Photo by Tim Graf on Unsplash

Companies don’t need “stars” to be successful

What’s with all this uproar on stars?! You know, all the propaganda surrounding a vastly amazing cosmic personality who is supposed to do acts of wonder on whatever gruesome dilemma a business is facing. Aren’t successful companies supposed to be the result of a collective effort? If so, why are certain people systematically singled out as “stars”? Does this imply that everyone else is just a cog in the machine? Let’s just take a few of the latest announcements and hype around the savior’s of UBER, Twitter & Pandora — and put yourself in the shoes of quite a number of people at those companies who probably; warned of upcoming issues, proposed ample solutions and even lead large team’s of other people to quickly transform an area of the business, and most likely against the will of the previous senior management. Those people in my mind are “true” heros.

Why have we come to put so much faith in these often artificially bloated experts? What causes the media, investment community and Ivy League academics to be seduced by the hypothetical scalability of these peoples talent, wisdom and leadership? Why are the accounts of their actions (that should primarily benefit the target companies clients and employees) always shrouded in secrecy if not purely expunged? Simply put, humanity’s long-standing attitudes towards mythological, supernatural, or spiritual aspects of beliefs notably that some divine individuals can rescue us from certain disaster.

Marvel’s superhero universe has focused on the characterization of adult issues and turned us all into believers.

There have been some well-documented flops. Marissa Meyer (Yahoo), Ron Johnson (JC Penney), Carly Fiorina (HP), Chip Wilson (Lululemon) & John Riccitiello (Electronic Arts) to name a few of the bigwigs. But the spotlight also shines on the smaller, less known to the general public, playground wipeouts. Adrien Roose (Take Eat Easy), Anthony Bay (Rdio), Adora Cheung (Homejoy), Andrew Mason (Groupon), Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Parker Conrad (Zenefits) & Chad Dickerson (Etsy); all of them proclaimed super”stars”. And then there are all those whose name mean’s nothing to anyone outside their “tiny universe”; building, street, sports club, trendy restaurant, firm or university who take to the headlines every day (Twitter, Medium, Inc, Wired, Venture Beat or the Huffington Post…) to ruminate their magic powers, and organizations and gatherings of all sizes continue to apply their recipes without any degree of question. The consequences of the “pied piper syndrome” have been well documented yet it seems to have had no effect on the bearing of an increasing amount of projects that religiously listen to stars whether they be for-profit or non-profit . Why such a following?

Edmund Gettier famously challenged the longstanding academic approach and understanding of knowledge. His groundbreaking work provides several examples of beliefs that are both true and justified, but that we should not intuitively term “knowledge”. Perhaps our faith in these so-called “stars” is derived in part from our ignorance of what these people call their experience (knowledge) and our society’s century groomed beliefs in how much a collective needs a chieftain. Epistemologists address these questions as “what does it mean to say that one knows something?” and maybe we should take their lead, especially when most of the noise happens on information channels where there is little professional journalism if none.

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

If there are so many references to “stars” these days it is because we have lost confidence in our capacity to come together as an assembly to confront hardships and roll up our sleeves to prevail. Instead of embracing the collective challenge we choose to circumnavigate and bestow the responsibility on an individual much as we do by clicking a food delivery app instead of planning ahead, doing the shopping, preparing the raw foods and cooking to meet our needs. Stars are not able to answer our impending hurdles because they only dispense outdated formulas and essentially focus on their own welfare and as our world continues to accelerate, the solution in my view lies within our natural and deep rooted instincts to coalesce and form a tribe to survive instead of relying on a sole individual to map out our future.