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Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing Inc., joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss his new book, The Jackass Whisperer, and reveals what you can do to silence the jackassery you experience at work, at home, and online.
Are you the jackass?
The world of social is filled with jackassery. Beneath almost every post, tweet, caption, and video, you’ll uncover an infinite pool of vile comments left by faceless individuals we like to call trolls.
It’s time for a jackass rebellion. Sure, it’s almost impossible to escape jackasses at work, at home and online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help to stop the worldwide jackassery epidemic. As Scott Stratten points out, if we want to stop some of the jackassery, we need to start by looking in the mirror.
In his new book, The Jackass Whisperer, Scott spills the hard truth – If you can’t spot the Jackass next to you or anywhere you happen to be present, then the Jackass is probably you. We create our own noise and we have to be the change we want to see in the world, both offline and online.
In This Episode:
- 03:59 – Scott breaks down the concept behind his new book, The Jackass Whisperer
- 08:09 – Whether social media creates or exposes jackasses
- 10:51 – How social has made us both better and worse people
- 15:37 – A few of Scott’s favorite ‘jackass moves’ on social media
- 17:29 – How jackassery levels differ across different social media platforms
- 27:40 – Why silence is one of the biggest jackass moves
- 30:26 – Tips for dealing with online jackassery
Quotes From This Episode:
“If we want to stop some of the jackassery, we need to look in the mirror.” – @unmarketing
Good, true, or helpful: If what you’re about to comment isn’t two out of those three things, don’t comment. Click To Tweet
“I only get negative tweets when I follow negative people.” – @unmarketing
- Get the new State of Marketing report for free from Salesforce
- Find out more about the community at SocialMedia.org with a special form for Social Pros listeners
- Download Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report
- Read Scott Stratten’s new book, The Jackass Whisperer: How to deal with the worst people at work, at home and online – even when the jackass is you
- Learn more about Unmarketing
What’s your one tip for becoming a social pro?
If you want to become a non-jackass social pro, Scott’s number one tip is to always go with option 3. Good, true, and helpful…if what you’re about to comment isn’t two out of those three things, don’t comment.
If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Scott would choose to have a call with American former professional football player, Barry Sanders.
I only get negative Tweets if I follow negative people. We create our own noise and our own volume. I was sitting there, I remember, this is years ago, I’m like, “Everything is so angry and negative.” I’m like, “Hang on. I choose who to follow. I choose who to mute. I choose who to block.” So I changed it.
You know Adam, Scott Stratten, our guest this week on the show, co-author of the new book, The Jackass Whisperer, I think he’s pretty much dead on there, right? If you got a problem with what you’re dealing with in social, maybe at some level, the problem is you?
Yeah, and it’s like the old, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Well, don’t do that. I think too, oftentimes, we do curate our own jackassery with who we follow in social media. It’s certainly an easy step to start, to get more to the empathy that Scott speaks about in this just unbelievably great podcast.
Yeah, really fun episode. I suggest you guys listen to it all the way through, because some of the best stuff is towards the back half of the show. I mean, I’ll get right into it.
First, just a quick acknowledgement of our sponsor this week, Adam’s crew at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. What does customer engagement really mean for business today? To answer that question, Salesforce surveyed more than 8,000 customers, that’s a lot of people, and also, business buyers across the globe, for the third edition of the State of the Connected Customer report. Among other findings, the survey shows that customers expect companies like yours to understand what they want before they ask. Let’s say that again. They expect companies to understand what they want before they ask. That’s kind of challenging. The result of this research is that companies really need to rethink how they engage and connect with their customers. To find out more about this new, better way of customer engagement in social media and beyond, download the full State of the Connected Customer report right now. Go to bit.ly/thecustomersrule. That’s B-I-T.L-Y/thecustomersrule, all lower case.
Also, friends, it’s a new decade, and you may have a social media or content marketing or digital marketing strategy that’s 12, 18, 24, 36 months old. At this point that’s almost the same as not having a strategy at all. Maybe my team and I at Convince & Convert can help you, If you are ready to take your social program to the next level, give us a shout. Maybe we can assist in that regard. Go to convinceandconvert.com for more. Without further ado, please welcome back to the show, the one, the only, Scott.
Joining us for not the first time, not the second time, not the third time, but one of the very few members of the four timer club here on Social Pros, Mr. Scott Stratten, co-author of the spectacularly hilarious and quite poignant new book, the Jackass Whisperer, with a very long subtitle that Scott will share with us at some point in the podcast. Mr. Stratten, welcome back to Social Pros.
