Pundits, researchers, textperts, and academics all love to talk about how they would fix the United States’ fragmented, crapped-out communication apparatus. The overarching web of demon seed spunked across drab refurbished halls in the Eisenhower Building on 17th Street NW barely covers the Sarlacc maw of offices, officials, and assholes manning the guns of This, Our National Communication Nightmare. All suggestions for reform mandate – nay, demand! – leadership in renovating this sad enterprise, this broken transistor, these crusted lips. Though none of these tremendous gasbags has deigned to ask the question most important to we lowly peasants of the pen: “Who shall lead us?” Submitted then, for no approval, is this list of AWESOME, kermodial badasses. Executives in 21st century organization and innovation. Preeminent princes of creativity. Visionaries of the better and the righteous.
Jack Dorsey – Creator & CEO, Twitter
Just interviewed The President using crowdsourced questions from Twitter. Twitter. A social media tool that has archived millions of impressions from people around the world and is on the way to becoming so ubiquitous that it’s considered a utility by some. Elegant simplicity and craftsmanship are his weapons. I think he knows a thing or two about designing a communication enterprise.
Andy Carvin – Senior Strategist, NPR
“The Crowdsorceror” who mounted a one-man content curation campaign in realtime around popular protests and demonstrations in the Middle East that later became known as the Arab Spring. Compelling, earnest believer in the power of people. His examples inspire legions of communicators to standing applause at his speaking engagements. To Carvin, community comes first. Imagine his style of realtime information gathering applied to intelligence or information operations problems.
Jon Stewart - Host, The Daily Show
America’s funnyman turned mega-popular fake news host, consumed by millions of Americans as “real” news. Despite obvious satirical takes on journalism, staunchly defends That Which Is Right by attacking The Wrong, from Fox News insidiousness to Cramer’s role in puffing up the housing crisis. Genuinely loves America. Imagine his tenure leading government international broadcasting efforts.
Tim Hwang – Founder, Web Ecology Project, The Awesome Foundation, and The Institute for Higher Awesome Studies
A philosophical cog caught between the wheels of web analytics and netnography. Cultural researcher and student of human interaction offline, online, and elsewhere. Observer of society, real and imagined. Teamed with the right agencies, his timely insights about social communities could make AWESOMEthe work of thousands of government communication professionals.
Fred Wilson – Venture Capitalist and Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures
Social entrepreneur and investor in socially transformative technologies. Believes in the transcendant like Hashable, Etsy, Foursquare, GetGlue, Kickstarter, and more. Blogs regularly about the whys and wherefores, the how-to’s, and the aspirational dreams of his investments. Imagine a federal executive who apportions program funding according to the good of society versus short-term gains or even strategic objectives.
Peter Thiel - Serial VC, Hedge Fund Manager
Avowed investor in the impossible, from artificial intelligence to social networks like Facebook to data analytics supergiants like Palantir. Believer in not just debating future technology and social innovation but making it happen. Convener of social creatives to discuss building an objective American future. Elusive yet visionary. Skates the edge of politics with controversial libertarian-esque views on economics and democracy, a modernist perspective badly required by an ever evolving communications ecosystem.
Tony Hsieh – CEO, Zappos
The man who brought happiness to millions and made fun a core capability of his company. Committed to making the world a happier place, a mission sorely needed in the personnel departments of hundreds of government agencies.
John Lasseter - Chief Creative Officer, Pixar
The man who built an animated powerhouse out of a tiny studio no one believed would succeed. Since producing some of the most endearing animated films in the modern age, has merged his multibillion dollar studio with Disney to usher in a new era of Imagineering. Our communications enterprise, currently swarmed with ill-trained personnel that barely understand the social phenomena happening around them, requires creativity of this man’s magnitude.
Lee Bryant – Co-founder & Director, Headshift
A social business maestro, he advocates for clients to change the way they do business instead of simply hanging shiny new social media toys on their websites. Understands the complex challenges of technology’s promises and shortcomings in solving organizational and communications problems. Also, very British.
Baratunde Thurston – Vigilante Pundit, The Onion
Champion for The Right in all things Wrong. Outspoken advocate for diversity, a trait we see too rarely in government. His infectious influence could inspire legions of public diplomats, strategic communicators, and information operators at all levels. Laughter mandating shot caller of madness. Imagine his effect teaching communicators in institutions across government how to be AWESOME and not just govvies.
David Kilcullen – Counterinsurgency Guru
An early advocate of fighting ideologically against al-Qaeda versus hand-to-hand. Believer in people-focused counterinsurgency security. Sees war as competition managed by influence instead of shootouts and bombings. Widely regarded as the smartest man on the planet when it comes to strategically understanding the wars of the future. If the Defense Department continues playing in deployed communications – and it will – then it will need a shamanic leader like this man to responsibly pilot the interagency minefields such across-the-board coordination that will require.
Robert Gates – Former Secretary of Defense; Former Director, CIA
The ultimate honest broker in all things government. From his perch as SECDEF, fought interminable battles with service cultures and DOD dinosaurs, breaking down inflated budgets and streamlining operations. Put this same right-is-right tenacity to work reforming and leading the rehabilitation and redesign of America’s communication enterprise across agencies, and we will see magic.
Mae Ferguson – President & CEO, Fort Worth Sister Cities International
People forget citizen and cultural diplomacy are cornerstone elements of strategic influence, and because of that, they remain ill coordinated with the rest of our national communication apparatus. Mae has the terrier-like tenacity and management expertise to round up the various bit parts of cultural programs and get them working properly in alignment with national influence goals. A long time nonprofit leader, she has achieved a lot with strangled budgets and limited personnel. Disclosure: she’s also my Mom.
Who am I missing?
I know you’ve got some ideas about kermodial badasses we need to draft into service of our faltering national communication enterprise. Tell me who they are in the comments.