The first stop in Detroit of Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option“ variety ‘warlock’ show occurred this past Saturday night. According to reports thunderous applause at the start, but in about an hour “fans” walked out wanting their money refunded. Ultimately the conclusion of the first show being — let’s just call it un-winning?
Charlie Sheen made the mistake of thinking the audience was on his side. That’s what happens when you descend from your showbiz perch, step out of the television and enter the realm of the common man, you find out we’re all equal. And that if you don’t give a great presentation, we’ll tear you down from your peak. Don’t think that just because people paid to see you, they’re on your side. You’re no longer at the mercy of the critics, you’re at the mercy of the public. A $100 ticket member of the audience is no longer passive, they’ll provide an opinion not only through catcalls and boos, but will tweet and blog as those who care will follow along from home.
For Sheen to play to fewer people over the next 19 cites with even less attention would not only be a PR disaster, but devastating to his pride so, one can only assume there will be some show cancellations. But, the big story of the past six months is that the people rule. It happened in the Middle East, it’s happening here. How long do you expect people to overwork just to make ends meet while an “undeserving” upper class gets to live in an alternative universe? According to Wikipedia, a humble person is “someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.”
Is there a H-D motor company lesson here?
If you’re one of the privileged, don’t intersect with the public. Fly private, live behind a gate or a guard, avoid publicity. Because the little people are there, waiting to pounce on every misstep? Then again, what if the motorcycle world is ready for a true leader, who knows all this, who is not beholden to the public so much as cognizant of the landscape and willing to march forward into the future.
Does that describe Harley-Davidson?
Jim Collins, who has spent double digit years researching how certain companies are able to sustain superlative performance and identified a key ingredient — having a Level 5 leader — an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will was essential to take a company from good to great. Transforming a good company into a great one also included getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus). In other (my) words, true professionals don’t equate attention with talent. They don’t equate notoriety with a career. They don’t equate an initial demand with longevity. They don’t set themselves up for ridicule because the smell of a stunt stinks worldwide and people (motorcyclists) know what is good.
One of the most common causes of failure once people (or companies) achieve significant success in business is an out of balance ego.
Photo courtesy of Flickr