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The Power of TV

Watching myself on TV I’m reminded why I stopped watching it many years ago. I agreed to be on the program Bebop High Heel, (ビーバップ!ハイヒール) because it offered the possibility of introducing my new book on leadership to a much wider audience. I was told that it was a popular program with a long history and big following. When we met they showed a respectful attitude in their interest in the subject and my work. I accepted their offer knowing that it was a variety show for entertainment and they would treat the subject lightly.

I recorded the show last month in their studio in Osaka. Unused to television studios, I was nervous and uncomfortable, but settled down once we started filming. The Osaka dialect and speed of the conversation made it hard to understand so I smiled a lot. Everyone was nice and it was actually fun to do something that so many people wish to do but never get the chance. I was surprised by the number of people who expressed excitement that I was on television. It went smoothly and I was satisfied with the whole thing.

When I watched it the other night I was amazed by the final product. Much of what was recorded had been cut, especially what I thought were the best parts, when I delivered the main message of my book. What remained was what the tv people thought was the most entertaining, easiest to understand, and of most interest to their audience. In the end, they had chosen to present a few of the topics they liked, without delivering the major ideas of the book.

The overwhelming number of commercials flashing at a dizzying speed had me wondering why people would subject themselves to that kind of stimulation at midnight (or at any time). A short segment of the program would suddenly switch to a numbing series of commercials. Then without explanation it moved to a completely unrelated video about girl friends guessing what kind of girls their boyfriend likes.

I woke up the next morning and checked Amazon Japan. My book was #1 in Leadership, even surpassing the all-time classic by Dale Carnegie. Incredibly, it was #10 of all books. The power of television to spread information and create a buzz was impressive. Just like the effect of the commercials, the program itself made people want to get something that seemed attractive, popular, and desirable.

I did the tv show in the same spirit that I published the book. I believed that the most important thing is the message. Although they simplified it, emphasized certain parts and ignored others, at least some of the message was there. My pride or ego usually tell me to insist that my ideas must be presented at a high level of complexity. This is the big fault of scholars who can only communicate with each other and think that’s okay.

I decided to accept ways of communicating with more people. I wrote the kind of book that could capture the interest of the most readers. I presented my knowledge on television in a way that many people who would otherwise consider it a topic unrelated to them, could see and relate to. I trust that meeting people at their own level of interest can spread our message to more people and therefore has great value.

You can view ビーバップ!ハイヒール until June 20 here:

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