Is Paying for Trust Untrustworthy?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is option A), Facebook.  Per post, the recent compensation rate on Facebook was $250. By comparison, on average influencers get paid by sponsors $100 per post on Instagram and merely $20 per post on Twitter. The second-best monetary gain for influencers is in fact on YouTube, where a post typically earns them $200. In other words, trust has become a commodity, too. In Gordon Glenister’s new book, he aptly points out that companies have turned to influencers who possess more “street cred” and offer sponsors access to passionate niche audiences that make influences an appealing alternative to high-priced celebrities appearing in TV spots. Another way to think of the influencer phenomenon, however, is that in parallel to how companies now offer workers gigs rather than careers, here again the compensation levels are collapsing as companies try to earn (lost) trust on the cheap by associating themselves with up-and-coming social media stars.

Released today: episode #63 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Gordon Glenister discussing Influencer Marketing Strategy: How to Create Successful Influencer Marketing. Click here to get to the new episode.

Gordon Glenister is the Global Head of Influencer Marketing for the Branded Content Marketing Association. Host of the Influence podcast, Glenister was previously the Director General of the British Promotional Merchandise Association for over a decade.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Love Letters to Ourselves

What amount of selfies get posted to social media daily? The choices are 100 million, 500 million, and 1 billion. What’s your guess?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is 100 million. As a percentage of the 2 billion images uploaded daily to social media daily, that’s only 5%. Nevertheless, 100 million is a lot of selfies in an era when it’s also estimated that every 3rd photograph taken by an 18-24 year-old person is of themselves. In 2006, Time magazine’s person of the year was “You.” That same year, Facebook became available to anyone with an email address and the selfie-stick was invented. Every selfie has been described as a “love letter to yourself,” and Rod Stewart has sung that every face tells a story. Bringing all of these—and more—fascinating strains together regarding what is happening within popular culture is Jessica Helfand in her fascinating, visually-rich book Face: An Visual Odyssey. Check it out!

Released today: episode #58 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Helfand and her book published by MIT Press in 2019. Click here to get to the new episode. 

Image of author Jessica Halfand and an image of her book "Face: A Visual Odyssey" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode #58 "Love Letters to Ourselves".

Jessica Helfand is a designer, artist, and writer. She taught at Yale University for over two decades, and has had additional roles at a variety of institutions ranging from the American Academy in Rome to the California Institute of Technology. Helfand also cofounded Design Observer.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Tesla: The Poster Child of Context Marketing

The correct answer is C because for the Model 3, for instance, Tesla has spent about $6 on advertising for every model it’s sold. How is that possible? The answer is that Tesla leads the way in changing the business model from build / market / sell to market / sell / build and market some more. Tesla does so by having a values-based purpose out ahead of the traditional value proposition, i.e., Tesla aims to rid the world of fossil fuels. That positioning earns Tesla free media and buyer loyalty. And Tesla goes further by inviting consumers to provide input on where its showrooms are located, how they want to configure their own cars based on guidance from an owner advisor, and a referral program with a $1,000 cash incentive to both the owner and the friend who purchases based on a referral. The result is that Tesla has 22% of the electric car market, Mercedes-Benz 5%. 

Released today: episode #51 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Mathew Sweezey, the author of The Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite MediaCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click here to get to the new episode.

Mathew Sweezey is the Director of Market Strategy for Salesforce. Mathew is the host of the award-winning podcast The Electronic Propaganda Society and an accomplished author, having written for The EconomistForbes, the Harvard Business Review, and AdAge

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Restoring the Statue of Liberty

An image of this Q&A-  Q: Does the Statute of Liberty celebrate: 1) immigration or 2) Emancipation? A: As originally conceived, #2.  Source: Berry & Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States

When the French abolitionist Edouard de Laboulaye and designer Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi unveiled their concept for the Statute of Liberty in 1871, the monument include a broken shackle at Liberty’s feet and a chain in her left hand. By 1886, however, the tide had turned. Jim Crow—and Jane Crow—laws were being cemented into place across the South. So a new version of the statute was dedicated instead, leaving black women bereft of their rightful place in the country’s iconography. Since 1886, has there been progress? Yes, but sometimes just barely. Why did black women working as domestic servants in the South join the Great Migration north? Often to escape the risk of rape in their masters’ homes. It’s been a long road forward to commanding figures like Kamala Harris and Serena Williams, among others, leading the charge.

