I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with West Virginia University President Gordon Gee for a town hall meeting.

It was terrific.

As I stated in my most recent blog, Gordon is authentic, which is a secret to success and happiness.

He has a story on this issue (as he does on many things) and as usual, it is humorous and wise.

When he was president the first time, at age 35, he was visited by two faculty leaders, who told him that he needed to “look” more presidential. They noted his argyle socks and bow ties were not college president-appearance proper.

As a young president, he took their advice to heart, bought different socks, long ties and for a little while, focused on fitting the mold of presidential attire and appearance. Acting the way he thought a president should act and dressing the way he thought a president should dress.

He was trying to be someone he was not – like everyone else.

He was miserable and came to an epiphany - he would be himself. An original.

Seth Godin writes about this in his terrific book “Linchpin,” where he argues that standing out and being different is a successful strategy for personal and professional success. His point is that so many people are trained alike, dress alike, look alike, think alike, act alike, they quickly become forgettable.

Godin points out that people that are not afraid to be authentic and emotionally connected to purpose are often the creative architects of building and nurturing others and organizations.

These rare people are authentic and dare to be different.

They create the signal, while others are stuck in the noise.

Steve Jobs talked about these people his great speech known as “The Crazy Ones.” He ends the video with the line, “the people crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do."
 

We are lucky to have one of the crazy and authentic ones in WV and at WVU, changing the world for others everyday.