Monday Musings: 10/17/2022

What’s a leader?

No seriously, what makes a leader in 2022?

I read the news and it’s confusing.

Can we trust politicians to be leaders? I daresay we can’t.

Regardless of your political persuasion, if you behaved as a politician does in your workplace you’d be tossed out.

Why? Because in politics you’re rewarded for bombast, inaction, and not talking to colleagues. In the workplace those are fireable offenses.

I’m an entrepreneur, and sadly, it seems to be like politics (on the outside) EXCEPT, I doubt whether the truly successful, truly great leaders are the Elon Musk’s of the world.

Yes, Elon Musk is rich. Wealth beyond our wildest dreams.

But in the everyday life of an entrepreneur trying to grow a business, bombast and opinions will only get you so far. It’s what you do with the attention that really, truly matters.

Elon Musk makes me crazy because he grew up a wealthy, connected person unlike many of his accolades who perform a sort of one-upmanship to achieve what he appears to have.

The narcissist will always get the attention, much like a circus sideshow. It’s the substance that matters.

Are Teslas good cars? Yes, except when they aren’t. Is Musk a good person? In the case of giving Ukraine Starlink access to fight the war, yes. In other ways … not so much.

The Twitter takeover attempt … that he tried to get out of but appears to be held to … not so much.

Reports from Twitter employees that he’s not interested in learning how the product works or their concerns about transforming it into a platform without moderation, were waved off and caused a mass exodus from the company. Then there’s requiring Tesla employees to work on-site.

Although some hailed these decisions as ‘brilliant,’ these are all signs of an inflexible visionary.

True leadership requires discernment.

Including, at times, realizing you are not the smartest person in the room and therefore must listen to experts so the vision can either be fulfilled or adapted.

But flexibility doesn’t play well on social media or TMZ.

As leaders we must decide what’s most important, talking points and bombast or substance.

Our political leaders, sadly, appear mostly devoid of substance. I say mostly because there are a few who have a depth of knowledge and concern for the will of the people and future generations, but they are in fact few and far between.

What people don’t tell you is how lonely entrepreneurship truly is.

Is it easier to go the road of showmanship, attention-seeking at all costs? Yes. But then you HAVE TO also bring the substance, or the word will get out that there’s no there, there.

We can’t act like those other people — Musk, Jobs, Bezos — unless you are also willing to put in the work to deliver something great.

And something great means, unlike Musk, Jobs, and Bezos, you are also looking at the people involved, the resources required, and whether it’s sustainable.

Leaders must look at whether their intentions extend beyond personal wealth. That’s an empty goal.

Money has to be a big part of the equation, but it’s more complicated than that. We live in a world now where younger generations are] looking for more substance.

They are worried about the climate emergency.

They want leaders who listen to then, care about then, and who want to provide a future for them so that they may lead too.

Leadership is complex, much like the human experience. We are not here merely to achieve. We are here to collaborate, communicate, and grow.

There will always be people who are louder.

That doesn’t mean they are making more money than you.

There will always be the mad geniuses like Steve Jobs, who was also a fruitarian (only ate fruit), which exacerbated his cancer diagnosis. Not universally genius after all. He was also notorious for treating employees poorly.

Musk, whose worth is tied to stock valuations, whose bombast and instability has nearly led him to lose Tesla on multiple occasions.

And Bezos, the tenacious son of a bitch who lost money for a solid decade only to build a behemoth synonymous with commerce, almost universally hated and respected in equal measure.

While there’s nothing wrong with looking to these men for inspiration, understand the substance of what you see is an illusion.

You are hearing rumors, and soaking up the adulation of the press, who loves a great story.

Reading Warren Buffet quotes and becoming ‘the next ’ isn’t a goal worthy of you.

You are worth more than these paper idols. You must be you, first and foremost.

Be shrewd. Compete with yourself. Be kind.

There will always be someone or something else that gets the adulation of others. Keep doing you.

Ignore the ‘advice’ that doesn’t make sense to you.

You’ll be fine.

You will be the leader you were meant to be.

Thanks for reading. 💚