And that’s why we listen
Most of our lives, most of us spend much of our time trying to fit in, trying to hide our weirdness.
When you’re 15, weirdness is a target and every jab really hurts.
Actually though, it’s our weirdness that makes us valuable, especially today, in the age of the long tail.
Try this: Google your name. Your full legal name.
How many pages came up within 1 second? How do you stand out from all those other “yous”? Not by hoping to blend in, that’s for sure.
I know I hit this theme a lot but it’s because I speak to so many people who have lost themselves, becoming what some PD wanted them to be, or what they thought the audience wanted them to be — and in that process, they ended up losing not only a job, but their identity. They lose the very things that make them unique.
I know I’m different than other consultants. I want more meaningful content, not less. I’m willing to risk some failure in the quest for authenticity and real human connection on an emotional level.
I watched an edition of Creative Mornings once on this idea. The speaker made such a great point: Eric Clapton didn’t ask the marketing department at his record company what song he should write next. Marketing didn’t say, ‘Write a song about a girl you loved and lost.’
Clapton fell in love with best friend George Harrison’s wife and that soul-searing experience led him to write Layla.
You’ve probably seen this: “When I was a child, my mother used to say to me, over and over again, ‘Pablo, if you become a soldier, you’ll be a General, and if you become a priest, you’ll become the Pope.’ But I became an artist, and so, I became Picasso.”
What about you is unique? What makes you weird? Why should I listen to you rather than them?
I can hear thousands of people with good voices doing a version of Battle of the Sexes right now. Why should I choose to listen to yours?
Jon Stewart didn’t start his run at The Daily Show trying to be like Brian Williams or Peter Jennings or Dan Rather. He was totally different than any news anchor we’d ever seen, and because of that, he became our most trusted news anchor.
I am trying to empower you to find your true voice, the real you that you’ve worked so hard all these years to hide.
Find that, with all your quirkiness and vulnerabilities, and share it with us on your show. Find a way to do that, within the confines of format and PPM time pressures.
That “you” wants to make a difference in people’s lives today by making them laugh, or cry — by making them notice you.
We’re all born that way. We get it clubbed out of us, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. You just have to resurrect it.
And that means Program Directors and GMs too. I’m talking to you guys too.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
That’s Antoine de Saint-Exupery and maybe you should print that and hang it over your desk today.
If you want to build a great station, don’t obsess about format rules and bits that run 5 seconds too long.
Find people who want to be more than average, who want the challenge of touching hearts every break, and help them connect with humanity, with the endless immensity of weirdness in every person that listens.