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Sat Series: Here’s how you create and maintain a movement

I was reminded of a very good (but very badly recorded) dancing video. For anyone who gets motion sickness, consider yourself warned.

It only runs for 3 minutes, but it’s an amazing 3 minutes.

The key players in creating a movement

We can learn from this video, and round out our series. The amazing thing we can see here is that a movement is not the result of a single person (or leader). If anything, this video demonstrates that it takes at least three key players to make it happen. 

  1. The lone nut
    A leader who has the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.

  2. The first follower
    A believer who takes it upon themselves to validate and demonstrate to others that it’s okay to believe. There is never a movement without the first follower.

  3. The second follower
    A social proof that the lone nut and first follower aren’t crazy. A movement must be public and the second follower (and beyond) shows a belief in more than just the leader, but the movement itself. 

The video explains it all so succinctly (I really do recommend you watch it), so I won’t talk too much more about it. I want to focus on one thing, what is your role? 

  • Are you the lone nut and it’s your job to get out there, front and centre, and be easy to follow?

  • Or are you the first or second follower where you need to get up, copy the lone nut and demonstrate to others that it’s okay to follow this strange thing?

Sometimes, I like to think that the role of the lone nut actually falls to the company. Not a person, but the listed entity. Especially once it gets big enough to have a mind of its own, a persona, and attributable actions. 

And it’s how I see InvestorHub; 30 staff and a self-fulfilling, self-sustaining entity that does crazy stuff, where I feel like that first follower copying the moves, pointing it out and yelling “This is amazing!” while I dance along. 

I think that’s a freeing mental state for public leaders too, because it helps shift the focus from you to “the thing” and can give you the freedom to genuinely fanboy a bit at what you’ve built as well.

Maintaining a movement

The video is amazing at showing how to create a movement, but it cuts out early. 

How do we maintain one once it’s there? The answer is likely to be simple but not glamorous. 

Hard work, done early.

Too often, listed companies aren’t in control of their own message because they outsource this responsibility. The work of engaging with investors, the control over their share price. 

And I can’t think of a better (or bigger) public example than Taylor Swift (another performer we can learn from when looking to lead in public). With a reported 160m fans, 58m of whom self-identify as “swifties”, that’s a lot of people. 

Taylor Swift is in absolute control of her own message and an interesting story about her early days (in her teens), is that she was extremely active on Tumblr when replying personally to her fans (2,500 of them, in fact). 

That’s a lot of engagement. That’s 10 people, every weekday, for a year. 

But the volume isn’t important. It’s the fact she was, still is, and will continue to be visible and in control of her own message. That’s why 20 years later she’s still front and centre, and still on Tumblr.

Here’s a real-world example.

4DS released some project results last year that significantly affected their stock price and investor sentiment. Despite these challenges, the leadership team didn’t shy away from remaining public, and engaging with investors front and centre. 

Because they kept going and engaging, week after week, they’ve just had one of their best weeks off the back of a successful testing announcement only a few days ago. 


So what does that mean for you?

That video shows you how a movement starts, but it’s up to you to figure out which role you take. 

If you see it like I do sometimes, your company is the lone nut leading the charge in public, and it’s your job as the first or second follower to demonstrate to others that joining this movement isn’t crazy.

Once that movement’s started, you’ve got to stay on top of your company message. 

If you’re going to outsource some responsibilities, make sure that you’re at least in control of the message because ultimately no one external is ever going to be as passionate about the movement as you.

And don’t forget, this is a long game so staying consistent through the ups and downs is what’s going to have the most impact. 

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