Micheal F. Schein – Interview with the Author of “The Hype Handbook”

Getting your message out into the world has been getting more difficult for years now. The amount of content is causing noise across all channels. Some people are slightly better at the hype of influence. There are some that so powerful in the hype strategies that they are hard to ignore. Our guest today is Michael Schein, author of The Hype Handbook. This book looks at the strategies that propagandists and cult leaders use to get people into action. Michael Schein and I discuss how you can learn from these mischief-makers to increase your influence. Micheal Schein has articles that have appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Inc, and Psychology Today. Learn from infamous Influencers that have always deployed the power of hype to get what they want.

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About: Michael F. Schein is an Author of The Hype Handbook (McGraw Hill) and a MicroFame Media President. . MicroFame Media is a marketing agency that turns consultants (and other idea-based businesses) into thought leaders when they don’t have the time to do it on their own. Clients include The Medici Group, Citrix, Magento, Interiors by Steven G., Abila, SEER Interactive, Intellect, and Arise Virtual Solutions.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Micheal F. Schein
The people we often consider nefarious or bad, tend to see the world as it really is. And a lot of us see the world as we think it ought to be. So it became really important to me to a make the case to all the people, you know, launching great businesses and causes and works of art, that it’s okay to use unconventional strategies to drum up a lot of attention and drive a motion to sell your stuff, and be to teach them how to do it, because the bad guys already get it. It’s time for the good guys to have access to these tools. And that just became sort of an obsession of mine.

Intro [0:35]
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Gene Hammett, I help leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [0:53]
Getting your message across is tougher today than ever? Because there’s so much noise, there’s so much hype around things. So when you think about getting your message out, and 2021 do you want to do what you’ve always done? Or do you want to learn some new strategies? Well, I think you want to push the envelope, I think he wants to truly make a difference. So you’ve got to learn some those new strategies, why not learn them from the people who research and really understand that the patterns of what it takes to get a message or an idea, traction? Today, I have Micheal F. Schein. He’s the author of this book, The Hype Handbook. This book is something I’ve enjoyed reading. I’m not all the way through with it yet, because I just interviewed Michael. And today you’re going to see what the interviews in here What I like about it is one of the stories he tells in here about point of view, we all have a point of view, but it was yours really clear to people understand what it is. And does it have the key elements that allow it to get traction in today’s world where he tells a story about Zappos, Zappos is a one part of this but then an other elements of this interview, Michael shares, what is it take to get your message across in today’s world, the hype handbook is not sponsoring this, this interview or anything like that.

Gene Hammett [2:08]
I just thought it would be interesting for you to get some insight from the author here on the podcast. When you want to grow your leadership to the next level, you want to take it and push the envelope you want to be the visionary leader, make sure you think of Growth Think Tank, if you have any questions about what your blueprint is to move forward to make sure you go to genehammett.com, you can find start your journey and it will give you the keys to what to do next, you’ll actually talk to me on the phone. Don’t worry about overloading me only get probably two or three of these a month. And I love to interact with my audience and give them value. Some of those actually do become clients. Some just become rabid fans, because I’m here to help and serve you just go to genehammett.com. You can find out more about how you can get a conversation with me. When you think about growth, and you think about leadership, think of Growth Think Tank. Now here is Michael.

Gene Hammett [3:00]
Michael, how are you?

Micheal F. Schein [3:01]
Doing really well. How are you?

Gene Hammett [3:03]
I am fantastic. excited to have you on this podcast to talk about hype, and what that really means in this new world. Michael, tell us a little bit about yourself first.

Micheal F. Schein [3:13]
So I own a business called MicroFame Media. Some would call it a marketing agency. I don’t really love the term marketing, because it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. But what we essentially do in our main business is work with idea-driven companies. So companies that aren’t necessarily selling sheet metal or ball bearings, but they have an idea behind them. And we figure out what’s a point of view that they can become known for what sort of corner of the universe often the internet should they exist in? And then how can we hype them up so that it looks like they’re everywhere at once. So that’s that’s the business I was a writer before I was anything I wanted to do that for a really, really long time and became a kind of an accidental entrepreneur. And recently, and for many years, actually, I’ve been really interested in this idea of hype versus marketing and just wrote a book about it.

