The articulate expression of an idea is what changes the world. You probably already know Hugo Chávez changed Latin America with his not-new idea of the strong paternal government financed by the country’s oil.
Chávez followed the old rules:
: He got support from the powerful, including Fidel Castro and the Cisneros family.
: He leveraged the military.
: He gained votes by making populist promises to people.
: Once in political office, he changed the rules to keep himself in office and expand his scope of power.
: He treated the country’s resources as his personal assets.
Those are the old rules. Now things are different in the spreading of ideas.
The new rules are about supporting your vision and the expression of your ideas in the world, whether you’re a QA manager, business owner or _(insert your job here)_. Here, it’s about the smart, creative, hard-working managers, analysts, technicians and other misfits, making it happen from the trenches.
It just so happens that every once in while, someone shows up with a fresh (not necessarily new) idea who expresses it in a way that catches the eyes, ears and hearts of enough people to start a movement.
Today I want to introduce you to someone who’s doing just that and someone you might not otherwise meet: Gloria Alvarez.
Ms. Alvarez, a young political scientist, didn’t start talking about populism yesterday on the world stage. She started in Guatemala, at least 6 years ago. Guatemala is the South Carolina of Latin America: beautiful and filled with lovely people but not the sexiest state in the union.
Alvarez started with what she had and where she was and didn’t wait to be invited to the international forum.
She has been saying what she knows to be true, and it’s a message only slightly less welcome than interrupting a college frat party to extol the virtues of chastity. #brave.
The core message Gloria Alvarez articulates is redefining the role of government in society. She recalls the notion that governments are formed to protect the basic rights of life, liberty, property and freedom of expression. Your government isn’t here to give you things because you’re perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. The way she puts it, your government isn’t here to play Santa Claus.
Certainly, it’s not a new message. It’s the way she’s saying it, with a freshness and directness you seldom hear anywhere anymore.
Here are two quotes from an interview with Libertarian Latina, Belen Marti, published in the PanamPost.
Nothing is free. We must be aware that everything comes at the cost of something else. In my country, only two out of every 10 businesses pay taxes. Everybody has something to demand of the state, but it’s easy to demand when you’re not contributing anything yourself.
Our politicians have also done a wonderful job of telling people that they are not responsible for their actions; they are simply victims of other people’s actions.
Your idea may not be about changing the form of government. It could be getting people to care in a different way, about the work they do. It could be drawing attention to a detail everyone knows is insignificant. It could be asking for training on some skill that everyone knows isn’t needed. It could be encouraging people to edit their emails before sending them, when everyone is far too busy to do that. It could be that you want to spend more time with your family, when everyone knows you can’t afford that.
It could be that your idea isn’t accepted [yet] by the hierarchy in your company.
Say it anyway.
Here are the New Rules for Changing the World with your idea.
: Say it over and over. [That means you get better with practice as people challenge you.]
: Be clear and use plain, everyday words.
: Dress up when you can.
: Say it smiling, with no attacks, to all who disagree with you [even if they’re being snarky.]
: Engage the people you can, even if they’re not the powerful ones.
: Leverage social media by forming relationships with people through the different outlets.
Gloria Alvarez woke up one morning to find out that a video of her presentation made in Spain, one she didn’t even know had been recorded, had gone viral. Her message now has several million views and she has multiple invitations to speak in impressive venues. See it here (in Spanish only.)
You too, can change things. The new rules make it possible for anyone to change the world.