The Confidence to Question Your Heroes

I believe in having heroes. My entire life there have been people who astounded me with their leadership, and I have aspired to be more like them. First there was my grandmother, and then my beloved high school teacher,social media heroes Lewis K. Webster.  As I moved into adulthood, I found additional heroes… and many of them were from the business world.   My main heroes outside of the 2 already named, are:

1. Muhammed Ali

2. Howard Schultz

3. Bill Gates

4. Richard Branson

5. Warren Buffet

All men of incredible success who maintained an immense humanity.

There have been other heroes I’ve outgrown or began to see through a different light as I grew.  Teddy Roosevelt, once my all time favorite American, appears to me now as admirable but impetuous man.

When I entered the Social Media world I was overwhelmed with how much I needed to learn.  There were so many Rockstars, Gurus and Experts I was overwhelmed again.  I latched onto a few who were accessible and had large followings; I read every post, newsletter and communication they put out.  It seemed that the more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know – for months on end I couldn’t catch my breath trying to keep up with every new network and application.

Over time I found my bearings and started to understand this ‘social thing.’  It s became clear to me that Social Media had changed a lot about how consumers and brands communicate, but it had not changed everything; business is still business.  Being strategic minded, understanding the importance of a great product and excellent customer service, knowing how to build a culture within a company – all of those things aren’t ‘fixed’ or developed with Social Media.  As this thought process began to crystallize  some of the the communications from my Social Heroes began to look a bit fluffy; when you dug deep, you saw that it was the same advice recycled regularly – often aimed at getting me to buy into their latest scheme.

A wise friend of mine suggested that I go and check out the LinkedIn profiles of many of these ‘gurus’ prior to 2006. Too often I found very little actual business experience.

All is not lost; along the way I have met a lot of smart, social and business savvy folks that provide me with insightful posts and interesting discussions.  I don’t know that I look for Social Heroes anymore… it seems redundant, considering the fact that most of the people I admire in business today understand the power of Social anyway.

The lesson, of course, is to continue to question those you look up to. If they’re worth admiring, they’ll be able to withstand your critical eye.

  • Web


    I truly appreciate you and your kind words…LKW

  • As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that the only true heroes I have are the ones I actually know.  I can admire people I’ve found via Social Media but they can’t truly be my heroes.  Quite honestly, I’d rather be a hero than have one. Being a hero means I’ve personally done something to impact a life.  It doesn’t get better than that.

    • AmyMccTobin

      You don’t have one hero you haven’t met in real life??  I admire Howard Schultz tremendously, and I may  never meet him.

      •  Was raised by the only people I consider my heroes.

    • JB, you’re MY hero. Just sayin’ ;-D

      •  YES! If you have anything you want me to sign, Doug, just send it to me. Heck, I’ll even pay for the return postage. 😉

  • My shtick is “Don’t follow people; follow your values.” That being said, I’ve been susceptible to pledging allegiance to people I never though could be wrong only to end up disappointed in the end. I TRY to view my “heroes” for what they represent more than for who they are as people. As you know, Seth Godin is pretty much my greatest business muse. But it’s more Seth Godin the “concept” than it is Seth Godin “the person.” The moment Seth stops preaching advice that doesn’t align with my beliefs, I would like to believe, I’ll stop listening. Heroes fall; our values shouldn’t.

    • AmyMccTobin

      I disagree with Seth often, but I still admire him. His resistance to Twitter way back may me step back.  I usually pick as heroes people who are successful AND still care about their fellow human beings.. you know, that anti-Donald Trump types 🙂