Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success


Paying for fame

Q: How much privacy do super-successful public figures deserve? Do the infidelities of Tiger Woods or former presidential candidate John Edwards change your perceptions of them?

Human beings do the same things regardless of their individual level of fame or talent. We just expect more of people who are well-known because we secretly want them to pay a price for their fame and money. For the general public, it's a combination of envy and an understandable inability to emotionally put ourselves in their shoes.

Super-success is usually a package deal: You win fame and attention, and the bonus prize is life under a microscope -- which just so happens to magnify the good and the bad. So, whether a public figure seeks fame or gets thrust into the spotlight because of some off-the-charts giftedness, the price of that fame is already high. But most of us won't understand that unless we actually become famous, which means you will more than likely never know (no offense).

Our research shows that a high percentage of people who are willing to do what it takes to become extraordinarily good at something suffer from compulsive behavior. (It's the foundation of drive.)

Consider: All Elvis Presley wanted in the end was to be able to go to the movies without having to rent the entire theater. He once said it would be nice to be in an audience, not just be there for the audience. That might make a very compulsive person feel he needs a special someone on the side -- or maybe it just drives him to eat a lot of peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches!

By Garrison Wynn  |  December 8, 2009; 9:39 AM ET  | Category:  privacy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Unlike iralarry, I don't take offense, but I do agree with him on a few points. We're not motivated by envy, and we're not out here hoping the mighty fall (yes, some folks think that way, to be sure, but that's not what fuels this freak show). The truth is there is a seeming distance and safety between us and the famous, like the seeming invisibility we experience driving in traffic. We don't stop to think we drive as badly and pick our noses in our cars just as often as everyone else, and we never stop to think celebs have clay feet, just like the rest of us.

We do not have a "right" to know what is going on in the private lives of the famous just because they're famous. That's just an excuse the media toss out to justify their behavior.

We do have a right to have an opinion about what we learn about such a person, however, just as we have when we hear of this sort of behavior on the part of someone we actually know. Personally, I would "de-friend" anyone I knew on a personal level if they acted with such callous disregard for their family.

That we pay attention to such people is not an indication that "We really are a lost society," as iralarry contends. We watch what they feed us, and if they stopped slopping this sort of garbage on us, we would not miss it.

Posted by: Tim_Johnson_Coactive_Brand_Lab | December 9, 2009 5:01 PM
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As the majority of us know, not being famous is pretty simple. But Tiger Woods has an extraordinary skill which has served him to transcend a difficult complex sport and his private life has become a causality of that exceptional ability. Unlike many famous athletes, Woods has made an effort to zealously guard his privacy, which he should have known would exacerbate his problems should any of his extramarital affairs become public. Ken Kesey observed that every halo comes with a crosshair. Woods is now in the public domain and will be publicly vilified for his behavior off the course. (He has two small children, for the love of mike). No more sentimental hugs with wive and children after a tour win. He should take a year off from the tour, make a demonstrable effort to get counseling and save his marriage (if that is possible - wives of famous men also have a different view of flagrant infidelities not just because of all the money - see Hillary Clinton). Then return in 2011 better for the entire mess. He might be able to return to playing golf without distraction. The jokes will become stale and his attrition will be reinforced by his actions. The PGA has been a sanctified place where (other than John Daly) the pros have not had their private lives mangled - but now their most accomplished member has indulged in the most adolescent activity - the straying eye. As Eugene Robinson said in his NY Times article yesterday, and I paraphrase - 'Did Tiger think these women were attracted to him for his wit and charm?" Get thee to a nunnery, Tiger, until Riviera 2011.

Posted by: bmalone1 | December 9, 2009 9:31 AM
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..."we" do?

I don't want Tiger or anyone else to pay for their fame. I don't think that they owe the public anything.

The issue as I see it is that there is a difference between expecting something of the public and expecting the public to give them something, and expecting that your spouse won't cheat on you, and admitting it when you do it.

Just like admitting anything that you do that is wrong. If you can't admit it, can't square up to it, then you're still benefitting from it and any admissions short of a full admissions are just attempt to hide behind the act of admitting *something*. That's tiger's problem here. I don't think that he owes the public an admission that he cheated on his wife, but he does owe *her*, and himself, a public apology for cheating on her. That's the right thing to do.

It's not right to just sweep it under the rug of "personal privacy" or "a family issue" anymore than it is right to sell the story to USweekly for $150k, that's just vampirism.

Beyond that his claim that he deserves "the same privacy as everyone else" is just crazy. How long has it been since Tiger lived a normal life? NO ONE has the right to absolute privacy, much less a famous person who has paparrazi camping outside his house. I'm not saying that that's right, but it's legal and therefore it's something that he has to deal with. Not to mention the illegal acts (ignoring adultery for the moment) where people will find out details of his personal life and sell them to the press. He can complain about that all he wants, isn't going to change a thing about that.

Posted by: dubya1938 | December 8, 2009 3:57 PM
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Yours was one of the few "Tiger" commentaries that I have read, that I have enjoyed.

