I hate the term “Thought Leader.” Working at a university and reading lots of articles to find information to share with our students, I see it used a lot these days. Thought Leader. What makes you a Thought Leader? I would assume, since you are being called a “leader” in the area of thought that it implies you have better thoughts than others. Like really, really good thoughts. Man, no one thinks up a freaking storm like you! WHOOOOO!!!! LOOKITIM THINK!!!!!!
Yesterday I attended a meeting with the three principles of a company that want to set up a manufacturing operation in Orlando, the site manager of UCFs Business Incubator in Research Park, and three awesome people who run non-profit service organizations. I was asked to help set the meeting up by Jesse Maley who runs an organization called “Out of the Life.” We met a couple years ago when I was looking for an organization that my Cornerstone students could work for. Jesse helps adult survivors of human sex trafficking. That’s a polite way of saying she helps prostitutes. Yea. Hookers. People who are abused by some of the vilest, most worthless, degenerate scum-bags walking and made to do things that no one, of their own free will, would put themselves through. What, you thought prostitutes had sex with stinky strangers for money in flea-bag hotels because they enjoyed the flexible hours? Jesse helps them find a safe place to live, provides counseling, helps them find jobs, and mostly just helps them secure the most basic necessities that you’d never think people would need. Working with her organization was, and I’m not hyperbolic in saying this, life changing for some of my students. Guys cried, girls opened their eyes, and everyone played a part in accomplishing something awesome.
Jesse’s friends, Liz Vargas and Dan Beckman, run an organization called, “Just Do Something…Anything.” It’s a national action network that focuses action on issues of social injustice. Together, Jesse, Liz, and Dan want to set up a place where the people they serve can find the support and help they need while also finding steady, legitimate work. The principles of the company share their social values and would be interested in helping.
The reason I bring this up is that I’ve learned something about people who run non-profit service organizations. They have passion. LOTS of passion. They aren’t always the most organized or the most business savvy. But they definitely make up for it with action and a sense of urgency. I learned that working with Jesse. When she got an idea she was on it. And their enthusiasm and action is infectious. They are people who DO.
By now, most of our students who graduated have either moved to where they’ll work, moved to where they’ll go to grad school, stayed here to look for work, or moved home to look for work. Moving is over. Thinking about either finding a job or what your new job will be like is over. It is time to muster up some passion of your own and DO. Time to get active in your job search. Where did you apply today? With whom did you follow up? Have you actually picked up the phone and spoken to anyone today? If you don’t know how to do any of this, have you at least picked up a book to see how it’s done? Then go do it. Time to get awesome at work. What did you learn today? Who did you talk to today? Have you made your first calls? What did you not know this morning that you set out to learn on your own? What question did you answer on your own?
It’s great that we have thought leaders in the world. Really smart people need to have something to occupy their time. I just think it’s time we start celebrating the people with passion, the DO LEADERS!