Episode 4

Are Some of HR’s Favourite Gurus and Management Thinkers Just A Load Of Old Hype?

The word “hype” is defined as extravagant or intensive publicity and often associated with something considered trivial, faddish, and inconsequential. Hype is used to cloak artifice, create a psychological sleight of hand, and to distract us from normal, rational thought. . At worst, hype is sinister and malign and used to sew division, discord, and resentment. Hype is a key tool in the playbook used by certain political figures on the extremities of the political spectrum, but can hype be positive? Can hype be turned from the malignant to the benign and actually be used as a force for good? Can leaders, organisations, and movements use hype to reinforce their positive purpose and agenda?

My guest Michael F Schein made it his mission to deconstruct ‘hype’ and distilled the approach into 12 specific strategies employed by the world’s greatest propagandists, self-promoters, cult leaders, mischief-makers, and boundary breakers. His brilliant book “The Hype Handbook’ has been described as the Rosetta Stone for spreading the word about an idea, a product, or a service.

Looking at HR and Management Thinkers in particular, Michael Schein questions our slavish devotion to individuals such as Simon Sinek. As Michael says: “… he’s not a social scientist. He’s not a scientist of any sort. He worked in ad agencies before he became a professional guru. So, his best talent is selling stuff. ”

Hype aside, this interview is fun, punchy, thought-provoking and alternative. A real tonic!

https://michaelfschein.com

About my guest

Michael F Schein made it his mission to deconstruct ‘hype’ and distilled the approach into 12 specific strategies employed by the world’s greatest propagandists, self-promoters, cult leaders, mischief-makers, and boundary breakers. His brilliant book “The Hype Handbook’ has been described as the Rosetta Stone for spreading the word about an idea, a product, or a service.

Transcript

[Chris]: Welcome to the Oven-Ready HR Podcast. We tell compelling stories from the world of work to bring you captivating and thought-provoking conversations with expert analysis and insights. To find out more about your show host, Chris Taylor, visit OvenReadyHR.com, and please do remember to rate and review us. You can also follow us too on Twitter @OvenHR. Thanks.

The word “hype” is defined as extravagant or intensive publicity and often associated with something considered trivial, faddish, and inconsequential. Hype is used to cloak artifice, create a psychological sleight of hand, and to distract us from normal, rational thought, and often to encourage us to put our hands in our pocket. At worst, hype is sinister and malign and used to sew division, discord, and resentment. Hype is a key tool in the playbook used by certain political figures on the extremities of the political spectrum, but can hype be positive? Can hype be turned from the malignant to the benign and actually be used as a force for good? Can leaders, organisations, and movements use hype to reinforce their positive purpose and agenda?

This week’s Oven-Ready HR guest believes that hype can indeed be used as a positive force. Michael F Schein’s book, The Hype Handbook, distills the power of hype into 12 specific strategies employed by the world’s greatest propagandists, self-promoters, cult leaders, mischief-makers, and boundary breakers. His book has been described as the Rosetta Stone for spreading the word about an idea, a product, or a service.

Michael is also the founder and president of MicroFame Media, a marketing agency, specialising in turning consultants, entrepreneurs, and executives into celebrities using the hype concepts he has curated.

Welcome to Oven-Ready HR, Michael, and a great privilege to have you. In your book, The Hype Handbook, you explain that hype in itself is amoral. It’s neither a force for good or bad. It only becomes bad when used by sociopaths and narcissists. Can you expand on what you mean?

[Michael]: Well, so it’s great to be here, Chris, and I have to say that I’ve done a lot of podcasts since going out and promoting this book, and your introduction has been one of the best I’ve heard. It was really well thought out, and particularly, I really liked that you went into the background of the word hype and kind of looked up its formal definition.

So, yeah, I have to admit that I’ve taken the liberty to redefine hype. Yeah. I feel that a lot of marginalised communities have done this. The word “queer,” which we now accept as a positive explanation of non-mainstream or non-majoritarian sexuality literally means weird. It means abnormal in a negative way. So, people took that word back.

