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Gaga's next gig: Lady leadership?

Since Gaga first hit the scene, it was obvious that she was different. There were doubters at first, but millions have been won over by the substance underlying her pop persona. While Lady Gaga continues to push the bounds of innovation to drive her celebrity, is it fair to consider her a leader? Beyond the fashion and dancehall licks, which are worth exploring, lies a methodic and seemingly calculated performer who is inspiring, if not leading, much more than good beats and funky moves.

1. The biz

While often overlooked as a business maven, Lady Gaga recently topped Fast Company's list of 100 most creative people in business. While her music and wardrobe headline her act, Gaga's business style is just as eye-popping. As her personal brand skyrockets, she has lent her flare to other iconic outposts, serving as the Creative Director of Polaroid and a spokesperson for the MAC Aids Fund. With 2010 nearly behind her, it's hard to imagine that her star is continuing to rise. And with an estimated worth of $62 million and a No. 1 web and social ranking by Forbes, Gaga is revolutionizing the business side of the music industry--finding comfortable ground between a big record label contract and an indie style of connecting with fans through social media and free online music and video offerings.

2. Social causes

Sure Lady Gaga has a massive platform, but by no means does she use it solely to self-promote. She spreads her political weight around. Yesterday, Lady Gaga headlined a rally in Portland, Maine, using her star power to speak out against the US Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Her intended audience was two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both undecided on the hot-button issue. At the MTV Video Music Awards earlier this month, she walked the white carpet with four former servicemen and women who had either left the military voluntarily or been discharged because of their sexuality. Soon after, she tweeted about the event and asked her 6 million twitter followers to encourage Harry Reid to take up the cause. Further demonstrating Gaga's clout, Reid actually tweeted a response. Prior, Gaga has advocated for both AIDS awareness and immigration. While many entertainers are scripted and avoid controversy, Gaga isn't afraid to voice her opinion, for better or for worse.

3. The Web

Early this year Lady Gaga set groundbreaking milestones in the open country that is the Internet. In July she became the first living person to have 10 million fans on Facebook (considering that we have 33, we respect this accomplishment). Similarly, she dominates Twitter with nearly 6.4 million followers.  With an open strategy to connect with fans through the Internet, Gaga's management has gone so far as to say, "We make our music video for YouTube." Although her online strategy may seem simple, Lady Gaga is doing more than pumping content to fans. She's canvassed the mainstream networking channels with a vulnerable glimpse at super-stardom and shared her interests in high art, social causes and good music--and her efforts are paying big dividends.

4. Haus of Gaga

Haus of Gaga is a group of like-minded friends who collaborate with the Lady to push her aesthetic (clothes, make-up, sets, videos) to new extremes, a collaboration of trusted allies advancing the pop-scene into uncharted waters. As with everything Gaga, her design team is shrouded in mystery, hype, and genuine emotion. The inner workings and make-up of Lady Gaga's creative team may be tough to read up on and wholly understand, but does anyone really need to? The reality is that the artists and fashion-forward thinkers who shroud Gaga with innovative style are proof positive that every innovator needs a devoted team. While those thriving in the Haus are keeping out of the mainstream, their dedication and inventiveness may well thrust them into the limelight. Names like Nicola Formichetti, Anna Trevelyan, Andrea Cellerino, and Matthew Williams are worth keeping tabs on, as their creative chops are likely to extend far beyond the Gaga empire. Regardless, for now their focus on the Gaga project is proving historic, and her fame couldn't be what it is without them.

5. Fashion

Like the dress worn at this year's VMAs made entirely from raw meat, Lady Gaga's fashion choices are nothing short of polarizing. But there's little doubt that she's a leader to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Her outfits intentionally clash with convention, and in doing so, she claims, they set her free. Some would argue that her outrageous fashion statements are simply for self-promotion. But, in an interview with Ellen after this year's VMAs, Gaga hinted that there may be some substance behind the dress when she stated, "if we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones - and I am not a piece of meat."

No, she's definitely not. From business to fashion, Lady Gaga is an innovator, and she also makes a strong case as a leader. What do you think?

Have ideas for what we should write about next? Be in touch at info@menoconsulting.com or visit us at Meno Consulting.

By Joe Frontiera  |  September 20, 2010; 3:49 PM ET  | Category:  Leadership , Pop Culture Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

It's amazing how many haters spring up when someone is a self-made woman, instead of a man. She works harder than anyone else, she tours longer and more cities than anyone else, she's brought such diverse performing arts straight into pop culture. No wonder she makes people uncomfortable.

Posted by: windrider2 | September 26, 2010 8:42 PM

I love Gaga. Eccentric, sure. But not a manufactured star. She has genuine performer and virtuoso creds. Nice to see a pop star with intelligence and guts. To be fair, there are other activists pop stars - Bono, Bob Geldof. I am looking forward to the next 20 years of her music and cultural leadership.

