What I Learned While Working for Mr. Burns

I've been pitching my media training program to podcasts, blogs, and... media... for the past week or two. 

One of the first places I pitched was Entrepreneur On Fire, with John Lee Dumas. I pitched him because he's the biggest. His podcast is huge, it is successful, and it hosts a wealth of knowledge for the audience I intend to impact - and I've gotten a ton out of listening to his show myself. I don't even really listen to podcasts much, but I like John's. 

It's a little scary because it's like the TODAY show of podcasts.

Here's what I got back:

So I needed to come up with a 60 second video telling a story about an aha moment that is relevant to John's audience (my audience), and compelling. 

Here's what I came up with:

Yes, seriously, I worked for Mr. Burns of The Simpsons fame. I’m not Smithers. I’m a real person… but so is Mr. Burns. It would be easy to believe nobody like Mr. Burns exists, but you’d be wrong.

The real-life person after whom the character Mr. Burns was modeled is billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, who was the president of Fox entertainment when The Simpsons incredible run began. The show needed an old greedy corporate character… and they didn’t have to look far.

Fast forward to 2008 when I was hired by Ticketmaster to help create the communications infrastructure for the $9bn company as it spun out from under Diller’s company IAC. Since we lost access to the former conglomerate’s communications department, I suddenly found myself creating a lot of speeches, web copy, and internal presentations for executive leadership including the chairman… Barry Diller.

Once a quarter I would have to call Mr. Burns - ahem - Diller - and get his thoughts so I could write a speech for him to deliver to a company-wide call with employees, investors, and press. Standard procedure for a company of that size; but it got weird a few times - one time with Cheetos as the centerpiece of the dada-ist absurdism.

Finally, I had to sit in the board room with this cadre of crusty rich guys and watch the smiles go around the table as Mr. Burns told the company he'd be laying off a lot of people during a recession. Because I had written the CFO's report as well, I knew that we were, in fact, quite profitable even in these "dire" times. 

"Are we the baddies?"

I had this dark realization that I was using my superpower to help the bad guys hurt the good guys.

I left the corporate world behind, in the middle of a recession, to start a career as an activist and entrepreneur, and I began using my superpower to share my message with millions of people using publicity and speaking opportunities. That’s when I had my aha moment… What if I shared my superpower with other social entrepreneurs who were doing something good for the world?

What if I shared my superpower with other social entrepreneurs who were doing something good for the world?

Since then I have helped the good guys get seen in the New York Times, Washington Post, the front page of Yahoo! News, on multiple TV shows, podcasts and radio.

And now I love my life.

Thanks Mr. Burns. The biggest lesson I learned from you is that I'm allowed to choose where I use my education, skills, and time... and I choose to help people who are doing something valuable for humanity instead of seeing humanity as something valuable you can sell.