I define hype as any set of activities that get a large number of people, highly emotional so that you can move them in a certain direction. The reason I feel okay with redefining hype this way is because other communities have done it first. Hip hop uses the word hype, right? So, hip hop, right?

[Chris]: Sure.

[Michael]: Hip hop is an art form that started in the poorest area of the United States, the South Bronx, and they didn’t have the luxury to sort of do A+B+C and assume they were going to get the outcome of D. I mean, there was a lot of disadvantage. So, hip hop artists created this role of the hype man, who would go out and do whatever they needed to do to attract attention and get people emotional, and many times it added color to the world. It wasn’t negative. It was just exciting and corner-cutting.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: So, it just fuels, or what I’ve observed is that a lot of these mass psychology strategies that I’ve observed and talked about in the book are just the way people respond to things. There’s no changing it. We’re wired to respond to the world. It’s just stimuli in the world in certain ways. So, we can either accept that and have an ethical code and work within that ethical code to move people in positive directions, or we can assume that the world is different and sort of play make believe, and not have much success. I’ve chosen to try to make that case for the former, and I call that hype.

[Chris]: So, you’ve reclaimed hype. You’ve reclaimed the word.

[Michael]: Yup.

[Chris]: Okay. You vividly described the events that led to your epiphany in terms of hype, and how it’d be used positively would transform your life. Tell me a little bit about that journey. You’re walking to the subway, aren’t you? You’ve had a bad day. You’ve had these endless meetings, which don’t seem to sort of present the business in which you would have liked.

[Michael]: Yeah. I had gone into business as a freelance copywriter. I had left a corporate job where I had done pretty well, but I was really quite unhappy. I figured because I had always wanted to be a writer, I would do well getting people to pay me for white papers, web copy, and sales copy. Those who hired me liked my work and referred me, but it wasn’t enough to make a living, and I was quickly losing my savings and feeling poorly.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: I was taking a walk in New York where I live, and I passed this club, as you mentioned, called Arlene’s Grocery, which probably even more popular in the UK than to New Yorkers. The Strokes started out there, and they were even bigger in the UK than they were in the US. So, that whole New York scene that was kind of a hub, and we used to have a residency there. Oh, “we,” meaning I played in a band before my corporate self. I was in a band. You were the lead singer. Is that correct?

[Michael]: I was the lead singer or the vocal stylist, I like to say, because we’re kind of a punk type band.

[Chris]: You dressed as a nun, I think, in one particular performance. Is that right?

[Michael]: Many particular performances. Yeah. So, that’s the thing. I mean, we had some good songs, this and that, but we used to sell that club out regularly. We had a residency there. We have attention, and the band broke up and whatnot, but we used to say to ourselves, “Oh, we’re going to hype up this performance.” So. we would do anything we needed to. We would wear costumes, and that particular song was called Ash Wednesday. I would meet all the kids. I would dress like a nun and have them do the Lord’s Prayer, which was offensive to some people and got us attention. I we got ourselves on Showtime at the Apollo, which we knew we would be booed off because we were exactly what they didn’t like, and that got us attention.

So, I had become sort of this boring corporate-minded guy, and I was doing for my business. I wasn’t doing hype. I was reading about search engine optimization and this and that. When I passed this club, I said to myself, I had a revelation. I was like, “Why is it that I used to be so good at getting attention, and now I’m so bad at it?” It occurred to me that I had lost…

I had become a marketer, not a hype artist. So, I changed my entire approach. I started adding that sort of benevolent mischief into what I did to bring attention to myself in a business capacity, and it worked. I mean, I built a very successful freelance writing practice that turned into an agency, and the rest was history. So, that was a real lesson for me.

