Check out my interview with Wayne Allen Root. He appears in over 1200 media outlets a year and has never used a publicist.
His use of video has brought him media fame including hosting 5 shows on CNBC with no journalism background and becoming a Vice Presidential nominee.
Hi, I’m Christina Daves, serial entrepreneur, award-winning inventor and the best-selling author of “PR for Anyone, 100+ Affordable Ways to Easily Create Buzz for Your Business.”
Welcome to this edition of Expert’s Corner.
Today I’m welcoming to Expert’s Corner Wayne Allen Root. He’s a national best-selling author, serial entrepreneur and, most importantly, the reason I’m having him on the show is he appears in over 1200 media outlets a year. And he has created this media buzz by himself for himself and I’m so excited to have him joining us today.
Welcome, Wayne. I’m so excited to have you on the show. When I heard you speak in Los Angeles it was just one after the other of how you have created your own success in the media. I would love for you to share some stories starting when you were a 16-year-old, son of a butcher, and you got your first media exposure. I know you couldn’t afford a publicist back then.
First of all it’s an honor to be on. Thank you Christina for having me here. I’d love to share my stories with everyone. You know that the title of my speech, because I like to do everything memorable, branding so people can’t forget it, “Sex, Celebrity and Videotape.” And I think I’ve created a simple way for anybody to sell their product. Sex doesn’t stand for anything other than personality, sex appeal, bigger than life personality. And celebrity doesn’t stand for you being a TV star it just stands for celebrity branding.
You have to find a way to make yourself memorable, to be branded like a celebrity. And videotape stands for the way I’ve always catapulted my career forward with videotapes because most people don’t understand … They don’t have the vision to get it when they look at a piece of paper or a resume. That’s why newspapers are going out of business all across America. You want to go bankrupt? I have a surefire way, open a newspaper. You want to make money I have a surefire way, either put it on TV or create a web TV situation which I would call a website. Websites are nothing more than a TV set if you do it correctly it’s not a bunch of words like a newspaper.
So it all comes down to sex appeal, bigger than life personality, celebrity branding and being memorable, and last but not least, bring yourself to life on a videotape or on a TV screen.
I’ve done it again and again. Keep in mind, as you said, starting when I was 16 and I decided I wanted to be Jimmy the Greek. I was a 16-year-old kid. I was an S-O-B, son of a butcher, because I had no money living in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in a lower-middle-class house with a dad with a white apron with blood stains. I certainly didn’t have the money for a PR firm let alone even understood what a PR firm was at the age of 16.
I knew I had to create a videotape. And I created a videotape with me acting like my hero at the time, my childhood hero, the king of Vegas at the time, the number one odds-maker in the world, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. That video of a 16-year-old portraying Jimmy the Greek got me newspaper articles all over the United States. And eventually that video landed on the desk of the head of CNBC and eventually, this was 1977 when I was 16, by 1989, 12 years later when I was 27-years-old, 11, 12 years later, 27-years-old, I had become one of the youngest anchormen on national TV hosting five shows for CNBC. And my partner on one of them, just one of them … They brought me in to meet my new partner and there he was sitting behind the desk with a cigar in his mouth, Jimmy the Greek. And I became his television partner and eventually they decided they didn’t need him anymore, they phased him out. And that was the last time he was ever on TV.
So this kid, this cocky kid from Mount Vernon, New York, on the Bronx borderline, decided at the age of 16 I want to replace Jimmy the Greek one day, and I became his TV partner and eventually did replace Jimmy the Greek.
It’s an amazing story. It all comes down to PR, the media, and a video. Without any of those three things it never could have happened. There were probably 250 million people in America at that time, Christina, and one person made it happen. And I believe that without that video I wouldn’t have gotten media. Without media I never could have gotten the attention of CNBC. Without the videotape, CNBC would have never asked me to come in for an interview and I never could have landed the job.
I left out the most important part. I was competing with anchormen and women all over the United States for the role of lead anchor at CNBC. And every single one of them had been to broadcast journalism school. And every one of them had hosted shows and hosted the network news and I had never done any of that. One day my life in front of the TV screen and never went to broadcast journalism school, landed it all because a bigger-than-life personality in a video and lots of media clippings and a great interview, by the way once I got there, that sealed the deal so that they never bothered to ask me … They were so intrigued by my personality and the media clippings, no one ever said, “by the way, where did you go to broadcast journalism school?” My answer would have been, “I never went.” They never would have hired me. They never said, “By the way, what other cities were you an anchorman in?” They never asked. If I had told them, I would have said I’ve never been on TV a day in my life and they would have laughed at me and said what are you doing in the interview, get out of here kid. Well they never asked because they were so enthralled.
