The professor speaks: Scott Galloway’s lessons in media, message shaping and influence

Lou Carlozo February 11, 2021

Now there’s a lofty goal. Do you think Scott Galloway will achieve it? I wouldn’t bet against it. (Illustration: Lou Carlozo)

OK, full disclosure time: I’ve been after Prof. Scott Galloway for some time to interview him for a Qwoted piece. And I figure that if I write one fawning, kiss-your-toes tribute, he’ll find it via Dr. Google and invite me out for a round of virtual mai thais, tiki torches and stock options optional.

Then again, for all the crabbiness I have about journalistic ethics and the like, a hypocrite I cannot be. A regular old column will have to suffice. Besides, I can kiss up to Scott all I want to off the record, right? And is who is this Galloway chap, you might be asking yourself about now?

The short answer is: Prof. Scott Galloway is a force. I’ve never seen anything like him in my three decades of scribing, editing, column writing and striking poses at brainy-babe writer parties. His shingle leads off with marketing professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, but that’s the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Public speaker. Prolific author. Podcaster. Entrepreneur. Media heavy. Stock pundit — as of Feb. 10 predicting “The best acquisition of 2021 will be @twitter acquiring @cnn.”

And who else has the street cred to write a sentence like this?

“In March 2008, after raising $600 million, acquiring 18% of the outstanding stock, and threatening a proxy contest, I was elected to the board of The New York Times Company.”

Seriously. And, true. Galloway is super smart, occasionally strident and never, ever boring. His self stated goal is “to be the most influential thought leader in the history of business.” Wow. I can’t even claim “most influential thought leader in the history of Qwoted.” (Now, please excuse me while I go to fetch some Starbucks for Dan, Matt and Maddy.)

I thought I understood something of Galloway’s hard-charging, anything-but-modest modus operandi until I read a piece by one of my A-list PR peeps.

This column, propelled by Propllr

Recently, I wrote a column about winning the public relations game, leaving out one superstar: Josh Inglis. We’ve known each other now for close to a decade, and Josh runs the way-cool Propllr, which specializes in PR and content marketing for startups and innovators.

When I talk about professionalism, persistence, proactivity — and, to break the “p” chain, just being a class act with can-do spirit — Josh is my man. He’s been there when I needed help. He gets it. Strong relationships matter not just in PR but also in life as we live it. I’ve tried to pay it back, too. (Hours after my father passed away, I showed up to do a story because the interviewee was one of Josh’s clients.)

Now, back to our column. Josh recently wrote a piece about Galloway and it’s a must read. As only Mr. Inglis can, he provided a deft analysis of how Galloway plies his media and business magic, and how we can all Be Like Scott.

Here are some highlights from “How to Be a Thought Leader: 11 Lessons from the Rise of Scott Galloway.” Yeah, the world is full of “How to Be a Thought Leader” columns. But this one is different. And insofar of the nexus of journalism (my world) and public relations (Josh’s world), it’s highly instructive.

Lessons from Prof. Galloway

Point number one, Inglis contends: “Attack your own”:

“We love politicians who attack politics. Lawyers who attack the legal industry. Reporters who attack the media. The Facebook co-founder who hates Facebook. … It’s an old trick, and Galloway, who spends about a third of his time going after higher education for failing society, is the master.”

 

The lesson to learn and apply is simple. “Define the categories you fall into: role, industry, demographic, expertise, etc. Think about what’s wrong with each, what makes you uncomfortable about it, and then attack. Keep it real, though.”

Josh illustrates how Galloway does it:

“There are two big bad guys Galloway goes back to time and time again: 1) Higher education, and 2) Facebook. By having a bad guy, he has a constant energy source, comfort food for his righteously indignant soul. Hardly a podcast or newsletter goes by without Galloway making mention of one or the other.”

 

This reassures me because I’ve entered into this arena with Fox News. It could backfire: Sometimes the thing you bash only benefits from the spotlight. But Fox News needs no help from me there. In fact, I may just be the proverbial fly on Mike Pence’s head. Still, I have chosen to make a repeated thesis statement. That is: Anyone who thinks my broadsides against Fox are about politics needs to get a brain, a lie detector and a life.

Fox intentionally slants its news coverage to the point where it’s willing to play fast and loose with the truth and act as a propaganda platform for all manner of liars, cheats, con artists and sociopaths. It advances conspiracy theories. Its Aussie, octogenarian owner cares only about two things: ratings and agenda. Rupert Murdoch lacks any conviction to tell the truth with solid facts and evidence. To borrow from his network: He “reports,” he decides.

The concentric circle that links members of the violent Trump mob and Fox News viewership? You tell me. Why a question mark? Because as Inglis also points out, a Galloway value is to “know your data.”

How’s that for channeling my Inner Scott?

Get to know mercy, know malice

I’m going to reflect back to the source so you can get a far more complete picture. Galloway’s No Mercy/No Malice columns on tech and digital economy relationships, and a whole lot more (i.e. “Innovation and Recasting Your Life”).

In an age where far too many pundits gain celebrity by virtue of their big mouths, bold lies and branding skills, Galloway oozes authenticity. How he runs his ship tells us a lot about how to effectively maintain voice, currency and influence in the public sphere. If journalism and media relations aren’t about those critical matters, then I’m not sure what is. Certainly it’s not ex-journo Jim Cramer screaming his stock picks at a camera on “Mad Money.”

Yes, Galloway is showbiz to some extent. He never shies away from a boast. But it’s all in service to substance. And gilded by humility. Inglis quotes Galloway thus:

“Because I’m successful, people often recast it as honesty, or even leadership. No, it’s just being an asshole. Working on it.”

 

To the anatomy-meets-personality point, that’s something I share with Galloway in spades. But with all due pride, I’m far more modest than he is. Go ahead, fact check it. Not that it’s made me famous. Not yet, anyway.

Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s Editor In Chief. Any minute now, a starstruck Scott Galloway will contact him at lou@qwoted.com. Then, Prof. Galloway will connect with Lou via LinkedIn