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Monday, December 16, 2013

David Brooks, "The Thought Leader": Thoughts of an Anti-Thought Leader

Winter only begins on December 21, yet here it is, December 17, and it's cold as a witch's . . . oops. Let's just say it is cold. I have already filled my quota this week for offending people, and I certainly wouldn't want to offend any witches. Consider what happened to Dorothy.

Anyway, I am wandering off-topic. Last night I was invited to attend a political rally. Mind you, I was asked to attend, not speak. The organizers had the good sense not to allow me to speak. You see, I had proposed speaking on the topics of global warming and nose spray addiction, but given the freezing temperature outside, the organizers wisely decided to keep me far away from the dais. However, in all fairness, they did suggest that I bring a friend. "A friend?" I asked. "Can I bring my dog?" They laughed, but little did they know that I was serious.

In fact, last week my wife and I had a "friendly" discussion concerning my refusal to shake certain people's hands. I explained to her that I have reached an age at which I am entitled not to shake the hands of people whom I don't like. She shot back that I was apt to offend people, and quite honestly she was right - I must always make certain not to overshoot my weekly quota.

Which brings us to the topic of today's blog entry: David Brooks's most recent New York Times op-ed entitled "The Thought Leader" ( What's a "Thought Leader"? David kindly explains:

"The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts."

Well, I don't think I've ever been on a yacht, and Hillary - if we're talking about witches - hasn't invited me to the Clinton Global Initiative. (I also offered to speak to this forum on the topics of global warming and nose spray addiction, and I am still waiting to hear back from Chelsea.) But of more interest to me was Brooks's description of an aging Thought Leader:

"By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots."

Fortunately, given that I am an Anti-Thought Leader, I am rarely "bruised by snarky comments from new versions of [my] formerly jerkish self." Rather, I am ignored.

Which brings me to a far more interesting Washington Post article entitled "In denial that you’ve reached middle age? A survey identifies some telltale signs." ( by Margaret Shapiro, which confirmed for me that I am getting on in years. The first nine signs cited by Shapiro:

●Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs
●Finding you have no idea what “young people” are talking about
●Feeling stiff
●Needing an afternoon nap
●Groaning when you bend down
●Not remembering the name of any modern bands
●Talking a lot about your joints/ailments
●Hating noisy pubs
●Getting more hairy — ears, eyebrows, nose, face, etc.

Needing an afternoon nap? Not me (I could use a nighttime nap). Not remembering the name of any modern bands? Again, not me (you can't forget what you never knew). But the rest? This Anti-Thought Leader plainly has one foot in the grave.

1 comment:

  1. keep on truckin(grateful dead) i enjoy reading someone who makes sense...i think you are wealthy and you are obviously a free thinker and care about others ..somehow the greed is good people are running things.and somehow there does not seem to be a way to change this situation..stay alive i enjoy your blog