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You Must Build Credibility Before You Can Have Influence

April 2, 2013

imagesLast Easter Sunday was not only, well, Easter Sunday, but it was also the final episode of Mark Burnett’s series, “The Bible” on the History Channel, culminating in a gritty and inspiring dramatization of the crucifixion of Christ. The five-part mini series managed to generate ratings of biblical proportions, and a spin-off is already in the works.

Burnett is best known for his stints as producer of Survivor, The Apprentice and The Voice – certainly not your typical Sunday School fare. However, these prime-time reality shows are exactly where Burnett cut his teeth, establishing his reputation in the television industry as a star producer who knows how to deliver what matters most to the network: results and ratings.

So, I thought it was interesting that Burnett, along with his wife Roma Downey (of the tear-jerker, “Touched by an Angel” fame), felt compelled to use their clout to bring forward such an oddity as (cough) a bible show – to prime time television. I mean, in our super-fresh new millennial age of Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo, you would think Hollywood would be the last place to parade around a show like this.

Hats off to Burnett for leveraging his success into something more meaningful than reality TV.  “It was the right time to use the currency of that success to want to make something very important,” he told Focus on the Family.

Wait a second. Did you notice the way he accurately used the word “currency” to describe his previous success? Now the question is, what to do with that currency? Burnett’s hope was to help people emotionally connect to the great story of the bible.

So here’s my question: Do you think the History Channel would have been so gung-ho about launching such a clearly old-time religious-based series had some other enthusiastic mega-church do-gooder schmuck with no experience pitched the same idea? No, of course not.

Clearly, Burnett’s credibility and reputation in the world of production and hit TV shows paved the way to allow him to do something personally important to his faith, with the potential to impact millions of people who may not have been so keen to pick up the bible lately.

“I’ve made 2,000 hours on American prime-time TV,” he says. “Character and story are the key to storytelling. Well, I don’t know where you’re ever going to find better character and better story than in the Bible. There’s only one perfect character; that’s Jesus. Everybody else is flawed, and through the story line we chose to take is [that] despite all those flaws, God didn’t give up.”

People, I told you this before, but I’m gonna say it again, because our dude Mark B here is all over it:

You can’t have influence until you’ve earned a reputation.

You won’t earn a reputation until you build credibility.

You won’t build credibility until you deliver the goods – on more than one occasion.

Find out what’s important to your boss, your company, your customers, and make sure you are delivering results. Consistently. Then you will have permission to push all those good ideas around.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2013 9:19 am

    I love this. Love the example and lesson that we need to learn over and over again. As Christians, we want instant credibility with the world. It doesn’t work that way. It never has. Not even for Jesus!

  2. April 4, 2013 7:18 am

    J.B. great connection from The Bible to Burnett to our workaday lives. Delivering the goods will never go out of style and delivering those goods is God’s creative grace working through us… awesome!

  3. April 4, 2013 4:12 pm

    I like your approach…and Mr. Burnett’s.
    It’s true, we have to have a relationship before we speak truth.
    At work, I have to be a good worker before i have any credibility with a christian stance.
    With my neighbors, I have to cut my year before they’ll hear a thing about my Lord

  4. April 9, 2013 10:44 am

    Great insight! I didn’t see the television show, but I did watch the conversations all over social media. Even if the History Channel had let some schmuck produce the show, I don’t think it would have gotten as much attention.

  5. April 9, 2013 11:10 am

    At SXSW someone said something like this: “Anybody can have a great idea. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. But it takes a rare person who can bring a great idea to life without screwing it up.”

    In creating those reality shows, Mark Burnett was doing more than just building credibility, though. He was creating old fashioned morality plays. In the Bible series, he is trying his hand at old fashioned mystery plays. Both genres ultimately instruct the audience on how to receive redemption. After all, wasn’t redemption the main theme of Survivor and The Apprentice? Both shows were filled with people who made mistakes. We saw them failing along the way. We rooted for their redemption, and mourned when they were voted off the island and fired and condemned to leave the show.

  6. April 10, 2013 9:18 am

    I could not agree with you more when it comes to influence.

    I didn’t watch the series, mainly because I didn’t want to get any other pictures in my mind than the ones I’ve created myself.

  7. April 13, 2013 12:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Service Culture.

  8. April 16, 2013 9:49 am

    Man, that’s pretty powerful. I can’t help but think of all the frustrated people out there who feel that they’re not “doing anything for God” because they’re working in their own personal versions of Survivor or the Apprentice. But God could be crafting them and molding them into exactly the person for him to use later.

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