January 14

What I learned about video from Frank Kern

Tony Barrett


So I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

Actually, in the past I’ve been a LOT of a perfectionist, but I’m trying hard not to be any more.

I think it’s one of the challenges for many people who come from a corporate background into online entrepreneurship.

For me, as a management consultant and strategy analyst early in my corporate career, I was taught to do the work required (which usually took weeks or months) to get the right answer to whatever problem I was tackling.

Not the best answer. The right answer.

And then to present it clearly and professionally to an executive team or board of directors.

Using powerpoint of course. 🙂


Ah, just like the old days... although this board room is much younger, more
gender diverse and more ethnically diverse than most of the ones I remember...

Then… and only then… would they act on it.

Entrepreneurship… particularly solo entrepreneurship… is an entirely different kettle of finned thing though.

You can’t spend weeks or months researching a market. Things move too fast for that. Markets evolve. Opportunities disappear. Money is left on the table.

You’ll end up spending your whole life in research mode and never achieve anything.

Analysis paralysis to the nth degree.

So it’s something I’ve been trying to unlearn.

But… what does this have to do with video?

Perfectionism is a huge problem when it comes to appearing on video.

With written content like blog posts, social media posts, emails… I can edit and rewrite until it’s just right. (Although I’m trying not to do that as much as possible either.)

Not with video.

I get super nervous before going live because I know that there is ONE take, and whatever I say goes out there without the ability to bring it back.

Even doing a pre-recorded video can be an ordeal for me.

A good example recently…

I wanted to record a ‘quick’ 60 second video of myself talking about something.

Easy right? Pick up my phone, hit record, talk into the camera for 60 seconds, hit stop.

Yeah well… half an hour and 20 takes later I finally had one I was at least moderately happy with.

Each time I stumbled over my words… or forgot to say a particular point… or even just said it in a way that wasn’t perfect… I did it again.

In the end I managed to do one that seemed OK to me.

I haven’t watched it back though. (I’m also one of those people who hates watching themselves on video.)

Let’s try to dig a little deeper…

I think one of my limiting beliefs about video - or presentations in general - is that if I don’t come across as smooth, clear and confident… I’ll come across as unprofessional.

Which will undermine my authority.

Even small, simple things like stumbling over my words or pausing for too long.

And I suspect it’s a belief that is probably shared by many people experienced in the corporate world.


I may be undermining my own
authoritah by including this image...

The reality is that those things probably don’t impact my authority even in a professional corporate setting. Even so, I still find it challenging to let them go.

But while watching Frank Kern doing a Facebook live this week, I had a moment of clarity.

Frank Kern is my homeboy

In case you don’t know who Frank Kern is…

He’s one of the biggest names in internet marketing.

Apparently he’s been around since before the turn of the century… back when “online business” was about buying a category-killing domain name (like pets.com)...

Using it to get billions of dollars in funding...

Blowing all that funding on a fancy office with beanbags, fingerprint scanners, mood music and an army of personal chefs who each specialise in a different cuisine...

And then going bankrupt without making a single dollar of revenue.

As far as I could tell customers (and therefore marketing to them) never entered the equation back then.

But whatever.

The point is that Frank has been around a long time.

He’s published dozens of courses and other information products over the years.

Still today he puts out a lot of content, makes a lot of offers, and goes live regularly.

He’s also put out a podcast called “Frank Kern is my homeboy”, where each episode is just a couple of minutes of Frank answering some question a customer or listener has asked. Very useful.


Importantly, as far as I can tell, he is universally respected in the online marketing world. That’s not to say that everyone likes him or that he hasn’t made any enemies… but I am yet to find someone who doesn’t respect his skills, knowledge and track record.

In other words, Frank knows what he’s doing.

So what was the learning?

Not that long ago I started following Frank on social media.

And the thing that strikes me about his video work is… he’s not polished.

He’ll spend chunks of time in a video saying things like:

  • “OK, where’s the camera?”
  • “I’m just a dumb guy on the internet.”
  • “So what did I want to talk to y’all about? Oh yeah…”

Now I get that being slightly bumbling is part of Frank’s persona. It’s his public image, and it works for him.

But the thing is… it doesn’t seem to hurt his authority one iota.

He’s still one of the most well-known, respected and successful marketers online.

And as someone with a thirst for online marketing knowledge… I’m still engaged and compelled to watch his videos.

I’ve spent a bit of time trying to work out whether that’s because the videos themselves are compelling, or whether it’s because he’s Frank Kern.

My conclusion? I think it’s the former. The videos themselves are informative, compelling and, yes, authoritative… despite Frank’s bumbling.

It’s about authenticity, stupid!

It’s a well-used maxim in marketing that people are more likely to buy from those they know, like and trust.

And one of the great advantages of video content… as opposed to written or audio… is that it helps your audience get to know you more fully and quickly.

If they can see you AND hear you, they will feel that they know you better than if they just read the words you’ve written.

And then assuming you’re not a complete asshole, they’re more likely to like you… to trust you… and to buy from you.

By being distinctly unpolished, Frank seems more human. More authentic. More like us, the great unwashed.

If he was too slick… fewer people would trust him and he’d find it harder to get them to buy. Even if he came across as super ‘professional’.

So the key insight for me here is…


Woah! Check out the authenticity
I'm displaying in this snapshot!

Authenticity beats slick presentation every time.

What does that mean for me (and you)?

My fear of looking ‘unprofessional’ on video is holding me back unnecessarily.

If I screw up… if something goes wrong… it won’t undermine my authority, it will underline my authenticity.

(See what I did there? Word play at it’s finest!)

So my goal now is to do my best to let go of that fear.

Of course, it’s one thing to know what I should do… but it’s another to actually execute it in the moment.

We humans are emotional beings after all. It’s easy to say I’m not going to let it bother me. It’s harder to make it happen.

And of course it doesn’t mean that I won’t still be super nervous on my next live!

I think the only way to truly get over that fear is practice, repetition and consistency.

To keep putting myself in front of the camera, and every time I stumble on my words, have a long pause while I try to work out what to say next, lose my notes, make a mistake… remind myself that it’s actually a good thing.

With a bit of luck (and practice), I’ll hopefully get to the point where that fear truly is gone!

If this is a challenge for you too, and I suspect it is for many, then hopefully this has helped you understand it better… and given you some ideas for what you can do about it.

Good luck!


entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, online business, social media, video

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