At some point, I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug as a child, producing an itch to create for as long as I can remember.
As a result, I’ve been a part of a number of enterprises, each one being very different – from the type and age of the business to the role I played within the venture. I opened a cafe in Blacksburg, VA while earning a Mechanical Engineering degree, was a Sales Engineer at a top commercial building and HVAC company that had an amazing work culture, and of course, joined the Foster Made team in the early days.
All of those experiences have taught me a lot about what it takes for a business to make it, and moreover, what it takes for a business to make a movement. For me, it’s always been all about the people. How each person is integral in every stage of the process. And I mean everyone: the visionary leader, all who join in, and every advocate.
A few years ago, I came across a video that really spoke to me about what I’ve been fortunate enough to experience. “Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy.” Only three minutes long, it succinctly wraps up the concepts of leadership and making a movement. True to its name, it starts with a guy dancing. He’s at a festival, dancing his heart out alone, maybe looking a little crazy to the other festival attendees. Until something happens. The first follower joins him. I’ll spare the rest so you can check it out yourself, but, spoiler alert! It ends with a movement.
I go back to this video often, not only because it’s pretty awesome, but I think there’s a lesson for all of us: leaders, first followers, and all subsequent followers. In a culture where “leadership is over-glorified,” it’s important to know that your role is essential. Your participation matters. After all, it takes the first follower to turn a “lone nut” with a great idea into a leader. It takes the second and third followers to gain momentum. And last, but certainly not least, it takes the remaining followers to make, and sustain, a movement.
So to all the past, present, and future lone-nuts out there, remember the importance of valuing your followers as equals who’ve made your idea possible. Let your actions be easy to follow and all about the movement. And as the video narrator says, “when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.” After that, more people are still needed, so go ahead, make the movement happen.
I’ve had the honor of being both a leader and a follower and, to me, their weight in gold is identical. I couldn’t have been a leader without those that supported me. We also don’t get to follow and support an amazing adventure without a leader. Everyone is part of the journey and that’s what makes it worth it.