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

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.