Fast Company is running what they call The Influence Project, where they rank people as influencers based on how many clicks their unique URL gets and how many people they get to play along. Am I the only one that thinks this is stupid?
Think back over the years about people who were truly Influencers of their generations – folks who by their words and deeds encouraged and inspired people to actively Do Things they may not have done otherwise.
- The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show inspired countless guitar purchases and spawned the successful music careers of hundreds of rockers.
- John F Kennedy inspired a generation of young people to serve their country in government.
- J.K. Rowling’s hugely popular Harry Potter series influenced millions of people who don’t like reading to give it a second chance.
- Most contemporary comedians attribute their careers to the cutting-edge influence of pioneers like George Carlin, Rich Pryor, and Lenny Bruce.
- Hell, James Doohan inspired thousands of college students to study engineering because of his role as Chief Engineer Scotty on Star Trek.
These examples are all Big Picture, life-changing Influencing, but Fast Company would have us believe that this is the same kind of influence as “Hey click my link so I can rank higher.”
What is Influence?
Miriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines influence as “the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.” Doesn’t “Please click my link” constitute a direct exercise of command?
Real Influencers get people to do things because of who they are and what they do. Fast Company’s influencers get people to do things because they’re told to do them.
That’s not influencing, that’s herding. Am I wrong?