“Thought leadership” is a term you hear a lot these days. I’ve penned a few “thought leadership” pieces over the years. But today, I thought I’d go back and ask, only slightly tongue in cheek, what recommendations Plato (left) and Aristotle might make if they were your energy communications consultant.
I think you’ll find their words of wisdom, spoken over 2,000 years ago, remain highly applicable today.
Though I’m sure I didn’t feel this way at the time, I was fortunate to read Plato as a college student. The Greek philosopher explored (among other things) rhetoric, or the art of persuasion. What Plato called a rhetorician would today be called a communications consultant or advertising agency creative director.
Plato’s teacher, Socrates, was put to death by the leader of Athens. He was accused of being a rhetorician. His accusers said Socrates made weak arguments seem strong, and strong arguments seem weak. Then and now, a skilled user of rhetoric could be a serious threat to the established order.
Athenian leaders didn’t target mathematicians or natural scientists, people who calculated spatial relationships or documented observable facts. Instead, they executed a wordsmith because he had the power to persuade.
That’s a little scary if you’re a wordsmith like me. While a character in Shakespeare advocated killing all the lawyers, it looks like Athenian authorities wanted to off all the ancient world’s speechwriters, messaging gurus, advertising folks and image-makers because they had the power to convince people that black was white, up was down, truth was falsehood and beauty was ugly.