My enthusiasm for heroes goes way back. While working at McCann-Erickson one of my favorite interview questions was “Tell me about one of your heroes.” A fairly opened-ended question, it helped me discern a candidate’s social and/or professional proclivities. And the depth of those proclivities.
Today, in brand discovery, I’m always looking for category heroes. When social media first came along, I hunted up Posters. Original content creators. Finding heroes was easy then. They had big audiences and important ideas to share. Heroes, shared for the betterment of the public. It started with people like Kandee Johnson, Melting Mama and dana boyd. But then the social web begat “influencers” whose intentions were more personal and skin deep. Less heroic. Posters also begat Pasters — people who curated others’ thoughts — also making it harder to finding category heroes.
Heroes tend to be selfless. Their agendas are the agenda of the people. (Not unlike Native American chiefs.) Heroes, like the tide, lifts all boats. Finding heroes helps me through my thought process. It quickens the blood. Makes my insights tighter. More real.
One of my contemporary category heroes is Aisha Adams. She works in the area of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. She’s consumed by the topic. She shares to a fault, has an amazing sensitivity, and is most definitely part of the solution. Heroes are out there — it just takes a little more work to find them.
Wake up every morning during your brand planning assignment and hunt up some heroes. It’s sooo worth it.