Gene Hammett [4:08]
Well, I happen to have a copy of the book. The reason I have you on this show is because I was interested in going a little bit deeper into some of the the, the concepts inside here. It’s a very interesting take on how do you get your message across. You actually study cult leaders and self promoters and people that you wouldn’t typically study for, to learn from. So let me start with this question. And this is called the hype handbook. Why did this book have to be written?

Micheal F. Schein [4:36]
So something that really has bothered me, especially over the last few years is that a lot of the people that we consider bad guys who are either selling empty stuff, stuff that doesn’t really help or stuff that harms people seem to be very natural at getting a lot of attention and driving a lot of content. have energy around their ideas. And I didn’t know why that was, I kind of wondered is that because the strategies and tactics they use are inherently evil. And what I found was, I doubted that because I had been a little bit mischievous in the way I brought attention to myself and bring attention to my clients, but never harm anybody markedly never harm anybody. And I wanted to find out, is it that these tactics are evil? Because if so there should be a crusade against them? Or is it that bad people come to it more naturally, and I found out that it’s very much the ladder.

Micheal F. Schein [5:36]
These strategies are not moral or immoral, they’re just how human beings react to stimuli. But the people we often consider nefarious or bad, tend to see the world as it really is, and a lot of us see the world as we think it ought to be. So it became really important to me to a make the case to all the people, you know, launching great businesses and causes and works of art, that it’s okay to use unconventional strategies to drum up a lot of attention and drive emotion and to sell your stuff and be to teach them how to do it. Because the bad guys already get it. It’s time for the good guys to have access to these tools. And that just became sort of an obsession of mine.

Gene Hammett [6:18]
I like that concept because you’re studying people that that we sometimes are shying away from, but you’re trying to understand why why is their message getting traction? Why is it working with other people? Maybe not ourselves? But I have to ask you profiled a lot of people inside here. What’s one of the more favorite stories you have, you can share with us?

Micheal F. Schein [6:40]
Sure. I really, there are so many I mean, the stories are great, because these are very colorful characters. But one gentleman who really really fascinated me and fascinates me still is a guy named Edward Bernays. So actually, Time magazine called him the most influential 20th century American that no one knows about. He is the father known as the father of public relations, because he invented the term public relations. He was a nephew of Sigmund Freud. And he’s responsible for just, you know, I don’t like to believe in conspiracies typically, and I usually don’t but this guy actually made me think twice because he’s responsible for women smoking, so women did not smoke it was considered taboo before he entered the scene. And on behalf of Lucky Strike, he made it acceptable. He had a government in Central America overthrown on behalf of the United Fruit Company. And he’s pretty much single handedly responsible for making bacon the quintessential American breakfast foods.

Micheal F. Schein [7:48]
So so before the 20s Americans did not typically eat bacon for breakfast, that wasn’t a tradition or a thing. And his client was beaching out which was a major pork producer. And they wanted to uptake and consumption. So he had a connection with a very influential doctor, someone we might consider a thought leader now within the medical community who had a connection himself with 5000 other physicians across the country. And he got this doctor to write a to create a study quote, unquote, that said that great bacon is the most healthy breakfast food because it replaces the energy that you lose during and this doctor sent the study to 5000 physicians. So before long, every doctor in the country was recommending bacon to their patient. And I think that, beyond that just being a great story, I think the moral here isn’t that you should lie and make up studies. I think the moral is that a lot of influential people, what I call hype artists, but just influential people in general, they make it look like everything that they’re doing is grassroots that people are just demanding their product one by one out of nowhere. But they almost always have kind of like a secret society or a very strong network below the surface that’s pulling strings, these sort of hubs of influence. And I just found that fascinating.

