Then, we hear of the automobile accident that took the life of CBS newsman Bob Simon.
Simon was 73. He was a real war correspondent. Further, he actually endured the perils of war when in 1992 he and his crew were captured, arrested, and placed in an Iraqi jail for what turned out to be anything but an apocryphal 40 days and 40 nights. I have never been in war and I have never been in jail, But, I understand it can change a person, not simply his or her Q-core, but it can forge a sharper worldview and strengthen one's personal resolve.
In the hours after his death, Simon's mentee, Scott Pelley, explained why Simon sought the war assignments: "He raged against injustice in the world. And it drove to all of these places, wherever anyone was suffering, wherever anyone was oppressed, wherever anyone lost their voice and no one knew, he felt it was his responsibility to go there and expose that to the world. And he did that everywhere and without regard to politics or his own personal beliefs, he just went in search of the suffering."
I am taken with the stunning clarity of contrast between Brian Williams' brief encounters with war and how he reported them ... and those of Simon's.
After Simon's imprisonment, his reporting seemed to have changed. He discovered more stories of human spirit enduring difficult times. I remember being touched by his Peabody Award-winning story (Joy in the Congo) that looked inside the world's only all black symphony. Stunning, Here is that story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FrMpLJE9TI.
The point of this post is not to "pile on" to the Williams fall, but draw the contrast between what is tweet-able and titillating and that which is enduring and enigmatic ... simply, a lifetime of extraordinary work. Despites his 27 Emmies, Bob Simon remained uncelebrated.
Yet, he had critics. He drew the ire of many of his fellow Jews when he reported on the raw side of the Jewish legacy. Related by Scott Pelley, In that report Simon demonstrated a reporter's power of questions when he lauded an Israeli general by telling him he was maybe the greatest Israeli military leader of all time and then in the next moment asking, "So why are you killing children?"
Simon did not have the star power of Williams, nor the genius of Stewart, but he did have staying power and lived his life the way he saw fit for 73 years. He forged a reputation the old-fashioned way.
What does all of this have to do with marketing and getting and keeping customers? Well, I believe that in a world where opinions are formed with scant evidence and singular events, it behooves us to seize on values that matter and live them to the fullest. Strong reputations, and likewise compelling brands, are rooted in enduring beliefs. Simon, like Stewart, have demonstrated a body of work that matters to others because it matters to them. Fame was the result not the objective.
Do good work. Make good products. And celebrate your values. Your followers will find you.