So I hail the ride, wait in the lobby whilst the app tells me that the driver is around the corner. I can see the bellman helping guests with their luggage through the hysteria of the lobby, the incessant hallowing of the phone at reception, the chatter of the guests impatiently at the length of the check-in line and that notorious service industry call, “next please!”
Through the glass front doors, lightly sprinkled with branding, I see and immediately feel the unforgiving rush of the city.
It finally hits me.
This is it now.
This is home.
West & 7th Avenue.
My pocket buzzes. She is here. My uber has arrived.
I am having the first off day since I arrived. After days of endless meetings & a gym schedule that refused to acquiesce to the relent of jetlag I have planned for myself something of a “day-off”. Movies. Shopping. A decent meal. And maybe later, the opera at Carnegie Hall.
I rush through the brisk of the rain. Take the affirming but probing look at the windscreen of the ride. Are you my Uber I ask with little more than a tilt of the head and a signal of the forefinger. She affirms. I rush to back right door and jump into the Uber.
As we pass the third traffic from midtown toward the tourist-infested Time Square, a conversation about politics sparks.
First, odd prose on African politics and the rotation of the same ideas by the same people that is the system. A natural starting point for two fellow Africans now joined by technology for a 6minute trip needing to find common ground for conversation.
She was born and spent the first eleven years of her life in Liberia.
“Liberia! George Weah!?” I shout.
“Yes.” she replies with a tone of discontent and mockery. “Him and Africa’s first female president”
We both chuckle. Chemistry built. Rapport established.
“What do you think of the guy here?” I ask her. “Do you think he has the goods”.
Hellen’s answer surprised and gave me perspective at the same time. Her point of view was that Trump is not a politician. Not in the classical sense.
“You see, people today want to deal with people. They want to know the true and honest thoughts of their leaders. They want to know their flaws and critique their real thoughts. Not well-written statements by spin doctors” she says with an authoritative tone.
“This was the mistake of Obama and even Hillary. They talked to people like perfect little politicians”.
I had never before considered this idea. The thought that Trump actually won, in part not completely, because he was authentic. Whether politically correct or not, thoughtful or not, factual or not, he spoke his mind.
The fact is that people today are so jaded by leaders with perfectly curated profiles, professional written statements, speeches crafted by copyrighters and public images built and managed by a mix of PR and tech agencies that they find a “this is who I am” approach refreshing & oddly, trustworthy.
Consider this then: are you authentic and transparent as a leader? Do you own your failing and flaws in the ridicule and glare of your followers? Do you speak you mind or do you default the politically correct version of the truth.
I am not saying that a man who has not yet released his tax returns is a model for transparency but there is surely something to be learnt.
Now back to your regular scheduled program.
Speaker | Leader | Dragon Slayer