Person vs. Persona and the Media Mask

The below post was written by Srinivas Rao, the author, surfer, and entrepreneur  Glenn had on the program yesterday. The post was written for Rao’s audience, but Glenn thought it gave a real behind-the-scenes look at a surprising guest who found that he had more in common with Glenn than he would have expected.

I got to the airport in Dallas yesterday afternoon. My friend Marcus called me after we had exchanged a few text messages and asked, “So are you a Republican now?” He’s also the guy who was in the Tijuana high speed car chase with me. Considering the only thing I really know about politics is who our current president is, I found it amusing that he asked me about political preferences… (but we’ll get back to that)

If you haven’t kept up with what I affectionately will refer to as the “Glenn Beck Saga”, let me recap:

Glenn stumbled upon my latest book on Amazon. He read it and raved it about on the air. The sales went through the roof in a day. I only knew this because somebody on Twitter mentioned it. My response initially was, “Oh, he’s kind of big right?” When I saw how much the sales of my book had gone up, I decided to email Glenn directly. That led to an unlikely media appearance in a place I never thought I’d find myself: Across the desk from Glenn talking about The Art of Being Unmistakable.

In a few days all my world’s collided: 7 years in Texas, John North High School, Berkeley, the jobs I got fired from, Pepperdine, surfing, and the blogosphere. I guess you could say I have a few different circles, and I’m what Malcolm Gladwell might call a connector.

On Friday, I got an invitation from Glenn’s producer to be on the show, and late that afternoon I got an email from Glenn that would stun most of you. (I’ll ask Glenn if I can share it with you).

He said that him touting my book was a double edged sword. I didn’t even realize that until I saw the response from some of you who I’m friends with on Facebook. After all, I have the pop culture taste of a teenage girl. Most of my television choices consist of what’s on the CWTV.

After a few Google searches fn “Glenn Beck”, I made a deliberate choice not to read anything. I didn’t want what other people had said to make me walk into this experience with a preconceived perception of him. I wanted to see him as a person, not a persona. My friend Aaron Curtis said, “You have more in common than you think with this guy.”

Some people say things that piss us off. But Glenn has a bigger microphone than you or I so it echoes. The media creates a mask and the echo changes. People hear what they want to hear. They confuse a person with persona. The echo of a larger microphone amplifies this. It’s like a game of telephone where the original words keep changing through filters, opinions, and articles until you’ve got groups of people who absolutely despise you.

I’m sure Glenn has said plenty of controversial things. Whether we agree or not is kind of irrelevant to this situation. One of the first Wikipedia entries I read kind of horrified me. And that was the end of my research.

I’m sure I’ve said something that pissed off a listener of my show, but the echo doesn’t have a multiplier of 30 million people. If it did, I’m sure I’d have my critics, haters, and more. The book already got a 1-star review and a 2-star review. I’ve already been written off with phrases like “any hippie surfer could have done this.”

James Altucher said, “Who cares about the politics? Your book just became a best-seller. Remember that these are people who are just doing their jobs.” I just got a big break after 5 years, and I have nothing but gratitude for that.

I want to tell you about my day with Glenn Beck the person, not the persona

I first met his staff to talk about the book , my work, and the future I see coming. And this odd pairing resulted in a common ideal.

In a moment like that you think: The world must be ending. I’m in the office of a guy who has strange historical memorabilia hanging on the walls and likes to hunt. If it were my office, it would be pictures of Laird Hamilton surfing 70-foot waves and other crazy surf-related stuff. This is bizarre. I guess we both love carrot cake.

But what we shared is an ideal that transcends politics or religion. My friend Justine Musk said, ” Yeah, you’re both mavericks.”

And it is the idea of the maverick, the misfit, the instigator that put me in front of the camera with an unlikely man who just handed me a defining moment in my career. And what will stun you is that maybe you have more in common with him than you realize. Maybe we all do. It’s your inner misfit but some of us have just unleashed it.

