What’s up, my friend? It’s your pal, Jesse, here.
And in this video, we’re going to do something a little bit different.
We’re talking ‘pickup Industry gossip!
Specifically, this whole fight or battle between Todd Valentine, former executive coach at Real Social Dynamics or RSD, and between Nick Kho, the head of RSD.
Now talking gossip is not my thing really.
But, I’m in this mode right now where I want to experiment with different formats and different topics, not box myself in.
So today, to kick off the new year, who is at fault?
Is it Todd Valentine at fault?
Or is it management at RSD, specifically Nick Kho?
What Seemed to Happen
So the bare-bones story is that Todd Valentine parted ways with RSD some months ago, and not on friendly terms.
Now, RSD is suing Todd for close to $1 million dollars that he allegedly stole from them.
In return, it looks like Todd is very bitter about his experience coaching at the company.
Now, from what I understand, in Nick’s point of view, Todd stole close to $1 million dollars from RSD in some manner while abusing RSD resources, basically, hiding money from them and demanded a bigger cut than all the other instructors.
While at the same time, continually distancing himself from the company, creating a toxic atmosphere for the other instructors.
Todd also signed a noncompete while working with RSD, but when he cut off ties, he dishonored that contract he signed and has continually taken barely veiled shots at the company, the same company that made him big and famous.
He’s taken shots at the company that made him who he is.
Now I imagine that is Nick Kho’s point of view.
In Defense of Todd
Of course, a counter argument can be made that it was Todd who helped to make RSD the company that it is today, and it’s RSD that has benefited from the charisma and speaking talent of Todd.
And in this modern-day business culture of “quick to hire” and “fast to fire,” Todd does not need to abide by a noncompete agreement.
As an independent agent now, he can do whatever he wants.
That’s the market.
Not Taking Sides
Now I’m not taking one side or the other here.
Let’s just assume for the sake of the following arguments I’m going to make that there’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides.
Let’s just assume that neither side is fully in the right and that neither side is fully in the wrong, which is not a sexy stance to take.
I’m sure this video would get way more views if I just came down hard in favor of one side or the other.
Opinion: RSD Made a Mistake
That being said however, I would venture that regardless of who is to blame, at the end of the day, it was a mistake for Nick Kho of RSD to let Todd go or to fire Todd.
Let’s say that Todd flat out, let’s say he flat out and blatantly stole, or embezzled, or hid close to $1 million dollars from RSD, even if that’s the case, RSD should’ve held onto Todd, and remained on good terms with him.
The fact of the matter is that when you have a company based around famous personalities and celebrity recognition and these executive trainers are essentially like celebrities in their niche, that parent company generally has to bend over backwards and do everything it can to make those celebrities feel happy and content.
Even if fame goes to the celebrity’s head, even if the celebrity develops a God complex, or becomes spoiled, and becomes difficult to work with, the company still must do everything it can, to an extreme measure, to hold onto their top talent, or at least part ways on good terms.
That’s just the nature of that kind of business.
The Tropic Thunder Example
Probably you’ve seen the movie “Tropic Thunder” starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Junior, which is making fun of spoiled Hollywood celebrities who have all kinds of weird personality quirks, and drug habits, and are just in general very difficult people to work with.
And yet, the studio, and the producer, and the director, all have to kiss up to the starring celebrity actors and do everything they can to make them happy.
The corporation has to do everything it can to keep those spoiled celebrities from walking off the set in the middle the movie.
And the top talent in a big Hollywood movie, just like the top talent in a pickup company, that holds a very specific brand essentially can hold a gun to the company’s head, if it wants to.
Because that top talent is so indispensable and essential to the brand.
The Star Wars Example
For example, if Daisy Ridley, who plays the lead protagonist Rey, got fired from the Star Wars movies, got fired by Lucasfilm, and got fired by Disney, even if Daisy Ridley was being a complete Bitch on the set
and that firing her was completely justified, first of all, that would be huge news.
And if Daisy Ridley took that opportunity to go around to all the morning talk shows and got an interview on Entertainment Tonight and did an interview for Star magazine and started posting YouTube videos about how Disney treated her inhumanely, she could get enormous press and easily lead the narrative, painting herself as being the victim.
Daisy Ridley Would Crush Disney
And Daisy Ridley is very likable. She’s attractive. She’s charismatic.
She’s a good actress.
All the same reasons that she got the part to play the lead in Star Wars are the same reasons she could easily sway the public to her side.
There’s no case where the average person is going to be looking at this pretty, attractive, young, charismatic, sweet girl and take the side of the big corporation over an individual with a face that they can really identify with.
So it would be absolute madness, it would be absolute suicide for Disney and Lucasfilm to fire Daisy Ridley right in the middle of making the trilogy and have her leave on bad terms with a grudge even if it was 100% her fault.
Is that fair?
No! it’s not fair.
But that’s the reality of that kind of business where you are dealing with celebrities to bring in the dollars.
The corporation has to pamper, the corporation has to bend over backwards to keep their top talent, to keep their top talent from walking off the set, and bad mouthing the brand and creating bad press even if that top talent is in the wrong.
It is branding suicide to have your top talent walking out, feeling bitter, and with a vendetta against you.
RSD’s Mistake #1: Paid Downvoting
Now the next stumble by RSD management or by Nick, is paying for bots to downvote Todd’s YouTube videos.
