“Always be yourself” is a motto we teach kids, and public figures who take that lesson to heart as they grow up are often seen as the most approachable, friendly, and real- positive qualities for when you want to engage your audience.
One person we admire for this is Usain Bolt. The world’s fastest man, he lives in the spotlight, particularly every four years when he is breaking records on the world stage. And he has chosen to stay positive through it all, making clear that what is important to him is friendly competition, and loyalty to his sport and his country.
We aren’t saying that he isn’t a showman, taking advantage of these moments to throw his hands up in a gesture drawn from a tourism ad, and grinning at competitors and cameras through the qualifying heats. All those things draw in an audience, and raise his profile without creating any negativity. And when the whole world is watching him at the games, he makes himself memorable not just as a winner and a statistic, but as a person we can all relate to.
He has also made loyalty to his country an integral part of his image. Even before he was a medal-winner many times over, he declared that any company that wanted to include him in promotions would have to shoot in Jamaica, so the revenue and jobs created by the spot were going to his countrymen. And as he has gotten more famous, the number of endorsement deals have only grown; but they’re still all created in Jamaica. Even his famous arm gesture, which we are all familiar with now that he holds not one but two world records, is from an ad for Jamaica.
So after his continued success in Rio, we say congratulations on your medals, Mr Bolt, and good luck on the relay. We’ll be following you on social media, so keep the grins coming.