Flamboyant, nutcase, confident, weird, showman, public relations genius, public relations idiot, performer, train wreck.
I suspect all those words have been used to describe Lady Gaga at one point or another.
Someone reading this has to be thinking, “Lady Gaga? Really. You’re about to write a post about Lady Freaking Gaga? And tie that into life and real estate? This I have to see”¦”
OK, OK. Listen, anyone that knows me just a tiny little bit has to realize that I am not exactly the type of person that Lady Gaga typically attracts to her rapidly expanding fan base. Though I tend to migrate toward the “classic rock” and “singer/songwriter” genres most often, I do have pretty mixed and varied tastes in music. Much of what I listen to depends on what kind of mood I’m in.
But I don’t think I have ever been in the mood to fire up the Lady Gaga. Dance/electronica/techno is WAY up my list of least favorite music genres. And I’ll be honest, I just can’t get past some of the over-the-top outfits Gaga wears. They’re distracting as hell and I prefer not to be distracted when I’m watching a performer.
But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.
Yesterday my friend Bill Risser, also of varied and eclectic musical taste, asked me if I heard the Howard Stern interview of Lady Gaga and her subsequent live performance of The Edge of Glory on Stern’s show.
“Dude. Gaga? Seriously?” was my initial reaction. I vaguely recall watching Gaga’s performance of Edge of Glory on American Idol this season (yeah, I watch Idol. So shoot me). I could only vaguely recall her act because I only watched about 30 seconds before hitting fast forward on the DVR. Again, I couldn’t get past the”¦ headdress.. she was sporting to take the performance even remotely serious.
But I trust Bill’s take on most things music, so today I found the video. Regardless of your opinion of Lady Gaga, take five minutes to watch this. Trust me, it’s worth it”¦
Wackiness aside, Gaga’s got talent. Loads of it. As Bill said on my Facebook post of this video, “In this age of auto-tuned, lip-synced, over produced crap, she is one very talented, powerful, emotional musician/singer/songwriter?…”
Where am I going with this?
Preconceived notions. I have them, you have them. We all have them. If you say you don’t, I think you’re lying ”“ or at least fooling yourself. We’re human beings, and as such we are going to judge and make decisions and act based on the way people look. What they drive. How they dress. How much money they make. How they talk. Their intelligence level, their weight. For God’s sake, we judge people by what they say and how they act on Twitter. And dare I say a lot of people out there will hold preconceived notions about someone based solely on the color of their skin.
Hell, sometimes we even listen to other people’s preconceived notions and let them think for us. That’s crazy talk! But it’s true, isn’t it?
I did it with Lady Gaga. I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve read the news about her wearing a “meat dress” at the MTV Video Music Awards. I fast-forwarded through her performance on Idol.
In other words, I judged her based solely on what she wore, on how she appears to act. I wrote her off ”“ just because I thought she was a freakazoid.
And she may well be a freak. I don’t know her. I know nothing about her private life, and that is none of my business anyway.
If she is a freak, she is a thoroughly talented freak.
That is a fact that escaped me until this morning when I got over my preconceived notions and just listened.
No, I won’t be filling up my iPod with the Gaga catalog. Her general style just isn’t my thing. (Release a CD of solo stuff behind a piano and I’ll buy that..) I do respect her talent though.
So hear I sit, a full fifty years into this life and I still find these little “ah ha” moments. As I’ve been chewing on these thoughts of preconceived notions today it has me wondering some things. How much business do we lose due to our preconceived notions? How many potential friendships are slipping by without ever having been given a chance to develop? Ever gotten a call or email from a potential home buyer and thought to yourself, “this guy’s practically illiterate, they can’t buy a home”. Ever read something someone wrote or heard some remark and thought, “what an idiot. How does that person survive?”
Just a day or two ago I was having difficulties with a real estate broker working the other side of a transaction we are involved in. I spotted their “@aol.com” address and thought, “Great. They probably don’t read or answer email.” That’s a preconceived notion, and one that really serves no purpose. Best to just deal with the issue at hand and not be bothered with how a freaking email address may or may not affect the situation.
Yes, you are going to make judgments on people, places and things. Some of those will be snap judgments. Some need to be snap judgments. But sometimes it might just be prudent to not go into a situation with preconceived notions. Approach people and situations with a clean slate. Let their actions formulate what you are going to do not the way they look, what they drive, or which email service they use.
I can not sit here behind this keyboard and tell you to how to act, or to not judge people. It’s not my place to do that. What I can tell you is the next time I start to have a preconceived notion about someone I’m going to think about Lady Gaga. Not visualizing her dressed in slabs of beef, but about her sitting behind a piano and singing her ass off.
You never know what someone is capable of until you give them a fair chance.
Photo Credit: Michael_Spencer on Flickr. CC Licensed.
Sean Carpenter says
Jay – Great post and a simple admission that we are all human beings. I almost skipped the post itself because I am not a Lady Gaga fan. But I am a Jay Thompson fan so I figured I could check it out and see what it might say. Good choice by me.
