Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Take me to your leader 

Well, I suppose I should write something, that being one of the essential components of maintaining a weblog. Overwork and lack of sleep has drained my desire to write, but I shall make the attempt nonetheless. I had started to struggle with a post recapping the various events of the past few days, but fortunately, I happened to find a topic that was completely different.

I picked up a job which was a book cover. In the process, I happened to read the "about the author" blurb. It touted the author of this particular tome as, among other things, a "thought leader". Now that intrigued me. Thought leader. Sounded like corporate-speak B.S. However, I was curious if this was an actual accepted concept, or if the copywriter was feeling a little creative the night she or he wrote the blurb. So, I googled the phrase "thought leader". There were quite a number of hits, the first one fitting my needs quite nicely. Elise.com defines a "thought leader" as: It then goes on to say how you can become a thought leader by getting smart and kissing up to journalists and all that.

Now my first reaction was to consider this the height of bogus-ness. A true thought leader, I reasoned, should not have to advertise the fact. But upon further reflection (as I had to remove an extra spot color and reprocess the file, and hence had another moment for contemplation) I recognized that my reasoning was faulty. True, one can have great intelligence without recognition. But that's only the thought part of the equation. Leaders, of course, need someone to follow them, otherwise they are just poor sods talking to themselves. So I humbly recognized that once again I did not know more than the experts.

I also realized that any ambitions I may have toward being known as a thought leader were hopeless. Well, actually, I don't have any such ambitions, which is why I can safely predict that such ambitions would never come to fruition. I mean, I certainly dig the thought part. I enjoy being knowledgeable when I can and all that. But leader? Nah. I don't need people following me. I don't mind helping people out, but if a week goes by and nobody seeks my wisdom, I don't panic and start calling journalists. When given the choice to lead, follow, or get out of the way, I certainly avoid choice number one.

Of course, that also led me to speculate on what a "thought follower" would be like. A smart person who takes orders from someone else? I suppose most of us have been there. That can be a pain when your leader is lacking the "thought" modifier. And then there's the, um, well, what would you call it? The only succinct label that comes to mind is "thought anarchist", but that implies an intent to disrupt the activities of the other two. "Thought get-out-of-the-way-er" is more accurate, but doesn't lend itself to a snazzy seminar title. Oh, well, if I were home I could check my thesaurus, but I'm not so I won't. Maybe some semantics thought leader might stumble across this post someday and solve the problem.