Several years ago, I wrote a memoir. Four days after my agent sent it out to sell, when it was still just a proposal, six New York publishers were in a bidding auction that started at over $100,000. Meanwhile, I sat cross-country in my pajamas stunned and stuck to the tube watching old Jerry Springer reruns and waiting for the next higher offer to come in. And the next. (And BTW, for all book writers reading this, the right authors still do get those deals today!)
I didn’t know Mary Tyler Moore personally before this and wasn’t aware my editor sent her the finished galley to read. She loved it and asked to write an endorsement for me. I was pajamas stunned, star struck, gobsmacked and probably as moved by the few sentences she wrote she was by my whole book. Something like I had never experienced seemed to seep out from the ink of this actress. It was her kindness. Sounds like such simple stuff, doesn’t it? Genius is simple. Her genius was the inherent hope of kindness. The same kindness I always felt when I watched her on TV. That ‘thing’ about her I had not identified before that kept a nation ‘turned on by her smile.’
Above the fact she was beautiful and had terrific comedic timing and great writers. Above and beyond the parts she played as Laura Petrie or Mary Richards, rising up for equal pay to Mr. Grant. Whether she was dancing free in her apartment or tossing her hat high into the air for generations to catch, we got it! “We’re going to make it after all.” Indeed.
We were inspired. We trusted her. We wanted to be like her. We were her tribe, her fans and pulled in by that thing that lay beneath every story line, word she spoke and every gesture unspoken. Great kindness. No other woman in television history could compete with her story. Goodness!! Even Oprah decided she wanted to have own show after seeing Mary’s. As Oprah said yesterday in tears, “I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. I will love her forever.”
A brand as I see it is built first on the foundation of a great story. And the hallmark of the ones we love that last is an intangible human quality that somehow we all resonate with. The eternal verities. What’s true.
No script, brand line, tag tweet or ton of money thrown at showing your story can sell qualities that aren't there for long.
Everyone has a story. In the past twenty- five plus years helping people, I have come to see that most authors and businesses, the biggest and the smallest at first don’t realize they are short changing theirs, it’s invisible power and accordingly their profits.
One of the lines Mary wrote in my endorsement was “vitality of mind and spirit is built on the bonds of love.”
Rest in Peace, Beautiful One.
Thank you for reading.
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