I am the, “I’m bringing my talents to South Beach,” of Social Pros. Really, not one, not two, not three but four.
Got to win one for the [inaudible 00:03:13] next.
Really, it’s right. We got one more to go. One more spot.
It’s a short group. Ann Handley is in that group. Rohit Bhargava is in that group and a couple more. Maybe Marcus Sheridan. I’d have to check the database. But it’s a pretty short group of folks who’ve been back that many times. So I know it’s right up there on your mantelpiece.
You know, it really is, to be able to be the person that has enough time on their hands to come on this thing for four times, it’s a great compliment. It really is.
But in fairness, it is four times over nine years. So it’s not like it’s-
It’s not a huge commitment. Yeah. It’s like visiting that relative. I like them, but I have to take them in small doses. That’s me.
Every time we elect a new president, Scott, back on Social Pros.
Hey, tell us about this book, The Jackass Whisperer. It is hilarious. I love it. The checklist is my favorite part about it. It’s a little bit of a different type of book, compared to the other things you’ve written in the past in the Un series, UnMarketing, UnSelling, UnBranding. The new one, The Jackass Whisperer, is fantastic. Everyone listening to Social Pros, go out there and grab yourself a copy. You will nod your head vigorously. You will cry a little bit and you will laugh uncontrollably. I have to walk by the book every day in my airport bookstore, which I’m at frequently, and I secretly hope that Scott sells all the books in the Indianapolis airport.
Well, thank you, all nine of them, I hope.
If they’re still there, it’s not selling as the hotcakes as I was led to believe.
They’re flying off the shelves. Well, they’re trickling. Yeah, they’re trickling off the shelves.
Trickling off the shelves. Tell us about the book, and why you decided to take this approach this time?
As you know, once you’ve done a plethora, if I may, of books, of business books, and we had written, really, five, or seven if you count all the revisions of the books, it’s time to do something for you. You need that once in a while. We had QR Codes Kill Kittens, was just … it was just for fun, as was this one, where 125 Jackasses, one a page, each with a description of the Jackassery, and then we have the Jackass reaction suggested, if you want to continue it, or the Whisperer reaction, if you want to end it, because it’s really the only thing we can control, is our reaction and our perception of things.
It’s really about, like the subtitle sums it up, which is the most ridiculous subtitle ever, it’s: How to deal with the worst people at work, at home and online, even when the Jackass is you. Here’s the thing. Even that title was a example of jackassery. Because we went with page two publishing, a fellow, a Canadian company, out in Vancouver. A hybrid publisher is one you pay and they give you their services. When I’m paying, I have a special level of jackassery to me, where I’m more entitled than I usually am. I found, this is one the reasons I stopped consulting, is because people would pay me a goofy amount of money to come in and tell them what to do, and then they wouldn’t do it. Or they would argue with me. I’m just like, “But this is what you’re paying me to do.”
So we hire this company, full of the best publishing professionals in North America, and we have the subtitle, which is, The Jackass Whisperer: How to deal with the worst people at work, at home, and online. And that’s it. Without the ending, which is, even when the Jackass is you. I’m like, “That’s the title. That’s the subtitle.” By the way, that was my contribution to the book, and then Alison wrote it, and that’s how our relationship works. They said, “Okay, we brought it out to the sales team, and they said, ‘It seems a little harsh around the edges compared to the content, which is realizing the entire book’s about empathy. It’s about giving people the benefit of the doubt, having yourself a better day by treating other people differently.'” I’m like, “But that’s where you get them inside the book, because they don’t realize. They’re like, ‘Ah, I hate people too,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m somebody.'” They’re like, “Yeah, but that won’t happen if they just pick it up and look at it for a second. I’m like, “No.”
For a month, Alison says it’s about an average on me, it’s one to six months where, when somebody gives me an idea that’s not mine in contrast to mine, that’s how long it takes me. In about a month or two, I write back, and I’m talking to Allison, I’m like, “You know what I think? I think we should add something to the subtitle. I think we should add, even when the Jackass is you.” Of course, because they’re right. That’s where the subtitle came out of. It really was, like a lot of the books though, it’s still written in that pithy, short form way. But the point of it was to say, “Look, if we want to stop some of the jackassery, we got to look in the mirror.”
Because I would do a talk and ask the whole audience, “Who deals with jackasses on a day-to-day basis?” Everybody would put up their hand.