As David Risley pointed out, Glenn is a content marketer, and a pretty damn good one. Another friend said, “Srini, you’ve wanted to build a media empire, here’s an opportunity to learn from a guy who has done it.”

We’re not that different.

We have a message.

We want to share it.

But the people we want to reach might be different.

What I see is a guy who is as flawed, human, and vulnerable as most of us. I point blank asked him, “Where does this reputation you have come from?”

He answered honestly.

He admitted faults in things he has said.

The mask started to fade.

And after all the lights faded, cameras were gone, and the show was over, I found myself sitting in Glenn’s office where the mask completely disappeared. This was my favorite part of the day because now I got to see the person, not the persona.

I learned about his early career and his success at a young age: Magazine covers, lots of money, and the path to stardom. He told me that I’m on the verge of something really big, but also gave me a warning that there will be plenty of dark alleys that it could take me down. He told me about his spectacular downfalls and how ego got in the way.

Then he told me a story that really made me laugh. He and Michael Buble are friends. When they became friends, Michael was about as well known as I am. And apparently Michael got punched in the face because he mentioned that Glenn was a friend. Glenn’s list of friends might surprise you too. Some of them are your heroes, role models, and people you look up to.

I sat and listened. I asked him the question I ask at the end of every BlogcastFM interview: What separates the people who get to where you are from the ones who don’t? Risk and hard work. As I said last week, nothing of great significance is achieved by playing it safe.

My choices have come with plenty of stigma, doubt, disbelief and that’s going to be amplified. Our critics can either become our identity, or we can silence them with our actions, our commitment, and our grit. My friend Jaclyn Muellen said it takes a high level of self awareness to handle things when you have a microphone as loud as Glenn’s.

I asked him how to avoid destroying your success and letting your ego come back into it.

He talked about religion.

I talked about surfing.

In business school I made a terrible decision that cemented my reputation for the entirety of my time at Pepperdine. I cut people out of a project because I was selfish, and I paid the price for it. I had few friends left by graduation. It’s taken 5 years, but I see the error in judgement. I don’t ever expect these people to trust me. You know who you are. That was my ego. It wasn’t me.

Then I told Glenn, “You know, the only reason I did any of this was because I wanted nothing more than to surf everyday. I knew nothing would make me happier than to have a great family, surf everyday, and do work I enjoyed. If I lived comfortably and had all that, it would be enough.”

And he said, “The minute that stops being true is when you should quit and walk away.”

And one final thought. I was asked once if I’ve ever had an “I’ve made it moment.” To that my answer is still no. The minute “you’ve made it”, you’re hosed. Carolyn Messere, the editor who deserves more credit than you can possibly imagine, told me, “Don’t ever forget that guy who was celebrating 360 copies sold.”

The reward that comes from this is I get to do what I’ve always wanted to: Create things with my own two hands, things that maybe you’re changed by, touched by, and moved by. Today we’re off to see a venue for the Instigator Experience. Fortunately, I won’t have to persuade any brides to change their wedding date because the one we’re looking at is available.

So no, I’m not a Republican. What I see is a guy who made deliberate choices to build something. He’s an entrepreneur, a misfit, a maverick, and I got to see under the mask that you do. You might be surprised by what you see.

Cheers,
Srinivas

  • Mr_TrueReality

    Im posting this, the 1st 1/2 of the second paragraph of the Declaration Of Independence for all to review on this Halloween….(I’m sure it is VERY SCARRY to all Progresives who might read it)…..BOO!…..WE ARE COMING !!!
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
    Mr TR

  • Nanette Jones

    What can I say buy, Amen. Amen.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDFGELoC4zc Sam Fisher

    Some times I wonder if the media will ever do their jobs.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is my new motto: “To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    That says it all, doesn’t it?

    At every turn, Progressives will try to lure you into a debate over false choices, such as caring for the poor and elderly, or conserving the environment, or so-called social justice. And if you protest, they will often have fallacious statistics or anomalous example in the extreme to “prove” themselves right.

    But stand for none of that, and engage them not.
    Say simply: “To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”