I Am My Show

I’m realizing that my Youtube show (preparation, delivery and aftermath) is about 50% of my life, and deleting a show is like deleting a part of myself. When the shows goes badly, I feel bad. When the show goes well, I feel well.

My therapist years ago said I was inflexible, that I have a problem dealing with frustration, and that I cut people out of my life too easily rather than negotiate with them.

I’m getting feedback that I get way too wounded from conflict on the show.

I have more empathy today for hosts who routinely cut people out of their life publicly and putting them in his black book if he feels they are deliberately sabotaging his show or trying to hurt him (as opposed to disagreeing or criticizing).

It’s exhausting rounding up people for a show, getting their sound and video levels right, and keeping up an interesting discussion within Youtube’s increasingly narrow terms of service.

Usually cutting people out of your life is self-destructive. I would like to think I no longer cut people out of my life, that I may pause or reduce the relationship instead, and I try to remember that time heals all wounds.

I’ve put a great deal of effort into getting the technical aspects of my show right, but the number one factor deciding how many people will watch is the guests. The care and maintenance of guests and panelists determines the success of shows like mine. When the content of a show is a vigorous discussion, it is easy to fall out with people. Also, most people who have the time and inclination to go on a Youtube show are anti-social.

To the extent that I’ve succeeded in this regard, I owe it to:

* Living up to my word (includes punctuality).
* Finding topics of mutual interest.
* Being a generous host. Not trying to hog the mic. Not being afraid of allowing others to shine and allowing myself to fade into the background at times.
* Getting clarity on my values so I can make the tough decisions.
* Staying out of feuds. I don’t trash people.
* When I passionately disagree, I try to focus my disagreement on specific words and deeds rather than the totality of a person.
* My code of conduct.
* If the show makes money, after the first $200 a month for my expenses, I share it 50-50 with my guests.
* Courtesy and empathy

Regulars on my show have felt betrayed when I have:

* Changed my mind on key issues.
* Decided to take the show in a new direction.
* Decided to part ways.
* Have not listened carefully and not bothered to respond to their points.
* Allowed conversations and shows to get off track and lose coherence.
* When I have interrupted them for stupid reasons.
* Lack of courtesy and empathy
* When my comments violate their sense of decency
* Made them look bad, left them feeling sand-bagged

When I am operating the show, much of my mind is taken up by the mechanics of the show and I have much less space for developing thoughts and listening to my guests. I love going on Joseph Cotto’s show as a guest because I can concentrate solely on ideas.

I notice that when I’m running a show and talking to guests, I tend to lose my own thoughts if I listen carefully, and if I compose my own thoughts en media res, I don’t listen carefully. I notice on many of my shows, we all tend to prioritize the development of our own thoughts over listening to each other.

I notice that the most easy going guests tend to be the least reliable and that the most reliable people are the least easy going.

Every person you add to a show is potentially explosive. It is not uncommon that adding one new person drives away other regulars. So often I am thinking that I am adding to my show by bringing on someone new but in the end, what has been added does not add up to what was lost. It is very easy to lose something good and very hard to recapture it. Also, as you bring on new people, you not only add viewers, you also lose viewers.

I need to bring about five times my normal amount of conversational energy to a show or it falls flat.

When you bring a friend on the show, there’s a good chance you’ll blow up the friendship.

There are rarely permanent friends or allies on a show, only shifting alliances.

I’ve heard that a marriage needs at least a 4-1 ratio of positive interactions to negative to stay on track. It’s similar for hosting a regular panel. Once that ratio drops below 4:1, you’re in trouble.

The more important a panelist is for my show, the more tempting it is to squelch myself to get along but this lack of courage on my part eats away at the foundations of the show.

The best conversations are one on one. The more people you add to a conversation, the more shallow it gets.

“Dangerous content is the best content,” says a friend.

The more I hype the importance of what I am discussing, the more excitement I generate, the more engagement I get, just like football announcers hyping a game that’s 30-3 in the second quarter. The more intense my emotions, the more engagement, but this bad for me as a host and bad for you as a viewer. I get more money, fame and viewership the more I go in an anti-social directions. You want to tune into a show where the host says the story they are discussing is the most important event in your lifetime but 99% of the time, this is bad for you. 

Never try to pull someone out of hiding. What do wounded animals do when you try that? They bite you. It’s not their fault. It’s just their instinct.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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