[Chris]: Okay. What you described as benevolent mischief. So, you famously picked a fight with an individual with a huge following amongst aspiring entrepreneurs, and you put clear blue water between his approach to business and yours, and you questioned his motives. You call this strategy, “Make war, not love.” What happened next?

[Michael]: Is your audience the kind of audience that knows who Gary Vaynerchuk is?

[Chris]: If they don’t know, they’ll Google him afterwards. So, tell me about Gary. What happened?

[Michael]: Gary, in my world, Is an uber celebrity. I mean, that’s what’s funny about the world we live in. You can have an uber celebrity in a certain niche, who your mom doesn’t know about, or someone in a different industry doesn’t know about. But in my world, he’s a huge star. He’s this marketing guru who has a very big agency, but he’s mainly known for doing these talks and internet content, web videos, and things, where he berates his adoring young fans for not working hard enough. Like his whole thing is hustle, hustle, hustle.

[Chris]: Okay.

[Michael]: He famously says using profanity, because that’s his thing, that he sits on the toilet at three in the morning tweeting because that’s what it takes to develop the kind of presence that makes you rich and famous.

[Chris]: Well, it’s an attractive thought.

[Michael]: Yeah. You know, right. First of all, I admire a lot of things about this guy. He had a business before the marketing agency that he sold wine online and did it very well using these methods.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: This idea of hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle didn’t really ring true to me because otherwise, all of his young fans would be as rich as him. And also, what if you’re, I don’t know, responsible for making the wine and not just selling it. Should you be tweeting all the time and Instagramming all the time?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: So, I wrote an article in Inc to this effect. I had a column in Inc. at the time, and I was really a nobody. I had the column in Inc. because I had a friend who wrote there, and she got me an in to apply. I wrote this article called, “Why Gary Vaynerchuk is flat out wrong.” Where I basically said that a systematic approach to content is a better approach than what he was advocating. So, that night, he called me out. He made a video calling me out by name, and he started out very nice. You can still find it online. By the end, he was extremely agitated. I mean, I really hit a nerve. All his followers, who call themselves Vayniacs because he’s done such a good job of building a tribe, lambasted me, like got really personal.

But what I found like by really the next day is that I had a following. All of these people were thinking what I was thinking, but didn’t sort of have a leader, and it was the beginning of my new career for all intents and purposes.

[Chris]: Okay. All right. So, you pick this fight with him, and that in a way has created, has created what you are now working on today. So, in a way, you can credit Gary for albeit a little bit of help along the way. Would you say?

[Michael]: Yeah, in fact, it’s very funny because first of all, I don’t dislike Gary Vaynerchuk.

[Chris]: No.

[Michael]: I had a beef with a strong point of view that he had/has.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: It’s funny. He knew after a while that this was helping me and not him. I mean, he let himself get emotional.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: After about a week of his fans berating me and my following growing and growing and growing and me getting all this attention. One of his fans reached out to me and gave me his like fourth insult of the day and then said, “Listen, this is the last time I’m going to contact you because Gary Vee told us to back off,” and I’d never heard from him since. So, he realized what he was doing and eventually cooled down and gave his followers a marching order to not drive any more attention to me through their hatred.

[Chris]: Okay. Actually, you argue very clearly within the book that, as you say, this isn’t about being unpleasant to people when you pick a fight. This isn’t being personal. This is actually having a different point of view and being brave enough and articulate enough in which to present that. Would you say that’s true?

[Michael]: Yeah, very true, and I would even go farther. I think a lot of times it’s a better idea to pick a fight with an idea than pick a fight with a person. I mean, I happened to have a very strong point of view, and it was annoying me—I don’t want to say annoying—I thought it was not serving people what Gary was saying. So, I felt I needed to take that stand. But this isn’t about going and being a troll and picking fights with people. A lot of times, it’s just about having a strong point of view. There might be some kind of status quo idea in your industry that everyone accepts without question, and you can come out and say, listen, that idea hasn’t been thought out deeply enough, and it’s actually out of date or wrong, or there’s a better way of doing things, and I just so happen to know the better way of doing things. That’s just as powerful.

