Love her or hate her, there's no denying that Kim Kardashian is force to be reckoned with. From Paris Hilton's paparazzi partner to a global icon, Kardashian has redefined the term “celebrity" and profited off it--in a major way. But what is the secret sauce behind her fame? What makes her resonate so widely and so deeply? According to Jeetendr Sehdev, the author of The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells (and How to Do It Right), it's a mix of vulnerability and blatant audacity.
“There is no doubt that Kim is a new world leader," says Sehdev, whose book serves as a part manual for fame, part thoughtful analysis of today's media landscape. “She is a cultural force. She is a phenomenon. We cannot ignore that or deny that."
With a focus on uncovering specific strategies behind her mass appeal, Sehdev, a celebrity expert and television personality, provides a roadmap for both individuals and brands on how to achieve relevancy and influence via the social waves. Spoiler: it has a lot to do with putting yourself out there.
“Kim Kardashian is one of the most desirable women in the world," says Sehdev. “She's busted down stereotypes, taken all elements of her personality and used them to her advantage," says Sehdev, underscoring Kim's unique ability celebrate flaws and promote a new paradigm of beauty. “She's not ashamed of herself or her body. She's not looking to conform. That attitude is especially pioneering in a place like Hollywood where you are told if you acquire a certain look you can be [famous]. She's shaping the culture. Many people think she has no talent but by whose criteria?"
Sehdev, who believes corporations have a thing or two to learn about personal branding from the reality star in terms of how to be authentic and vulnerable, says that one of his main points is that consumers of today are attracted to realness, rather than glossy perfection.
“I think perfection is passé," says Sehdev. “Kim allowing us in on her life creates a greater level of intimacy with her audiences and that transparency is what newer generations require today. You see that with YouTube stars. They are letting people in and being candid. Gone are the days where people are creating images [and advertising with them]."
He goes on to say that the move towards authenticity is a reaction to what Millennials are being conditioned to crave, thanks to a culture that thrives on “reality" thanks to social media. In addition, they've come to distain any form of blatant selling agenda, including product placement and pop up ads. What they do value is honesty and transparency from brands and even celebrities.
“There is a level of savviness among today's audience, so the best thing brands can do is show who they really are, and allow audiences to decide whether they want to engage or not, says Sehdev. “It's a liberating message, and today people want to be liberated."
Through a lens that focuses on brand-building, Sehdev says he was particularly fascinated with Kim's ability to polarize audiences with a non-apologetic approach to her public persona. He goes on to explain that without having "haters," you really don't have a brand, as strong emotions, and bring recognition, are tied to a fearlessness approach.
“Don't look to hide your differences, amplify them, because they are what makes your brand unique and that uniqueness will set you apart more than ever before," says Sehdev. “There is power around overexposure and transparency. Don't look to create contrived messages, instead let people into your brand, motives and intentions. That level of self-belief is contagious. Remember, all organizations are flawed in one way or another, so don't look to create perfection. Too many people have said all the right things in front of the camera then been caught behind closed doors saying another."
When asked why it was Kim who he chose to become the heralded protagonist of his book, Sehdev is frank. “Why not Kim?," he says.
“First and foremost, it was the fact that she has shaped our culture," he says. “There's the social following, but also there's a vulnerability, narcissism and sheer audaciousness that has propelled her from reality show laughing stock to cover girl and social media superstar. She is self-made and that is enormously powerful. The new breed of celebrity is not [thanks to] a talent agent from the old school world. She has promoted herself."
According to Sehdev, his decision to write the book came from his own realization that the world was changing in terms of who was holding the influence over the masses, and just how they achieved that status. He especially found this relevant in terms of Hollywood.
“I was born and raised in the UK, and it was fascinating to me when I moved to Hollywood that there was this massive shift in the way people were thinking," said Sehdev, who began his career in investment banking. “It made me realize it's not about one culture being better than another or having higher moral ground, and it's not about values or being good or bad, it's just a different way [of achieving influence]."
When asked if he thinks that traditional advertising still can have sway over consumers, Sehdev remains optimistic.
“Every [advertising] medium has its role today; one medium isn't dead," he says. “Traditional advertising is great for raising awareness and social media for having a conversation. [Both are important]. Consumers are consuming content in very different ways and that has to be taken into account. "
Sehdev adds that traditional TV advertising needs to continue to become more dynamic and more focused on selling reality with all its flaws. "It's still a very curated forum; very stylized, the messaging is still overly researched, and that can often come through," he says. "At one point traditional advertisers will benefit from the tenants of overexposure to become more real and authentic."
From a young age, I was fortunate to know what I wanted my career to be.
Many 12-year-olds say they want to be a movie star, pilot or professional athlete, but I knew that I wanted to be a realtor. Growing up in an era when Miami's real estate business was exploding, I watched the city grow before my eyes. I wanted to have a part in that growth, which is why I decided to obtain my real estate license as soon as I turned 18.
Today, I run a luxury real estate group under Cervera, with sales of over $400 million within Brickell, Biscayne Bay, Key Biscayne, Design District, Midtown, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. I've found a niche with penthouses, having sold Brickell's most expensive penthouse to date, along with two other penthouses in the past few years.
However, reaching this point did not come easy. I owe my success to two things: hard work and the people who took a chance on me. Without the former, there could never be the latter.
Here are the key reasons I was able to grow my business to over $400 million in sales by age 30.
You've heard it before, but I can't stress this enough. Every person you meet is a door to a new opportunity. In real estate, as is the case with most other professions, people want to work with someone they trust and connect with. My team and I put a large emphasis on not only going to work, but also finding meaning in the work we do through personal relationships. That can mean a lot of things, whether it be finding the perfect first home for a couple or helping a family move to an area with the best schools.
Real estate is personal, and your clients should always be treated like people, not numbers. Whether someone has a $100,000 or $10 Million budget, I treat them with the same respect.
As a result, nearly all of my clients come from referrals or return to me as repeat clients.
Become An Expert In Your Industry
My team and I put a strong focus on truly knowing the neighborhoods we work in. We've become local specialists, making sure that we have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of the listing, the area and the potential buyers.
We familiarize ourselves with every aspect of an area, including: the neighborhood, the local housing market, the inventory, the schools, community issues and traffic concerns. Being knowledgeable on these aspects help us guide the potential buyer in making an informed decision.
That same approach should be applied to every profession. People are choosing to work with you for a reason, so try to maximize the value that comes with that.
Find Time To Do Nothing
We live in a go, go, go world, with not much focus on slowing down. You're responsible for your own mental wellbeing, so be sure to put in the time for yourself. For at least one hour a day, I allow myself the space to do nothing and truly live in the moment. That hour may be spent meditating, curled up with a book or watching my favorite Bravo show. The point is: that time should be for you, free of any distractions. Doing this allows you to go into work with a clear mind the following day.
It's Not All On You: Empower Your Employees
There's an emphasis put on working non-stop as the only way to succeed. That approach couldn't be further from the truth. While I'm all about working hard, as a leader, working smarter not harder is what will take your business to the next level. Remember, you hire people for a reason, so trust them to do their job and always make yourself available as a resource.
That way, you can spend your time on big picture initiatives, and your employees can own their work and grow in the process.
It Takes Money To Make Money
Don't underestimate the power of good marketing.
In business, especially when first starting out, it's important to spend money to invest in your company's success. Whether it be boosting your website's SEO, creating targeted ads or sponsoring social media posts, effective marketing is crucial when looking to reach your target audience.
Beyond traditional marketing, attending conferences and panels is essential to help you continuously learn about your industry, meet like-minded people and get your name out there.