Released today: episode #48 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Kali Nicole Gross, the co-author along with Daina Ramey Berry of A Black Women’s History of the United StatesCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on  https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Kali Gross is Acting Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Her previous books include Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, winner of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction.

News Items

My interview on Cynthia Farrell’s podcast “This Is How We Lead” aired this week. Check out “Emotions & Facial Coding in Leadership” by clicking on any of these links below:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3fCztHJ
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/31w0SCw
Google Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3ctGiZS
iHeart Radio: https://ihr.fm/31x6exq
Pandora: https://bit.ly/3cwVIg0
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2PHb5K4

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Celebrating Up-Tempo Blues Music

The record producer Sam Phillips is quoted in Memphis Mayhem as saying that “Rock and roll is the blues with a mania. Tempo is the main difference.”

Musical tourism in Memphis was a $4 billion annual industry prior to Covid-19 and is likely to be even bigger once the pandemic subsides. Memphis has seen such troubles before. Yellow fever epidemics after the Civil War caused wealthy whites to flee in large numbers, leaving the city open for the rise of the South’s first millionaire: an African-American businessman named Robert Church. The two local heroes on which the local music tourism depends, however, consist of W. C. Handy, the father of the blues; and Elvis Presley coming along 45 years later. It was in Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Studios on a hot July evening in 1954 that Presley recorded “It’s All Right Mama” and rock and roll took off. For a decade starting in the 1960s, Memphis became the 3rd largest center for recording music in America. No wonder Dusty Springfield came to town to record Dusty in Memphis; you had to be there!

Released today: episode #47 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David Less, the author of Memphis Mayhem: A Story of the Music That Shook Up the WorldCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

David Less has studied Memphis music for over 40 years, including work done for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. He’s been published in Rolling Stone and DownBeat, among other places.

News Items

On May 7, 2021, Omnivore Recordings is releasing Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street. The CD/LP features Memphis legend Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star) backed by the Hi Rhythm Section that backed Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner and others. The liner notes come from David Less. To learn more, visit the OmnivoreRecordings.com web site.

Logo of Faces and Places Tours has an image of the Statue of Liberty
Circle October 7-9, 2021 on your calendar, please! Those are the dates for the inaugural Faces & Places tour to be held in Memphis. This highly customized, unique tour will be a mashup of history, biography, music, and EQ insights that will offer attendees a transformative experience in the city of Memphis. David Less will be one of two guests that all tour participants will meet in person during the tour. To learn more details, contact dhill@sensorylogic.com – thanks.

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Heading into the Storm

Implicit association tests (IATs) suggest a bias in America favoring Whites over people of color

With the Election next Tuesday, America is about to see how well the “glue” holds. Can our courts and police forces provide a sense of justice being impartially served? Or will we descend into bleak partisan chaos if the voting is close?

My concerns focus on the political divide between Democrats and Republicans with regard to the Supreme Court. A majority of the current Supreme Court Justices were appointed by presidents George W. Bush, Jr. and Donald Trump, who both lost the popular vote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett were all part of the legal team that aided Bush in the fight to count or not count votes in Florida. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in Bush’s favor and the Florida recount ceased, giving the Presidential victory to Bush.

Recently the Washington Post reported that white nationalists were attempting to infiltrate law enforcement . Since wide-spread racial bias seems to exist across our society, aided by stereotypes, what are the odds these extremists could find fertile soil, at times, in trying to recruit allies that give them elbowroom? 

Let’s hope for the best. But if legal maneuvering delivers an Electoral College victory to Trump, despite Joe Biden winning the popular vote, protests could erupt that will make the Black Lives Matter marches seem tame by comparison. Then how will the police respond?  Will fears of racial strife, lost lives and looting make the perversion of democracy seem like the lesser “evil”? Over the next days and weeks leading up to Inauguration Day in January, we’re about to find out.

How to Promote Peace in the Streets

Released today: episode #26 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Abt, the author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the StreetsListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Abt is widely considered to be America’s foremost expert on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reduce urban violence. He is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice in Washington, DC. Prior to the Council, he held posts at Harvard University and in the U.S. Department of Justice.  Other media outlets that have covered Abt’s work include the Atlantic, the Economist, Foreign Affairs, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio.