Then I said, “Okay, so who here is the jackass?” And one sarcastic person, like me in the audience, would be the one doing that. Like, “Me.” We realized, there has to be that realization that we’re all contributing to this, and this is the way to identify that. It’s in eight sections, so it’s at the mall, to the gym, to airplanes, which is where we see a lot of jackassery. It’s just a way to snap you out of that real quick. Also, we think you get a laugh or two out of it. So it was the most fun thing to write, for Alison. It was the most fun thing for us to record as an audio book, and I just love talking about it.
Do you think, Scott, that social media creates jackasses, or does it expose jackasses?
I think more it enables them. I think that it, because I think in our society, if we go look at the grand picture of things, and this has been talked about quite a bit in a lot of places, but that if you can’t see the person you are taking a shot at, if you can’t see a person that you are affecting, then we’re much easier to be flippant to them. We’re much easier to be a jackass to them. Because we don’t see the hurt you cause. There’s a couple of great books on this. I would like to find them, so we can put them in the show notes. But there’s one about example of the schoolyard and children. If you walk up to somebody and call them fat or call them ugly or call them this, you see them cry. That’ll have an impact to you. Maybe not in the moment, but then you’ll realize, you’re like, “I don’t like hurting people like that.” But online, we don’t see that, usually.
The typical thing I saw was a guy, a popular younger guy on Instagram and Twitter, his profile pic was a #andbullying, and he’s holding a sign. And then a comment he made on Taylor Swift’s photo, called her the b word. I’m just like, “We don’t realize that we are all the jackasses. We are all the people contributing to this. If we want to make this a better world, we got to look at our own contributions to it.” By the way, how this, the whole thing starts, every section’s story is about us being a jackass in a situation, Alison and I. Because you can’t get up there on your, in front of the pulpit and say, “You’re all jackasses. You need to be more like me.” We’re up there saying, “We’re the worst. We’re the worst, and this is how we’re trying to get better.” That allows us to bring an audience or a reader on your side. Because we truly are the king and queen of jackassery, to write a book like this.
I love the title. I love the book. I love the topic. I especially like what you just said. It reminds me of our first day at college or university, where they tell you to, “Look right. Look left. One of you’s not going to be here.” That’s kind of like, “Look right. Look left. If they’re not the jackasses, you probably are.”
Can I interject? I’m sorry.
Can we interject to that college thing? Because that is one of the most typical ones there, and it’s the worst thing to say to people in an incoming class, is, “By the way, one of you’s going to die.” You can’t-
Young, impressionable, day one, day zero of college.
It’s like the orientation at an assisted living home. “Look to your left. Look to your right. Two of your ain’t going to be here.”
Sixty days in.
Yeah, you’ll get the better room. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, I’m sorry go ahead.
You’ll get the corner room, here at the-
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
… Trembling Hills Retirement Village.
Shady Acres, yeah.
Yeah. I’m curious, the trending, jackass trends. I think to Jay’s question about, is the jackass tail wagging the dog here? It seems as though there are more people acting like jackasses, and social media could certainly have an impact of that. But as you look are we becoming a more empathetic culture, or are we becoming more of a jackassery culture? If it is the latter, what can we do about it?
Well, I think one of the things that social media has done, and I don’t … I think social media is the great amplifier of things. I think they’re the great amplifier of human nature, where I don’t think there’s more jackassery. I think we see it more. Because before online, what did we have? We had blog posts and we had maybe comments. Remember, as we all know sitting here right now, the golden rule then was, and still is now, never read the comments. Why? Because they’re full of jackassery. We just call them trolls. When you look at this side of this, I don’t think we’ve changed as humans. I just think our accessibility to things is much more quicker, so it’s much more knee-jerk. Even though we’ve always been thinking or saying these things, but it’s just to our buddy or to a family member about something, now we can say it directly to them.It’s more pointed, I think, and more real time.
Because you wouldn’t make a blog post about just some run-of-the-mill insult you’re going to do. But it’s so much easier to put out these little statements, and we think they don’t have an effect or nobody hears them or there’s no impact. Or we just wanted to say it, because we thought we’d be cool, we’d get a couple of likes. So I think we’re not, as humans we’ve changed, but the tool certainly has, therefore it’s more out in the open.
I do think, though, it’s also made us better and worse. I know it’s a cop out answer. But I’ve also seen, never seen more help. I’ve never seen people helping each other more. I’ve never seen strangers helping each other more. I know, and I don’t want to downplay what’s happening in the world right now, and how that we’re just like, oh … I don’t want people to calm down. I don’t want them to relax. The Jackass Whisperer is not about being passive. It’s about not letting the purveyors of pet peeves get to you, so you have the energy to fight the good fight. I am the last person to tell people to be … I wake up angry. Alison says I’ve never seen a mutiny or a coup I didn’t want to join. But I think this is saving the energy so you can focus on the good things and the right things. Because the problem is, at the end of the day, online and off, when we exhaust ourselves with jackassery during the day, when we get home and actually get to spend time with those that we care about and love, we have no emotion left to give them, and that becomes a whole self-fulfilling jackass prophecy, at that point.