[Chris]: Absolutely. Absolutely, and in HR, I mean, disagreeing with, let’s say Simon Sinek is almost heresy. Yet you’ve done that, and you’ve slightly accused them of sort of coating obvious and rather humdrum ideas with selected sort of pseudoscience to give it an air of respectability and maybe with a little bit more scrutiny. His ideas and his statements may not be the universal panacea that he suggests. You sort of link him with the man that invented Listerine.

[Michael]: Oh, yeah.

[Chris]: Can you give us some context around that because Simon has a huge following, right?

[Michael]: Yeah. I mean, again, I don’t know these people personally, and I don’t know that Simon Sineck is hurting anybody, you know? I’m sure if he inspires some people, that’s a wonderful thing. What I find interesting is that so many people follow him. It’s like “Start With Why” is the only book they’ve ever read, and they use it as, like you said, the panacea, the philosopher’s stone, of like everything they do in business.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: You have to ask yourself, what is this guy’s credentials and who is he really helping? He makes, don’t quote me on this, $150,000 for a one-hour talk, and so you would think that everyone listening to him is getting that much value. But as it turned out he’s not a social scientist. He’s not a scientist of any sort. He worked in ad agencies before he became a professional guru. So, his best talent is selling stuff.

He came up with this idea, Start With Why. That’s fine. I mean, I’m sure inspires a lot of people. But he’s basically just saying, “Love what you do,” in a different way. Have a reason for doing what you do. But when you hear his videos and when you hear him talk, he talks about dopamine and neuro epinephrin and the human brain structure and this and that. People have a tough—human beings are bombarded with a huge amount of sensory data, and if we assessed the credibility of all of it, every single time, we wouldn’t be able to move.

[Chris]: No.

[Michael]: We evolution programs us against that. So, we look for what are called heuristics, mental shortcuts. So, when you hear someone using very sort of highfalutin language and scientific data, it’s like the doctor’s white coat. It immediately makes the idea seem heftier, and you don’t tend to question it. Like he had a video on a while ago where he talked about how millennials were ill-served by their parents and were basically the worst generation ever. He talked about, in very, very, very social scientific terminology, he talked about how parents giving them participation trophies, and this and that made them not good in the workforce. But is that really true? I mean, everyone talks about these participation trophies. That’s not a new idea. How many people got that? Did they get that in Compton, in Los Angeles? Is the science really clear? Is every millennial the same?

So, yeah, I mean, the guy who created Listerine. Listerine had trouble doing well, it was the first mouthwash, but they didn’t know how they were going to use it. I mean, first people thought about cleaning countertops with it. I mean, it was just this disinfectant thing.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: So, the guy who I think inherited the company and made it big, he looked at an obscure medical journal and found this disease called halitosis, which does not mean bad breath. It means a serious and rare bacterial infection that causes like dead body, bad breath because of this bacteria in your stomach. Everyone gets bad breath. If you don’t brush your teeth, you get bad breath. If you eat garlic, you get bad breath. Right?

[Chris]: Right.

[Michael]: So, he, however, took this term and said, “Protect yourself against halitosis,” and suddenly everyone in America and in the world had halitosis and was buying his product. Whereas before, everyone just assumed that at some points in the day, people would have bad breath. So, he created an industry using this scientific link.

[Chris]: That’s quite a thing to do, isn’t it?

[Michael]: Yeah. It’s amazing. I mean, the company is–. It’s funny actually, he would hire ad agencies, and until the day he died, this founder would, would try to show their worth, and they would propose different ad campaigns without the halitosis thing. The owner of the company would always say, “The minute this ad campaign stops working, I’ll use your new idea,” and it never stopped working.

