Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet My Friend, the Super Hero

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, tweeted about a blog post by Seth Godin titled What’s your super power? in which Seth talks about the comic book introduction of a character in which the character tells people his super power. He suggests that we should introduce ourselves with something like, "Hi, I'm Don, I tell stories that spread." His thought is that people will remember us better if they know how we can help them. I understand his point, but we’re looking at this from the wrong perspective. When you saw the first sentence of this post, did you have a tinge of envy—perhaps thinking, “I wish Michael Hyatt would post a link to my blog.” If you did, that’s natural, but that isn’t the way we should look at it.

Don’t you love it when someone you know introduces you to an acquaintance and says something good about you? “This is Ellen Dawson and she owns the best restaurant in town.” You aren’t alone. But notice what I did for Ellen Dawson, a favored character of mine. I gave her name and I told her super power. Now, lest you think I’m going to tell you that our goal should be to persuade other people to introduce us and tell our super power, the primary purpose of this post is to say that we need to turn that on its head and become the kind of people who introduce others and tell their super power.

I speak as much to myself as to anyone else. I have a long way to go, but I’ve noticed that the people I enjoy the most, the people I want to support, the people I would go out of my way to help are the people who have take the time to get to know me. It isn’t that its so important that they tell others my super power as much as it is that they show how much they care by remembering my name and super power

Let me offer two scenarios:

Allen is attending the Big Writer’s Conference(BWC). His manuscript is perfect. His pitch is perfect. He has spent long hours preparing to sell his novel. He see’s Literary Agent Helga in the hall. He walks up to her and gives his pitch for a cozy mystery. She asks a few questions and seems interested. She asks him to send her a copy. As Allen turns to walk away, excited by his success, he sees a cluster of nine other authors wanting to offer up their own manuscripts has formed.

And the other:

Bert is also attend the BWC and is just a prepared as Allen. Allen beats him to Literary Agent Helga, so Bert has to wait with the other authors that have miraculously queued up in alphabetical order. When Allen leaves, Bert steps forward and pitches Helga. She listens, but he can tell where it’s going. “It sounds interesting, but I’m mainly looking for mysteries and romances right now.” Bert feels a little let down, but then he looks at the faces of the other authors. “Then you’ll want to talk to my friend Carla here,” he says motioning to one of the authors, “or to Gail they both write romance.” He points to another. He looks out past the clusters of laughing women and sees a woman sitting alone near a window. “Joana over there is someone you need to talk to. Let me go get her.”

Now, if you were Agent Helga or one of the other authors in that cluster around her, who would you remember? Allen? Bert? Carla? Gail? Joana? Bert, of course. Even if Helga doesn’t think she could sell his book in a million years, she remember him as the guy who knows everybody. Those unknown, unpublished authors will remember him as the guy who took the time to remember their names and what they write. They will remember him as the guy who helped them overcome their nervousness about meeting a literary agent. Shy Joana will remember him as the guy who made sure her trip was a success when she was worried that she would have to tell her husband that she had waited several hundred dollars and couldn’t muster enough courage to speak to an agent. Now a pop quiz. What was Allen’s super power?

We tend to think that the people who are known by a lot of people or are friends with important people are the most important people in the world. But when we stop to consider, the most important people are the people who know and remember a lot of seemingly unimportant people. That is where our focus should be.