My Choice for Person of the Year: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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by scott pickard

My choice for a “2016 Person of the Year” is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who came out of the blue to produce, direct, and star in Hamilton which is quickly becoming one of the most successful musicals ever created.

Why Hamilton? And why Miranda? It is not just because it is a massive hit that is entertaining as hell, but it is because the musical and the man are inspiring us and teaching on so many levels:

Hamilton makes us sing.
Hamilton makes us dance.
Hamilton makes us laugh.
Hamilton makes us cry.
Hamilton makes us think!!

Hamilton is a tour de force experience that enlightens us, challenges us, provokes us, and wrings us dry of energy and emotion by the end of a performance. So it is no wonder that Miranda’s Hamilton is shattering records for the number of awards received and tickets sold. It is on a path to be a $billion+ artistic/entertainment enterprise that is touching and positively impacting (and this is very important) millions of people, young to old, around the world.

Hamilton as a creative product that deserves to be studied by those people who study such things. The musical is a who-knew fusion of history and hip-hop and dance and narrative at the right time, in the right way that has, in the parlance of innovation science, become a “breakthrough.”

Joseph Schumpeter wrote about “creative destruction,” which is what we observe when new innovations obsolete the incumbent technology/systems almost overnight, and in so doing create a new paradigm. Hamilton has broken some traditional rules of Broadway and created new rules which will inspire a fresh wave of creative innovators.

Haven’t we all daydreamed about creating our own breakthrough? We, people of earth, are all hard-wired to design, create, and build. We all can unleash that potential within us when we turn off the TV, turn off the “smart” phone, and sit quietly on the couch doodling and massaging ideas in our head. When you immerse yourself in the thinking flow, you can feel it (like browsing through a bookstore), and it feels good. Hamilton is exciting people all over the world to go do their creative thing.

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But to chase and follow through on a crazy idea, it sometimes requires taking a flying leap-of-faith risk to make it happen. Unfortunately, most of us can’t quit our day jobs and because of family obligations or our own too big to fail situation, we step away from the risk and the creative moment is lost.

Is that you out there?

How many things can we point to this year that have lifted millions of people up, and up, and up even higher in 2016? In contrast, we have been saturated in a political season that has been a regrettable demonstration of the strategic power of negativity — the dark side of the force. In this dystrumpian, reality TV, pundit-overloaded world we now live in, we need more Hamiltonesque positivity to counterbalance the negativity of all the talking heads.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, you’ve got my vote!

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