5 steps to instant celebrity like JetBlue's Steven Slater

It’s amazing how social media changed the power game between employees and employers. Case in point: Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who freaked out on the job.
Let’s recap.
As an employee of a major airline, he lost his cool, made a public, obscenity-laden comment to a cabin full of people, grabbed a couple beers, activated the emergency exit, slid down and ran away on the tarmac. Then he was arrested at a beachfront home in the Rockaways.
Most of us may remember a time when this kind of behavior would have triggered personal humiliation, psychological distress and a “Man, I just screwed myself” inability to ever land a new job.
Not anymore.
Now, thanks to ordinary people having a compounding butterfly-effect voice, characters like Slater are transformed from bad guys to heroes … instantly. One week after Slater’s meltdown, Hollywood publicity man Howard Bragman announced he’s representing him to “sort out the scores of offers that have come through in the past week from media, producers, brands and other interested parties.”

If you want to become a celebrity like Steven Slater, listen up and follow these five perhaps not too tongue- in-cheek rules of the new world media:

  1. Take your frustration public - If you’re fed up and can’t take it anymore, don’t sulk, don’t get depressed … don’t kidnap or shoot. Instead shout to the rafters and make your voice heard using social media. Slater tweeted, Slater Facebooked. Give birth to your own community.
  2. Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is - Be colorful, be bold. Authenticity rules! Slater said, “To the f---ing a-hole who told me to f—k off, it’s been a good 28 years. I’ve had it. That’s it.” Indirectness sucks!
  3. Tie into a grassroots theme - People latched onto Slater because he personified what many feel every day in the workplace: loss of control and power. By losing his cool, he actually restored his reputation and gained new levels of power he never had. Become a modern day folk hero.
  4. Go for the extra flair - Slater could have just grabbed the microphone, shouted his message and waited for the armed guards. But no, he added special touches that helped shape a more memorable persona. He grabbed two beers and maneuvered his own exit, sliding down an inflatable ramp. Do it in style!
  5. Become one with the peacock - After the initial dust settles, don’t let second thoughts enter your head and never regret the action you took. After the incident, Slater didn’t look fed up, angry or berserk, he looked, well, mildly freaky, but content. So flash your colors and embrace your inner peacock!    

Rules to tweet by

One of the best and worst things about social media is that anyone can make up the rules, i.e. the conventions, protocols and etiquette by which we collectively conduct ourselves. For instance, someone once made up a rule that PR people shouldn’t blog on behalf of clients. Like sheep, we all nodded and went along for a while murmuring slogans like “Must be authentic.” Someone else finally questioned “Why?” Debate ensued, logic prevailed, and blogging services (with the proper disclosure) have become a standard PR offering these days.

Social media norms tend to be self-regulating. We now all agree that censoring blog comments is bad (except for trolls and incendiary words).  Writing in upper-case sentences = SHOUTING = impolite. And our Farmville-playing Facebook friends got the hint and stopped annoying us with their barnyard updates.

Twitter, on the other hand, remains largely un-self-regulated. Despite the wealth of tools available for filtering and finding good information, Twitter’s poor noise-to-signal ratio remains the #1 obstacle to adoption cited by our clients. So in the spirit of self-regulation, I want to direct you to Mathew Inman’s witty 10 things you need to stop tweeting about from the popular The Oatmeal site, even though it may suck 80% of the oxygen out of the Twittersphere if the rules are embraced.


A million miles in 288 pages; how to get unstuck by living better stories

We hear so much about “storytelling” these days, especially in the context of PR, communications and branding.
In Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, the essence of “story” is central.
Miller is trying to get to a new place on a personal level, but he’s stuck. His breakthrough happens when he attends a famous 36-hour seminar called “Story,” taught by Robert McKee.
He learns that story “is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”
While living better stories is the essence of character transformation, the conflict part is key. Without FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), memorable stories don’t unfold and personal progress is stymied.
For the first third of the read, it felt like a book about Miller’s personal journey. But then something happens, and it unexpectedly transforms into a story about me – my journey. I suspect the same thing may happen to you.
Instead of allowing life to unfold upon us in a haphazard way, Miller helps us discover (unassumingly and humorously, through the lens of his own experiences) how we can grab hold of our lives by shaping memorable scenes. These pivotal, scary, sometimes risky self-created life events blast us through personal roadblocks and psychologically get us to the new outcomes we desperately seek.
Miller learns that while planning is important, the magic isn’t in passively pondering – but in doing. “We have to show it,” Miller says. “A character is what he does.”
Miller discovered that once you experience a memorable scene, you get hooked and want more.
“You’ll get a taste for one story and then want another, and then another, and the stories will build until you’re living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years invites us to live better stories. The cool part is we learn how to do it without the typical “10-step” sort of dogma. It’s a beguiling combination that nudges itself within your soul.
Thanks, Chris Brogan, for turning me onto it.

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