If you seek proof of the power of multimedia, of its dynamism and interactive design, look for the man (or woman) who is the real-life manifestation of that phenomenon. Look for the singer-songwriter, actor, author, leader and entrepreneur who uses a medium – be it print, digital, audio, visual, or a combination of all four – to tell a story. Look, fellow readers and executives, at the career of John Michael Williams.
This man is a testament to a literal truth, one that I never tire of writing and one that I never stop encouraging business professionals to accept; that you must have a voice, distinctive in its delivery and persuasive in its pitch, that speaks to your audience with eloquence and insight; that moves people by the beauty of your words, and motivates them to march on your behalf because of the quality of those words.
John accomplishes this feat because of who he is, and what he always remembers to do: To explain, in verse, lyrics, poetry, prose, film or live performances, the things that inspire him.
He has a message, a detailed and impressive story, which every CEO would be wise to emulate. That story, at its core, is a statement of fact and an expression of purpose: Be authentic, to thine own self be true, because anything else is a waste of time, a too-difficult-to-disguise mask of disingenuousness that will (eventually) crack, slip, collapse and expose your actual intentions.
Does this, then, mean a CEO must match or exceed John's innate talent? Of course not, as if we should expect a business leader to have a natural gift for running a for-profit organization and a ready ability to speak and write with ease.
What we should insist upon, and what we have every right to receive from a CEO, is the truth. Should a CEO, therefore, be an effective storyteller?
The answer is: Yes. A CEO should not, however, confuse fact and fiction, since managing a company has no place for myths and legends when it comes to reporting revenues and sales, and profits and losses.
The Takeaway Theme: Believe in the Importance of Your Message
The takeaway theme to this discussion is simple because the essential message is so straightforward.
By giving the public a cause to support, and by giving workers a reason to achieve greatness, a CEO can accomplish more – and a business can honor its mission – through the sincerity of its words and the sanctity of its actions.
Insofar as John Michael Williams shows us the way forward, and inasmuch as he amplifies his tribute to self-worth and the power of belief, every CEO owes him a debt of gratitude and a letter of thanks.
For we should go beyond the traditional textbook sources about leadership and innovation, the academic and often boring case studies of one generic business versus another, and immerse ourselves in the wonders and complexities of overcoming real challenges, and of exceeding all expectations by surpassing all previous records of success.
To do those things, and to do them well, requires discipline and a significant degree of defiance.
A CEO must defy the odds with a defiant purpose, not a malignant or hostile sense of resolve, but a will to never surrender to the tyranny of statistics and a promise to never succumb to the soft standards of plain survival.
Make excellence your goal, and make messaging an inseparable part of your mission.
Follow, if you will, the sound of success.
Follow the music of John Michael Williams.