Here’s an adaptation of an email I sent to my friend Rich Roll.
I dunno. I get tired of hearing stories from successful people who think their message scales, because “they’ve been there” or “know what’s it’s like”. They haven’t, they don’t.
Meet Mary. Mary lives in the hood, she’s a single parent with a child.
Mary doesn’t have time to blog, tweet, share or listen to podcasts. She’s too busy trying to survive.
When the bell goes off on Monday she has to feed her kid, get them to school, then she’s off to her two jobs. When she gets home that evening she has to scrounge for dinner, help with homework, get the bath ready, and read to them before bed. 5 or 6 hours later, it starts all over again.
Mary gets one day off. On her day off it’s laundry, clean the house, errands, somehow find a way to get the car fixed (if she has one), all while taking the kid to the park or an activity. If Mary doesn’t have a car, she has to use public transportation to pull all this off.
If Mary’s managed to figure out that plant based living really is lower cost and better than fast food — most like Mary haven’t, because the message and lifestyle doesn’t connect and isn’t available — she needs to spend a few hours in the kitchen getting meals ready. By the time her “day off” ends it’s 9 or 10:00. Her kid still hasn’t had a bath and she hasn’t read to them.
Mary didn’t go to college, she grew up in the hood. Her dad is in prison for drugs, her mom is lost on drugs somewhere. If Mary hasn’t been arrested, she’s probably the most successful person she knows. She has no network, no one to call and help her land a job, no credit. Maybe, she has an Internet connection or a smart phone. That’s if her service hasn’t been shut off this month because she had to choose between food or paying AT&T.
Mary is literally one parking ticket away from disaster. If she pays the parking ticket, there goes that month’s savings. If not, she risks going to jail.
Social is full of those who’ve had a “transformation”, who say they’ve been there or know what it’s like. But what’s not told in their transformation is who they knew, called, or the favor they cashed in when their chips were down. Yeah sure, they made a change. But this happened from the front of the pack.
Yes, Jason overcame a terrible loss. Now he’s selling a book. I couldn’t help but wonder why he’s not giving his books away free. I wish you would have asked.
There’s on old saying, it goes something like this:
It’s really hard to break into the circle of wealth and influence. But it’s even harder, to get thrown out.
Next time you go to a dinner party somewhere in your circle, ask the guests how they got there. I bet everyone is a friend, or a friend of a friend. While you’re standing around shooting the breeze, maybe the conversation shifts to one of their friends who fucked up, acted in disgrace, or needs to go to rehab. No one gets kicked out of the circle for that. Instead, the circle takes care of their own. Rehab is cool. But when someone not in the circle does the same? That’s so NOKD – “not our kind, dear”.
Business is about who you know – not what you know.
Ask friends in your circle how many Mary’s they’ve hired. I don’t mean to wash their cars, mow their lawns, or clean their homes. I mean how many Mary’s they’ve given jobs to that otherwise would have gone to highly qualified applicants. Or, ask them how many people from the hood with drug felonies they plan on hiring. Or ask them what their plans are to hire Iraq vets.
Instead, I believe what you’ll find is that they’ve never hired anyone like Mary, because they’re not qualified. No, I bet those cats are only hiring the best of the best, from the very best schools. Or, it’s an inside job — jobs are given to a friend of someone already hired. Because when it comes to business, it’s all about the Benjamin’s.
It gets weirder.
Once the “leaders” of these companies have made bank, now they want to be philanthropic. Like Jason, they want to give back. They want to give back to the Mary’s of the world, the very same people they ignored (discriminated against?) while making their fortunes.
I call it trickle down transformation. They have this delusion that somehow their book, website, or podcast is going to make its way back to Mary and Mary is now, going to realize the American dream. Their message is, “You can do this, Mary. You can transform your life like I did”. You have them on your podcast.
I love your podcasts. But man, I just don’t feel like they connect with anyone but who can afford the latest upgrades. I don’t hear a message for the disadvantaged, or people of color.
Yeah, you’ve had David Carter and John Salley on. But just because they’re black, that doesn’t equate to a message of color. That’s hype for people of color or the disadvantaged.
You had Adam Sud on. I talked to Adam, seems like a good dude. But given who Adam’s father is, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Adam as an “average dude”. I’m not suggesting that Adam wasn’t up against the wall, he obviously was. But financially, let’s face it. Adam is never going to go without or come even close, unless he chooses to opt out of his family’s wealth. Adam is in the circle.
I’ll keep listening for Mary to come on your podcast and tell her story.
Man, I hope it happens.
Until then, here’s my dream.
Your next book cover is a table of food on a street in the hood. Sitting at the table is you and your family, sharing a plant based meal with neighbors nearby. The backdrop is a brand new building that your friends built. People in the neighborhood go to work in the building. They’re paid well, they have support, free child care and great benefits. Next to the building is a grocery your friends built. The grocery is a co-op for those in the neighborhood. Everything in the grocery is organic or beyond organic. The grocery has free classes each week on cooking, computing, and education. The classes are taught by your friends or successful volunteers, they help people in the neighborhood move up the ladder. People from the neighborhood come on your podcast and talk about how they’ve transformed their lives.
Now that’s, a message of transformation!
All the best to you, man.