Monday, 16 January 2017


When I was in Kindergarten many years ago our formidable Headmistress Miss Parry told us “unless you stop worrying about people liking you you’ll get hurt later on in life”. She was very smart as well as being formidable.

One of the Patagonian Surf Ambassadors (Patagonia being one of the world’s most likeable brands) Mercedes Maidana who’s also a life coach, said:
“I have a client who has trouble marketing her business because she is worried about what those who are currently doing better than her in that field will think of her. So what has she done? Nothing. She’s stuck in situations she doesn’t like because the fear of not being liked by others is controlling her life.” 

Which inevitably brings me on to Donald who is the post-truth king, the most ethically incontinent of prospective world leaders.  (Malcolm Gladwell, incidentally, is convinced he’ll be in gaol before the year is out.)  Well Donald doesn’t want to be liked. And he’s “winning bigly” in that mission. When he won the US election he was pretty unpopular but in a few weeks he’s slipped to just 37% having a favourable view of him (Obama is currently at 55% in favourability rating.)

I think Donald would get on with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh who having lost a recent election decided he didn’t like the result so he’s refused to stand down and is demanding a new election (…”and we’ll carry on until I get the result I want.” I seem to remember masters at school saying things like that.) So Yahya will, if necessary, legislate to be liked.

One of our most popular Britons is Richard Branson. He’s done brilliantly in building a personal brand and a huge, but allegedly fragile, fortune. In Tom Bower's biography of Branson, he describes him giving a lecture at Oxford University in 1999.  Asked what his great hope is for the new century he replied "to run the national lottery." In the scheme of things when he’s being invited to say something game-changing this is not it. Yet he sails on grinning, cuddling lovelies and being liked.

But my favourite story of a desire to be liked being thwarted and derided is about stand-up comedian Joel Douglas, the less famous son of the now 100 year old actor Kirk.  He was performing at the Comedy Store and was getting increasingly frustrated by the audience reaction.

He started shouting: "You can't do this to me, I'm Kirk Douglas's son!" At which point some wag stood up and said: "No, I'm Kirk Douglas's son." Then someone else stood up, and so on.
Wonderful … I really like that.

Kim Kardashian is famous but not especially likeable yet to acquire her kind of salience of status is mission (probably-impossible) for many and most millennials are desperate to get more “likes” on Facebook. Meanwhile, however, we are voting for the most tawdry bunch of unlikeables in history. Apart from Yaha. He’s still waiting and waiting.

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