My friend Michael Krigsman has been running a series on "Industry Influencers".
Personally, I cringe when I hear the term – I know it sounds ungrateful since many include me in the lists of influencers they compile.
Trust me, I would have been detained at the front door of most of the 50 countries I have been lucky to visit, if I had used that moniker. Author works well, much better than Consultant which I used for a while even when I was an Analyst.
My clients at Gartner and since, who I have helped review over $ 10 billion in technology contracts over the last two decades, have never called me “influencer”. Adviser they called me. Motherxxxxxx was the most polite term the vendors on the other side used for me.
My blog and book readers and speaking audiences consider me a “friend”. It is a modern day author’s blessing to get instant readership, blog comments, Amazon reviews and a frequent chance to shake hands. Guess how long it took Hemingway to get reader feedback or how few he actually shared a drink with (ok, he probably made up for it with his stint in Key West)?
Ideally, I would walk around quipping the most awesome opening line in any written book. That from Moby Dick: “Call me Ishmael”. What a calling card, evokes as it does a Biblical and a sailors’ sense of wandering and exploring (and yes, a certain melancholy and loneliness)
I suspect the name would not allow for easy entry into many countries, so my favorite moniker these days in “Innovation Historian”. Not so much Edison or Tesla – even though I paid quiet homage to Edison’s original desk when I visited the GE facility in Niskayuna where it is lovingly preserved. Or those from Florence during the Renaissance during the 1400s and 1500s even though my blog is named after them.
It is modern day innovators who allow me to catalog the history they are crafting before our eyes. Like Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE with his vision of the Industrial Internet. Like Jonathan Ive of Apple for his industrial design mastery. Like Aneel Bhusri and his team at Workday. And many others a bit less known but reinventing the way we work, play and live in our New Renaissance.
Yes, call me historian, please. There are plenty of folks who would rather be called Influencer and keep improving their Klout and other back slapping scores.