In this episode, the topics range from the human and economic costs of violence, to how a focus on a limited number of bad people, bad places and bad behaviors can improve situations that may otherwise look hopeless. The interview’s final question raises the specter of whether police bias in favor of gun-toting white vigilantes could ever become a serious issue or not.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

The Intricacies of Smiling

When it comes to political and emotional opposites, you can’t do much better than the Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi sideshow as they sat behind Donald Trump during the recent State of the Union speech. Pence has long ago mastered a look of supposed discernment as he takes in the wonders of Trump’s rhetoric. There are head-nods, yes, and smiles. But most of all there’s how a vertical crease forms between the Vice President’s eyebrows as he lowers and pinches them together as if trying to scoop up every pearl of wisdom. In contrast, the Speaker of the House looked like she was sucking on a lemon anytime she wasn’t instead rifling through the pages of the speech. Here, she’s giving the President a mock burst of applause.

Did Pelosi do her level best to distract TV viewers from Trump’s words by handling the speech’s text as she did? Maybe she was just bored (the speech and Trump’s Mussolini-like thrusts of his defiant chin went on seemingly forever).  Trump’s almost never happy. At least he made some of the female Democrats in attendance pleased by mentioning the new jobs he’s created, namely, like theirs!

As you can tell from the President’s displeased smiles, he wasn’t so happy to be upstaged. Happiness no longer seems to be what it once was. You can’t seemingly count on anything anymore.

Or maybe things were always like that. The two newly unearthed instances of Virginia politicians having gone the route of blackface should remind us that happiness isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Here is Al Jolson in the move Mammy (1930), inhabiting a fabled land where black folks are supposedly too dumb to be anything but happy all the time.

021219-03 Blackface.jpg

While Jeff Bezos was busy pushing back against an apparent blackmail attempt by The National Inquirer, what else went on this past week? Well, for one thing we had Amy Klobuchar managing to do a great job imitating somebody happy to be declaring her candidacy for president amid a snow storm.

Meanwhile, off in Europe her fellow Minnesotan, Lindsey Vonn, was managing to win the bronze medal in the world championship downhill in her final race ever. How remarkable was her success after a fabled career? Five days earlier she had fallen in another race, ending up with a bruised rib and a black eye. And three months earlier she had torn a ligament in her left knee, the one operated on something like a gazillion times.

At least every now and again, a smile is still really a smile: the embracing of life!

On a Mission or Simply Under Duress

Let’s start with the good news, especially for those who live in New England or have become admirers of the Belichick-Brady dynasty. Akin to getting a smile out of Chuck Norris in a movie role, it’s downright odd—almost creepy—to see a smile from Belichick. There were some afterwards, but much more in character is Belichick here gripping the victory trophy, eyebrow cocked in wary appraisal of the world around him while his eyes and mouth are tightly gripped in a look of determination. Maybe when Brady turns 50, Belichick will tire of winning. Meanwhile, . . . the victories and trophies accumulate.

Who also won this soporific Super Bowl? Many think it was the Bud Light / Game of Throne mash-up. What’s the Bud Light Knight’s facial expression? In his everyman role, beer-drinker as knight saving himself from sobriety, Budweiser doesn’t want us to know. We should be projecting ourselves into the role. Is he happily soused and sporting a smile, or brandishing the equivalent of Belichick’s scowl? The great mystery lingers.

If there are winners, there must be losers, too, and there were this past Sunday. One was the Rams’ coach, Sean McVay, who admitted to having been “outcoached” by Belichick.  Both coaches have their chins pulled up in a sign of anger, disgust and sadness. The difference between them: notice also how the corners of McVay’s mouth are turned downwards, tilting the emotions displayed more in the direction of sadness for the moment. (Don’t worry, Rams’ fans: there’s determination being expressed as well, a determination to win again and often.) Besides the Rams, I think Burger King lost the Super Bowl. I’m sure some clever ad agency guy thought pulling out the old footage of Andy Warhol eating a hamburger showed his artiness, but mostly it revealed a lack of emotional intelligence. Time and again while eating the burger, Andy smirks—a sign of disrespect (for the product). It’s hard for the company’s offer to be the hero when it’s actually the goat (and I don’t mean GOAT as in Roger Federer being the Greatest Of All Time).

