I had an interesting experience a few days ago. I had just responded to somebody’s online comment regarding one of my articles right here on LinkedIn when I received the following message:
– Thanks for your response.
– Should I care?
– Are you a bot?
The next day, I was at a social function with some colleagues from work when someone asked me the following question:
– Bernard, I’ve been following you on LinkedIn and I wanted to ask you: Do you write your own articles?
I actually understand why people would be asking these questions. Chatbots are fast becoming ubiquitous on social media so the question from my correspondent was a legitimate one. In addition, it’s true that some executives leverage the services of ghostwriters and other communications experts to write posts and articles on their behalf and, more broadly, to manage their social media accounts. It’s not surprising then that there would be some skepticism regarding the authenticity of the content that can be found on blogs of all kinds.
As there seems to be some doubt on the issue, allow me to state for the record that I am not a bot. In addition, I want to make it clear that I write all of my own material and that nobody else controls or has access to my LinkedIn account. When I share a third-party article, it’s because I’ve actually read it and found it to be interesting. When I “Like” a post, an article or a comment, it’s because I actually liked it. And when I publish an article, it’s my own.
I will go even further: I write my articles during my own free time, usually – like today – on weekends. If anybody gets to review an article before I publish it, it’s most likely to be my wife, sometimes one of my children depending on the topic. But I have never had a communications expert do so. Neither do I have anyone vet, approve or sign-off on anything that I wish to publish. Everything that I publish reflects my own views, uncensored by anyone. So if a reader finds an article to be lame or disagrees with any of my views, or if factual, spelling or syntax errors make their way into the final version of a post or article, that’s all on me.
So why do I do it? Or, as someone recently asked me: “Bernard, what’s with all the blogging?”
It’s very simple, really. I enjoy reading and when I happen to read something interesting, I like sharing it broadly in the event that others might also benefit from it. I also enjoy writing. It’s a pleasure for me, not a burden, and I find that writing forces me to organize my thoughts, clarify my own views and consider angles that I may otherwise not have considered.
Opportunities to do so are not that common. Probably as a result of people being so pressed for time – but perhaps also due to some intellectual laziness –, discussions regarding many important issues tend to remain extremely superficial. Taking the time to research a topic and write an article, on the other hand, allows me to take an idea, a thought or an argument and develop it in a way that would simply not be possible in day-to-day conversations. In fact, I would soon become quite tedious to everybody around me if I went on and on (and on) about things as I do in writing. Blogging is different: If you care about what I’m saying, you can choose to read on; if you don’t, you can just move on. Blogging doesn’t make anyone a hostage to my ramblings.
I also write to draw your attention to issues that I believe to be important within our organizations and beyond and – quite candidly – to influence your thinking on these matters. This might strike you as being strange since, from what I can tell, many executives are reluctant to take a public stand on issues that could prove to be even slightly contentious. But as I have written before, the companies we lead and work for are not magically disconnected from the communities in which they operate. Like all members of society, employees and business leaders have a right, and perhaps at times an obligation, to make their voices heard on issues that matter – to contribute to public discourse in a way that is thoughtful and constructive.
I am a son, a brother, a father and a husband; a judo instructor and a citizen, with likes and dislikes as well as strongly held beliefs, views and values. That’s the complete and multifaceted person that I strive to bring to work every day and that’s the person who’s voice you hear in these virtual pages. Let it be known that I am not a bot and that I write my own articles.