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  • I'm a creator, entrepreneur, author of DREAM YEAR, and aspiring novelist. My wife Ainsley and I live in Virginia Beach with our five kids Wyatt, Dylan, Cody, Annie & Millie

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So, what's yours?

I couldn't read this post and not think of Dan Kimball.. his hair, his clothes, his refusal to use a Mac... its all very iconic.

I agree with you... they must give this some thought but I'd love to hear what they'd say to this. I'm sure you've got Chuck on the cell... let me know. :-)

I totally agree. Awesome post. But its just too bad that I can't choose a cigar as my leadership prop. I love me a good cigar...

Does having a big nose count as your icon? let's hope so...

Ok. I don't necessarily think choosing a symbol is that important. If your legacy is dependent on the symbol, such as a bow-tie, you don't have much of a legacy. And if the only thing that made Tucker stand out from other pundits was his bow-tie, then he isn't worth listening to. I think it's the leader's legacy that makes the symbol popular.

thinking about this reminded me at first of Mr. Rogers and his sweater which was in the Smithsonian. that was a powerful prop.

Todd, I'm not saying a leader's legacy is dependent on an icon. I'm saying it reinforces it. That's why I wrote "is important to a leader's legacy" rather than "establishes a leader's legacy." Hope that clears it up.

Malcolm X and Dr. King's traditional black suit and tie...and Malcolm's horn rim glasses. Great post!

This is definitely fascinating. I would love to see more examples as you think of them!

K. I got ya now. Need to slow down and actually read. Fast pace blurs things. :)

Having not read James Humes' book, I may be a bit naive here but I do wonder about the "intentional purpose" aspect of this. Did they really have purposeful intention for these icons (hats, glasses, cigars) to become iconic or did theses items just happened to become an icon as the individuals elevated to iconic leaders. The answer could be both.

Does that make any sense?

I agree with the overall vein of this though. A memorable leader will always have some memorable icon that people associate with them visually, whether that is a positive icon or a negative.

Have any negative icon examples?

Daniel, Humes asserted that it was/is intentional, and I agree. It might have come out of personal style / habit, but it became intentionally iconic. Great leaders understand symbols. They understand how they impact legacy. It's the reason we can't get Billy Graham to record video for Catalyst -- he doesn't want to be remembered for how he looks right now. And I agree... Tammy Faye Messner's appearance on Larry King before she died was a troubling image.

Orville Redenbacher also had an iconic bow tie. And Pee-Wee Herman. And Lurch from the Addams Family.

Coincidence? One can never be sure...

ps: rumor has it that Steve Jobs also wore bow ties in the 80's

Okay, I surrender. Ben, you win. You are right. Great leaders do understand icons and how they "appear", much like Mandela wearing suits when he became a worldwide symbol (knowing the world would take him more seriously...I read that from some other great blog! But it's true.)
In lieu of a flag I am wearing a white bow tie. =)

Haha. Dawn just made me snort my drink when I read Pee-Wee Herman.

i think this communicates great value in being comfortable in our skin. too often we try to look,dress, and communicate like "the cool kids." just look at all of us at Christian conferences: graphic tees, moleskines, macs, iphones. (all of which i proudly sport:) are we all just coppy cats?

we need confidence in who God has uniquely created us to be...and just be that.

Found your blog from over there at betterthanblank, add a new reader to your blog, great job.

Yea, Carlson is interesting. But is it because of the bow tie? That’s just an attention getter.

Be careful you don’t get distracted by the surface things as they divert your attention and can be totally misleading. Substance is what counts.

What sets leaders apart and makes them standout is character, achievement, accomplishment and other similar attributes.

Churchill was such a great leader during his time no one cared if or what he smoked. He was a great leader who happened to smoke cigars not a great leader because he smoked a cigar

It’s easy to be fooled. Try an experiment and ask people on the street if they watch O’Reilly or Carlson. They may remember the guy with the bow tie but it doesn’t mean they watch his show. The Factor has many more viewers and if I am an advertiser that’s all I care about.

Ells, that's interesting except Churchill actually cared that he smoked. Washington cared that he rode a white stallion. Lincoln cared that he wore his hat. And on and on...

Don't push my point - I'm not saying these icons make a leader. I'm saying they help tell the leader's story. They reinforce his or her legacy.

Great blog post!

I ordered the book.

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