I’m glad you said there, Scott, about people being more helpful and assistative, that’s probably not even a word, than ever and that social is partially a conduit to that. I want you to talk a little bit about the Speak ‘n Spill Facebook group that you run, which is an online collection of 500 or so professional speakers from around the world and how running that group may have impacted how you feel about social media, and jackassery, for that matter?
Yeah, I think that doing Speak ‘n Spill, which is something that was come out of jackassery for me, which was me, years ago, complaining about the virtual space for speakers, and I wasn’t finding what I wanted, because it’s such an isolating profession. It’s like that high and low. It’s like a musician, where you get 47 hours of monotony and loneliness for an hour of incredible. Those high and lows are also hard to deal with and take and so I said … I kept complaining. I’m like, “There’s nothing there.” Alison’s like, “Well, why don’t you make something?” I’m like, “But then where … who am I going to complain to?” It was so much easier to complain than do. I decided to form it, and I’ve been moderating online communities and building them since the mid-’90s. I took everything I had learned from all that time and said, “Okay, this is what I want.”
One of the things it takes is work. And community, I think, is effort, as well. Community is effort. Community is doing stuff that you might not want to do and deleting posts or telling people that this is the way it is, this is the way it isn’t. Not everybody takes that the right way. My view of that group was that nobody is bigger than the group itself, and the only jackass allowed in there is me. Also, that my goal was to never profit off of fellow speakers. I’m not saying it’s wrong for people who do, and there’s a business model, and people do that. But I said, “I cannot be fully community based, authentically, unless I’m not trying to gain profit off of them.” That’s where we’re at now. It’s my favorite place on the Internet. I’ve gained more than anybody in that group, from just having that community there. But it’s also not letting the jackasses take over.
Tell me a couple of your favorite jackass moves in social media. Not necessarily moves that you have personally mastered, but things that you have observed in your time. I think everything is familiar with guy clipping toenails on airplane. But since this is the Social Pros podcast, what are some of your favorite social media jackass scenarios?
Dude, it’s almost like we’ve been writing and talking about this same crap a decade later, and it’s not changed at all. Part of it’s like, “Am I having any impact at all?” But you realize, you somewhat are. It’s the same things. It’s like, a great example of story that went viral, what, two days ago, was the guy that flew to Mexico, they did that final point run. It was just an incredible thread on Twitter, of just the craziness he did. He went to jail, extortion, just to get a final mile to get his gold or platinum status on the airline. It was of the day, like the top story of the day. The airline wrote back. I think it was American. The airline wrote back and just said, “We’re sorry to hear about your troubles. Please write us a note and DM us.” It was a total cut and paste thing. They had such an opportunity to go, “Well then, maybe next time, we also fly direct to Phoenix,” like something to be funny.
Send the guy a bottle of tequila, something, right?
It’s right there. It’s right there. It’s such low hanging agave fruit that they could have just thrown it out there and they just went with the presence without being present. That’s still one of my biggest peeves and jackass moves, is saying, “Yeah, we want the result of social, of being a … having presence there, without actually reading the room, without actually doing it, with just automating it.”
Yeah, they want social media, but not actually sociability.
Right, done. Exactly.
I’m curious, Scott, since we’re talking about jackassery on social, if the different channels have different levels of jackassery. Hear me out on this. It’s a story I’ve told here on Social Pros before. But I had the opportunity, a couple of years back, to sit down with a social customer service agent in one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. She had been at this company for 30, 40 years, been answering the phone as a customer service representative for decades. Past two years, she got on social. I asked her if she liked it. She said, “Yes, I love it, because people don’t yell at me as much.”
I think today that that probably wouldn’t be the case. There was, I think, a time when social was so new that everybody was appreciative and thank yous and all of that. I’m curious if, A, you think that those days are long over, and secondly, more about the platforms, is as we see new platforms and as we see new platforms that are visual, TikTok and Instagram versus textual, where it’s a little bit harder to hide when you’re visual, if we’re seeing less jackassery? Or, you know what, it doesn’t matter. Everybody’s a jackass on all social platforms.
I think like anything, things always morph. They mature, they move, they grow. I apologize for the jackass dogs in the background, by the way, if they’re barking and you can hear them. Welcome to my world.