So without sex appeal, bigger-than-life personality, without a brand … My brand was I wasn’t just an anchorman I was this young, hip anchorman, and I was the next Jimmy the Greek, and the Vegas Kid. And that was my memorable brand that set me apart from the crowd and then I had a videotape. Changed everything.
PR is everything, Christina. And if you can get it on you own … I never spent a dime during that entire period from age 16 to age 27, which was 11 plus, going on 12 years. I never spent a dime, never hired a PR person in my life, it was all me.
So you went from a 16-year-old kid to a CNBC anchor with no experience, no anything. This is what I love to share. That it is possible. You thought outside of the box. 16-years-old, “I’m the next Vegas kid, I’m Jimmy the Greek, I’m going to mail it in”. I love it. But you have more stories, right? It doesn’t stop there it just keeps going and going for you. You’re my business hero, you’re my mascot, you’ve done it all. I’d love if you’ve got more stories, share more. I want these people to get excited and I want them to go out and do it. And I want them to have media success just like I have and you have.
This is a quick interview. I have stories that would last about 15 hours. I’ll try to be quick. I also established this reputation as the King of Vegas, as the hotshot from Vegas, and I had never been to Vegas in my life. I had never even been there! Never even visited there. Matter of fact, the first day I ever was in Vegas in my life was in 1989. That was the first time I’d ever been to Vegas but I built this image as this kid, as the cocky king of Vegas, from 1977 until I got that anchor job in ’89. I first got to Vegas … When they hired me to be the lead anchorman to host five shows on CNBC. I lived in my parent’s house in New York and I got in my car and I drove 3,000 miles to LA, and one of the stops where I slept overnight was Las Vegas. First time I had ever been there. But everyone thought of me as the King of Vegas and the Prince of Prognosticators and America’s odds-maker. Those were all the brand names that the media dubbed me with.
See you can’t make yourself famous, you can only put the kernel of the idea in the ear of the media. And then when they repeat it in a headline you become famous, and you’re branded by them. I’ve done this my whole life, I’ve become a master at it. I went from a nobody at my parents’ house to an anchorman on CNBC. I went from an anchorman on CNBC to really the King of Vegas, where I wound up building a multi-million dollar business in Las Vegas. I moved myself and my whole family to Las Vegas. That was hundreds of millions of dollars ago. And my own star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars and three million paying clients ago. I think I succeeded at becoming the King of Vegas.
What’s that famous saying? “You have to think it, see it, feel it and hear it before you can become it.” That saying is, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Well boy, I dreamed of being Jimmy the Greek and the king of Vegas and I became it and built a multi-million dollar business around it. And it was a video and PR and media every step of the way that got me there.
Then I decided my dream was to become a national politician, a political leader. Impossible. Can you imagine … Christina, from zero to stepping on the gas …
I just bought my new dream car by the way, I love talking about it. Maserati Quattroporte. Brand new, just driven out of the showroom a couple of weeks ago, it goes 190 miles an hour top speed, zero to 60 in about four seconds, it’s got twin turbo charged Ferrari engine.
Can you imagine going from your parent’s bedroom to CNBC anchor with no broadcast journalism school and never being on TV a day in your life? That’s like going from zero to 190 when you’ve never taken a driving lesson.
My next step was to go from King of Vegas and gambling guru to politician.
Sure, why not, right?
When you dream well and you understand celebrity branding, you understand sex appeal, which is bigger-than-life personality, in the media’s hands and you understand media credibility and you have a videotape, no one can stop you. Somehow, someway I stumbled my way into beating out a United States Senator, Mike Gravel of Alaska, and came votes away from beating a United States Congressman, Bob Barr, who led the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. And I almost beat them both but I wound up settling for the vice presidential nomination.
As an extra ticket with Bob Barr. The list goes on and on. It was due to a videotape. It was all due to branding. It was all due to PR. It was all due to media credibility branding me as the King of Vegas and then eventually branding me as the King of Libertarian politics.