Fame seems different from the outside than when you really get it -- I am sure.

But I would like to take the opportunity to thank Tiger, for taking my mind off the recession........

Posted by: nkwari | December 8, 2009 2:23 PM
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"Were it not for the public’s adoration, they would not even exist."
to iralarry, i say... the famous would indeed still exist because they have a drive unknown to most of the population with or without your adoration. It is the very attitude that a person is defined by what 'joe public' thinks of him that is the sad mentality of our society. To think anyone owes you anything because of your support is ridiculous.
"Stardome' is something all people may dream of... i agree-very few get there... but I think it is very safe to say that TW is the golfer he is today because of an incredible love of the game of golf but more than intense competitive nature and desire for perfection... yes - to the point of compulsion. How many have that kind of drive? How many will beat balls well into the night for that one perfect shot?? Not many! so yeah... TW got where he is today because of his hard work... not because of anything 'joe public' did for him. The "joe public" that happens to enjoy golf... just happens to be blessed enough to see what hard work, compulsive determination and a near perfect golf swing look like in action.
When people show up anywhere, in any venue, with exceptional ability, people will show up... we will seek them out...they will not be there because of us...we will be there because of them.
It saddens me that people think famous people have no flaws and hold them so accountable for every thing they do. No famous person was perfect before they became famous... they did not suddenly fall from grace. Its just that more people starting looking to find a way to knock the legs off the pedestal the public created for them. We seem to forget we fell in love with their ability long before we knew anything about their morals.
While a good amount of people may feel bad for the situation TW is going through (whether self induced or not) there are indeed a good majority relishing in the fact that he has failures and are eager to read all about them.
It really is quite sad... but the compulsion felt by the elite will drive them to continue on... no matter what...
anyway... i happen to think it is worse what we do to those in the public eye when we judge them so harshly than anything they did to disappoint their fans that caused the judgements flying over the media.
Ulimately, I think super-successful, public figures should expect very little privacy... people are too driven to know everything about them...
I just wish the public would be less cruel and be there for their favorite icon when they could use our support the most.

Posted by: jeanieh1 | December 8, 2009 2:11 PM
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People forget that Tiger Woods was on national television at the age of 3. Tiger Woods never had a childhood as he started working at a very young age to please his father. We saw what happened to Michael Jackson, Jennifer Capriaic, Andre Agassi and many similar stars. Drugs, anger, alcohol, divorces and so on. Agassi was lucky because he married a star player who was also abused by her father. Agassi's wife understood him. Woods needs to forgive his father for being abusive and his mother for not protecting him from his father. If Woods does not get help he will continue his obsessive compulsive behavior which will destroy his family and himself.

Posted by: rivusc1 | December 8, 2009 1:27 PM
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"We just expect more of people who are well-known because we secretly want them to pay a price for their fame and money. For the general public, it's a combination of envy and an understandable inability to emotionally put ourselves in their shoes."

Maybe for you Mr. Wynn. I am offended you should speak for me and characterize people the way you do. You can be jealous or void of imagination to assert you could never appreciate the role TW plays in his fame and fortune. I and countless others hold in esteem individuals who achieve greatness in what ever they endeavor to succeed in and we can understand it as well.

And how dare you suggest that we as the public want the mighty to fail. We, via our own doing and attention to them elevate them to higher ground. Were it not for the public’s adoration, they would not even exist. To suggest that now that they are there because of their hard work and our support we want them to fail is tantamount to raising a child and hoping they fail in life. This is how seriously people approach the famous. We might as well cut our own throats for all the effort put into the hopes and dreams of others. The public craves the hero story of success through perseverance. We WANT people to succeed precisely because we do not reach the same state as these famous ones do. After all, is there greatness if all were great at the same time?

TW never could have achieved fame and fortune had we known that in his formative years he was cruel, or cheated or used drugs. He started out squeaky clean and got dirty, at least morally/ethically by our definition-after the fact. This has NOTHING to do with the accomplishments he has already attained.

I for one am perplexed at the endless needs a person can have given from the outside they appear to have everything a person could possibly want for a male: great, unspeakable and ridiculous for the reasons wealth, a stunningly beautiful wife, adoring friends and an enthusiastic public. Then I remember, we are on the outside. We have no right to know what is going on with him. We may want to know and how unfortunate it is we have a well-paid media to produce it for us. How sad is it at hat we should take more interest in someone else’s life when we have our very own to pay admirable attention to. We really are a lost society.

Posted by: iralarry | December 8, 2009 12:55 PM
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Celebrities can't have it both ways with the huge money a Tiger Woods gets for commercial endorsements, and then expect the public to not be interested in their lives. The tragedy for Woods is about a young person who hasn't been able to handle the power he thought all this money gave him. He has lost whatever values his parents may have taught him, and destroyed his marriage and family. The women who interacted with him were seeking their own power and money by their relationship with him.

Posted by: GeorgenotWinTexas | December 8, 2009 12:10 PM
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