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The Most Influential Man of 2009?

Recently another men’s website made some press by announcing its list of the 49 most influential men for 2009. Topping the list was the fictional philanderer Donald Draper.

I’m a huge fan of AMC’s hit TV show Mad Men, and I love the character of Donald Draper. He’s definitely got the outward appearance of a Genuine Man; he’s smart, funny, and confident. He works hard at his job and has the vision and drive to set lofty goals and then achieve them.

But what about the other stuff? You know, things like faking his own death, stealing another man’s identity, constantly cheating on his wife, and basically ignoring his kids?

How is Donald Draper influential? Is he inspiring the men of the world to lie, cheat, and steal? I certainly hope not, but I don’t think that he is. Is he causing the men of the world to refocus their efforts on work and provide for their families? Again, I doubt it. No, I think that what Donald Draper does is entertain people for one hour a week on Sunday nights. This is an admirable goal; people need to be entertained. However, it does not qualify someone as an influential person.

It saddens me to think that the idea of Donald Draper is something that men would look up to. In fact, I think that Donald Draper is the antithesis of what men should strive to become. Work hard? Yes, but also value the relationships that you have with your family. Strive for greatness? Yes, but also be honest and show integrity. Look great? Yes, you should be neat and groomed well, but not at the expense of balance in your life.

I try not to be the type of person who complains about something but instead offers no alternatives. So, here is my alternate selection for the #1 spot on that list: Chris Gardner. You may have read his book, or seen the movie that was produced about him: The Pursuit of Happyness. Gardner was a man who had many difficulties in his early years, but stood up, accepted his problems, and then faced them down.

Just like a Genuine Man should. Check out his Wikipedia bio here.