A beautiful blonde woman in an elegant evening dress receiving an award in a glitzy ceremony on TV. It felt like just another celebrity moment. Then she pulled out a blue beanie and put it on her perfectly-coiffed head, presenting an incongruous yet moving image.
The star was Carrie Bickmore, and she was receiving a gold Logie for being voted Australia’s most popular TV personality. She told the audience: “I want to use my two minutes up here to talk about something incredibly close to my heart: brain cancer.” Having lost her husband Greg to brain cancer in 2010, she urged Australians to wear a beanie in order to get the nation talking about brain cancer. And Australia responded. TV hosts across networks sported beanies all through the next day and people around the country uploaded photos of themselves to show their support.
In that moment Carrie Bickmore became a cause leader. Author Roland Alexander explains that cause is an emanation point. “If one was to look back in history, the truly great leaders [who] attempted in some way to improve conditions in their zone of influence, [all] share this common quality of causation.”
So what does it take to become a cause leader?
- The cause needs to light you up. Cause leadership is personal and people have to know your back-story: Why this cause? Why you?
- Tell people why they should care. Bickmore stated: “Everyone thinks brain cancer is rare but it’s not. It kills more people under 40 than any other cancer. It kills more kids than any other disease.”
- Give people a way to get involved with your cause. Bickmore had a simple ask – don a beanie – and Australians did so, also rallying behind the #beaniesforbraincancer hashtag.
Most of all, cause leadership has to be based on authenticity, and in your truth, so it lights you and the world up. Beanies optional.
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Dry facts and data fade from memory over time, but an engaging story is difficult to forget. In Hooked, communication and business storytelling experts Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu use real-world examples and proven, effective techniques to teach the skill of great business storytelling. They explain what good storytelling is, why business leaders need to learn it, how to create effective stories, and how to practice for perfection.