They want to contribute.
They do want to contribute. They’re like, “If you’re talking about jackasses, we are the top.” You actually hit the nail perfectly on the head here, right? It’s like a textual based type of a thing versus a TikTok, where it’s less … it’s almost like Twitter. It’s almost like you’re there for the ratios and the comments almost than the original tweet itself. And the videos are just like, well that’s like, it’s surface area, and nobody’s going to get the comments, and everything else, barely reads it. It’s a magnifying glass in society, all of this stuff is. None of this has changed, necessarily, the human nature or the human race, where we’re at a certain point. It just becomes like, “What do we like more?” The problem is, negativity spikes something. We build a brand based on negativity, about brands going wrong. But negativity grows tiring. I think it grows tiring really quick, and we start looking for different places that it’s not so negative.
It’s one of the reasons why I spend most of my time now on Instagram. I’m rarely on Twitter. I’m only on Facebook mostly for the private group, for Speak ‘n Spill. I realize because that Instagram is mostly positive driven, at least what I follow. I find visuals is mostly positive driven. It’s like, “Look at this,” versus, “I need to tell you.” People are still using it. You can get it with certain, take it with a grain of salt. But I find visual stuff is usually positive pushed, and the things that trend a lot of times on Twitter is negative, especially right now. Everything is so polarized and so angry that …
But here’s the thing. I only get negative tweets if I follow negative people. We create our own noise and our own volume. I was sitting there, I remember, this is years ago, I’m like, “Everything is so angry and negative.” I’m like, “Hang on. I choose who to follow. I choose who to mute. I choose who to block.” So I changed it. I reduced my Facebook friends from 4,500 to 1,600, one by one, by using birthdays, upcoming birthdays as my list over a few years, talk about negative. If it’s your birthday, you’re gone. If I don’t recognize you, you’re gone.
Not only will I not wish you a happy birthday, I will absolutely ignore you for the rest of your days.
Yeah, yeah, and blow out your candles, I’m out. I realized I’m controlling that. I just started muting some people. If they’re family members, go for the mute instead of the remove, because that makes Thanksgiving or the holidays a little easier to deal with. But everybody can do that. I was talking to somebody yesterday. I’m like, “Why don’t you mute that person?” It was somebody who they were close with. I said, “Mute them.” He thought, “Well, that’s kind of petty.” I’m like, “No, it’s self-care. It’s re-engaging with-“
Yeah, if you’re were watching a movie that you absolutely hated, you would just leave the movie theater.
Yeah, you’d just turn it off. There’s no medal for-
But somehow, if you’re going to mute somebody, you’re like, “That’s like sword play.” It’s like, “No, no.”
No, not really.
This is not a timeshare presentation. You can-
No, it’s not. It’s like the worst timeshare presentation ever. It lasts forever and you never get anything out of it. You don’t even get two weeks in San Jose or something like that. You get nothing.
No free Wayne Newton tickets for you.
Not even a free Wayne Newton ticket. Nothing. That’s where, for me, it’s just like, we control the noise. I think if we take some ownership of that. But here’s the thing. It took me a long time to realize, I’m also causing that. Every comment I would make on somebody’s post would either be directed back to me. Like, Jay would post, “Hey, look at this house. We have the Convince & Convert retreat in Costa Rica,” and my comment would be, “I went to Costa Rica. Here’s what I think of that.” Jay didn’t ask what all of our thoughts were. I just made it self. Or, I’d make it sarcastic. People don’t realize that English is my second language, that sarcasm is my first. I default to sarcasm in everything I do. I realized that that erodes things. There’s erosion in relationships. There’s erosion in that.
So Jay knows that if he posts something about one of the kids going off to school, and I wrote something sarcastic, that wears thin. I’ve been watching what I say in the past six months, and realizing, my first instinct is sarcasm. My second instinct is self-serving. Go with a third, which is, “Congrats.” Which is, “Awesome.” Which is, “Way to go.” I’ve taken those layers out, and I’ve stopped contributing to that. Then it all looks different, and I realize, I was being that jackass. There’s a self-actualization thing that takes places that’s hard to do, especially for people like us, who’ve been paid for our opinions and our thoughts. I get paid to yell at people what I think for an hour. There’s no more ego driven thing than that. I have to realize, do I want to be the jackass you want to see in the world?
Especially because, you think about 4,500 quote, unquote, friends on a platform like Facebook, only a small portion of those people really know you, or have spent any meaningful time with you.
