Two Glimmers of Insight

by J.D. Roth

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences lately that I’m not able to write about for a variety of reasons. However, I had two encounters yesterday that seemed especially important to me, and I wanted to write them down before I lost them. These anecdotes will be a little vague. Sorry.

I’m in San Francisco for some professional development and media relations training. (Yes, I’m serious.) It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but I love it.

In a morning meeting, I was complaining about the entire journalistic process in the United States. I’ve seen enough of it from the inside now to know that I cannot trust a single thing I see on television or read in a magazine. (Remember our five-year-old argument about Truth vs. truth? The media takes this to a whole new level.) These stories are manufactured, just like a cardboard box. They’re not reported. The “journalists” create the story they think their audience wants, and when they contact me, I’m just an ingredient.

Bill, one of the fellows working with me, listened to my complaints, and then he said, “J.D., you can’t look at it like that. You can’t expect it to be straight reporting because it’s not. You have to think of it like sausage. What they’re producing is sausage. The media is a giant sausage factory. You don’t want to know what goes into the sausage or how it’s made. You just have to trust that what comes out at the other end tastes good.”

I loved this analogy. Based on my experience, it’s so completely apt. It’s exactly what goes on.

I’m in the midst of participating in a bit for tonight’s episode of “On the Money” on CNBC. I’ll be on their Success Stories segment. But you do not want to know the ingredients to this piece of sausage.

Later in the day, I was working with Michelle, who is giving me public speaking training. She was asking me about my story and my goals. She wanted to know how I present myself. What do I want people to remember me as? I kept coming back to my old song-and-dance: I want people to trust my advice and listen to what I have to say, but I don’t want them to think of me as a financial expert. “I’m just a regular guy,” I said.

Michelle shook her head. “That won’t work,” she said. “You can’t kiss a girl through the screen door.” She didn’t even have to explain what she meant. I understood her meaning immediately. “The truth is, you are an expert. You’re an expert on the fundamentals of personal finance. You’re a common-sense advisor.”

Great stuff. (She also gave me a good disclaimer to use after I bill myself as a spokesman for common-sense fundamentals. She told me to say: “I am not an expert in this space. You should seek a professional advisor.” In other words, I should lay claim to what I can, and then offer people further options.)

I have another entire day of training ahead of me. I have to be over at the office in 25 minutes. I’m excited for what it might hold.

Updated: 17 April 2009

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
Copyright © 1994 - 2022 by J.D. Roth