Thanks to everyone who listened to the Take It Easy Podcast about media access. Thanks for the outstanding responses you wrote in furthering our discussion. Today I would like to piggy back on this conversation to talk about how and why credentials are not necessary when it comes to invention and need.
In the spirit of a famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “let us judge the worthiness of a blogger and podcaster, not be the color of her/his credentials, but by the quality of her/his content.”
The ultimate wild card is Mel Kiper.
“Who in the hell is Mel Kiper anyway?” cried Bill Tobin, who, at the time, was the Colts’ GM, because Mel had just ripped the Colts on national tv for not drafting one of the top QBs in the 1st round of the 1994 NFL Draft.
But, back to the beginning sarges of Mel’s work, he saw a need for NFL fans to become more informed about NFL Draft prospects. He started writing his annual “Blue Book Draft Guide” and found there was a huge market for this --- and Mel did it so well and more detailed than anyone else (save perhaps the legendary Joel Buchsbaum of Pro Football Weekly), that ESPN jumped on Mel Kiper (Mr. Nobody) when they started covering the NFL Draft.
How did Mel pull this off?
He did his homework and he talked with pro and college scouts in order to understand their scouting process and their concepts of positional prototypes.
Mel also kept his phone line open to anyone who wanted to talk to him directly. I spoke with Mel a few times. He was very friendly and accommodating.
Mel Kiper never played pro football. Mel never played college football. But as a teenager he was so fascinated with college and pro football that he wanted to become an NFL scout.
Did you know that Stephen Crane, who wrote The Red Badge of Courage (arguably the most famous Civil War novel), wasn’t even alive yet during the Civil War?
How did Crane do it? He did it by interviewing a hefty number of Civil War veterans and by studying historic battles and all relevant depictions and photographs.
Back in the day, Mel Kiper didn’t have any media credentials --- but he had a big idea, a passion for taping and analyzing a slew of college football games, a typewriter and a marketing plan.
In a way, Bill Gates (whom Joe Comeau aptly mentioned in the podcast with regard to what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about him in “Outliers: The Secret to Success”) was the Mel Kiper of the tech word--- Bill Gates grew up within walking distance of one of the only computers (University of Washington) in the USA that the regular public could access (between 11PM and 6 AM) --- Bill Gates (and buddy Paul Allen) stayed up all night, went to high school and slept in the afternoons so that he would spend hours of time on the U of W computer.
When Bill Gates arrived at Harvard as a freshman, it very quickly became apparent to him that he know as much or more about computers than his professors. So, what did Gates do? He dropped out to go and team up with fellow tech pioneers Paul Allen and Steve Jobs.
What, to this day, are Bill Gates’ diploma credentials?
That is unless you want to count the honorary doctorates that Harvard (and countries like England and China) bestowed on him after Microsoft became a juggernaut.
Hence Mel Kiper and Bill Gates are ultimate examples, and as such, can be considered outliers. But, take Joe Comeau, for example.
Who the hell is Joe Comeau, anyway?
Joe is an avid Cardinals’ fan who has the desire and creativity to amuse and inform other Cardinals’ fans who are a =s thirsty as he is to learn the fine details regarding the most recently acquired players. He turned that desire into short videos he calls The Cardinal Rule. He began taping Cardinal Rule videos a year and half a go. Today, The Cardinal Rule has over 3,170 subscribers. Raise your hand if you are one of them. I certainly am.
Have you seen Joe’s analysis of the Cardinals’ trade for WR Robbie Anderson? This is outstanding.
Have you seen Joe’s 4 minute recap of the Cardinals 42-34 win over the Saints?
What Malcolm Gladwell cogently argues in “Outliers” is some of a person’s success can be attributed to being at the right place at the right time (as Bill Gates was growing up), but success also depends on hard work and perseverance (aka his “10,000 Hour Rule” --- which, in Gladwell’s opinion, gives anyone a chance of being excellent at an endeavor, provided they stick to it long enough.
Like they say, “invention is the mother of necessity” --- which gives anyone a chance to take an innovative idea and create a format and a platform that will attract the attention of a significant and meaningful audience.
Being good and passionate about what you love is arguable the ultimate carpe diem.
Are you able to spend most of your time doing what you are most talented and passionate about?
What do you and world around you need today that doesn’t yet quite exist?
If you study the art of rhetoric, the fascinating model that Aristotle provided for aspiring writers is now called the Rhetorical Triangle:
Speaker —- Audience —- Message (Exigence)
Aristotle made things simple for creative writers —- establish your speaker —- understand who your intended audience is (and what you can assume about what they know and don’t know) —- and the most compelling message to the audience is one shaped by exigence, the pressing need at hand —- aka “the elephant in the room”.
Aristotle assured us that there will always be a role in society for creators —- because there will always be a need (exigence) for enlightenment and new ways of thinking.
A great childhood friend of mine whom I affectionately nicknamed “The Albino Madman” got his career started by inventing a gismo called “The Happy Hand” —- a five fingered hand on a swivel atop a suction cup that people could attach to one of the back windows in their car —- the hand, when impelled by he car’s momentum, would naturally wave back and forth in the direction of the cars along side of them.
Who would have ever guessed there would be a need for Happy Hands? They sold like hot cakes.
These days, The Albino is the owner of a distillery and tavern that he designed and built from scratch.