Archives for posts with tag: obama


I grew up in a fairly messy family. Without divulging too many details, I spent the majority of my childhood waiting for someone to save me. The average adults in my life were so screwed up; I needed a superhero. Some astronaut who would take me to the moon. A policeman who puts me into some safe environment with a fireplace, hot chocolate and peace. A savior. An angel.

Needless to say, that hero never came. And, I realized very early in life that there was no hero. Nobody will save me. I have to save myself.

Obama. Steve Jobs. Joe Paterno.

As a native German, I’m not a big fan of the hero narrative. 1945 ended that narrative for the majority of Germans. The roots are deep and strong in American culture: It permeates history books, religious stories, our sports teams, our politics. Just ask Democrats that believed to have found their hero 3 years ago. Or Republicans who are currently looking for one.

We want heroes in our corporate world: Google dominating Yahoo. Amazon in a major fight against Apple. Who will be the superhero? The one? We hope for the one leader to move a corporation in the right direction, not trusting the collaborative force of all employees.

Hoping for heroes will end in disappointment. It can end in a disaster because of worship without any regulations and limitations (Paterno). It can end in disappointment and emerging apathy towards the former hero (Obama). Or it can end in an understanding that real heroes don’t follow the example of other heroes. Instead, they follow their own purpose. (Steve Jobs)

The hero next door.

Waiting for heroes leads us to copy. We need to create.

We shouldn’t wait for another power to solve our issues. We have the power.

Solving the world’s problems is not the job of a hero. It’s our job.

Changing the politics of K Street is not one man’s problem. It’s our problem.

Transforming the corporation you work for is not the CEO’s responsibility alone. It’s your responsibility as well.

Restarting and reinventing the economy can’t be done through the super powers of one hero. Our collaborative effort will be the super power.

Life is built in co-creation. A family is a co-creative effort, just like a corporation, a community, a society, an economy.

When I finally realized there was no hero who would rescue me, I had to find the strength inside of me to change the situation. I had to make hard decisions, focus on things that mattered to me. My life suddenly became purposeful: anything to leave this place and find a space to be and prosper. I’m glad the hero never came. I wouldn’t have found my own purpose. Wouldn’t have made the life I’m living, full of gratefulness. I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.

We don’t need heroes on a pedestal. We don’t need to become the next Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, JFK or Dalai Lama. Your objective in life is not to create the next Twitter, be as successful as a person you admire or make as much money as Warren Buffet. Your job in life is to find your own purpose, collaborate with like-minded people and change the world. Your job in life is to be your own hero.


Everybody knows how to run our country.

Everybody has a better plan than Obama.

300 million Americans do.

Billions of Asians and Europeans do.

We have whole industries based on knowing so much more than the rest of the world: Talk Radio. Newspapers. Sports Radio. Blogs. Fashion Shows. Reality TV.

Basically, all of us think we can do a better job than anybody else.

Unfortunately, too many people can’t even do their own job properly.

I started my career in advertising as a copywriter and nothing irked me more when non-copywriters tried to improve my copywriting.

I might not like the meal in a restaurant but I would never storm in the kitchen and tell the chef what to do.

I might not like your latest song but I won’t tell the singer how to improve the song.

For some reason, people in the marketing/advertising industry think they know everything about anything.

You see account people change copy.

Copywriters request design changes.

Data analysts criticizing the Social Media plan.

Clients suddenly become commercial directors.

When did we stop trusting anyone else to do their own job?

One of the most prolific scorers in German soccer history was Gerd Mueller.

He was short.

He had no style.

You barely saw him throughout the game.

A journalist described him: “Müller was short, squat, awkward-looking and not notably fast; he never fit the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts. His short legs gave him a strangely low center of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over. He also had a knack of scoring in unlikely situations.”

And scoring he did.

He scored more goals than anybody else against other European clubs.

He won the World Cup in 1974.

He focused on his one job.


He left the brilliance to Franz Beckenbauer.

He left the strategy to his coach.

He left the media excitement to Sepp Maier.

He just scored goals.

And he was the best at it.

Don’t waste your time focusing on what other people should do.

Focus on your own job.

That’s how you win.


There’s a lot of talk about Social Media revolutions. The Twitter revolution. The Facebook revolution. While most of it is simplifying hype, Social Networks allow people to synchronize much more efficiently than ever before. And there’s lot of talk how Social Media can be used for good causes. Donations to help Japan, the environment – you name it. Brands run initiatives under the authenticity and transparency mantle, one of the keys to Obama’s success was the Social Media savvy of his staff.

This is good and legitimate.

What happens when evil regimes/people start to understand Social Media?

Brands have tried to game the social web. They posted fake blogs, fake videos, continue to buy endorsements from bloggers. I don’t think it’s ethical or beneficial for the brand in the long run. But brands are not evil. Sometimes they act pretty bad but it’s not rooted in an evil core or an evil mission/vision.

But once the military and/or government gets involved to game the social web, I’m getting really concerned. It’s happening already. According to this Guardian article, the “US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.”

The article continues:

“The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.

While I agree with Jeff Jarvis’ overall assessment (“It’s appallingly stupid, for there’s little doubt that the fakes will be unmasked. The net result of that will be the diminution, not the enhancement, of American credibility.”), I still wonder: What happens if a government starts to really comprehend the power of Social Media and doesn’t stoop to the tactics of the Nigerians spammers? What if they find ways to connect with people in the early stages of an uprising, get them to congregate and kill the revolution in its early stages?

Hitler was an early adopter of mass communication

He used radio to spread his propaganda. He owned the newspapers. Jewish men and women were depicted as greedy, hook-nosed bastards wholly responsible for the desecration of society. And he used the power of mass media to share this sickening message: comic-strips, cartoons, editorials, movies. Over time, we developed a decent nose to detect manipulation fairly quickly. Have we developed that nose for manipulation in the social space yet? Or, do we need to be more cautious?