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Tag: Jack Dorsey

My Better Man Project

I love a good self-improvement quest. For me, the most important part of self-improvement is having a goal. This is always easy with career or financial goals, but when examining a more personal area of self-improvement the goals become a little more intangible. I guess this is why I started on a search for a male role model, they make a more tangible personal goal.

Is Don Draper a good role model for me?

In the IT Industry there is really only one person who seemed like a modern role model, and that was Jack Dorsey (who I have mentioned before). His business success speaks for itself, however he is personally not one dimensional. Jack also has a diverse background, understated confidence and the communication skills to convey these dimensions of his personality. He’s a great place to start, but I feel uncomfortable modelling myself on one person. Emulating someone doesn’t add dimensions or make you more genuine, it does the opposite by making you a clone who isn’t true to themselves.

Perhaps what I needed was a maverick role model who gave me the confidence to communicate who I am. I’m looking for someone piercing, inspirational and grounded. Enter Steve McQueen. The guy pretty much personified the maverick – he was a racing car driver and A-list actor, yet his signature pose was the famous Le Mans Salute. There are plenty of people who seem to follow Steve’s fashion or other style guidelines even now. I don’t need to be this unique, but I do love his qualities of being genuine, multi-faceted and inspirational.

Perhaps I was searching for more than a role model, perhaps I was searching for an ideal. I decided (off the back of continual references in “How to win friends and influence people”) to read Benjamin Franklin’s auto-biography. His 13 vitues for life resonated with me, but really are quite dry. I will still try and follow these to make myself successful, but there is a difference between being successful and inspirational. Highly disciplined and intelligent people usually have great success, but there is a sense of loneliness that occurs when you are too one dimensional.

The next phase of my search was instigated by the series Mad Men.  Don Draper covers all my fundamental criteria; he is certainly piercing, intelligent and inspirational. But my God does he have some flaws, which this info-graph summarises beautifully. Then again, it’s these flaws that make him a more genuine and relatable character (person?). Perhaps the goal shouldn’t be to make ones self perfect, but perhaps the goal should focus entirely on communicating who you are? This involves not only being able to communicate your personality in an interesting and accessible way, but also to communicate your vulnerabilities so that people relate to rather than rebut against your views.

Finally, I found someone who writes on this topic in a far more fluent manner than myself. Chris has written a great blog on his Better Man Project. He even touched on my line of thought several times, including his very amusing dissection of Steve McQueen. I have a deep admiration for Chris’s communication ability and transparent self-examinations. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the best way to become a genuinely inspirational person is to write about the struggles along your journey to becoming an inspirational person? This is becoming way too meta.

For now I am running with a Mad Men era hair style, a book of Steve McQueen pictures and quotes and following @Jack on Twitter. Next step is to work on improving my communication skills. Hopefully this blog post is a start.

Real men pay salaries

“Real men don’t earn salaries, they pay salaries”. This quote from “A Sparrow Falls”, the Wilbur Smith book that I am currently reading, really struck me like a slap in the face. Why was it so painful? How do I get to the stage where I am paying the salaries?

Lately I have been trying to build my management and leadership skills. Amongst other things, this involved taking a Leadership training course at Google. It emphasised a number of pretty deep concepts, things like being an authentic person and this importance of bringing this authenticity to work with you (which is a fairly intimidating concept). There were of course articles from the Harvard Business Review to cover, including the four steps in the art of persuasion. These being:

  1. Establish Credibility – demonstrate you know your stuff
  2. Frame for Common Ground – find the stuff you both agree on
  3. Provide Evidence – demonstrate something new that builds on your common ground
  4. Connect Emotionally – expand the current ground with them at your side

Next steps? Find mentors. I loved watching an interview of Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter and now Squareup. He isn’t an amazing presenter, however I feel that I present in a similar way and have a similar view on the world. Reading his Vanity Fair interview and numerous Venture Beat articles, it paints an inspirational picture of a guy who throws every part of him into his goals and passions. Is this authentic leadership? He built everything himself form scratch, based on his passion and getting his hands dirty. The noble story of the engineer, putting the product first and that product now paying the salaries.

Or what about someone like Greg Ellis, the current CEO of REA? I watched his CEO Hub interview today on Business Spectator. He built his career like a pyramid. Rather than rising to the top with a single skillbase and being forced to add to it while riding product growth, he worked the other way around. Build marketing, sales, HR, legal and other skills at the best companies you can find, and then find or make one of your own. Is this any more or less a noble to be paying the salaries?

Or maybe it’s like Alan Noble explained this week. It’s not about mentors, it’s about surrounding yourself with great people and taking the opportunities when you see them. Meanwhile, where is that copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People

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