For example, maybe one of Todd’s videos gets 15,000 views and gets 500 likes.
Well, in the span of a couple of hours, suddenly the video may get 500 dislikes as well.
This is likely RSD trying to sabotage Todd’s new YouTube channel by flooding it with artificial downvotes.
Now one of the core tenets of RSD’s brand is not to bring negativity is not to bring drama, is not to speak ill of others in public.
That’s a carefully cultivated brand image they spent years nurturing.
And having bots downvote a recently former colleague’s videos creates a lot of ill will and broken trust with their fan base.
Cultivating a Brand Image
Listen, it can take a decade to carefully nurture a strong brand image and it can take all of a day to tear it all down and destroy it.
RSD’s only option to preserve their brand is to take the squeaky-clean highroad in this.
They can’t come across as the big bad corporation trying to silence and take down the little guy.
If they are going to do that, they have to do that on the down-low and very quietly.
It just hands ammunition to the defector to create a revolution, to be a martyr.
It hands a reason to the defector to gather a bunch of supporters and to increase the polarized rhetoric to force the fanbase to take sides.
RSD’s Mistake #2: Not Getting Ahead of the Story
A third mistake RSD management is doing is not getting ahead of the story is not putting out their side of the story.
And as a result, rampant speculation takes over.
People start assuming the worst and using their imagination to fill in the gaps.
The silence also lets Todd shape the narrative of what happened and what’s happening.
Now maybe RSD can’t say anything because of legal reasons, with lawsuits flying back and forth. and their lawyers have advised them to be completely quiet on the subject.
Nonetheless, the silence causes people to speculate because human beings naturally want to have an answer to why things happen.
Human beings naturally fill in the blanks with their imaginations.
This is what makes our species so successful over other animals.
And it allows Todd to shape whatever narrative he wants, which is just another reason that you never let go of your top talent under negative circumstances, no matter what because the company is automatically at a disadvantage in terms of PR.
Human bias: #1 People root for the underdog
So there’s at least FOUR human biases that work in Todd’s favor here.
And for these four reasons, TODD should NEVER have been let go under bad terms.
The first is that people will typically always root for and side with the underdog and oppose the bigger, more powerful, corporate faceless entity.
When there is a single human being with a face, that’s who people will jump to defend.
Whether right or wrong, that’s just human nature.
Human bias #2: People don’t like gray area
The second human bias, is that people don’t like gray area.
People don’t like to think that there could be fault on both sides, or nuance.
People want a good guy and they want a bad guy.
People want black, and they want white.
People want a simple answer.
People want someone to root for, and they want someone to jeer at.
For example, this video would probably get 1,000 percent more views if I simply took a side and portrayed it as a black-and-white issue where Todd was an absolute angel and Nick was a demon, or visa-versa.
Fact of the matter is, that Todd only needs to be 30% in the right, and he can be 70% in the wrong.
But because human beings want to be on the side of the good and need to have a clear, good, and bad delineation, Todd can easily pull 95% of the people to his side.
Is that fair? No.
But that’s reality.
That’s just the nature of that business.
Human bias #3: People root for the charismatic party
The third human bias is that people will tend to root for the person that comes across as more likeable and charismatic.
And Todd is very charismatic.
He’s very well spoken.
He comes across extremely intelligent.
He comes across as likable.
He comes across as authoritative, in a good way.
He comes across as someone that you would want to have a beer with, as someone that you could easily be friends with.
Whereas Nick, look, he comes across as a likeable enough guy on camera.
But arguably, he’s not nearly as charismatic as Todd is.
Now maybe Nick could be a more honest person, maybe Nick could be a better friend.
Maybe Nick could be giving all of his money to save poor children in orphanages and has been diligently searching for the cure to cancer.
But none of that would matter.
People will take the side of the more charismatic and likeable person typically, which would be Todd.
And when you are dealing with celebrities…
whether you’re producing a big budget movie, or you’re running a pickup coaching business…
That person got to be in that celebrity position, because they’re charismatic.
That was their talent.
So now you’re going to take them on in a public fight??
It’s nuts. It’s stupid.
Nick Doesn’t Understand He’s in the Television Business
Okay, so it seems that RSD has a history of bleeding off their top talent, losing their top coaches, or their executive coaches begin distancing themselves from the company, saying that they are not really part of RSD.
In reality they’re just very loosely affiliated with RSD, as some of their trainers say now.
That spells trouble.
That spells trouble to me, management fumbling.
That spells out to me, that Nick Kho, super good guy he likely is, does not really understand what kind of business he’s running.
He doesn’t understand that on television, like CNN or at Fox News, the 1% of the employees, the celebrity anchors in front of the cameras every day, make all the money.
He doesn’t seem to understand that he is essentially in a television business, but just on YouTube.
Damaging a Brand
So to wrap up, I’m not drawing conclusions as to who is right, and who is in the wrong because I don’t know who is in the right and who is wrong.
I don’t know to what degree who is right and who is wrong.
Probably nobody really knows, from the looks of it.
But it doesn’t matter.
The RSD brand has been damaged.
The damage has been done by fumbling the situation because of poor management from the top, not understanding the business.
I could be wrong here.
That’s just my opinion in this moment, as it stands, looking from the outside.
Even if RSD could somehow make Todd go away by magically snapping their fingers, at this point it’s too late.
The damage has been done.
It’s going to take them years to rebuild that trust again with their fanbase.