Commercial [9:07]
Wait, interrupt here for a second. If you’re listening to this on your phone or on your computer, and you haven’t already checked out what we do on YouTube, then you’re missing out. I would love to invite you to go to YouTube, just go to genehammett.com/YouTube. And you can actually find leadership insights there that you won’t find anywhere else. This channel on YouTube is growing. I’d love to connect you with what’s going on there. So make sure you go to genehammett.com/YouTube do it.

Gene Hammett [9:36]
I love that story. Because I didn’t know the background of why bacon is such a favorite thing for families. I have to admit I love bacon as well when baking deliciously. But yeah. I looked at the table of contents when I was reading the book and I was like, Okay, if I picked one chapter, which one I read and to be honest with you, I couldn’t pick one. So I started looking at you know, I don’t normally read but I normally read books, kind of A little bit of new that I can kind of pick up. As I found out, I can kind of pick a chapter that I needed to. Did you design it to be read that way?

Micheal F. Schein [10:07]
Yeah, yes. And no, I mean, I think if you read it from the beginning, the the tactics and strategies layer on each other, but I think you can read it that way. I mean, the way I wrote the book, you know, so every, you know, this was sort of my mo anyway, the way I have always marketed myself and my clients has this sort of mischievous, kind of, I call it benevolent mischief, this benevolent mystic kind of vibe, but I wanted to see if everyone else was similar. And so I read countless biographies and crowd psychology books, etc, etc, etc. And what I found was, I would see the same themes repeating over and over and over again. So I organized it into the 12 themes that I would constantly see repeating with people who are very effective at getting attention and getting people highly emotional so that they’ll take an action on their behalf.

Gene Hammett [10:58]
You know, that’s a lot similar to the work I have. So I appreciate you bringing that up. on the research side, what you do is I, when I turn to one of the chapters in here, you talked about there’s one reason why we found we decided about working hard, you’re talking about one guy, specifically Gary Vaynerchuk. Tell me a little bit about why he put him in here because you know, some of the people I totally get, he’s not quite nefarious, right. But he does have a lot to do with height.

Micheal F. Schein [11:33]
He’s not nefarious. I mean, I think that a lot of and a lot of people in this book aren’t nefarious, if I was just profiling all bad people that would be like a book about how to be a scumbag. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make the point that a lot of very good people use these strategies, as well, right? Um, Gary has done a lot of great stuff. I mean, in my corner of the universe, that the marketing world, the digital marketing world, whatever you want to call it, he’s a he’s a God. He’s a superstar. He’s the definition of a micro-celebrity. He created Wine Library and Wine Library TV, which were fantastic businesses in their fundamentals. He now has a marketing agency VaynerMedia, which I don’t know how good their campaigns are, I keep trying to get someone to tell me about one of their great campaigns for other companies, but he’s fantastic at hyping himself up, right. That’s why I included him was because he was pretty pivotal to my career.

Micheal F. Schein [12:28]
I mean, I had left a corporate job to become a freelance copywriter. And I figured because I’m a good writer, it would just happen. You know, I would, I would show people how good I was. And that would just be worked out. And it didn’t, I had a really hard time drumming up attention. And it’s ironic because I now own an agency, but I was terrible at sales and marketing. And it’s a long story. But I went back to my past when I played in like punk bands and was kind of a, you know, artistic rabble-rouser. And I said, Well, I used to be really good at drumming up attention, then why don’t I try that approach instead of trying to build sales funnels or whatever. So one of the first things I did when I had that revelation was this guy, Gary Vaynerchuk, was constantly going around and yelling at his acolytes, his young fans to hustle to work all the time, as you would say, I go to the toilet, and I tweet from the toilet at three in the morning. And that’s what it takes. And I thought it was bad advice for one. I mean, what entrepreneur doesn’t know they have to work hard. It’s you know that that’s, I mean, why do you have to keep repeating this?