Posted by: CarolGBOS | September 25, 2010 10:34 AM

All is not lost, after all. In times of crisis there emerge natural leaders who will save us: Palin, DeMint, Lady Gaga. The latter already found an alternate use for meat. Now she has applied her genius to reforming our military. Who needs all those old fogies, the generals and admirals, when we have Lady Gaga!

Posted by: rsliazas | September 25, 2010 10:05 AM

This is very funny from the context that probably 3/4's of the United States has never heard of her.

This article's tone thinking that everybody has heard of Gaga reminds me of how gay guys always think everybody is gay.

I've certainly heard of her music, but she's one in a long line of manufactured pop stars. What else can you say about her?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | September 25, 2010 6:12 AM

always listening to these entertainers and not "WORLD", who is trying to warn you of more important issues. this is really pathetic that this has reach this point. i wish everyone will wake up before it hits you between the eyes.

Posted by: mhadrick | September 25, 2010 4:15 AM

You just know things are really bad in ObamaLand when WaPo is wasting column space speculating on the political future of a 23 y.o. Guinea American Princess with deplorable taste in just about everything.

Posted by: greg3 | September 22, 2010 7:27 PM

She can team up with Sarah Palin to take over the world. Yawn . . . .

Posted by: momof20yo | September 22, 2010 6:21 PM

Isn't she drunk a lot of the time? That doesn't matter in fashion and entertainment but it certainly does in politics. And is why none of the big rock stars ever had any political influence despite frequent ramblings on stage about political issues.

Posted by: corco02az | September 22, 2010 6:30 AM

When an entertainer is out front on such issues of social legislation then you know the Dems have lost touch. Seems to me the Administration really dropped the ball on this one.

Posted by: atroncale1 | September 21, 2010 11:01 PM

The avant garde is always misunderstood at first. Based on the extreme reactions many have towards her and her work I would say she is in the vanguard for sure.

Posted by: atroncale1 | September 21, 2010 10:57 PM

You want me to take someone seriously who wears cigarette glasses and meat dresses? Another publicity seeking entertainer who now fancies herself a politician. Bring her on and let's pair her with Al Franken. Two freaks let's call it a party and have some fun.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | September 21, 2010 8:43 PM

You want me to take someone seriously who wears cigarette glasses and meat dresses? Another publicity seeking entertainer who now fancies herself a politician. Bring her on and pair her with Al Franken. Two freaks let's call it a party.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | September 21, 2010 8:41 PM

Stefani Germanotta is not waiting for mainstream approval to put her Christian faith in action. At only 24, Lady Gaga's carefully constructed "brand" is already one of the most potent creative forces at work in the arts. The substance of her person is much deeper than her sensational veneer, however, and I expect her mission to take on ever more challenging goals as she matures.

Posted by: IAmend | September 21, 2010 2:32 PM

I'm going to have to disagree with this article, seeing Lady Gaga as a leader is just not realistic in my opinion. Maybe the die hard fans who are so hypnotized by her crazy antics, see her as a leader. I see it all as an act, everything that she does is handed to her in some form or another, all planned together to make people say, "what did she do now." I'm not saying she doesn't do respectable things, im sure she does much for society/charity, but that does not make her a leader.

Posted by: M28R | September 21, 2010 1:56 PM


Posted by: spk202 | September 21, 2010 1:26 PM


Need a Job?

Posted by: spk202 | September 21, 2010 1:21 PM

The tag line on the headline states "The queen of pop could teach you a thing or two about how to innovate, gain clout and rock out as a leader." Maybe the authors need to get out more, and learn that innovation and leadership is more than being a celebrity. And, maybe that is one of our core problems. Too many people cannot distinguish between celebrity and leadership.

Posted by: jim21224 | September 21, 2010 1:17 PM

She is a leader. lady gaga brings the national conversation and debate to the youth.

Posted by: calinskorea | September 21, 2010 12:55 PM

Haters are gonna hate. Doers are gonna do.

Posted by: crzytwnman | September 21, 2010 12:38 PM

she's rediculous. If you think that mainstream America will listen to someone who's morals are down the gutter think again.

Posted by: unreal3 | September 21, 2010 12:11 PM

If stefani "gag her with her shoes" even thinks about running for some kind of office, I'm going to see the death panel myself.
She and Pee Wee Herman would make great running mates. They're both whack jobs!!

Posted by: tjmlrc | September 21, 2010 12:06 PM

Do you think many of us care or she cares what you label her ?
She's a very bright, creative and caring lady.
Just speak-up for our constitution repeal "Don't ask, don't tell"

Posted by: cawobeth | September 20, 2010 5:52 PM

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