“Pity the Fool” Who Doesn’t Learn from Mr. T (and it could have been Me!)

Maybe it’s because living in L.A. I rarely recognize celebs you are supposed to recognize; that when I got to my gate at LAX, I didn’t know who the muscle bound black man in the sweat suit and American flag bandana was either. I didn’t even know he was still alive. But he was surrounded , Not because the crowd of travelers gathered, but because he had gathered the crowd. He knew how to do this and he wasn’t letting them go. ”Women and children first,” Mr. T called. “That’s my only rule.” Then he flashed his signature faux angry flex from the 80’s like anybody would remember it. The crowd loved it. But I wasn’t about to go waving my camera for this bouncer, turned actor famous for being a human cartoon character.  Nope, not me. If I was going to go gaga, it would have to be for Scorsese or Streep.

The last time I saw Mr. T was every morning almost thirty years earlier running in the park at the crack of dawn . He came decked out in what I guessed was 20 of his 45 pounds of his signature daily bling. “

“Morning, Mr. T,” I’d wave trying to get him to slip out of character. “Morning, Mam,” he’d say back never once missing a beat. And today he wasn’t either.

When we boarded, he was right there with the stewardess; greeting those he may have missed at the gate; kissing babies, hugging grandmothers. His sincerity and warm heart under it all was undeniable.

“I pity the fool,” he gave us his trademark line.”

And then, after take off, it hit me. That fool was me!  I was busy in my tired head passing this guy off as a buffoon when I was in fact in the presence of a flying brand bonanza.

Here’s yet another tip golden tip he was teaching me again about your business:

  1. Know why, where and when your audience needs you. And then show up there.

When you’re trying to forget you’re about to lift 36,000 feet off the ground in a large piece of tin with a couple of hundred perfect strangers,; a product or service that lifts your attention above reality, as the man next to me said, “is a blessing.” It’s not that Mr. T. likely hangs out in airports. It’s that when he’s in one, he knows the value of his being there for himself and others. Wherever people want a break from reality, he is welcome.

That may sound like everywhere on the planet, but he’s learned, like we must all learn, how to be in the right place at the right time. That may not be at an audition for a feature film but with his right audience he’s unbeatable. They may not pay for his service, but by their putting pics with him on Facebook posts, 30 years later keep his paychecks coming.

Do you really know why, where and when your best audience needs you?

If you have any questions with that, lets talk.

Thanks for reading.

Or in the words of Mr. T., "thank you for showing me some love."