How about my daughter? I aimed from the day she was born, Christina, to get her into Harvard. She just graduated a few months ago, last May, as a magna cum laude scholar from Harvard University, also straight A’s at Oxford University, later accepted for a Master’s Degree at Cambridge University. And it all came with a videotape, as usual. A video tape was one of the reasons she was accepted at all the great colleges in America: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Penn, Brown, Duke, Cal Berkeley, the list is long, Chicago, and she even turned down early admission at Yale University. Amazing kid, amazing story, but here’s what makes the story even more amazing, more remarkable. She was homeschooled her whole life, never in a classroom in her life until she was accepted at all those colleges and chose Harvard and then went on to Oxford.
You can do anything you want if you’re a dreamer and then you figure out a way, you have a realistic game plan to turn into your dream into reality. And that’s sex, celebrity and videotape. That’s bigger-than-life personality, or sex appeal, that’s celebrity branding so you’re memorable, and that’s video tape. And maybe I should throw in repetition. You notice I keep mentioning the same names again and again?
You’ve got to pound these ideas home if people are going to ever get them. Repetition is the key to success. With my daughter, I taught her to have a bigger-than-life personality, give a great interview, I taught her to create a perfect video tape that everybody could understand and immediately would set her apart from the crowd when she applied to the best colleges in America. I taught her to create a brand. Her brand was the smartest homeschooled kid in the United States of America.
I taught her to do something that would set her apart from the crowd. She became one of the fencing champions of America and represented the United States at two World Cups and then won the Pacific Coast Fencing Championship of America. I taught her to have media credibility. She walked into those interviews with tons of articles from media around the country about the home-school prodigy and about the fencing champion from Las Vegas, Nevada, and it worked.
Then I’ll tell you the last story, and I know you want to keep it short so last one. I’ve got hundreds of them. But when I got married, my wife’s grandfather became my adopted grandfather. He loved me. I loved him. We bonded. His name was Norm Johnson, I called him Grandpa Norm. And he came to me one day and said, “Coming up in a few months is my 92nd birthday. How can we celebrate my 92nd birthday with a bang? And make me as famous as you, Wayne, you’re in the media all the time. I want to die a celebrity. I’ve never done anything important in my life, nobody knows me from Adam, I’m a nobody. I want you to make me a celebrity for my 92nd birthday.”
Christina, is that a tough job?
I don’t even know that I could pull that off, but yeah.
I don’t think anyone could pull that off. I don’t think I could pull it off a second time.
But you know what the key to life is? I think the key is to never understand how difficult your journey is so you take it. If you ever knew how difficult it was going to be you’d never take it. I thought about it, I came back and I said, “Grandpa, how about a grandfather-grandson skydive to make you famous and put you on the map.” He said yes. To his credit, this couldn’t have happened …
Without him doing it, right?
His boldness, his bravery. We jumped out of an airplane at 30,000 feet. I spent a few months … Again no publicist no PR firm … I’m a small businessman, by the way. I’m not a billionaire. I’ve never hired big-time PR firm. He jumped out of the airplane with me. When we landed there were 30 news organizations from all over the United States and the world waiting to take pictures and videos.
I eventually took that, turned it into a video, sent it to Rosie O’Donnell with the Rosie O’Donnell Show, which, at the time, was one of the three biggest talk shows in America. Rosie flew us to New York, first-class might I add, and had limos waiting at the airport. Grandpa had never been in a limo in his life.
He was a retired print shop employee, by the way. Grandpa goes to the Rosie O’Donnell Show and Rosie asks me and Grandpa about how we celebrated his 92nd birthday and Grandpa says, “I jumped out of a plane because of that guy, Wayne Root, my grandson.” And Rosie and Grandpa and I talked about it on national TV. And then Rosie brings out a cake, brings Grandpa down next to her and they blow out 92 candles and the whole audience sings him “Happy Birthday” on national TV. And by the way, he was awarded the Key to the City in Pasadena. Blue Cross Blue Shield gave him an award as the Ageless Wonder. Many other old people jumped out of airplanes because of what he did. And he had marriage proposals from much younger women all over the country.
Can you change someone’s life with PR and media credibility and sex appeal and celebrity branding? You’re darn right you can! And I did it all without a PR firm. I did it myself.
I love it! I love it! Thank you so much. The stories are amazing and inspiring and I know it’s going to get people out there thinking outside the box, coming up with great ideas, great hooks, great branding, sex appeal and definitely video. That’s the way to go these days.
Thank you so much, Wayne Allen Root.
My website is www.RootforAmerica.com, R-O-O-T for America dot com. My book is “The Murder of the Middle Class,” you’ll love it, go get it.
Great, thank you.