So those who have had that pleasure, and I’m throwing up my air quotes there, Social Pros listeners, know that your default state is sarcasm and angry formerly young man. But those of you who might, people who might have a quote, unquote, weaker tie with somebody like Scott, might not realize that and might truly be offended. That’s just Scott doing Scott. But I think that’s one of the dangers of social relationships where we use words like friends very casually, but there’s a knowledge of somebody’s true personality and their intent that I think sometimes get lost when you’re writing one sentence at a time.
Intent is the key there. Intent is what drives this entire book, and everything about Jackass Whisperer, which is, we don’t give anybody the benefit of intent. We just simply judge whatever they say or do, based on our own [crosstalk 00:24:43]-
Well, I mean, look at this, look at the cancel culture right now, the cancel culture with companies, where companies, obviously brands do all kinds of ridiculous things and you’ve made a career out of pointing that out. But I feel like now, I almost have pity for brands sometimes, because they do something with no malicious intent, maybe it’s a little bit ham handed or whatever, but then there’s this firestorm of controversy, and people are getting picket signs and pitchforks. I’m like, “Come on, man.” I think people are so quick to offend now, without actually taking 30 seconds to figure out, like is this intentional, or is this just a mistake? Because a mistake, maybe you should just set aside the guillotine for just a moment.
This is the thing. It’s coming from somebody right now that, I’m serious, we’ve built an entire platform based on calling that stuff out, and I … most of the time, it’s about brands treating customers poorly. I always justify it by saying, “I hate bullies, I hate, all the way from school. Nobody likes them.” I said, “I can take a stand. I have a voice.” We partially have turned into the bully. That’s a hard thing to swallow. I realized, what can we do about that? So we started looking at the show and saying, “All right. We’re going to take out those mistakes, those just human things.”
I used to justify it. Honestly, I used to justify it by saying, “I never take a personal shot at somebody. I’ll never rip on them individually, but I’ll take a shot at brands.” I realized, it’s all people. Somebody sat around a table, or that was their job and either they were told to do it, or they were doing it themselves, and I’m making fun of somebody regardless. So I had to realize that that, I’m just giving myself a cop out, because every brand move I insult, or we make fun of, is an individual’s decision. We can get into all about how those ideas come out and how that got through the cutting room floor and all that kind of stuff when it goes out there. But at the end of the day, I’m not making the world better just by talking about those things. I’m just piling on.
It’s become a point where, here’s the thing that turned at least my brain, was when brands started doing stuff to get that type of attention. It was so obvious. It was so over the world. They’re like, they just want the outrage, and they’re going to capitalize on it. Part of me was like, “Good on you. You’re playing the game probably right.” I realized they were doing it, and sending it to us. They’re like, “What do you think of them apples?” I’m like, “Nope, that is not what I was doing this for.” It was about standing up for treating customers well and treating employees well. Now it’s just gone, “Look at this moron marketing move.” I don’t know. I just wasn’t in my bag anymore.
Scott, author of the new book, The Jackass Whisperer. I got to take a breath here for the subhead. How to deal with the worst people at work, at home, and online, even when the jackass is you. Scott, I want to ask you about the opposite of what we’ve established here. We’ve established being snarky and being vocal and sharing your opinion can oftentimes get you in trouble on the jackass meter. But one thing I’m curious if you found and discovered, and this is probably true for individuals as well as brands, can you be a jackass by doing the complete opposite, by ghosting someone, by not responding, by staying quiet? How did that fit into your research and the book?
That’s really the case. It’s not that jackasses are only people that do things in a jackass way. I think not doing anything is doing something. Like, not replying, not saying something, not answering a customer, not addressing something, I think that is also. Silence is one of the biggest jackass moves you can do, both personally and professionally. It came down to a couple of things. Clear communication from the start, owning things when they go wrong. The problem is, even when we do say something, we walk up and we say, “We’re sorry you were offended,” I’m like, that’s a bigger jackass move than probably the original thing you did wrong. If you take that viewpoint of intent, and say things like, “This has happened and that was not our intent, and we apologize,” you still cover things off. You still don’t say, “Well, we screwed up, and it’s our fault. Sue us.” You’re saying, “This is what happened. Our intention was this, and that’s not what was perceived, and for that, we’re sorry. Here’s where we were at.”
Even the art of apology is lost. It’s all about his, “Well, hm.” Or “Well, hm,” or you apologize then you backtrack and now you offended everybody. But I get it, though. Because like Jay was saying, no matter what we do, we’re going to be held right up against the coals. It’s like, this group’s outraged and then this one is, because we try to make it right. I don’t blame people, though. I don’t blame brands. I don’t blame humans, just for walking away. I walked away a couple of months ago from stuff. I just removed apps from my phone and said, “Forget it.” Because at the end of the day, life goes on. At the end of the day, it’s okay.
