#PunkHR – isn’t about gurus or thought-leaders. Let’s take a look at Rock stars, Has-beens and Wannabes

Posted: June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

Oh I don’t know about you but I am making so much of #PunkHR I am making links to anything and referring to it as Punk. But is that because I am making the patterns or they are definitely there and I am merely making the connections? Anyway whatever that is forgive me if you’re getting tired of #PunkHR but I’m definitely feeling anarchic at times so I can’t help but pogo on. Now this is something that came to me when I was asked to guest-blog for someone else but this was too (in my mind) too Punk for that hence it’s here.

Inspiration – a lovely word. A thing or person that inspires…a divine quality or the writings or words of a person so influenced. I’ve been more inspired by people since coming into the HR profession than anywhere previously. I can’t think of a single superhuman being who could inspire me about PRINCE2 project methodology.

So, in HR we’re surrounded by thought leaders, gurus and inspirational speakers. It would seem that way and so it is in Leadership more generally. I have adored the words of a speaker at a conference as I do some of Paul Weller’s lyrics. I have felt good about my views on society after reading a socio-anthropological book as I did when listening to the Specials first album. I’ve felt as fired up by a YouTube/TED talk as I did when I first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

So I guess I am inspired by these legendary people.

There are Daves and Dans; there are Michaels and Lindas, there are Toms and Malcolms and there are Simons and Sarahs. Now I have spotted some archetypes with these folks.

Not bad things, but archetypes.

As I see them.

• They are all successful people, often good looking but not always and I suspect very wealthy.

• They have academic links which gives credibility to what they say and how they research it to then share it with us all.

• They have best-selling books – that perhaps make them a stack of cash. The books then lead onto the speaking circuit. And they perhaps make more money from the speaking circuit about their book than the book itself..!

• They have academic links which gives credibility to what they say and how they research it to then share it with us all.

• They are often fit-looking so-and-sos. Despite their (probably) free dining from others, they are in good shape.

Yet now, I’m going off of some of them. I don’t drool over their every word. I doubt some of their viewpoints. I’m over them a bit I guess.

When did this happen and have I discovered a degree of arrogance dangerous to my own professional well-being. No.

– It’s when I started thinking beyond their very polished productions.

– It’s when I went to a conference 3 years apart and the almost EXACT SAME delivery followed from one discernable person.

– It’s when a much awaited piece of work landed that I was so disappointed in its blandness and its predictability.

AND I have warmed to and discovered a range of other people – largely in HR, some in economics, some in entrepreneurial positions, some journalists – who absolutely rock. They talk about that matter now. That matter tomorrow. In a way I can barely describe how much it hits me.

It’s like I’ve discovered a seam of talented and inspirational people right under my nose who won’t charge me or my company £500 to hear them speak or £8.99 to read their pearls of wisdom.

I’ve gone PUNK. OK you all know that BUT I’ve gone PUNK about where I get my inspiration from.

I wonder whether some of those gurus, thought-leaders and speakers have therefore lost it – they’re not hungry for controversy because they are so fit, wealthy and revered..? It feels like they have lost it – and that’s not something I’ve consciously made my mind up to do be anti-guru/thoughtleader/speaker. Far from it – I’d LOVE to do what they do for a living…so

Have they lost it because they

– are simply, like the politicians argument, now out of touch with reality?

– now believe their own hype?

– aren’t as fuelled, focused or fired up about things?

– Or have they not lost it but other people around me have found better “its” to be focusing on.

It’s probably a bit of the other 3, but it’s also more likely the latter.

I’ve found some amazing bloggers, tweeters, speakers and writers who AREN’T like the ones I (used to) idolise. Many of them are people with everyday jobs; not glamorous or wealthy and not academic. Which is why I think I’ve gone Punk on this aspect.

They’re the wannabes but they’re so clever they don’t ACTUALLY want to “crossover” and become like the gurus. Cos if that happens, they know, they’ve lost it. Me going anti-establishment is perhaps a tad too strong, but certainly the once great gurus/thought leaders now make me feel like my earlier blog musical comparison – traditional HR and PunkHR to a “…a 12 minute prog rock symphony to NOWHERE compared to a loud and energetic 3-minute garage punk song to SOMEWHERE” somewhere different indeed..!

So to those slick, wealthy, esteemed speakers/authors/consultants, I’m a bit over some of you.

You’re a Rock Star sure – maybe a has-been? Maybe. You might have tribute acts even. Great.

I don’t want to be all gloomy about it because others won’t be a bit over you – and you’ll still be fit, full of it and feigned over. I’m being inspired by people you’ll never compete with; you’ll never catch them up; you’ll never realise how disruptively brilliant they are.

#PunkHR is not something you want to be a part I suspect and you’ll laugh it off as some amateur concept never likely to interfere with your progressive thinking. I guess I wouldn’t want you to be in it anyway – because rebellion is a thing to suppress not enable for positive change.

Well I’m a rebel with a cause. So you can keep your cabaret suppers, I’m off to pogo down the (youthfully-minded) club..!

  1. Meg Peppin says:

    I got asked once to run a session as a culture “guru”. NO! I wasn’t flattered, I was upset.

    Guru derives from ancient traditions of mastery, gurus are wise folk. It’s not someone who writes a jazzy book, momentary inspiration though it may provide or who knows a lot to talk a good game. The moment someone calls themselves a thought leader, they’re losing their origin (ality). There’s something about the language that is distasteful, it’s rather Orwellian.

    I think the reason people lose their edge is that once they stop doing stuff and talk about it, the stuff they do is talking, not doing so it loses it’s currency unless they keep some humility and spend more time doing than saying.

    If people are primarily motivated by how much money they can make and turned on by much others revere them, then their paradigm ain’t mine baby.

    • perrytimms says:

      Thanks Megan – I was wondering whether I’d just fallen out of love with people who say marvellous things and illuminate with wonderful stories. I now realise I have become less starry-eyed and more in-tune with the REAL people I know who have utter inspiration in their words and deeds. You’re one of those, and in #connectingHR I’ve found a wonderful seam of pure gold.

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