How often in this business are we looking for the “quick sale” or the “come and get it” listing appointment that turns out to be the “listing from hell” when, at the same time, some of our clients that appeared to be a waste of time or borderline idiots ended up being not only great transactions but also have referred us numerous opportunities.
I’m not saying I am going to head out to the local club and drop a bunch of money in the jukebox to play Pokerface and Papparazzi but I also wouldn’t cash out because someone selected some Lady Gaga or Backstreet Boys behind my Tom Petty and Lynyrd Skynard selections.
Now…if they play In Sync, I am outta there.
Thanks for the reminder that we can’t judge a book or a client by it’s cover.
Jay Thompson says
If they play N Sync, I’ll be right behind you…
Thanks for the comment and kind words Sean!
Jody Moore says
About Lady Gaga
I thought and felt the same way about Lady Gaga until I watched the video. She has more talent than I thought. Thanks for the recommendation.
Jay Thompson says
She really is talented…
Danny Street says
I have to agree with MPrice and JGriffeth her marketing and hype is a lot of what has got her where she is and probably will continue to be. I have a preconceived notion of who would attend a Lady Gaga concert and I do not see myself there.Give me Norah Jones and Billy Joel and I will be there.
Liz Benitez says
The video was awesome, thanks for sharing it. After the video while I was reading the first paragraph, I was thinking what do I have preconceptions about. The number one thing that comes to mind is aol users. Interested that further down the post you mentioned it. I know it is prejudice and I try not to let it affect my business but my first impression is always “oh crap”.
Liz Benitez says
And of course after complaining about aol users I go and prove just how untech-savvy I am and mistype my email and site address.
Jolenta Averill says
Jay, Great post! I too had preconceived notions about Lady Gaga until I saw her on the Larry King Show and realized she stands for a lot more than her crazy attention-getting outfits. You are right to tell people not to prejudge. I love her music now and would have totally missed out had I not been willing to stop & listen. I have to admit that I have pre-conceived notions about agents who don’t have a web presence. Mostly, I would like to know how the heck they get business in a day and age in which over 90 percent of all buyers start their search on the Internet. lol Enjoyed your presentation at SMMCamp10. Thanks for inspiring me to restart my efforts to keep my blog alive. 🙂
Pat McGinnis says
Jay, thanks for your presentation today at the SMMCamp10..
You were a great wrap-up to a great program!
I to had the same preconceived feelings of “GaGa”, and your article has really opened my eyes to her, her talent, and to what I might have been missing in prejudging others in the past.
Rob McCance says
My little monsters!!!
Hey, you’re a Stern listener too, eh?
Good enough for me.
Dru Bloomfield says
Jay, I’ve been a Lady Gaga fan for years. I love watching someone pushing the envelope!
Here’s the video with Gaga and Elton John from last year’s Grammys that I was telling you about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehJ4PB5o6cA. Awesome performance!
John Evan Miller says
Jay–This is an absolutely incredible blog post and you hit the nail on the head. We all can actually learn something from Lady Gaga–although most people would hate to admit it. Fantastic post.
Frances Flynn Thorsen says
Good post, Jay. Good lessons for all.
I love her spirit and her unapologetic assault on convention. She is her own person, comfortable in her own skin. People who are content relying upon other folks’ judgment miss an opportunity to enjoy the gifts attendant to her talent and her courage to follow a special brand of muses.
Jolenta Averill says
How does she play the piano with such long fingernails! One other thing I wanted to mention about that interview with Larry King was when Lady Gaga described how she was made fun of for her looks when she was growing up (because she didn’t fit the conventional barbie doll look). She talked about how there are many different types of beauty and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So that is the message behind why she wears those strange costumes and hairpieces. I thought that was beautiful.
Cliff Stevenson says
Judging people in advance has almost cost me transactions….great clients….and friends. And yet I still do it. I’ve learned a few great lessons that make for great stories. Trying to judge less before getting to know.
Alex Cortez says
I have never been a fan of hers and always thought her to be a freak. But wow, she is freakishly talented. My hats to her.
John Herrigel says
I guess you could say you can’t judge a musician by her meat-dress (like “you can’t judge a book by its cover”) which is true. The positive thing here is that so many people are willing to admit to these unconscious biases! I think that shows ownership.
Danny Welsh says
Excellent post Jay. You got me with this one and you are right. I totally agree with you when you say “You never know what someone is capable of until you give them a fair chance.” Great share.
Keith Bennett says
Jay, another great Blog. I enjoy the way you share common sense ideas. Common sense just does not seem to be so common anymore.
Rob Regan says
Your initial reaction was “Dude. Gaga? Seriously?”
Mine would have been “Dude, Stern? Seriously?”
Brad Miller says
With our offices in trendy downtown Bend Oregon, we’ve learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. We haven’t had Lada Gaga drop in yet, but who knows.
ADRIATIC REAL ESTATE says
Just briefly to thank you for the great post.
I am the owner of the real estate agency in Croatia, Europe, and I read your post’s with a great interest.
Just keep up with the good work 😉