Global Business Celebrity
I suppose if I were willing to network with people I don’t know and quite possibly would not like. And if I were willing to get up at the crack of dawn, pick up a Zipcar, and gun out to the Newton Marriott, I would go to the regular meetings of the Sales & Marketing Executive, International, Boston Chapter.
If so, I would have been there last week, on the ultra-auspicious Ides of March, to hear global business celebrity and former Fortune 100 C-suite Executive Jeffrey Hayzlett speak.
Now, I’m as familiar as the next guy with what former Fortune 100 C-suite Executive means. So what if the closest I personally got to the Fortune 100 C-suite was being the VP of marketing for a puny little software firm that was acquired by a Fortune 1000 company.
That said, as a TA at Harvard, my husband did have both Steve Ballmer and Scott McNealy as students, and they’re about as Fortune 100 C-suite-y as you can get. And, years ago, at a tech conference in San Jose, I was alone in an elevator with Bill Joy, with McNealy a Sun co-founder, and we chatted a bit. He was very nice. Does that count?
When Genuity was being – there doesn’t seem to be any other word for it – dicked around by Verizon, I may have asked Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon a question at the meeting where they brought all the Genuity directors and VPs in to pile on some blather about how we weren’t really being dicked. I may have.
I exchanged pleasantries with Carly Fiorina when she was signing books at a forum I went to. The books were free with admission, and I had her sign mine though I must confess to not having read it. (I did tear the spine out and recycle the pages.)
And now that I think of it, I once wrote Jack Welch a letter asking him for a donation for The Writers’ Room of Boston. He turned me down, but sent me a very cordial e-mail. And I’ll give him props for having his personal home address right there in the phone book.
Did Lotus ever make the Fortune 100? Probably not, but I once sat across the aisle from founder Mitch Kapor on a flight to NYC.
So while I’m not exactly on intimate terms with Fortune 100 C-sweetie-pies, it’s not like they’re not at least vaguely in my wheelhouse.
But global business celebrity is a new one on me.
Not that there couldn’t be a category for global business celebrity.
I’d put Donald Trump first on the list, since he’s global, he’s business, and he sure enjoys being a celebrity. Steve Jobs would have been there, too. Richard Branson, who I actually passed twice on the street – once on Beacon, once of Charles – in a single day. He made eye contact both times and smiled. I only realized it was, indeed, himself when I saw on the news that he was in town for something Virgin-al or other.
The aforementioned Jack Welch’s celeb star may have dimmed a bit, but he certainly was something of a global business celebrity in his heyday.
I suppose Mitt Romney’s something of one, but he’s such a political wannabe that he loses major points.
And although I don’t think they would actually think of themselves as celebrities, or have courted celebrity personae, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, come on down – separately or together.
Let’s not forget the ladies. I give you Martha Stewart. The late Leona Helmsley. And Betty Crocker, if she’d been a real person.
So there are, indeed, any number of global business celebrities out there. But the name Jeffrey Hayzlett would not, alas, have come to my mind.
And yet if you google “global business celebrity”, Mr. Hayzlett is, in fact, the holder of the post position. Indeed, on the first page of “finds” – and who ever looks beyond? – he is the only person named as a GBC.
It can even be said that Jeffrey Hayzlett owns global business celebrity-hood.
I guess it’s no longer enough to be a smart person who’s parlayed time spent as the CMO at Kodak, where I have no doubt whatsoever that he learned plenty, into a quite decent career as a business consultant, writer, and speaker.
I’m guessing that I would have found his presentation at last week’s SMEI breakfast interesting and entertaining.
I poked around his website, and it looks like he’s got plenty of ideas and the drive to put himself out there. Yet again I reflect on how useful it would have been in terms of my own personal career if I hadn’t drawn the introvert straw. Sigh…
I also saw that he gets on TV. Fox’s Neil Cavuto (business news) apparently likes him. So he’s also a pundit. (Now I’m admittedly jealous.)
So why would someone want to brand himself as a global business celebrity? Sure, we’re a celebrity obsessed culture, but celebrity just sounds so light weight and superficial that, I’m guessing with the possible exception of Donald Trump, no one who comes to my mind as a global business celebrity would want to be viewed as a celebrity. Celebrity is Kardashian territory, not Tom Peters.
I guess in a world where self-promotion is so darned important, picking a brand and sticking to it works. It’s just that I can’t get past wondering who would want to brand himself as a celebrity?
Meanwhile, I was interested enough in Mr. Hayzlett’s celebrity to find that he is a graduate of South Dakota’s Augustana College. Wanting to learn more about Augustana, I took a look at its wikipedia entry.
Frankly, I was surprised – perhaps even shocked – to see that Jeffrey Hayzlett, although a global business celebrity, is NOT on the Augustana list of notable alumni.
Surely a list that has room for such august luminaries as David Soul (Starsky and Hutch), Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight), and Myron Floren (accordionist supreme, and long-time Lawrence Welk Show performer), let alone the guy who’s VP of Marketing for United Airline, has room for the name of a global business celebrity. What good’s celebrity if you can’t even get on your alma mater’s notable alumni list?