I sense that because you’re here, that I can trust you.
It’s important that I trust you because, I want to reveal my secret identity to you.
It’s often dangerous to reveal one’s secret identity. It could place those you love in peril. It could open you up to scrutiny. Some will question your motives for what you do, and further, some will question your motives for revealing your secret identity.
But, I sense that I can trust you with this information.
I am Jeff Gibbard and I’m the founder of The Superhero Institute. Much like my mentor Charles Xavier understood, I know that the world is full of people who are capable of truly extraordinary things. We see it all around us. You’ll notice that some will even tell you about it in passing by saying something like “oh yeah, that’s my superpower.”
And I, like them, have a superpower, and few people know about it. My superpower, is the ability to recognize other people’s superpowers. Call it a sixth sense, call it intuition, but I see through each of you and can locate the extraordinary abilities locked away, the ones sitting latent in the cells of your body, waiting to be unleashed.
But that’s only one of my superpowers. The other is that I’m able to observe extraordinary people and distill their incredible abilities into simple formulas and frameworks. It is how I augment my capabilities with each passing day. I call this power Superhero Translation.
This is the story of how I came to recognize these abilities.
After graduating from my MBA in 2008, I immediate started working undercover. By day, disguised as The World’s Most Handsome Social Media Strategist, I helped companies understand how to use social media channels could be used to generate more awareness, leads and sales, as well as a host of other benefits across the business.
I would show them how engaging their employees by creating an amazing work culture would translate into earned buzz about the company, I illustrated for them how it would help attract top talent.
I designed strategies to show companies how to read their customer’s minds by doing something truly revolutionary…talking to them. 😐
I did all of this, because it was my sincere belief that the tools of social media could be used for good. I saw an opportunity to for people to connect with one another across time and geography to find their tribes. I saw the possibility of a public forum where we could discuss the ideas and information that could change the world. These tools would be used to amplify the best parts of humanity, the parts that the gatekeepers of before rarely showed us. It could break down walls, crush prejudice and give us a neutral space to see each other as human beings.
Day-after-day, I worked tirelessly to get companies to see the human beings behind the technology, and yet day-after-day all anyone wanted to talk about was Facebook, or Twitter, or Linkedin.
The medium had become the message
No matter how hard I tried or how much I simplified the strategy, it was no use. I had spent 7 years of my life growing an agency and despite my frustration and lack of meaningful progress to shine the light on people, my company did grow…every year. In late 2017, burned out, frustrated, and watching social media become a polarized and divisive breeding ground for humanity’s worst behavior, I agreed to be acquired by a larger agency.
I thought, at the time, that perhaps if I didn’t have to grind so hard, I didn’t have to wear so many hats, that I could fall back in love with social media.
Over the course of the next year it was the same story, only now, I had a larger team to work with. At the same time, I’d begun regularly coaching my wife who’d been in a leadership role for a little over a year. Each morning I would wake up to her staring at me, waiting for me to stir so she could begin asking me questions about how to deal with various situations. It was through this coaching that I began writing my book on leadership called the Lovable Leader. Since so much less of my attention was devoted to client strategies, I had the opportunity to embrace my passion for leadership and spend more time focused on my team.
I wish I could say I was the world’s best leader. I wasn’t. I had my struggles.
Sometimes I would be distracted. Other times I pushed too hard and ran in to fix things, not considering who I ran over in the process.
But, it wasn’t all bad.
In fact, I know that I made a difference.
Failure and flaws are part of being a superhero. You and I both have the permission to be both human and superhuman.
Our failures make us relatable, our challenges make them inspiring, and our commitment to being on the side of justice, kindness, and compassion, is what makes us heroes instead of villains.
I’ve realized that being a superhero (rather than a super villain) and making all of the choices and value judgements that my commitment requires, connects to every thing that I’ve ever wanted to teach people.