[Chris]: Okay. But as a profession HR often stands accused of being sort of seduced by questionable scientific research. There was lots about Grit a few years ago and power posing, and these are all sort of passing fads. However, they seem to cling to HR professionals, and we seem to sort of get seduced by. Are there any workplace or people fads, which sort of make you shutter?

[Michael]: Well, first of all, before I answer that question, I want to comment on your first idea. Just because someone is using what I call ear candy, this lingo, doesn’t mean the idea is bad.

[Chris]: No.

[Michael]: In other words, there might be a perfectly wonderful idea that if your grandfather gave it to you as common-sense advice, you maybe just would ignore it, and a company certainly wouldn’t pay for it. But if you wrap it in research and data and charts and figures and scientific lingo, it just makes people that much more willing to digest it. So, I’m not saying, again, this isn’t about scamming people. This is about borrowing ideas that work from all over and using it to package your stuff.

I mean, in terms of questionable ideas, yeah, I mean, all of it sort of. I don’t know that any of it makes me shudder, but I question it all. You know what I mean?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: When I hear Tony Robbins, he talks about all of this psychological sort of lingo, and I can’t think of specific examples. Let me instead, NLP, neuro-linguistic programming. That’s something that I run into a lot of people who say that they’ve been trained in neuro-linguistic programming, which means that they can use words to guide people in a sales context and this and that, and I just always questioned that. That’s based on the idea is of Milton Erickson, who was a legitimate psychological practitioner, but he was even on the fringe, and he did hypnosis. There’s still some doubt about whether that works and when it works, although most people think it does.

But I hear people who were just kind of salespeople, talking about NLP, and I’m kind of like, “Really? Then why aren’t you worth $20 million if you’re so good at NLP, and you can get anyone to do what you want to do using words? Right?”

So, I just question all of it. Even coffee, there was a study that came out recently that said that if you drink 25 cups of coffee a day, that’s healthy. I love coffee, so my first reaction was like, “Well, that’s awesome.” You know? I mean, I’d love to drink 25 cups of coffee a day.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: But I know how these studies are funded and paid for because marketers are so familiar with the power of a study or of data that I questioned that kind of stuff very deeply.

[Chris]: Okay, and who did pay for the study for the coffee? Was it a coffeemaker?

[Michael]: I don’t know. I mean, it’s still out there. It’s a new one. It’s still out there as if it’s a real study, but I do know that; I mean, I talk in the book about the father of PR, Edward Bernays, commissioned a study that said that bacon was the perfect breakfast food because it replaces the energy that you lose during sleep. In the twenties, every doctor in America recommended bacon as a health food, and that’s why we eat bacon in the US for breakfast.

[Chris]: Yeah, yeah.

[Michael]: So, I question these things.

[Chris]: Absolutely. Now, obviously, we’re being told that actually processed meat is extremely bad for you when you should limit your intake.

[Michael]: A hundred percent, yeah. The worst. I mean, it’s like the worst thing you can possibly eat on a regular basis. Yeah.

[Chris]: Yeah. Basically, it is. Looking at employee engagement is a hot topic in HR. This is about that you have happy and engaged employees, and they’ll perform better and add more to the bottom line because the clients, the customers, everyone’s happy. It’s not really original thinking. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to come up with that.

[Michael]: Yeah.

[Chris]: But could you use some of your 12 strategies that you outline in your book? Do you think you can use those to build a better and more inclusive work culture, do you think?

[Michael]: Yeah, a hundred percent. But before I talk about that, I want to say that the fundamentals have to be there. I mean, there’s only so long that you can hype something up that isn’t there. The bottom always falls out of the market. Right?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: As Ryan Holiday says, “The best way to market a book is to have a good book.” And he is the best book marketer in America. So, yeah, you can fool people for a long time, but especially with something like work, if they get to work every day and it’s extremely boring, and it’s extremely unmeaningful, but there’s all kinds of hype around it, they’re going to figure that out, and they’re going to leave. You know?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: I think that’s worth keeping in mind, but sure, considering that the job itself is meaningful and that the value of the work is there, I think there’s a whole lot of things. One idea that a lot of what I call hype artists use is something called give the babies their milk before you give them their meat. What that means is that if an idea is truly new and a break from what people are used to, you really need to ease people into it.