Micheal F. Schein [13:37]
Second of all, I didn’t think it made sense that if you’re What if you’re What if you’re making the wine instead of selling the wine? Should you be tweeting? Or should you be working on better wine? So I picked a fight, I wrote an article called why Gary Vaynerchuk is flat out wrong. And I was a nobody, I, you know, I was at my lowest. And he responded to me, he found the article very, very quickly and responded to me in video and was very agitated. And all of his fans started blowing me up. I mean, they, they, they were upset. They were telling me I was an idiot, and this and that. And suddenly I started getting all these followers. And then I started getting people buying for me. And what I realized was having a very strong point of view and a contrarian point of view where you’re defining yourself against something, somebody or something. Human beings are just remarkably attracted to that, you know, I but I could have said all day long than I believed in systematic approaches to social media versus doing the work yourself, etc, etc. And no one would have cared but by saying,

Micheal F. Schein [14:41]
I’m against the hustle approach, it launched my career. So that was a big lesson to me. In terms of fetishizing work, Gary is very smart because what you’ll see with a lot of cult leaders is they’re constantly telling their followers to work like dogs. Some of them say work for salvation, and it’s usually helps the cult leader or the guru more than the people. Because if you’re working really, really, really hard on behalf of a cause, and then you start to have doubts about that cause there’s a phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, you can either say I just wasted the last year of my life. Or you can say, obviously, this cause is even more wonderful than I thought. So it’s a really good way to bond people to you, if you can get them to work really hard on behalf of you and your cause they’ll stick with you forever, they might not do that. Well, that’s a function of whether you’re giving good advice, but they’ll certainly be bonded to you.

Gene Hammett [15:38]
Michael, I want to go a little bit deeper into the whole concept of point of view, which I want to take the perspective of those listening in here are probably founder CEOs have driven fast-growth companies, and they want to get their message across, maybe internally and externally. And a much deeper, quicker way. But you talked about having a strong point of view. So take us a little bit deeper on what is that strong point of view.

Micheal F. Schein [16:05]
So it’s interesting, I’ve thought about this, right, there are different kinds of people promoting their stuff. There’s the people who aren’t successful, yet, whatever success means driving, revenue, growing whatever. And those people need to gain any kind of traction, they need to get anyone to pay attention. But you know, it’s sometimes even harder for the fast growth, and successful people and companies because whatever they did is quote-unquote, working has worked for them to a certain extent. But you know, sometimes that can be deceiving, because a lot of times, you just sort of cobbled together your success.

Micheal F. Schein [16:40]
I mean, I used to work in the, my corporate job that I blundered into, and then sort of started doing well at before I left, what’s called the BPO. Industry, business process outsourcing, which is a fancy name for call centers, you know, we used to operate customer service centers, and it just sort of evolved, you know, they started out in the early days using telemarketing to sell their stuff, then telemarketing died. So they started taking on a few clients and the technology was good. And before long, they had a fast growing successful company. But if you have bigger dreams than that, and you want to insulate yourself against recessions, and the tides of fortune, you need people who are extremely attracted to you. And to that, you need a point of view. So, you know, the call center industry often gets itself in trouble, because the minute there’s an economic downturn, it’s the first thing people cut. Because there’s no loyalty, it’s a completely transactional thing.

Micheal F. Schein [17:36]
However, Zappos is run by, you know, Tony Shea, who unfortunately, just passed away. And they really threw a monkey wrench into the customer service industry, because Tony Shea basically said, all of the companies, the way they’ve been doing business is wrong, they’re worried about doing just good enough, and maximizing productivity, especially in customer service. And we believe in optimizing happiness, no matter what you can send your shoes back with no grief, we pay our customer service agents really high, you know, rates, he wrote a book about it. And this was an online shoe company, that was recession-proof because people will buy from Zappos, they’ll go buy from there before going into a discount shoe store, just because they love this idea that they believe in happiness and follow through. So I think it’s just a secret weapon to kind of relieve the ups and downs and the stresses of that transactional point of view, it gives you an army, which comes in handy for a lot of things.

