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Magic Tiger, Hidden Lesson – Social Media the Game Changer

Magic Tiger, Hidden Lesson

Don’t expect any special effects.

In my latest movie post, Magic Tiger, Hidden Lesson, I have stripped away all the karate-chopping, bamboo pole vaulting, freeze frame gizmodery that you might have been expecting. I hate to disappoint, so I’m letting you know now. Refunds are available at the front counter (please buy some popcorn first, you can’t return that).

Conceptualized over a conversation between Ken Brand and myself, I can only hope that my plot lines stay true to his original work. He’s quite the wordsmith, so I’ll try and do him proud.

Once upon a time…

It was actually yesterday and I was still getting my day started when I noticed a quiet tweet that almost passed me by. When I saw it, I didn’t think much of it and certainly didn’t expect it to turn into a post.

Ken Brand - Twitter

Tiger Woods vs. Magic Johnson. Two men. Similar situation (minus a case of HIV). One is beloved by the world. One is being thrown to the lions (pardon the feline-relative allusionary pun). What went wrong? How did Tiger end up being dumped by Gatorade and Magic Johnson got a TGI Friday’s (Magic owns several businesses in Los Angeles, all with his name on them, in this case, Magic Johnson’s TGI Fridays)? Okay, maybe it’s not that simple, but go back in time to Magic Johnson’s press conference and remember the moment.

Of course, Magic approached us publicly and that may have made the difference between him and the speculation over Tiger and whether or not he did leave voice messages for an attention-starved reality TV bit player. Regardless of how the situation was handled, there is a major difference between the two and our collective reactions to their dalliances.

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The cast.

On November 7, 1991 Johnson held a press conference to tell the world he had HIV. Although at the time he said he didn’t know how he contracted the disease (back in 1991 most people still thought only homosexuals and drug users were able to contract HIV), he later admitted it was through unsafe sex with multiple partners throughout his career. I remember the somber press conference well. I was never much of a basketball fan, but this was Magic-freaking-Johnson. He was one of happiest guys you could imagine. He was a hero to millions. He was bigger than Dr. J. (the only basketball player I ever had a poster of). The news hit hard on a nation still trying to wrap their heads around the whole concept of HIV. We were sad for Magic. We wished him well. We lost one of the greats that day. We supported him and hoped he would return someday.

Since the beginning, when the whispers started circulating that Tiger had been less than faithful, the rumor mill machine has woken from it’s slumber and started turning out daily press release style “announcements.” Not a second goes by that Tiger isn’t being talked about somewhere. Unlike Magic, not all of the talk is supportive. In fact, most of what I hear isn’t even close to supportive. People are angry, disgusted, and ready to try him in the court of public opinion. His once “squeaky clean” image is tarnished. This storm has only begun.

While I realize one could argue that the two men handled their situations much differently and therefore public opinion moved in opposite directions for each of them, I think there’s something bigger at play here.

Enter the Dragon.

By now, you’ve probably already figured out the plot line here. There’s a difference in the story arcs and it’s right in front of you. Social Media. The plot twist that you knew was coming, but still paid to see. With Benn’s recent posts about privacy involving social media, you can see what social media has brought to the table for celebrities and even us humble civilians. Privacy is under siege and waning everyday. As celebrity-obsessed peeping-toms we revel in their loss of privacy, but around our kitchen tables and office water coolers we insist we must fight tooth and nail to protect it.

Social media has opened up a can of worms and I fear some of the wiggly-woos have already squirmed their way out of sight. We can’t get them all back into the can and back on the worm farm. And we’re to blame. We opened our lives and insisted everyone become transparent in all their dealings – whether personal, professional, or the things we do in secret. The buzz word transparency became the death knell of privacy. While no one intended transparency to mean publicly, it certainly seems like that’s what we’re dealing with now and not just for the celebrity obsessed cult of Lindsay Lohan (don’t ever utter her name on Twitter – you will be followed immediately) bottom feeders. We’re demanding more and more of ourselves too. We want our businesses to be open and honest, but how far can we take that? I fear it may go further than we think.

Closing Credits.

So how do we pull back after we’ve already made a whole industry out of destroying people’s privacy? Some would argue that they signed up for it by becoming celebrities. My former musician past agrees and disagrees. Yes, there is an element of privacy that is naturally lost. You are there because the public got you there. You owe your fans. I can remember sitting in a cafe in Germany, having a cup of coffee with some local friends. Within minutes, we had to leave through the back door and head for the hills. I just wanted a cup of good coffee that I couldn’t get in my hotel room unless I was willing to sell my soul to the room-service-devil and ein bisschen interessant Gespräch mit meine Freunde. I never asked for the mob scene that ensued. I was always willing to give my time to fans, but not to be mauled and grabbed in a feeding frenzy.