So, we talked a lot about scientific lingo, and if an idea is very common and not very different than what’s already out there, you need to kind of dress it up with packaging that makes it seem unique. But if an idea or an initiative truly is different and new, you need to, babies can’t eat a steak before they eat meat. Our brains are literally set up on a neurological level on a physical level to be very, very scared of vast, quick changes because that would get us killed in nature.

So, let’s say you’ve decided that the direction you’re going as a company isn’t really going to do well in the new era. Blockbuster, let’s say. Let’s say they had done the right thing, and they figured out earlier that the internet and streaming was the future. If they had just announced to all their employees and store managers, “Listen, we’re shutting down the stores. We’re switching to a mail-order model, and then we’re going to invest heavily in the internet.” People would’ve freaked out. They would have run for the hills. They would’ve had 5000% attrition. But if instead they maybe put computers in their stores that allowed you to, I don’t know, research videos that weren’t in the store on this new thing called the internet.

Then once people got used to that, they expanded it to, you could order videos that weren’t in the stores on the internet. Like I think about gas stations or as you call them petrol stations.

[Chris]: Indeed, indeed. Petrol stations.

[Michael]: I remember being a kid, and people would fill up your gas tank. They would come out, and they would clean your window, and they were friendly. Then they put in shelf service pumps, but they didn’t get rid of the employees. It was cheaper to use self-service. So, most of the tanks were human beings giving you good service, and in one little corner, there’d be like one tank where you could get a really substantial discount.

So, usually, you would go to the people, but once in a while, if money was tight, you would go over there. Then there were four tanks, and there were fewer employees. Before you knew it, you were paying full rate to fill up your own tank and have a dirty windshield. You know what I mean?

[Chris]: Absolutely.

[Michael]: I think a lot of times we don’t meet employees where they are. They work really hard on a project, and then they say, “We’re shifting directions,” and you’re like, “Whoa, hold on a minute. I just need invested in this thing.” So, I think it’s important to think about where people are and ease them into things versus just using them as hired labor, while paying a bunch of lip service to while they’re part of a family and that they’re part of meaningful work.

[Chris]: No. That’s very interesting. I think I agree. I mean, obviously, if you look at the Kodak example as well, I think someone had gone to Kodak with the digital photography technology, and I think Kodak has said, “Oh, no. it will never catch on.”

[Michael]: Right.

[Chris]: And obviously, they were the biggest photography firm and whatever in the world.

[Michael]: Yeah, but at the same time, if they would have switched over all overnight, you know what I mean? It would have scared everybody away. It would have been crazy.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: So, they had to have a graduated kind of plan, but they did neither, so.

[Chris]: No, no, absolutely. Just moving on slightly, you say that the most effective users of hype are those with personality disorders. How can you explain why?

[Michael]: I would say on balance, there are more people who are what we would typically colloquially call bad people, who are better at hype. Now, there are a lot of really good, good, good human beings who use these strategies. Martin Luther King, I couldn’t call him a hype artist in the book because the publisher thought that would turn people off, but by my definition of hype, he was a wonderful hype artist.

[Chris]: Sure.

[Michael]: He knew how to use use the media to his effect and et cetera. Richard Branson is great at this stuff. I mean a lot of people. But I would say by and large people with personality disorders, like, especially anti-social personality disorder, So, narcissism, sociopathy, psychopathy, they’ve done studies where they put these kinds of people under stressful situations, and their heart rates barely go up. These kinds of people, because they lack empathy on just a very, very core level, they are able to see the world as it really is versus how we think it ought to be. As a result, they can take the actions that work, regardless of anything.