Meanwhile, everyone’s running for president, inspired by Donald Trump’s example. If blatant incompetency and dishonesty can get you to the White House, why not give it a shot? Cory Booker has joined the Democratic field (looking delighted but not at ease), and maybe Howard Schultz is going to run an independent campaign. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal is Schultz’s promise. Whether a tepid smile and a lip turned down in disgust, as shown here, is an emotional formula for winning I doubt it.

Who’s definitely going to lose? That’s easier to say. Playing a losing hand is an apt description of the ultimate fate of both Virginia governor Ralph Northam (looking mighty uneasy given the raised inner eyebrow, a sign of sadness and fear) and Venezuela’s leader Nicholas Maduro (trying his best to imitate Belichick, but the eyebrows pinched together give away Maduro’s existential fear of being shot by rebels within his own military). In Northam’s case, he held the most insane of press conferences last Saturday. Among the highlights, denying he was one of the men dressed up as a Klansman or in blackface in a medical school yearbook picture (after admitting the night before that, in fact, yes, that was him in the photo). A safe prediction: he won’t join the others running for the Democratic presidential nomination. In Maduro’s case, inflation is running at something like 10 million percent and there’s no food left . . . except at his residence. When people are literally starving to death en masse, rubber bullets won’t matter. Next stop, Moscow, Mr. Maduro, if only you’re so lucky.

From Incompetent Officials to Something’s Great (But It’s Not Trump)

Welcome to a very different version of “Faces of the Week.” Focusing on a single story per posting is, frankly, too limiting. There’s always so much of interest going on. So while the occasional posting may focus on a single specific story, by and large I’m going to move to a potpourri of stories, going with whatever catches my eye (and engages my heart).

Let’s start with incompetency and Brexit.

Pity the British prime minister, Teresa May, as she struggles with plans B-Z now that Plan A was sounded defeated in Parliament. All the while, where, oh where is Boris Johnson, the man who helped lead the charge in favor of leaving the E.U. because the world would be coming up roses if England went its own way? As usual, he’s lost somewhere in his own mix of bluster and bafflement as to what it was he actually was thinking. “I said what?” seems to be the caption to many a moment of lip curling, mouth ajar Johnson caught on camera.

As pointed out in Pankaj Mishra’s article for The New York Times, however, a mediocre “chumocracy” has often ruled England. Case in point is Lord Mountbatten, whose hurried declaration of independence for India led to an estimated one million deaths as the country unraveled. The article came complete with this photo:

From left seated at the table, Jawaharlal Nehru, vice president of India’s interim government; Earl Mountbatten, viceroy of India; and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, president of the Muslim League, discuss Britain’s plan for India, June 2, 1947. 

As a facial coder, what struck me immediately was the anger on Jinnah’s face. Could anybody have imagined independence was going to be a cake-walk? More specifically, did Mountbatten even really notice the emotions roiling around him? He himself admitted the transfer of power he chose was a “ludicrously early date.” Then he gave the task of drawing the new boundaries to a British lawyer who had never visited India. Like Brexit, a mess was certain and that’s putting it mildly.

Speaking of incompetent officials, the stakes were a wee bit lower when the NFL official failed to call pass interference on this play late in the NFC championship game. Would you say that New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Peyton was stunned by the no-call?

Seeking to move from U.S. Senator (D-CA) to the White House, Kamela Harris joined the ranks of contenders for the Democratic nomination this past week. With Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) already declared, how can Harris distinguish herself? For starters, she has the best smile of the three women. But a wide-eyed, on alert look is her other signature expression. Warmth and concern: it’s a great combination. My hunch is that of the three, she might prove the most effective on the campaign trail (time and the voters and the money raised will tell; remember what a 20th century Republican party boss said: Only two things matter in politics . . . money and I can’t remember the other thing.” Well, actually emotion is the other currency!)

What was great in the past few days was this man, the rising Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas, managing to beat his idol, Roger Federer, in a thrilling match at the Australian Open. “I’m the happiest man on earth” Tsitsipas said afterwards and it wasn’t hard to believe him. Just look at the elation on his face.

Maybe the question of the week, however, was what was on the face (and in the heart) of the student from Covington Catholic High School in Washington, D.C. to join an anti-abortion protest. Nick Sandmann said he stood this close to a Native American activist trying to step in between two opposing groups. No disrespect was intended, Sandmann said. But in wearing a Make America Great Again (MAGA) red hat, linked to Donald Trump and his disparaging reference to senator Warren as “Pocahontas” (among many other racist or all but racist remarks, over time), one is left wondering.

