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The Power of Jimmy Olsen

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The Power of Jimmy Olsen

Oh, sure, you can see why Superman’s all great and wonderful and all that, but you know what? He took off. Just after Superman 2 (in movie continuity), the Big Blue Boy Scout takes off to go check out a rumor. This little jaunt leaves Earth without someone to catch all those falling planes for five years. But do you know who stayed around?

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Jimmy Olsen.

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I know a real world Jimmy Olsen (not his real name), and spoke with him at length fairly recently. I had almost written him off in some regards, because I was blinded by the fact that he really wasn’t a superhero. (I use the term “superhero” often in my life to refer to people who exhibit what Seth Godin might call “purple cows:” people who are remarkable). Jimmy Olsen isn’t a superhero, doesn’t wear shiny blue tights and a red cape, and doesn’t fly around. But you know what Jimmy does?

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  • Jimmy is Loyal– Superheroes have lots of stuff on their plates. They run around, try new things, solve things. And sometimes that doesn’t work out so well. Jimmy doesn’t talk smack. Instead, he’s really supportive and eager to hear what you’ve got to tell him about your world-saving adventures.
  • Jimmy is a Connector– Because he’s so friendly and easygoing and loyal, Jimmy blends well with lots of crowds. This means that lots of folks don’t mind having Jimmy around. Sure, they don’t always notice him, but he’s there. And he’s in. He’s connected. He gets invites based on this, and that means he’s communicating with people all over the place.
  • Jimmy is Thorough– Superheroes can’t sweat the small stuff. They are knocking down buildings and kicking the poop out of monsters and bald guys — er, bad guys. But Jimmy’s got the time to go get all the details straight. He makes sure you’ve got your desk and stapler and your coffee mug, Clark, even though you’ve been nowhere for five years. Jimmy’s that way. He makes sure you remember things, like people’s birthdays.

Two things really quick: Yes, I’ve heard of that Seinfeld episode. Also, Jimmy can be a girl. This is just a character sketch. Now, as we last left our heroes (or his friend)…

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  • Jimmy’s got Heart– Truly, if you look past the glasses, the tie, and past the big red “S,” there’s a lot of conflict there. It’s tough being an illegal alien, even if you can melt things. But Jimmy, well, he’s got lots of heart. People who are Jimmy Olsens are the type who really believe from the bottom of their heart that this is the right thing to do. They’re passionate. They’re zealous! They want to knock this ______ out of the park.
  • Jimmy Lifts Everyone Up– Can you imagine Jimmy talking smack to Lois? Not a chance. The Jimmys of our world say great things in public, praising everyone so liberally, you just gotta want to get in line. And if they’ve got something bad to say, you can be sure there’s no tape recorders rolling and it’s off the record. Jimmy, after all, wants everything in life to be picture perfect.

Make sure when you’re off hacking life in your own special superhero costume that you keep a Jimmy Olsen on your team. It’s important to have and accept all types to your teams, even if they can’t bend steel with their bare hands. It’s easy to miss the importance and power of Jimmy Olsen when looking around at the true superheroes in your organization. But it’d be at your peril to forego having someone as loyal, connected, thorough, full of heart and cogratulatory on your side.

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–Chris Brogan is much more of a Batman fan. He writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and is organizing PodCamp Boston, a FREE unconference Sept 9-10 in Boston. Meet Chris at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario, CA, on Sept 29-30.

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