Watching the last Daily Show was fun, hard, heart-warming, and inspiring all at the same time. Jon Stewart has provided candid, engaging, and thought provoking content for 16 years. His ability to be approachable through his “fellowship of funny” as Stephen Colbert described it, yet with a focus on holding people accountable with a real dialogue is what helped him stand out.
Looking back, there are 4 key skills that Jon Stewart wielded effectively, that we can all learn from looking ahead.
1. Treat Your People Well
As you saw in the last episode, and even the week leading up to the show, Jon made it abundantly clear that he wanted to thank those close to him and expected nothing in return. He could have used the whole hour to deliver his final rounds of messages. Yet instead, he chose to recognize those that made everything possible. And as each person came back to celebrate him and say good bye, it was very apparent that he treats his people well. As a leader, it is usually never about the leader, but always about the people, and helping them reach their goals as well as the company goals.
2. Be Approachable & Vulnerable
Jon Stewart leverages his humor to talk about pressing issues and make them approachable. He is also not afraid to be vulnerable and share his own thoughts and emotions. Given his show aired for 16 years, he talked us through the wars, 9/11, and more. He is not afraid to shed a tear, laugh at himself, and be fully present in the moment.
3. Be Candid
Jon Stewart has built a legacy on his candor. A critical skill for anyone to master and leverage. Candid does not mean one has to be rude, it simply means that you have to push to get to the truth of a matter, to call a spade a spade. When he appeared on Crossfire in 2004 and candidly delivered the message that what they were doing was hurting America, not helping it (by not having factually based debates), he was unabashedly candid on a topic that mattered to him.
4. A Noisebreaker, not a Noisemaker
Jon pushes on the topics that matter to the broader public and has never avoided challenging the news (CNN, FOX, etc.) on their coverage and ironically many viewers watched his show to get the latest stories. His satirical wit spotlighted and dissected many and yet his following has only grown. In the beginning many thought he was going to be a total failure, and 16 years later he has launched the careers of dozens of comedians and planted satirical seeds in many places. Stephen Colbert and John Oliver just to name a few.
Jon Stewart focused on the conversations worth having, whether through the Daily Show, acts, movies, or interviews. In every part of his career he has lived his brand and built a reputation for himself.
Good luck to Trevor Noah, the next Daily Show host, may you maintain these skills as you carry the torch forward.
Be your best self,