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Is It Talent, Marketing Or Promotion
That Takes You To The Top?
By Forrest Wallace Cato

Lana Turner was not discovered sitting at a soda fountain counter in a Hollywood drug store while wearing a tight sweater.  That was only publicity hype but this story lingered on and on for many years.  I guess people wanted or needed to believe this.  

As a test for a book I am writing called Terrible Truths About Financial Planning, I asked five planners I know who have some of the worst images imaginable – their images are total disasters – if they would speak on the value of a positive image?  All five quickly said they would be happy to speak on this subject.  As I suspected, they are oblivious about their real image!  Do we all believe that which we want or need to believe?  Is this why we believe myths when we should know better? 

Girls did not become so excited they stood and screamed when a skinny and young Frank Sinatra sang.  The swooning young girls you see in old films of early Frank Sinatra performances were “plants” placed front and center and paid to act that way.  

Paderewski, the great pianist, during his early years, experienced young girls who ran to the stage screaming to express how thrilled they were when he performed.  However, his screaming fans were also paid to act that way. 

The three above examples were all staged actions but they continue to be referenced as real and as facts.  These three examples were arranged efforts to show people what to think or believe.  Adolf Hitler (the detestable psychopath) used this technique in his early (or struggling) days.  Managers for Elvis Presley and the Beatles both also paid “audience screamers” or “plants” to “react” during certain events in the early part of their careers.  Stop believing these myths even when you see them.  When I was a young man, Colonel Tom Parker hired me to help promote Elvis Presley and he said, “Our objective is to influence reality.”  Ray Walker, lead singer with The Jordainaires, the Elvis back-up singing group, once told me, “With Elvis it’s difficult to tell where reality ends and myth starts.”    

Is it true that talent will always win out, rise to the top, or insure a successful career?  Or, is this a myth also?  Do dedicated and qualified professionals fail? 

A struggling singer tried out for the country music stage and radio show in Nashville known as the Grand Ole Opry.  He was rejected.  Devastated, he got into his pick-up truck and Elvis Presley drove back to Memphis with tears in his eyes.  A TV sitcom about an affluent black family was first proposed to Ted Turner when Turner owned and operated CNN. Ted Turner rejected Bill Cosby and Cosby’s program concept.  A struggling young actor named Archie Leach experienced so many auditions and discouraging rejections that he decided to give-up and try something else.  For his final try-out he changed his name to Cary Grant and created a different persona.  

Was it talent or marketing and promotion efforts that enabled all seven of these personalities to “turn out” as they did?  Or was it both?  Where does myth stop and reality begin?  What part does reality play? 


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