Election Lessons – Fear Sells. Are You Buying?


Fear Sells

There is absolutely zero doubt about this. For years, one of the unwritten rules in advertising was ‘sex sells’. And it did, for everything from beer to shampoo. However, as society rejects the objectification of women and men, sex has been replaced by fear as the most potent advertising tool.

A piece in BigThink explains it this way:

Yup. Fear works. It has to. It’s what keeps us alive. The problem is, it works so instinctively that when dangers are being peddled by the news media to get our attention, by the marketplace to get our money, or by politicians to get our votes, we are little more than fish on the end of a hook, instinctively afraid and flipping and flopping with fear at the end of a line somebody else is dangling to jerk us around…and the instinctive, subconscious nature of this risk perception system are the rod and reel they’re using, and we really can’t too much about it.

Fear is a primal human emotion. While what’s sexy is open for debate and subjective to personal preferences, fear is something that everyone experiences. It’s also something everyone wants to avoid.

In the very first episode of Mad Men, Don Draper explains the use of fear in advertising. “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness,” he calmly tells his clients. “And do you know what happiness is? … It’s freedom from fear.”

The problem with fear is that it overpowers all rational thought. It can easily become a prison, keeping you from taking action. It’s also capable of forcing you to operate from a position of weakness.

The Politics Of Fear

The 2016 election in the United States was a dumpster fire atop a steaming pile of garbage. There is little doubt that it was the worst election I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Candidates across the spectrum campaigned on dystopian promises of loss, economic calamity, and even death if the ‘other guy’ won.

This fear has carried through the election and into peoples’ response to the results. Yes, there are possibilities that definitely warrant concern, particularly for marginalized groups. Yet society cannot allow the fear of what may happen to direct how we respond.

What’s Next

One of my favorite things from The West Wing is President Bartlet’s constant demand of “What’s next?”.  It’s the view of accepting how things are, even in seemingly dark times. It is also forward looking, demanding his people take action and create solutions instead of being distraught or paralyzed by how things currently are.

It’s ok to be afraid. Own your emotional state, whether it’s anger, fear, or sadness, it’s yours and it’s authentic.

Just don’t live there.

Refuse to be a prisoner to your emotions. Don’t let your emotions diminish your inner power. Reject the fear based advertising, whether in politics, news, or consumerism. Simply embrace the awesomeness is you, and face life head on.

The world is looking for leaders, so be one. Be the first one to charge the hill and others will follow. In times of great distress, leadership is better than gold.

026 – Where Have All The Boundaries Gone?


In today’s instant communication, social media driven world, it seems that boundaries have become a thing of the past. We’ve lost the ability to set personal boundaries for discerning what’s for public consumption. People feel empowered to upload their thoughts and opinions on everything and even use social media to publicly shame others as a way to get attention. It seems like there’s nothing that’s off-limits anymore.

That’s why setting boundaries is so important.

Setting boundaries allows you to share what you want to share with the world without getting caught off-guard doing or saying something stupid. They help prevent gossip by denying the drama queens in your life juicy tidbits to spread. Boundaries also allow you to build the life you want without fending off the slings and arrows of those who don’t want to see you change.

“if you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.”


Don’t Be Afraid To Disappoint Others

By setting boundaries, you’re going to disappoint some people. That’s just life. In fact, those who are going to be most disappointed are those who are heavily invested in keeping you the way they are. People don’t like to change. When you decide you’re going to change, those people realize the way they interact with you is going to change. That scares them.

The boundaries you need to set are:

  • Distinguishing between public and private information
  • Determining levels of trust and relationship intimacy
  • Keeping the haters and nay-sayers at bay

Setting these simple boundaries keeps you focused on who you’re becoming and the life you’re building.

Life is too short to deal with bullshit distractions.