Commercial [18:44]
Hold on for a second, Michael said a little bit earlier, what you did work, which is true, you are successful because what you did actually got you to where you are today, whether it be your revenue, whether it be the number of employees you have or the market share, you have been able to gather up inside your industry. But will it always work? And here’s what we have to understand, as leaders, we have to always be evolving, we have to push the envelope of our own skills, we have to expand our capacity to lead, we have to show up as different leaders more confident, more decisive. And as you grow. All those things take you to shift your identity to the next level. This is one of the key things I work with my clients. And I want you to understand that what you did doesn’t necessarily keep working over time. It may have worked to get you to this point. But you have to keep evolving. I share this message with you because it’s such a critical element to you. Being a strong visionary leader. I want to help you keep on that path and pushing the edges of your own leadership. If you have any questions about that, make sure you reach out to me and genehammett.com and you can find more details about how we can have a conversation, you can create your blueprint to move forward. Just go to genehammett.com go start your journey back to Michael.

Gene Hammett [19:59]
I love that story because, you know, point of view, you could talk about what it is but telling the story of the way Zappos, Zappos thinks differently about customer service, I think is a really fantastic example. Michael, you’ve, you’ve done all this research and look at the patterns behind this. I’ve shared with you who our audience is, know, why, what do you think they’ll get out of reading this book?

Micheal F. Schein [20:25]
You know, the kind of people that run fast-growth companies are ambitious, and smart. That’s how they got there. And the ones who really have long careers, however, are always learning and refining their approach. So unfortunately, a lot of fast-growth companies can see metrics of success, that as I said, Before are deceiving. You’re getting paid a high salary because you raised a lot of venture funds. And you’re getting a lot of customers, but your profitability is in good, you’re doing really well in an economic boom. Because, you know, because it’s an economic boom, right? But But you’re not recession-proof because you don’t have fans that will follow you wherever you go. So I think for those people who are in it for the long haul, and those lifelong learners, this is a set of tools that and that are that are about how human psychology works plain and simple.

Micheal F. Schein [21:27]
Some of them are based on my experiments, but they’re also based on people a lot smarter than me in a lot of cases, some of the some of the great mass psychologists in the world. And by segment psychologists, I mean, entrepreneurs, cult leaders, propagandists. So if you want to understand that set of tools and apply them for good apply them for value. And, you know, this is for you. I mean, think about it. A lot of times mass religions do best when the economy is in bad shape, because people need something to hang on to. The good news is I’ve really stripped away the content, meaning these are mass psychological principles that just work and can be applied to any situation. So yeah, it’s sort of armor to a certain extent.

Gene Hammett [22:10]
So we’re talking about the hype handbook with Michael f shine. Here’s my two cents on the book, just you know, as the author listens in, I think it’s a really interesting read to look at people you wouldn’t normally study, and even the psychological aspects of different academic studies are brought into this. So there’s a lot of depth to this book. The key strategies in here will help you get your idea out into the world and with, you know, a different twist than what you’re you’re maybe hearing from others. So I think inside this book, the hype Handbook, you can find some of those strategies that will unlock something for you, Michael, thank you for being here.

Micheal F. Schein [22:51]
Thanks, Gene. This was a real pleasure.

Gene Hammett [22:52]
Well, let’s wrap up this episode. I really appreciate you listening and tuning in to another episode of Growth Think Tank. We’re here to serve you as founders to go beyond where you are today, and become the leaders that really inspire others. So we create content, we interview people like this, but if you are looking for a blueprint for yourself, a roadmap if you will have what’s next, make sure you get a genehammett.com to start your journey. I’d love to connect with you about becoming the leader, that your team desires, being that visionary, influential leader that your team needs, as always, with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Growth Think Tank with Michael F. Schein



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