Business Culture Fashion

A pedestal type of person

The best marketers bake their advertising into their work.

Whether you’re an athlete, an author, or a baker, the product speaks for itself. Your trade either breeds trust and gets shared by others or falls at the wayside.

Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein put their money where their mouth was.

But there are of course ways to exaggerate one’s abilities.

David Beckham was a good football player, not great. Karl Lagerfeld was a good designer, but no one amazing. The difference is how these two talked about themselves during their careers and strategically elevated their game by raising their awareness platform.

Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is smart marketing and for consumers, a self-fulfilling truth. As Seth Godin so wisely notes in his book All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World, “We drink the can, not the beverage.”

Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.

Culture Politics & Society Social Media

How status and likability affect your health 

Popular people live longer.

As social animals, the number of friends predetermines our well-being and lifespan. The gregarious live long than loners.

But life hinges on authenticity — it is not a popularity contest.

The number of people we know means nothing if there’s zero reciprocation. The other person(s) have to like us back. There’s a real benefit to solid relationships.

Think back to high school: were you amiable to a few trusted friends or sworn to attention?

The same question applies to our behavior online. It’s rare to have both status — millions of followers — and likability. The difference between the two is subtle.

Explains Mitch Prinstein, UNC psychology professor and author of the book Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World:

“Likability is markedly different from status — an ultimately less satisfying form of popularity that reflects visibility, influence, power, and prestige. Status can be quantified by social media followers; likability cannot.”

Mitch Prinstein

If we’re looking for happiness in the credibility of numbers, social media is the wrong game to play. Happiness links to likeability, not our number of followers.

It pays to be both well-known and well-liked if we want to extend our lives. So how do we start? For one, we can be kind to others, remembering their name, and seek a thread of commonality.

gif via Tony Babel

Culture Politics & Society

The new journalism, where fame is the game

gif of hands coming out of mirror

We worship celebrities like they’re the new Gods but they’re as fallible as we are.

We obsess with the famous for being famous. First, we had reality tv and then social media gave us the Kardashians and Trump.

Is this how the media wants to harvest our attention and chip away at human decency?

Reporters will continue to dupe a distracted public with attention-seeking missiles. The buzzfeedication of the web has taken over.

stop making stupid people famous print
Art by Etalpmet

We are stuck in click-bait culture

If a good journalist is supposed to write what they see and leave it to the world to interpret, then they better start choosing better subjects. At least more interesting ones.

Let’s start with this rule: No more graduation speeches to those who were famous for 15 minutes.


Daily Prompts Politics & Society Social Media Tech

The pointlessness of constant self-grading

The pointlessness of constant self-grading #mindfulness #anxiety #selfawareness #mindfullliving
  • Five-star ratings
  • Gallup polls
  • Followers and social media ‘clout’

We obsess with gauging the temperature of our present reputation. The numbers are public, ticking up or down like stock prices.

The internet is the grandest stage of them all where we endeavor to present our best self. We strive to prove our self-worth, using likes and follows to pepper our egos.

A reputation is never finished. There’s always one more person to attract and appease.

Yet, the perpetual chase of approval remains illusory. There is no need to install an elaborate series of checks and balances on fame’s usefulness.

Our mood, needless the temperament of others, is as fickle as the weather.

Vigorous grading is not good for the person, nor the whole.

Creativity Productivity & Work Tech Video

67 million viewers

“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols

It doesn’t matter what books we write or discoveries we make. People only remember us if we appear on TV. In Tom Nichols’ case, succeeding on on Jeopardy superseded his professional accolades as a published author, foreign advisor, and professor at Naval War College.

Television is magic. It informs large audiences that we exist. That’s where talents like Will Smith established their brand. But TV also generates the antithesis: it makes stupid people famous.

The Kardashians pollute the news with their meaninglessness. The President too is a product of the mass marketing machine that is TV. The tube amplifies our status, but it rarely legitimizes the importance of work. Just ask Professor Robert Kelly whose video will forever be remembered as the poster parent for those who work from home with kids. And yes, online is an extension of TV, including YouTube, SnapChat, and Facebook Live. The future of storytelling is pervasive and persuasive video.

Like a social media following, appearing on TV lends instant credibility. Fame is forever tied to visual media. What’s universally more important though is what we build with our bare hands off-screen.


Dear Kanye West


Kanye West is a musician, a fashion designer and now a video game producer.

The music itself is not enough for Kanye.

Will Smith and LL Cool J used their success in music to go into acting but at the expense of their rhymes. Their hip-hop skills suffered.

Success is one area hampers or taints the other. Kanye still thinks he’s a hit-making machine with a Midas Touch. It doesn’t help that’s he’s surrounded by people that are also living in their own tabloid cocoon.

When I saw Kanye perform in 2003 he was at the top of his game, making his own beats and rhymes and producing for Mos Def and Common. He was appreciative and still learning. That Kanye even showed some humility.

But Kanye’s new music is unlistenable, along with his persona.

Today, Kanye is just another Internet celebrity that makes a lot of noise but offers little value in return. His comments in favor of Bill Cosby are beyond absurd. Like Donald Trump, he uses bombast to make up for his creative self-doubt.

Next week Kanye may be (or think he is) the next Steven Spielberg. He may even make a late bid to be President.

Writing or talking/tweeting in excess is often an indication that you haven’t found the right words yet. The same can be applied to artists that overcompensate their past success and exaggerate their skills to stamp their mastery on other types of work.

Mr. West needs to stop changing his new album name and go back to the studio and make another record that matters.

At this point in his career, Kanye is a much better marketer than a creator. But having built up a legion of fans and married the lightning rod of the Internet, he’s ensured that his ego, not his work, will be relevant for years to come.

Note: It appears as of yesterday, Kanye deleted his Instagram and Twitter accounts. But will see how long that lasts.




The page rattles with emptiness,
The mind fumbles in thought,
Starting paralyzes the hands,

Is this what they want, you ask,
Or is this what I want, you ask,

Good taste inspires,
Creativity perspires,
Practice breeds confidence
Shipping calms the lizard brain,

Passion begets patience,
To be known now or known later,
Beware: Fame disrupts,
Art ebbs and flows with the craft.


Dream Work

They say that if you pick something you love you never have to work a day in your life.

But doing what you love still comes with paperwork. Writers have to answer fan email and tweets. Star athletes have to give interviews when they’re not in the mood to talk.

Unfortunately, you can’t just play all the time. Success generates responsibility. People look up to you to lead. There will be struggles too. Some days you’re going to have to push your mind and body to move and create.

More success often means more work you don’t necessarily what to do. But a job is a mechanism for surviving, and that’s already hard enough.


The day you declare a truce on desires for money, power, pleasure and fame is the day you become unhappier.

Arthur C. Brooks

Deliberate Misunderstanding

The obvious is boring, yet effective.

The abstract is more exciting, yet potentially unlikeable. But those that do get it appreciate it far more.

Obscurity drives the artist to make things mostly for the niche. That niche then becomes responsible for legitimizing the artist.

When weird becomes popular and cool, creativity faces resistance. The artist gets distracted by fame and tries too hard, or just conforms to their own hype. When you’re unknown, you set your own expectations and create freely.

Reaping the benefits of anonymity while striving for some recognition manufactures the artist dilemma, one that is lost or won in the freedom of work.