May 27, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 21

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

In the beginning of my work with leaders in 1987, I
made a decision to figure out what leadership meant,
what were the essential components of effective
leadership and who made good leaders. Well, here it is
in 2005, almost 18 years later and I’m still trying to
figure it out.

I ran across an interesting piece in that it came from
a 20 year old entrepreneur called Ryan Allis. His
website is and he wrote a book, 
"Zero to One Million". There’s a good chance he may be
another Michael Dell, or Bill Gates persona in a few
years. He DEFINITELY knows how to promote himself and in
today’s world, that could make a huge difference. I ran
across his 100 tips of building a business, which
apparently is a list he either used or created during
his rise from Zero to One Million, the title of his
book. You can see the 100 steps here:

The reason I thought about writing on this topic is
that Ryan reminded me of a concept I’ve used to
describe myself called “Happeneur.” Foolishly, I didn’t
register the domain name back in 95 and someone else
has it, otherwise I’d write more ideas about the
happeneur. When I did a google search, my “old” bio
page came up 8th in the rankings and another page with
this on it, came up a few spots before me:

A happeneur - a business man or woman of positive
disposition who attempts to make profit from the
internet by risk, initiative and guidance from the
Tiscali Online Marketing Resource Centre.

Actually, this definition is not one I would use. When
I think of happeneurship, it has to do with active
experimentation as a learning system, the ability and
motivation to want to influence others to take action,
by taking action oneself.

Reading about Ryan this morning reminded me about
happeneurship and in looking at how he’s managing his
own entrepreneurship, I see he’s gone from entrepreneur
to marketepreneur. In my view, there is something to be
gained from studying Ryan’s system. It’s one of the
most effective promoting machines I’ve ever seen put
together, no less from a 20 year-old.

Now, back to my point.

The reason I haven’t discovered the holy grail of
leadership is because there isn’t one, except maybe to
say that you’ll know one when you see one—happeneur or
not! Leadership, or should I say efficient, effective
and sustainable leadership is going to look different
as we move into the future. However, in reading Ryan’s
100 tips, I picked up several ideas.

Ryan didn’t mention the word customer until tip 60 and
it was only mentioned in the 100 tips 5 times out of
more than 2000 words. Ryan’s focus is more on driving 
Ryan, than anything else. While it’s really exciting to see 
such entrepreneurship at early ages done so well, I 
would caution others to be careful in correlating Ryan’s 
success to a generalized method of success.

Not to take anything from Ryan, millions of people went
from Zero to a million, or much more over the past 5 to
10 years, some are still going, others have “popped” in
a shower of sparks, using these same basic tips. So, IS
there anything that Ryan has done and is doing that can
be generalized to success?

I think so, and Ryan may be an exemplar and that is in
promotion and systems.

Apparently we can add “promotion” and “systems” to the
leadership competencies we are studying. We always knew
that execution is a key attribute of business success
and I think in a lot of ways Ryan’s tips display what
it takes to get things done, make things happen and to
use a “system” to manage that process. The other piece
that is most interesting is the “promotion” piece. It
could be that young Ryan is on to something that may
support the growth of leadership, at least
entrepreneurship and certainly happeneurship—promotion.

It IS however interesting that the word “promotion”
doesn’t show up in Ryan’s Tips. Hmmmm. 5 mentions of
customer and no mention of promotion. Yet, that’s
exactly what Ryan’s success appears to have come on the
back of.

Let me just suggest something in the final paragraphs
about leaders.

It could be that leadership is about modeling what
works rather than objectifying it as a teachable point
of view. I would suggest to you that Ryan doesn’t know
how to teach what comes naturally to him, either in his
nature, or something he purchases from others regarding
the ability to package and promote leaders—possibly a
“new” industry? Yet, it’s apparent that Ryan models
these competencies.

This goes back to my original ideas I’ve written about
in the past about espoused theory and theory in use.
With leaders, it’s probably best to watch their theory
in use and learn from that, as opposed to following
what they say. Often, I don’t even think they
themselves understand what they do to become
successful, because it just may be a natural gift.

There is no question that Ryan makes my happeneur’s
club and it’s best to watch what happeneurs DO, not
what they say when it comes to leadership! I would
guess that leadership as happeneurship is part snake
oil. I guess that the best leaders who qualify as
happeneurs all have it. It may be a good idea to look
through the packaging and the promotion, which attracts
customers and followers before you bet your life
savings on their ideas.

To all the happeneurs out there, write me and let me
know what you’re up to, I plan to survey the landscape
and choose the Top 10 Happeneurs of 2005 and publish it
in my column on January 1, 2006. Until then, happen on!

From the desk of Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

P.S.  Please visit my blog at to comment on this and
other articles about leadership.

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