I didn’t watch Michael Jordan’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech last week. But after reading a bit about it, I took a look at it over the weekend. While some will say the speech was a bit out of place, I think it was just right.
People these days go through great pains to protect their image against all sorts of things they consider harmful. What ends up happening is you get a sanitized version of what they are. You think that speech is going to prevent MJ from selling more shoes? I doubt it. This is the guy who was once asked to campaign for a Democratic candidate for Congress and replied, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
There’s value in being yourself. In differentiating yourself in a world where sameness and keeping up with the Joneses is the soup de jour. Maybe he’s not the best example of that, but…your institution (or maybe just you) could be.
Wasn’t it years of careful image control and brand management that drove his brand to exceed any athlete before him? No, not really. If he stopped being competitive on the basketball court, had failed to have success athletically it’d be unlikely that it would’ve lasted as long as it did. His success was very much tied to his image as a marketing icon. They were one in the same. The message? Excel at what you do, stand out and people will start to take notice. The flip side of course, if people will notice when you mess up too. But better to be relevant than not, no?
The story of the day here? Authenticity is everything. In a world where there are tons of choices, people yearn for institutions that stand out. Your can’t expect your message to differentiate itself in a world where everyone is saying the same things in a slightly different way. You have to be bold and sometimes and take risks.
Most of all, everything you say has to have meaning. Buzzwords don’t have much value after a while, because like the latest internet meme, they get spin cycled so fast they lose their impact.
Clarity is better than spin.