The rest of us let our emotions get in the way. So, we may say, “I know that I should employ the milk before meat strategy, but I don’t have the patience to do that. I’m going to kind of get too nervous over the six months that that takes.” Or picking a fight, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t like confrontation.” Right? Whereas these people just do what needs to be done.

But a lot of people confuse that and say, “Because bad people tend to be good at this stuff that the strategies themselves are bad.” The strategies aren’t bad. A lot of times, they apply it to nefarious ends. But the strategies are based on reality. I mean, they’re based on just how human beings process information. So, you can either choose to ignore that or you can try to take the best parts of what the bad guys are doing anyway.

[Chris]: Okay. That’s an interesting. So, obviously, they lack the filter. They lack, as you say, the empathy. They see it in a very black and white way. Whereas, obviously we, as those without those particular personality disorders, we’re influenced by all sorts of other emotions, and guilt and conscience, all of those things that come into play, which would stop us perhaps using these 12 strategies.

[Michael]: Yeah, I would say perceived guilt and perceived conscious. In other words, you should be guilty about using hype to steal people’s money. You know what I mean?

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: But should you be guilty about picking a fight with an idea? In other words, I picked a fight with Gary Vaynerchuk, and if I had been a little more emotional about it, I could’ve said, “This guy has a family, and he’s trying his best, and I don’t really want him to yell at me because he’s an aggressive guy, and people are not going to like me.” But that fight needed to be picked. I mean, his advice was, in my mind, bad advice.

So, that wasn’t that guilt. I could have told myself a million stories based on the fact that my heart was beating quickly, and I felt kind of negative. I felt a little uneasy, so it’s not always that. If you’re feeling guilty because the thing is bad to do, you shouldn’t do it. You know what I mean? Guilt is there for a reason, but sometimes our emotions cloud us. They’re not always accurate.

[Chris]: Did you enjoy all the research into this? I mean, you have spent years and hours and hours and hours. You have looked at all sorts of different texts and things, from antiquity almost.

[Michael]: Yes.

[Chris]: You must’ve enjoyed, this must have been a bit of a labor of love. Wasn’t it?

[Michael]: Oh, a lot of a labor of love. I mean, it was one of my favorite parts of the whole process. So, I started the research before I even knew I was going to write a book because once I figured out this new way of marketing myself and eventually people wanted me to market them.

I said I’m kind of tired of reading books about Google+ and how that’s the new marketing platform that everyone’s going to use or whatever. I always like, I really want to understand mass human psychology. Then based on what I learned, do experiments and figure out if I can market myself and other businesses that way, and can I do it ethically?

So, I already started researching on behalf of that, and then when it was time to write the book, yeah, I’m a reader and a writer before I’m even a business person. I wanted to be a writer, even when I was a kid, and I’ve been a big reader. Well, before Tai Lopez’s book club, or whatever I mean, I’ve always been a researcher and a reader. So, yeah, It was almost like getting paid to do something I would do anyway. It was a lot of fun.

[Chris]: Okay, and what’s next, Michael Schein? What are you going to do next?

[Michael]: Well, I have always used these ideas in service of marketing companies and professional individuals. So, we have an agency, as I’ve mentioned, and people come to us and say, “I have an idea or a business, and we need to drive attention to that idea or business.” I tend to pick companies that are doing good work in the world. So, that’s been fulfilling. At the same time, I’ve seen in the last half-decade, I guess, a lot more people in powerful positions using these ideas, this sort of thing that I call hype, in ways that really unnerve me that are very negative and that I think hurt society and the good guy.

Because of that, a lot of the people doing great work in the world are even more reluctant to master mass psychology because they see it as inherently negative and manipulative. So, it’s become very important to me. To put, to make the case that the best thing the good guys can do to fight back is to learn these strategies and PL and use them in the service of good. So, I’ve started to kind of go broader with what I do. We’ve started teaching workshops.

