Phriday is for Photos | 05.11.12
Bill Murray on Comedy and Leadership: "You've Gotta Be Completely Unafraid to Die"

Two Unlikely Leadership Lessons from Conan O'Brien


Conan O'Brien was interviewed in two different settings in the past week.
I picked up two solid yet unlikely leadership lessons from him.

#1.  Don't throw the past under the bus,
        even when you have been Leno'd.

This was an awesome-sauce interview.

Here's the thing: Conan didn't throw the past under the bus.  Sure, Letterman was publicly sniffing for dirty laundry to air (that's what gossips do), but Conan did not dishonor NBC. 

Leaders don't throw the past under the bus, even when they're Leno'd.

There is no honor in tearing down people and organizations... especially in church-world. 

Jesus purchased the church with His bloodThat's HUGE!  God loves the church, created the church, and declares the church to be Christ's brideHave you ever talked smack about another man's wife?  Imagine doing that to Jesus Christ!!

If a church has hurt you in the past, that does not give you the right to muddy its name.  If a church leader has disappointed you in the past, they are not your enemy (see Ephesians 6:12!!).  Forgive and let go. 

Leaders understand that integrity is doing the right thing even when it hurts.  Trust me, I've felt hurt a lot over the past year.  But I've found that God is honored most when we talk smack the least. 

If you're a leader who has walked through the fire, allow Isaac's experience in Genesis 26 to be your model.  Isaac was misnderstood, dishonored, and shunned over and over again.  But he doesn't fight back.  He submits to the Lord's will.  And verse 28 is a beautiful display of the gospel.


#2:  Amplify, Amplify, Amplify Your Message:

Fascinating Fact: Jay Leno's twitter has 376,000 followers while Conan O'Brien's twitter has 5.7 million.

Lean into Conan's analysis of social media - - crucial learnings for leaders during this tehnological shift in our culture:

- Twitter/blogs/Facebook isn't about self-promotion, it's inviting people into his world. 
It's relationship-building.

- "It's all about content.  Funny content is funny content."

- "How do you create a symbiotic relationship?  How do you get people emotionally-involved?"

- Fascinating back-story on Will Ferril's recent Anchor Man 2 announcement on Conan.  Good comedy always starts with a good plan.

- 1993: Obsession was don't give anything away
  2012: No surprises, it goes everywhere, creates a wave of viewership - incredible awareness.

- Audience gets information from multiple sources, making it fractured and distracted - must be willing to deliver your message in multiple ways. 

- Conan on leveraging social media post-Tonight Show: "This is not the way that I watch television, but I had to make a choice, and I think this is the way."

- Things happen quickly.

- Walt Disney never met a technology he was afraid of.  He constantly adapted: animation to talkies to motion pictures to theme parks to television.  He always embraced new things.  Adapt or die.

- Beatles on Ed Sullivan had 90 million tv viewers.  They were tuning in to see what they looked like.  YouTube solves that problem today.


BONUS: Don Miller recently wrote on this important topic for leaders: Some Thoughts on Self Promotion and Why Arrogant People Think It's Wrong.

Best quote: "Self promotion is not unholy. Occasionally I’ll encounter some well-meaning religious person who thinks self promotion works against the fame of God. I whole-heartedly disagree. In his day, Billy Graham spent millions promoting himself and his crusades, all so people could come HEAR HIM TALK ABOUT GOD. Those who know Mr. Graham would never see him as arrogant. He was over himself. But that didn’t mean God didn’t give him a personality and a mouth and later a microphone. Flowers bloom and mountains tower not to take attention from God, but to display His glory."


The comments to this entry are closed.