I just returned from an exhausting week at South by Southwest. As I sat in the airport reflecting on my week, I tried to figure what my most important takeaway from the week was. There are many, to be sure, but what stands out most in my mind is what I would like to call the tale of two voices.
Voice one is desperate for attention. They use their voice to get attention without reflection on the cost. They spread rumors, half-truths and sometimes blatant lies. They complain and breed negativity. In the short term, their voices may have a real impact on peoples’ lives as they bulldoze over human beings, real people with real feelings in their quest for attention. Eventually, people start to filter out the complainers and their voices become less powerful.
Despite being soft spoken, Voice Two has a fairly large voice. Chris Brogan is a great example of Voice Two. Time after time, Chris uses his voice to selflessly help others. I was surprised and honored to be invited by Tim Hayden to go on a private tour of the Texas State Capitol and to meet Governor Perry yesterday. Why was I invited? Because Chris Brogan used his voice to recommend me.
Chris Brogan’s blog is number two in the AdAge Power 150. He has been on the Oprah Winfrey show. Do I need to say more? Chris doesn’t need Ginger Wilcox. He isn’t going to get a book deal from Ginger Wilcox. I am a nobody in the scheme of Chris’s contacts, but yet to Chris I am a somebody. Why? Because everyone who uses their own voice in an appropriate way is a somebody in Chris’s eyes. Because communities are made of little fish and big fish and we all have a voice.
Chris Brogan has been on the Oprah Winfrey show because, time after time, he chooses to use his voice to help others. Does it benefit him in the long run? Absolutely. Does he know this? Of course he does. In his book, Trust Agents co-authored with Julien Smith, Chris says “If you act like a good citizen, and you feel like One of Us, the benefits arise without much thought. It’s not the negative interaction of quid pro quo, but instead the positive concept of “good things happen to good people.”
Hal wrote a great post about taking responsibility for your voice. Our voices have a real impact on peoples’ lives. Everybody has a platform. Everyone has a voice. You have a choice on how you use that platform.
Which voice would you rather be?