That’s why Jackass is about just pet peeves. It’s not about those big things. It’s not about those, because you need that energy. There’s ways to handle things right. I honestly don’t think putting your head in the sand is ever good for anything. But there is an argument to be saying, if you let stuff blow over, it certainly is not as big a deal as you think.
Last question from me, Scott, as we try to turn the Titanic around here on jackassery, I do believe that there’s a correlation between the trends in remote working and working more solo and not being able to see mano a mano, face-to-face with your colleagues and your managers, creates an oversensitivity in a space. I’m curious if you have any tips for a social media practitioner, as they deal with a deluge of jackassery in what they have to do, in community management, and may or may not be working remotely. What do you tell them, other than, “You need to be more empathetic and kind and try to not take everything personally.” What would you tell them, Scott?
The hilarious thing is, I’m being interviewed right now with a person behind Hug Your Haters right here. Which is, that’s the advice I give people right there. Just read that. Because it’s exactly that. It’s such a basic process of, to me, and it was actually … it actually was in action. I’ll give you an exact thing with social media that happened when this book came out, and using our own advice. We did a couple promos on the UnMarketing Facebook page. We just wanted to give some books away to the professions that we thought would deal with the most daily jackassery. We did an informal poll. Two of the biggest groups came up were teachers and nurses. We did a post and said, “Look, if you’re a nurse or if you know a nurse, put it on your Amazon wishlist, give us the link, and we’ll send you the book. No condition. You don’t have to review it. You don’t have to pay for shipping. You don’t have to do anything. We just want to give it to you.” Obviously, people were very suspect of that, because it doesn’t happen, and there’s no conditions at all. We didn’t even want your … you didn’t even have to like the page. It doesn’t matter.
What happened was, people started posting and we started jumping on there. One of the problems, have you ever done something like this, an Amazon type of giveaway? Everybody forgets to enable third party shipping on the … so you can’t click it. Even though I put in all caps at the start, “Please follow these simple steps. Number one, add it to your wishlist. Number two, click here,” and I did a screenshot, here’s where you enable it. “Then click three, post your list,” and 80% of them didn’t do that. That’s okay. Whatever. I’m trying to give away a jackass book. I can’t be a jackass about it.
I was spending most of the day, I was on the road somewhere, and I hopped in. When we went with the teachers, if found somebody else to do it. But I was doing it myself. One of the things was, I’m like, I clicked, and it’s a big process, too. You click, you add it to the shopping cart, you go through, and then you find out, three clicks later, you can’t see the address. You have to go back, remove them from your cart. Anyway, I was doing that all day. But had sent out probably a couple dozen copies, but it’s very work-intensive. Then I finally, I left for the day. Then I went to a gig and a gig and a gig. It was 48 hours, but I got really busy. I got a message from somebody privately, and she says, “I knew this was a fraud. What a scam.” Of course, as Jay sure knows, I don’t need a reason to go to battle. I’m like, “Oh, it’s go time.”
In my head, I’m like, “What kind of scam could I possibly be running right now? The scam of not getting any of your information and sending you something for free?” It’s like, “I don’t even know where to begin with this? But in my head, I went, “Stop. What was her intent? What is she going through right now?” In my head, I’m like, “She does feel like it’s a scam, because she saw all the comments of everybody else getting their book,” because we’d always write, “It’s on the way,” and on the way. And she didn’t hear back after that. She was left hanging. So instead of me saying, “At least be happy we were even giving away free books,” which was my default reaction, I said, “I’m so sorry. Things got really busy. Our intent was to bring joy to nurses and obviously we’re being jackasses right now to you, and that’s not what I wanted. You fixed the list, thank you, and it’s on the way.” Her next response was, “Yeah, it’s really hard to deal with when everybody else is getting their book, and I’m not.”
I’m like, “Breathe. Breathe.” I said, again, “Apologies. We really wanted to intend to make your day better. Sorry again.” Then she wrote back, it was dot, dot, dot; dot, dot, dot, she wrote back, and she goes, “You know, I think I’m being the jackass right now.” I’m like, “Whoa. It works.” Seriously, I’m not making this up. I ran upstairs. I ran upstairs to Alison, and I said, “Look what just happened?” She’s like, “Yeah. That’s what we’re talking about.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no, but it works.” She’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “No, but it actually worked.” She’s like, “I know.” Yeah. She’s like, “Didn’t you read the book?” Yeah.
