What would Malcolm Gladwell do?
One of the easiest ways to guide my professional and community life has been to find and build my own, personal, advisory board. But, here's the thing: the people who are on this highly personal board of advisors, don't even know it. They're just people that I admire for the work and commitment that they put into their lives. Some of them are world-renowned authors, some of them are local businesspeople that I admire. Some of them are rock stars (literally). Some of them are artists. Some of them are dead. Some of them are alive. None of that matters and the criteria for selection is as obscure and eclectic as the group itself.
This is the group that guides me and inspires me.
It's amazing where, when and how we find inspiration. I'll share one of these "advisors" with you and how this advisory board acts. I'm not shy about my appreciation for Seth Godin and the work and contributions that he has given to the world (you can read more about it right here: Dear Seth Godin). In everything that I do in relation to this blog, my writing for Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, other newspapers/magazines and anything about my books and marketing them, I ask myself one simple question: "would Seth Godin do this?" If the answer is, "yes! I think he would!" I move forward. If I'm not sure about how he would handle himself, I give myself some time to reflect and rethink the idea. If it's, "no... no he would not," I pass on the idea. I'm not trying to copy him, be him or act like him. I'm simply applying (what I think) his filter may be to elevate my thinking and - to a certain degree - remove what may be a not-so-good idea. In doing this, I am - to a certain degree - absolving myself of the outcome as well. This way, if it turns out to be the right decision, everything is perfect. If it turns out to be a wrong decision, it wasn't me... it was Seth's fault (just kidding... sort of).
Holding yourself to a higher standard.
The truth is, this strategy enables and empowers me to hold myself to a higher standard and - at the same time - it allows me to always make choices that are not based on my present self, but based on the future me. The one that I hope to become. Seth is not the only advisor. Like I said, there are many. Before donating to a charity or getting involved in my community, I think about my close friend, Barry Pascal. When it comes to a business decision, I think about my business partners (Aubrey Rosenhek, Mark Goodman and Mickael Kanfi). When it comes to something creative, I wonder what Julie Burstein or David Usher would do. When it comes to an act of kindness, I wonder what C.C. Chapman or Nilofer Merchant would do. If it's something complex, I wonder what John Maeda might do to make it simpler. This group of advisors is constantly expanding and used in both large and in the tiniest ways. What's great about it is that I don't need to ask for anyone's permission. All I have to do is immerse myself in their work, how they think, how they share and how they communicate. In a world where every brand is looking for the ROI in social media, digital channels and mobile platforms, they may all be completely missing the biggest opportunity: to learn, grow and share because so many other brilliant minds are so open and so creative in what they're publishing to the world (whether it's free or something you have to pay for). I can't thank these advisors enough for their contributions, because it's so much more than content or social media. It has a profound impact on my personal, professional and community development.
So, what are you waiting for? You don't need permission. Go out and create your own advisory board and start applying those filters. Now.