTube video into a blog post…. until now.

The designer who works for me left to take a new job a couple of weeks ago.  He’s a great guy and is helping out but I don’t have anyone else to do coding or update pages until my new designer starts.  But business goes on and guess who’s understudying the role of “Web Designer”.

I’m frustrated.  Stressed.  In over my head.  And guess what….. I LOVE IT!

Now, I’m not going to give up my strategic marketing and communications work anytime soon.  But I feel a bit more prepared to manage the process and appreciate the people who make it look easy.

You see, too many people stay in their comfort zones and don’t stretch themselves.

And I learned something along the way.

A New Twist on Drunk Dialing

Since I’m married it’s been many years since I “drunk dialed” – and if you don’t know what i’m talking about you might as well stop reading.

But now Google has added a new feature called “Mail Goggles“.  Apparently you set the time you are most inclined to be drunk and send an inappropriate email — let’s say anywhere from 11PM to 4AM — and before you can click send you are required to answer some math questions to make sure you really know what you’re aware of and that you really want to send this.

I’m kinda torn between laughing and crying.  I mean, I didn’t even know this was a problem.  What’s next a USB powered breathalizer that won’t turn your computer on unless you are sober?

It’s funny and worth a chuckle, but come on… let’s accept some responsibility for our actions.

(p.s. I passed the math questions before allowed to publish this post)

The Blessing of Good People

I spoke with one of my old bosses today. Been a long time since we spoke but I had an instant smile on my face as I spoke to him.

I have a saying. “Good people beget good people”. It means that when you know and work with wonderful people, they lead you to other good people who are wonderful to know and so on and so on.

I’m blessed to know so many good people. I hope I’m a good person to other people.

Hope you are as well.