[Chris]: So, you’re a cheerleader of hype.

[Michael]: I’m a cheerleader, and I want to teach people. So, we have these workshops we do that have more people. It’s less money to join because you do most of the work yourself, and we teach you, and we give you the tools, but it allows me to reach more people. I’m starting to do what’s called Intact workgroups, like going into organizations and teaching the entire team doing speaking.

So, really, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with sort of spreading this gospel, and creating an army of really well-meaning good people who are effective instead of just well-meaning.

[Chris]: Yeah.

[Michael]: So, that’s where my head is at.

[Chris]: That sounds really, really positive. If people wanted to get a hold of you, Michael, how did they get hold of you?

[Michael]: There’s a couple of ways. If you want to get regular sort of information from me and you can always respond to it, and I’ll answer, I have a thing called hypereads.com. It’s more or less, it’s a newsletter, but it’s more than that. It’s a community. I make recommendations of a lot of this research as I’m doing it, a lot of the really cool books that I—

[Chris]: Okay. Okay. Cool.

[Michael]: And then just MichaelFSchein.com. I mean, the company is MicroFamemedia.com, and I’ll just give out my email too. Anyone can write me. It’s mfs@microfamemedia.com. Yeah, and just a plug for the book by the book, if you want to learn more about these.

[Chris]: The book was amazing. It was a very, very good read. So, Michael F Schein, thank you very much, indeed.

[Michael]: This was a blast. Thanks. You’re a great interviewer.

Share this podcast

Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent episodes

7
Season 2

Back To The Office Of The Future

Guest(s)

Francesca Peters

The future of the office is of particular interest to this week’s Oven-Ready HR guest. Seemingly a day doesn’t go by without an announcement from an organisation about their plans or apparent lack of concerning a return to the office. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has weighed into the debate criticising the ‘inhumane’ approach to work taken by Goldman Sachs
Episode 6
Season 2

Organisational Culture Isn’t Just For Christmas, It’s For Life!

Guest(s)

Michael Whitfield

“Organisational Culture Isn’t Just For Christmas, It’s For Life!”
Episode 5
Season 2

Shooting The Breeze With Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP

Guest(s)

Jeremy Hunt MP

“I opened five new medical schools and increased the number of doctors, nurses, and midwives. We trained by 25%, which is one of the biggest ever single increases, but I always felt we need to be much more strategic and you know, we, we need to recognise that it’s not just pandemics with an ageing population we’re going to need more capacity in our health provision, much more capacity and that means we’ve got to be very strategic and say, look, how many doctors are we going to need in 10 years time in 20 years time, because it takes 7 years to train one. So we need to get cracking”
Episode 3
Season 2

Defence Against Workplace Bullying

Guest(s)

Dr Sam Farley

“So, if you’ve got two colleagues on the same level who don’t like each other and they’re sending each other nasty emails. We wouldn’t really call that bullying because there’s no apparent power disparity there it’s just a kind of conflict. But when you get a differential such as maybe a boss is doing it to their subordinate, then you have a bit of a powered disparity at play. That’s when something can become workplace bullying. “
Episode 14
Season 1

Oven-Ready HR-Reheated. Key Moments From The Final Six Interviews Of Season 1

Guest(s)

Steve Browne, Emma Jones, Richard Merrin, Jarmila Yu, Carl Reader, Aoife Martin & Marc Effron

Oven-Ready HR – Reheated brings a selection of the key moments from the final six episodes of Season 1
Episode 2
Season 2

Stop Exploitation of Gig Economy Workers? Change The Tax System!

Guest(s)

Matthew Taylor

“you see, we are relying on the courts to do work that ought to be done by legislations. The problem with the courts is the courts are only making a judgement on the case that is put in front of them. They’re not changing the law. They’re changing the case law, but they’re not changing the law.”

Be the first to get the latest episode of my podcast