The Native American shown here to the right, Nathan Phillips, sure felt uneasy about Sandmann being so in his face. There’s a slight smirk to the right on Sandmann’s face, and an upper lip curled in disgust. Despite the accompanying smile, it’s hard to reconcile Sandmann’s expression with the notion that no disrespect was intended.

What’s easier to judge for sure than Sandmann’s expression? That would be the look on the face of the Confederate soldier emblazoned on the digital sign outside his school back in Kentucky. Note the eyes tight with anger, and for that matter the street on which the school sits. I rest my case, even if Sandmann is still protesting his innocence.

The Empire Strikes Back: When Harry Weds Meghan

“Royals can marry chorus girls and sometimes even Americans” Prince Harry apparently said before the wedding, giving me hope that this wasn’t just a paint-by-numbers “fairy tale” marriage. Nevertheless, let me first give credit where credit’s due. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of royal wedding hoopla, but this was truly a stunning spectacle that the newly-minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex pulled off. The ceremony itself was innovative instead of a rote exercise. The genuine affection on display between the couple was something Lady Diana and Prince Charles could have only dreamed of. And afterwards, the majestic carriage procession through the narrow streets of Windsor was about as intimate an affair as possible considering the scale of the event.

Naturally, as a facial coder I couldn’t resist assessing Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s feelings on their big day, starting with the groom’s wait for his bride. Was Harry a little nervous? Not outside the church, but once he and his brother, William, stepped indoors the (relaxed) smiles previously evident began to flicker on and off like a lighthouse beam. The latest smile would go on, only to be replaced by either a mouth-pulled wide expression of stage fright or else a sigh accompanied by lips pressed together in apparent annoyance at having to stand-on-ceremony, not a natural occurrence, especially given Harry’s mischievous, cheeky nature.

For most of the ceremony that followed, your eyes weren’t deceiving you if you saw a radiant bride and a more solemn groom. Harry’s been on stage all his life, as a royal, but now his eyes were blinking or else downcast, his eyebows often furrowed in a look of pained concentration, and it wasn’t until Harry lifted Meghan’s veil that the couple—in unison—managed a joyous, true smile. Until then, Meghan, the professional actress, was the one best holding it together with an almost seamless series of modest, equal-to-the-moment smiles. The lifting of the bride’s veil qualifies as an expected “highlight.” That’s not so true of the impassioned sermon that followed.

Now things got interesting. The choice of Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American to serve as the bishop of the Episcopal Church, to deliver the sermon was already notable in itself.  But it was the performance he gave that almost stole the show. Leaning in, Curry wasn’t doing so to recall whatever text appeared on the high-tech tablet lying in front of him. No, Curry clearly knew his message by heart, and I do mean by heart.

Curry let loose with references to Martin Luther King, Jr., to slavery, to reminding the assembled audience that “love is the way.” Prince Harry mostly smiled along, with a few smirks. By contrast, Meghan’s eyes shot wide open with surprise and anxiety at times—like she was getting even more for “her money” than she could have imagined. It’s an expression that also shows some anger, as Curry went on at some length, while Camilla looked on, mouth agape, seemingly bewildered, and other members of the English royal family arched their eyebrows and allowed themselves faint, pert ironic smiles. No passion, please; we’re British, was all but the signal being given.

You could say the entire wedding event was a case of the Empire Strikes Back. Who but the British royal family could stage a resplendent spectacle like this one? Then again, saying The Empire Strikes Back could also apply to former subjects as equals: a thoroughly integrated wedding ceremony—starting with Meghan, a biracial American bride, and extending to elements like a black gospel choir singing “Stand By Me.”

When the British Empire was at its zenith, a century ago, the English firmly held sway over nearly one-fourth of the world’s population and land mass. Today the “empire” is mostly a collection of island outposts. The royals have held onto their many privileges, but even that may change someday.  Nothing is forever. Perhaps you noticed how Harry’s right eyebrow shot up in surprise and anxiety when asked to repeat two parts of the wedding vows? The first was “til death do we part.” The second? Well, that would be the promise that “All I have I share with you.”