Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Once you've made it, it must be hard not to stare everyone in the face, perform a meaningful haka, and say, "Hah!"
There are those who, even when they've reached the highest of pinnacles, feel the need to remind you that they have, indeed, reached the highest of pinnacles. This serves also to remind you that you haven't. Hah.
Some famous entrepreneurs, though, can still be self-effacing. My fascination with LinkedIn profiles therefore led me to wonder which famous businesspeople are still able to be people when they present themselves in the world's business directory.
These four profiles offer a pleasing companion to my troubled opus "The 6 Worst Things You Can Call Yourself on LinkedIn."
1. Bill Gates
You might fear that someone who spent so many years bullying the world into using his company's software might come across as a haughty, high-handed soul. Instead, here is his self-description: "Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chairman, Microsoft Corporation. Voracious reader. Avid traveler. Active blogger." A touch curt, perhaps. Well, what do you expect? He's a nerd. However, he gives you enough to suggest that though he's done a few things, he's still human. He reads, he travels, he writes. Don't we all? You see, he's just like you. Almost.
2. Richard Branson
He's achieved a few things, has this man. Buccaneered his way through life and business as if they were two rooms in one big party house. But does he try to make himself sound ineffably fabulous on LinkedIn? Or does he merely offer the spirit of his humanity? He describes himself as: "Tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr. Yes at Virgin!" Wouldn't you like to meet someone who described himself this way, even if you didn't know it was Richard Branson? Wouldn't everyone want to meet Dr. Yes?
3. Barbara Corcoran
She's regularly seen on Shark Tank. She's surely going to present herself as a hard-nosed businesswoman, a voraciously successful entrepreneur, and an all-around person to admire, one who's going to cut you to the quick if you so much as think something stupid. Instead, her LinkedIn summary begins: "Corcoran's credentials include straight D's in high school and college and 20 jobs by the time she turned 23." This is a story. This is an interesting woman. This is someone who presents herself in a way that is human and self-deprecating--and only then someone you watch on TV.
4. Sean Parker
They say he can believe in himself to excess. This may be. However, on LinkedIn, the man who isn't Justin Timberlake offers this self-portrait: "serial startup and consumer internet product guy. enjoys putting disruptive technology in the hands of millions. strong bias for upending stodgy old industries." Yes, he only uses small letters for that sentence. There isn't a semblance of emoting and gloating. There's not a mention of Facebook. There isn't even a tinge of someone who adores himself so much that you should adore him too, even as you're dazzled by his very presence. He might, indeed, be merely a decent human being. What a concept.
Of course, there are those who cannot resist--even when their success is so great that they really don't care who you are or what you do--to blow a little hard in the way that they describe themselves. But the four above might offer you the best template of how to describe yourself. In the end, people will be most interested in the human being. After all, that is the entity they must tolerate if you ever meet.