Sunday, December 15, 2019

Bloomberg | Lefsetz Letter

He doesn’t have enough name recognition.

Welcome to the twenty first century, where you think your niche is national, but it’s not.

My favorite example is SNL… Funny or not, who exactly watches that show anymore? Same deal with prime time network television. Advertisers go for the largest share of a shrinking market, but this decline in numbers evidences the spread of attention over many more genres/influences/ideas.

Kind of like record companies and radio. Terrestrial radio has the largest share of ears, but that no longer means it dominates, and by focusing on these outlets, record companies are dooming their futures.

That’s the story of the twenty first century, the inability of the usual suspects to pivot. They always wait too long, they are supplanted by more nimble newcomers.

The monied-class and New Yorkers think everybody is familiar with Mike Bloomberg, after all, doesn’t he run Wall Street’s information pipeline, wasn’t he mayor of New York?

All true, but most people are not paying attention, they’re not actively investing in stocks and they don’t care about New York, they may even resent New York, which is why Bloomberg is polling at 5%.

Klobuchar, Yang…they had the privilege of being in the debates, which garnered ratings superior to network prime time. So, now more people know about them.

So, if you’re running a national campaign…

But should you be running a national campaign?

Musicians keep lamenting they can’t break through. Maybe they don’t have to break through, maybe they should be satisfied they’ve got an audience at all, and try to grow and superserve this audience.

That’s right, there is no Music League. Despite the Grammys, there is no kumbaya, no coming together, no overall scene, you’re on your own, and it’s not so much that you’re competing with everyone, but yourself…which path do you want to choose?

Kinda like Mike Bloomberg himself. He was laid off by Salomon Brothers. Rather than look for another gig at a bank, he started a whole new business, he thought he knew better.

That’s the twenty first century in a nutshell…do you think you know better? If you do, you can have an impact. If your goal is to compete with others on their terms…good luck

And the funny thing is as tech closes ranks, art has become ever broader.

You can’t compete with Facebook or Google or Amazon…they’ll just buy you or put you out of business. But in art… With the distribution pipelines free, you’ve got a chance.

And this is the time for art. When the world is focused on money, when leaders spin untruths, now is the time to speak truth to power, assuming you know you aren’t about money but message, that if your fans won’t keep you alive you don’t deserve a career to begin with.

Bloomberg could run in New York, but he can’t run nationally, not because of his positions, but because people DON’T KNOW HIM! And unless he’s up front on the debates, on TV, good luck!

That’s the story of Trump, the public thought it knew him, from his residence on television and in the news. He was his own publicity machine, over decades. Hillary could not compete, she was victimized by others’ perception of her. Today you blaze your own trail, if you’re worried about what others say about you you’re missing the point, most people are not paying attention to the haters until you call attention to them, boosting their image and cause.

So, you just ignore everybody not on your team. If you’re having trouble getting traction for your works/image, what are the odds those criticizing you are gaining any traction for their opinions…NIL!

This is the essence of Twitter… All the haters? Check their number of followers. Almost all are de minimis, they’re living for you to call attention to them.

So what we have is a media and government believing the old paradigm still holds, when it doesn’t. They print lists, charts, when no one sees the world that way. Chances are you don’t care about the rest of the Top Ten, if you care about the Top Ten AT ALL!

And publicity?

Good luck! Go on that TV show, do that interview… Your fans convert new fans. You’re best off giving your fans more, they won’t stop talking about you….what are the odds someone’s gonna read some puff piece in the paper and check you out? ALMOST ZERO!

And if you rise above the fray, you turn into a cartoon character. There is no time for nuance, everything’s a drive-by while people dig down deeper into their own lives. People don’t have time to dig down deep into yours.

So everything worth anything in this world grows slowly. And that which grows quickly is usually a fad, despite all the hoopla.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ve got to build on your base. Who is Mike Bloomberg’s base? Rich people? People of color will never get over stop and frisk.

That’s another thing the media doesn’t understand. When it comes to elections, it’s one person, one vote. The rich don’t get to vote more than once, despite believing they’re masters of the universe.

The election of Trump is just evidence of this disarray. And the media who missed this believe he’s just an anomaly, they don’t understand the underlying problem, which is constituents don’t believe anybody’s in it for them!

Who is on your team? Who are you aligned with?

That’s another problem with the Democrats…the circular firing squad. What is the message, can they stick to it?

No! The DNC says the center must hold when the center doesn’t exist and criticizes the left and is out of touch with the public entirely.

It’s kind of like that old John Lennon song.

You can’t believe in government.

You can’t believe in Grammys.

You can’t believe in movies.

You can only believe in yourself…that’s the lesson of influencer culture, you’ve got to use the modern tools to make your own little dent in the universe. Talk to Generation Z, it understands this. But all boomers and Gen-X’ers can do is criticize these young ‘uns, along with their elders the millennials.

But the millennials know no job is forever, that you’ve got to look out for yourself, because no one else is.

So Trump is evidence of dissatisfaction. The question is what comes next? The lesson of the twenty first century is we are never going backward, only forward, and those who understand this triumph.

And the public adapts. The same way it purchased computers to play on AOL and then bought iPods and smartphones and subscribed to Spotify. The public is willing to move forward, but early adopters have to pave the way and spread the word and the hoi polloi must feel safe and excited.

The average citizen is so afraid of losing what they’ve got that they’re risk averse. But they will change, seemingly overnight, from Kodak to digital, from BlackBerry to iPhone.

But few playing the game seem to understand the populace.

To win the Presidency you must be famous. You must have fans. They must believe in you, they must be willing to go wherever you take them.

Same deal with artists.

You’re nothing without your fan base today. And the truth is many supposedly huge fan bases are just an illusion, not that many people believe.

Which is why we are in the era of authenticity and credibility.

But the public is gun-shy, because it’s been lied to too many times.

What else did John Lennon say?

Gimme some truth?

Don’t lie, don’t triangulate, be yourself…

Everybody’s got rough edges, everybody knows this. Smooth yourself down at your peril. Be unique, be a leader, be someone people want to cling to.

Or get out of the way and go back to the bench, fame is not for everybody, and fame is just another career choice…and if it’s your game, learn how to play it well.

P.S. I e-mailed Mark Cuban to run. He’s on TV every day, he’s seen as the sane panelist on “Shark Tank,” he’s perceived as understanding economics, and he’s a billionaire! Mark responded he’s not a Democrat, and that he promised his family he would not run.


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