That’s where I found it. That worked so well. Like I said, you just may as well read Hug Your Haters, and then get this type of … it’s always just putting yourself in that place though, right? It’s always putting yourself in their spot. They feel wronged. They feel something’s wrong, and they want to be heard. Those people, and exactly that same person, turned into one of our biggest fans.
It’s a kinder, gentler Scott here on Social Pros. I can tell he’s right off a vacation, because I … and yeah, it’s-
Kinder and older, with glasses now, yes.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. One last question before we get to the big do at the end, I don’t think I asked you this last time you were on the show. You started in video, right? You were a YouTube video creator. Then, other than those kind of video things, you moved away and became more of a text-driven phenomenon, Twitter and obviously a book author, et cetera. Now, social is becoming manifestly video again.
Obviously YouTube continuously gets stronger, but all the short form video, whether it’s Instagram video, Instagram stories, video on LinkedIn now, Facebook video, IGTV, TikTok, et cetera, how do you feel about that? Do you feel like Scott, video Stratten 2.0 is just around the corner?
Yes and no. Every time I look at it, every time I dive into something like TikTok, I feel like the guy showing up at the club and I’m older than the janitor. Like, it’s just like, it’s like, “I don’t think this club was built for me.” I understand it and I see it. But I also like to like, “That’s your place. You go ahead and do it. Awesome. I understand it. I see it.” I’m just at the point now where I just want to enjoy what I’m doing. I have the extreme privilege of having a platform now to this point, where I don’t have to continuously do these daily content, like back in 2009, 2010, where it’s just like as much as you can put out there to get traction on something. I love it. I thought I was always built for video, meaning because I can play well with a camera.
Video is really hard to do, especially. It’s very time-intensive. I think 80% of the world is unfilmable, human wise, just because of their comfort in front of a camera, for the most part. So I think it’s an opportunity for people. But I also think I’m good with it being their opportunity. I use it for my use, but more of it’s my … is my clips of me on stage, the millennial rant thing that went viral for me was just like, “Yeah, but that’s just a clip of me on stage.” I didn’t go sit down and make a video for it. That’s where I’m at now. It’s almost like multi-purpose content that I can pull in different places versus sitting down and saying, “All right. I’m going to do a-“
Make a video.
A video or a video series.
Yeah, interesting. All right, Scott. You know how this works. This is your fourth time here on the big program. What one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a non-jackass Social Pro?
I really think it’s that always go with option three, meaning like my head, the first thing was my reaction back. The second thing was self-focused and then it was sarcasm. The third one was just kindness. I learned this from Ann Landers, a long time ago: good, true, helpful. If you’re about to write, if what you’re about to comment, isn’t two out of those three things, don’t say it.
Good, true, helpful.
Two out of those three.
I love it.
I don’t even want a thousand. I don’t even want three for three. Just give me a good game, two for three.
Yeah, yeah, 67.
That’s a good batting average, man.
If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be at this point, Mr. Scott?
Other than Alison while I’m on the road? Let me see. That is a really, really good question. I got to go with my boy, Barry Sanders. I got to go with my Detroit Lions.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). My hero. His helmet, his signed helmet, is right beside me, right here, in a glass case.
NFL Hall of Famer, early retirement, legendary Detroit Lion. Scott is a Detroit Lions fan, long suffering Detroit Lions fan. There is no other kind.
There is no other kind.
You forgot greatest running back of all time, but I’ll let that go. It’s okay.
Hey, jackass what you did right there. Good man. Good man. Good, true, helpful. I think it worked.
Yeah, I read the book. Yeah. Scott, thanks so much for being on the show. Again, we really appreciate your time. Congratulations mostly to Alison but to you also for another spectacular book. Friends, make sure you get a copy of The Jackass Whisperer, and if you really want to have a good time and take it to the next level, go ahead and get it on Audible, the audio version, Scott and Alison read it together, and they went off script quite a bit, so it is a rip roaring good time. I highly recommend the audio version on this one.
Alison is the, although this is my MVP speech of my four time appearance, she’s the real MVP.
Yes, indeed. We all know that. Thanks so much, pal. We really appreciate you taking the time.
Until we meet again on the fifth.
Indeed. Indeed. On behalf of Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I am Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. This has been what I hope is your favorite podcast of all time, Social Pros. Every single episode available at socialpros.com, including the show notes, descriptions and other stuff you might associate with the podcast episode. Thanks as always to our sponsors, and we will see you next week.