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I look forward to seeing some of the “opt out” ideas that Benn has mentioned in previous posts become reality as social media evolves. As real estate agents however, are we just like celebrities – courting the attention while claiming we don’t want too much of it?

photo courtesy of amyelizabeth.

Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Benn Rosales

    December 9, 2009 at 10:35 am

    on just the issue of privacy:
    Celebrities go to great lengths to protect their personal information (which is the point of opt out). I really doubt you’ll log onto a website and obtain the buying habits or address of a celebrity unless they want it to be found. Verified accounts also probably go a long way on twitter to protect specifics. Also, celebrities are not using real names in sm nor in real life, we are in most cases.

    The rub on privacy is that in the past the data collected was a snapshot of someone, today it’s a complete profile of ‘you.’ Opt out is not about ‘what you’ve said on the internet,’ it’s about who,what,when,where, you are specifically coupled now with what you’ve said used as a weapon or to manipulate.

    I just wanted to make those distinctions. 🙂

  2. Brandie Young

    December 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Matt –
    Awesome post as usual.
    Another thing to consider is the power of crisis management that good PR types manage. It’s quite a skill.
    My guess is Magic approached his announcement following a strategic roadmap created by a team of publicists, Tiger has opted to remain behind closed doors.

  3. Ken Brand

    December 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Nice and thanks.

    It’s really a love-hate relationships we humans have with people and things, isn’t it? We’re a weird species, predictable and unpredictable…or maybe we like to think we’re unpredictable?

    Seth Godin wrote an blog post, yesterday or maybe it was today, anyway the title is, “Lead With Your Glass Jaw.” In it he talks about this very subject. The basic premiss, by drinking the Social Media, transparent, put yourself on-line kool-aid, you make yourself vulnerable. Making yourself vulnerable, Seth sez, makes a person feel they can trust you more. (Of course it takes time and patience to craft a winning persona/brand and when things go BAD, they go real BAD, real FAST.)

    Anyway, a few things strike me. There is no such thing as secrecy. If anyone other than you knows about it, it can go public, then viral in minutes. To stem the hemorrhaging, I’d say it’s always best to fess up, fall on the sword and come correctly clean. And lastly, Brand management is critical and good behavior is the primary protector.

    Loved the post, not really about real estate, yet, everything about it is real estate profession related.


  4. Dallas Lawrence

    December 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Tiger Woods’ ordeal over the past couple weeks reminds me of the importance of defining your own message in today’s digital age. When a crisis or scandal of such a juicy nature embroils a celebrity, the glare of the media spotlight will surround them whether they choose to embrace it, and failure to face the storm provides fertile ground for rumors and innuendo. I wrote more about how Tiger should have addressed the media clearly and transparently on Bulletproof Blog:

  5. Matt Stigliano

    December 10, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Benn – Point well taken although even with fake names, if someone wants it, they’ll find it. I never used my real name in the band, yet people were able to find my telephone number (a private number) and address and went so far as to post them on our site at one point. As you can imagine, that was a fun week.

    All the data that is stored in bazillions of computers worldwide is only as private as the programmer behind it made it. And we’ve seen how eager hackers can find a loop hole in one to many security systems. Then there’s the case of human error – see the TSA’s recent foul-up for a great example of that.

    I do agree that privacy is a huge issue, but I’m forced to wonder – are we beyond the stopping point? Have we opened Pandora’s Privacy Box and are only now trying to figure out how to stuff it all back in?

    Brandie – If you read the articles about Magic’s press conference, you’ll see just how well managed it was. Even down to him calling the big names in basketball personally before the press conference, because he wanted them to hear it from him. PR definitely could have helped Tiger, as the only PR he’s received is from tabloid gossip.

    Ken – Thanks for asking the question, I love things like that, where I’m forced to try and figure out the hows and whys. Someone once told me, “A secret can be kept between two people if one of them is dead.” Secrecy and privacy are hard to maintain. Like I said to Benn, it only takes one slip up to make something secret (like the TSA guidebook) suddenly the most popular piece of information on earth. This wasn’t even a case of someone trying to break the veil of privacy, it was simple human error. Ever sent an email to the wrong person? Ever sent one to the person that you were griping about in the email when it was intended for someone else? (I have…it was embarrassing.)

    I’ve earmarked Chris’ post for later reading.

    Dallas – You definitely need to retain control over your name, your brand, you image. Let it get out of your control and others will re-construct you in the image of who they want you to be. I’ll have to check out your post a little later today.

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