Our Generation's Terminator: John Oliver as “The Columnator”

By Julia Wermuth

Terminator Genisys just landed in our summer “must [maybe] watch” list, but the true regenesis of a character as strong and mighty as a mid-80’s Schwarzenegger lies in the hands of a spidery little Brit: John Oliver. While the classic Terminator uses his sheer muscle power and bulk to conquer his most malevolent foes, the quirky television icon uses a different tool as “The Columnator”.

“Columnating”, a word technically defined differently but cleverly reworked by Waffle’s own Wesley P., refers to the ability to focus on a topic with potent force, grasping the attention and consequently inspiring action from those who may never have noted such an issue or topic without the presence of The Columnator.

Oliver uses his “Columnating” strength to rally the true power of his empire: the audience. As The Columnator, Oliver relays a specific message, usually entailing a problem in society that needs to be fixed, and focuses a group to take note of this specific issue.

By channeling your inner John Oliver and becoming your circle’s Columnator, you can be the updated Terminator in your business effortlessly saving the day and looking good while doing it.


However mighty a group is, it needs a mobilizer before action can set into motion. That mobilizer is You. And You are The Columnator.

In a Q&A regarding his book Tribes (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/files/TribesQA2.pdf) Seth Godin states, “A leader finds others who share his/her same passion and provides the tools for the tribe to connect and communicate...when you find something the world needs that your tribe can help you spread the word for—as long as it is genuine and real and aligned with the values of your tribe...the theory is that it will all just WORK.”

Take the inaugural Columnator as an example. At the beginning of June, John Oliver reported on the corrupt workings of FIFA. Airing the names of FIFA’s sponsors, including corporate powerhouses McDonald's and Adidas, Oliver grabbed the attention of his audience members. Most famously, he vowed to drink Bud Lite Lime, tasting like “a puddle beneath a Long John Silver’s dumpster”, if Budweiser agreed to pull its sponsorship from FIFA. Amazingly, Oliver’s “columnating” technique, focusing his audience on specific supporters of a corrupt organization, brought the companies to pull their aid from FIFA. And, according to Advertising Aid, “The beer’s digital mentions soared more than 6,000% after John Oliver came through on [his] promise”.

Oliver focused on an issue. Oliver gathered a supportive group around him. And, as The Columnator was in full force, he reached his goal and kept his extra motivating promise (watch Oliver “make the ultimate sacrifice” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=24&v=qr6ar3xJL_Q ).

Seek your position as a movement’s impetus. Focus on an issue, gather a motivated group around you and become The Columnator. Arnold Schwarzenegger has seen his day. Now, the time is yours.