What are you, a rockstar?
Recently I found myself in a social meeting of sorts with someone I know who fancies himself an entrepreneur. As I was watching him slowly sip his carefully selected cocktail I began to consider why exactly I was feeling such negative feelings towards him which got me thing about something that’s been stewing in my mind for a while now – the rockstars of our culture.
I’m not really sure how far back this phenomenon goes, but I’m pretty sure it was happening when the world created the first actual rockstars we know of. Years ago after the era of the crooners there emerged Elvis & the Beatles & others who saw more adoration from fans than their predecessors. They are probably the first wave of the rockstar I’m talking about. When popular became more rebellious and overtly sexy, the likes of Robert Plant, Jim Morrison & Roger Daltry sealed the rockstar persona of sex, drugs & rock‘n roll. These were the guys that girls wanted & guys wanted to be. There was nothing cooler to young Americans that being a rockstar and year after year, teenagers across the USA formed bands with their friends and took their stab at becoming the ultimate figure, the rockstar.
In the last few decades, we’ve seen the emergence of the tech geeks turned rockstars. These are the guys who started out decidedly uncool & very unrockstar-like, who stayed indoors & fiddled around with electronics & code, skipped the garage band & girlfriends & finally emerged as major figures in our culture. They’re responsible for much of how we communicate, calculate & entertain ourselves. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. There are others.
You know who I'm talking about. . . .
You know who I’m talking about. These people made working 60 hour weeks cool because there was a huge payoff for the effort. They made having toys at work the fashion because they were working 60 hour weeks & needed a way to stay sane in the process. They developed a new work culture because they didn’t fit the corporate mold & needed more flexible, more creative approaches to solving problems that no one before had encountered. They made mad money. They did it while they were young. Teenagers began looking at these icons of innovation as idols & wanted to be them. They elevated themselves to a kind of rockstar status. Rockstars ushering in a new millennium.
Rockstars are at the pinnacle of their industry. When they work, people pay attention. They have creative expression. They have influence. They have success. They have helped shape history.
Then there are people much like my cocktail sipping acquaintance, who regardless of what they tell you about themselves just aren’t very interesting. These are the people who came a little too late to the party. The people who can’t really do any of the things they tell you they can. These are the entrepreneur-wannabes, walking around this slow to change town wondering why nobody wants to front venture capitol for their fully mediocre ideas.
You know who I mean. Always taking calls on their cellular phones talking “business” even though it sounds a lot like making plans to have drinks. Always upgrading their laptop because the new model functions like a TiVo/home theater system even though they’d never watch actually use it that way. Walking around town using headsets to carry on conversations because, well I don’t know why really. Maybe they don’t want to wrinkle their slouchy Gap suit jacket they’re wearing over torn jeans. Chatting & surfing the internet & calling it “working” -- & boy to they “work” a lot. At least as much as the 60 hours their predecessors put in. They have toys at the office because “working” almost constantly means you need to play sometimes. But you know what? They are imposters mimicking rockstars.
So when did business become sexy? How does ‘fake it till you make it’ replace innovation & dedication? Do they think this approach will elevate them to rockstar status?
And if these people are the rockstar wannabes, then who are the real rockstars of today?