I recently read an article from Dan Kennedy (Dan is one of the premier direct marketing gurus over the last 40 years.) where he mentioned that he often found that in his travels over the years, the onstage or Hollywood personas of celebrities are nothing like their actual personality. In many cases, the genuine person was unhappy and mean when out of the limelight. He mentioned specifically that Bette Midler was a horrible person to her staff and others around her. He said Bill Cosby was the worst open racist he has ever seen. Many other celebrities have horrible reputations of being tyrants offstage and behind closed doors.
Although not a major part of my career, I have spoken on stage and been in the “green room” with several people whose offstage attitude and comments really turned me off and were not in agreement with the person the audience thought they were. Many years ago, I was part of a speaking tour where there were about eight guys who spoke throughout a weekend to a group trying to learn how to be successful entrepreneurs. Several guys in the speaker group did not even use the system and/or products they claimed would make the listeners rich. It was a total lie. It turned me off so much I dropped out of the tour. This reminded me of a thought I would like to share.
For some reason, our society idolizes celebrities from all walks of life. Whether in Hollywood, business, or even church, we put people who are on stage in some form on a pedestal. Everywhere you go, you see evidence that being a regular person with an average life is not enough. Whether it’s the lottery or reality shows that offer fame and sometimes fortune or the promise of riches, people clamor to get a shot at the ”big time.” Even preachers often rise to the level of superstars, and they won’t even talk to their churchgoers.
I don’t want to get into the deep cultural reasons behind this phenomenon, but the dynamic I describe does have an effect on business that is not good. Many times, those who do reach a high level of success and notoriety let it go to their heads and somehow think they are better than everyone else. Instead of being themselves, they feed into the artificial persona they have created, and it gets further and further from reality. I see people having photos and videos shot in front of private planes, fancy cars, and expensive houses to lead their followers to think they have reached the holy grail of happiness and success. Yet, in many cases, it is all a lie. I have personal knowledge of many influencers who have an outer appearance of ultra-success when they are struggling to make ends meet in their business.
They think they have to put on this aura of success to keep their dream alive. I would argue that they are living a lie and would be much happier and probably more successful if they would just be themselves all the time.
It is just a matter of time before the truth reveals itself, and when you are living a lie, eventually, you are found out. When that happens, you lose the respect of everyone who realizes that everything they thought about you was a deception. You lose all credibility, and it is hard to get it back once you lose it.
This also happens at lower levels where a salesperson will exaggerate their success or the effectiveness of their product. Over the years, I have seen it time and time again.
If this is you, STOP IT! You don’t need it. Be yourself. Tell the truth at all levels. If you genuinely have a good product or service, you don’t need to embellish it. If you are a new sales rep, rather than act like you have tons of experience, admit you are a rookie and embrace it. If your product or service is not good enough to speak for itself, then you might consider finding another product. If you really do reach a level of success where others might view you as a celebrity, great! But don’t change. Remember that you are no better now than when you were a nobody with no experience. You might be more knowledgeable, but being humble is an outstanding characteristic. Stay humble and kind, and you will never have a guy like Dan Kennedy or me doing everything they can to get away from you.