Case Study: Paul Revere-A Man in the Know
A fabled story of American history is that of Paul Revere’s ride through the countryside surrounding Boston, warning towns that the British were coming so local militia could be ready to meet them. As a result, when the British did march toward Lexington on the following day, they faced unexpectedly fierce resistance. At Concord, the British were beaten by a ragtag group of locals, and so began the Revolutionary War.
It has been taken for granted by generations of Americans that the success of Paul Revere’s ride lay in his heroism and in the self-evident importance of the news itself. A little-known fact, however, is that Paul Revere was not the only rider that night. A fellow revolutionary by the name of William Dawes had the same mission: to ride simultaneously through a separate set of towns surrounding Boston to want them that the British were coming. He did so, carrying the news through just as many towns as Revere did. But his ride was not as successful; those local militia leaders weren’t aroused and did not rise up to confront the British. If they had been, Dawes would be just as famous as Paul Revere.
Why was Revere’s ride successful when Dawes ride was not? Paul Revere started a word of mouth epidemic, and Dawes did not, because of differing kinds of relationships the two men had with others. If wasn’t after all, the nature of the news itself that proved ultimately important as the nature of the men who carried it. Paul Revere was a gregarious and social person-what Malcom Gladwell calls a connector. Gladwell writes that Revere was “a fisherman and a hunter, a card player and a theater lover, a frequenter of pubs and a successful businessman. He was active in the local Masonic Lodge and was a member of many social clubs.” He was a man with a knack for always being at the center of things. So, when he began his ride that night, it was Revere’s nature to stop and share the news with anyone he saw on the road, and he would have known who the key players were in each town to notify.
Dawes was not by nature so gregarious as Revere, and he did not have Revere’s extended social network. It’s likely he wouldn’t have known whom to share the news with in each town and whose doors to knock on. Dawes did notify some people, but not enough to create the kind of impact that Revere did. Another way of saying this is simply to note that the people Dawes notified didn’t know him the way that Revere was known by those he notified.
When it comes to making an impression, it isn’t just reliant on your past experiences or accomplishments. It’s also whom you know and how many you know-and what they know about you.
Respond to the following in a minimum of 350 words:
Paul Revere is one of many examples throughout history of someone that knew the right people at the right time and was able to make a difference. Give another example of someone who used their social standing and connections to impact those around them successfully. How can we take this story and bring it into perspective for our daily lives?
Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2015). Leadership: enhancing the lessons of experience. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education