Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash
I’m always fascinated by people who create controversy in hopes of generating negative publicity for publicity’s sake. Any press is good press. But really, is it?
Perhaps the financial rewards of any kind of notoriety are worth the negative reactions of some of the public. But, maybe not. (And maybe we should ask Alec Baldwin, Bruce Springsteen, or Ellen DeGeneres).
What I do know are my personal reactions to people in the public eye who show their true colors. And, if my personal reaction is tied to my spending (and it often is), we can infer with some degree of certainty that influential people lose some dough when they’re (for lack of a better word) a$$holes.
Here’s my most recent experience with a less-than-palatable personality, how I believe it could affect his bottom line, and lessons we can all take away on how not to interact with others.
We listen with our wallets
I am a dedicated listener of Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness podcast. I stream every new episode and listen to them during my morning runs. More often than not, I immediately purchase whatever book or product the guest is touting — I downloaded Matthew McConaughey’s new book on Audible, bought Rachel Hollis’ new paperback, and added Priyanka Chopra’s new film to my viewing queue (she’s a fantastic human, by the way — I’m now a dedicated fan).
You could say I listen with my wallet. And I have news for you — many other people do, too. The episode I listened to during this morning’s run featured controversial salesman Grant Cardone. I pressed play thinking that I would be reinspired to, say, 10x my earnings.
Instead, I was reminded that money can’t buy you tact. And, rather than heading over to Cardone University (which, by the way, doesn’t award any kind of regionally accredited degrees as far as I can tell) to purchase a course, I’m writing an article on what NOT to do in a podcast interview.
Because I live in Los Angeles and most of my friends are involved in the television industry, I had heard rumors about the debacle that was Cardone’s most recent reality show. Grant Cardone is a multi-hyphenate personality who was featured on a reality show called Undercover Billionaire. I hadn’t put two and two together until I heard Cardone complain on School of Greatness podcast about the show.
Cardone complained that the network had tried to force him to do the show their way (imagine arriving onto the set of Celebrity Survivor and declaring that you’d be doing your own immunity challenge) and that “the production didn’t do a very good job of cutting this.” Now, my guess is that, while Cardone knows a lot about public appearances, he has likely never sat behind an Avid and cut any episode of television.
I don’t know about you all, but I don’t throw anyone else under the bus. Ever. I would be particularly reluctant to throw an entire production under the bus that includes a lot of people. I think that Jocko Willink sums it up in Extreme Ownership when he says, “Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility.”
Additionally, Grant Cardone told host Lewis Howes that the producers of the show asked him to leave a tip for his server at a restaurant (which he refused to do). In the podcast, he says that he went back later to “take care of her” when he had more money, but that he didn’t have the extra money to leave a tip at the time. (Sure, this makes sense conceptually, but what kind of example does this set for other people? What if we all waited to tip our servers until we had extra money?)
Last but definitely not least, Cardone overall just . . . made me not like him. I even shut off the podcast after 40 minutes (something I never do) because I didn’t want to be influenced by this person anymore. Now, is it important to make everyone like you? No, I don’t think so. Is it important to be personable enough to not inspire people to want to shut you off so as not to negatively influence their emotional state? I’d say so.
How this could affect Cardone’s bottom line
In this section, I make a pretty big assumption. My assumption is that there are other people like myself who have experienced an adverse reaction to Cardone’s personality as a result of hearing him on the School of Greatness podcast. However, if my sentiments serve as a litmus test of even a small percentage of Cardone’s potential customers, it could be a problem.
Let’s look at just one aspect of Cardone’s influence — Cardone University. According to Indeed, the mean cost to attend Cardone’s “University” is $2,000. Because instruction is virtual, we can guess that, inclusive of the student acquisition cost, web hosting, and salaries of the in-house coaching team (video production costs are assumed to be recuperated by this point), bankable revenue is 40% of tuition ($800/student).
According to their website, Cardone has had 45,233,539 lessons taken over 35 years which averages out to 1,292,386 lessons per year or around 107,000 per month. While that’s not the most believable number, I’ll take the website at its word.
If we assume that around 140,000 people have listened to the Cardone episode of School of Greatness (150 million downloads/1069 episodes) and let’s guess that 30% of them “listen with their wallets”, that’s 42,000 potential Cardone University attendees. Let’s say that half of those think it’s rude to throw others under the bus, stiff your waitress, and to overall be a rude person.
21,000 one-course Cardone University participants x $800 folding dollars in your pocket per student =
$16,800,000 in lost revenue that could have been saved by acting like (not even actually being) a good human.
Sure, that’s a drop in the bucket of his $300 million net worth. But that’s also assuming this is an isolated incident. Usually, this kind of thing isn’t. For a person who specializes in sales . . . Grant Cardone definitely lost me a customer.
What we can learn from Cardone’s mistakes
I always find I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. I think we can all learn a lot from this interview as well. Whether Grant Cardone is a fantastic human or not isn’t even an issue. The question is, do people want to buy any of Cardone’s products based on his interview with the (patient and always positive) Lewis Howes? If I am a case study, many people don’t.
Let’s look at possible goals for spending a couple of hours on one of the most downloaded podcasts out there. First, Cardone could have been looking to gain some new followers. Second, he could have been looking to promote his new show. Third, he could have been after book and course sales. And fourth, he might just be genuinely interested in inspiring and educating listeners. If any of these was his goal, in my opinion, he failed at all of them.
For better or for worse, people are exceptional bull$h!t detectors. Whether we recognize it cognitively or just have a “gut” feeling, we know if we trust someone.
Instinctually, we put ourselves in the shoes of other people referenced in conversation.
We become the potential business partner who was shunned because they were not good enough, the waitress who was relying on the tip to pay her rent, and the television crew who are desperately trying to stick to the premise of a reality show.
When a person puts any other person down, insinuates that they’re better than anyone else, or doesn’t take ownership for their part in the outcome of their projects, we can smell it from a mile away. While polarizing behavior may get a moment in the spotlight, people listen to others’ words with their wallets. And, eventually, that will make a dent in revenue. But, even worse, it could make a dent in reputation, self-esteem, and one’s overall happiness.
And, so we have it. Hurt people hurt people. Insecure people put others down to feel better. We can only sympathize with those not strong enough to be gracious toward all fellow humans. And, at the end of the day, if your goal is not to inspire and educate people, but instead to make as much money as possible, you might be missing out on revenue by showing your true colors.