Hile Rutledge
Trainer, author

Hile Rutledge

CEO and owner of OKA (Otto Kroeger Associates), a training and consulting firm specializing in leadership and team development.

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Fame as stepping stone

Q: Singer Wyclef Jean, who left Haiti when he was 9, says he's going to run for president of the earthquake-ravaged country. Can success in one pursuit propel you -- or him -- to success in a very different one? Or do celebrities who join the political fray sometimes let their egos get away from them?

So Wyclef Jean is looking to parlay his musical fame and celebrity into a political career in his homeland of Haiti. Good for him, and hopefully good for Haiti.

In this media age when too often fame seems like an empty end in itself, it is refreshing to see someone attempting to use their celebrity toward an effort to bring about true change. This is not Britney or Lindsey pulling a stunt to maintain the cover of a supermarket tabloid -- Wyclef Jean is not trying to boost his CD sales. Let's remember what he is trying to attain.

Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere, has a gross national product of $3.9 billion -- less than 2 percent of that of the United States. Haiti has over 70 percent unemployment, with relatively few prospects for growth or recovery. Knowingly asking for the leadership job and stepping into accountability for the effort to make Haiti a viable, even strong nation is heroic and commendable.

Wyclef Jean played a prominent role in the re-recording of "We Are the World" earlier this year for Haitian disaster relief. When many of the "it" performers of the day showed up and sang their lines, mugged for the cameras and got their little slivers of celebrity to feed their movie or CD sales, Wyclef Jean was clearly taking the message of that song seriously. He is stepping into accountability and leveraging his fame and money on a crushingly serious job -- a dubious prize.

Good luck, Wyclef Jean, and good luck, Haiti.

By Hile Rutledge  |  August 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success and celebrity Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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