Why Jimmy Fallon was given the keys to ‘The Tonight Show’ – October 2014

As a 12 year old, I remember laying in my bedroom watching Johnny Carson on ‘The Tonight Show’ on a small 8 inch black and white TV. I’m not sure how, as a middle schooler, I stayed up until 11:30pm watching Johnny. Might have been just Friday nights; I don’t remember the specifics. I just remember being mesmerized by the antics and versatility of Johnny Carson. In addition to being a versatile, top-notch performer who could change from ‘Carnac The Magnificent’ in one segment to ‘Art Fern’ in the next, Johnny was an expert interviewer. His style was unique and cutting edge for the time. The interviews had a feeling of 2 friends talking instead of the question and answer style of other talk shows during that time. It felt as though Johnny and the guest were friends and the conversation flowed.

A unique ability to connect to the Guest

Johnny had a unique ability to connect on a personal level with his guests. Enough so that he kept a 12 year old entertained. Enough so that he was the host of The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992. In 1992 Johnny retired and Jay Leno took over the most famous talk show of the day. This lineage went from Jay Leno to a place holder, Conan O’Brien, then back to Leno.

Each were successful in their own right, but they did not hold my interest like Carson. Thus, I rarely watched The Tonight Show for the last 20 plus years until recently. The reason I have started watching The Tonight Show again is because Jimmy Fallon is a multi-talented entertainer and an excellent interviewer. With today’s technology and the ability to record and play back shows, I don’t have to stay up until 11:30p waiting for the show to start. I just press record and can watch the entire show at my leisure in about 45 minutes.

Pay particular attention to the Questions.

The next time you watch Fallon and The Tonight Show pay particular attention to his interview with the Star/Guest and how this interaction varies from the typical talk show interview. Go watch Jimmy Kimmel, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, David Letterman, they are all excellent entertainers in their own right, but their interviews are all pretty much the same. The host has the ‘scripted’ list of 3-4 questions and they all travel down the same path: What’s your latest project/movie? How was it to work with [insert co-star here]? Tell me something funny that happened on set? When is the movie opening or what time does your show air? All the interviews sound the same, provide little insight into the guest’s life, and all are very surface related questions that provide little substance.

On the other hand, Jimmy Fallon’s interviews are anything but scripted; the interview and interaction between Fallon and his guest can start one way and before you know the 2 of them are talking about some obscure story from the guests’ past. If you have not watched The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon do yourself a favor and check it out. Pay particular attention to Fallon’s interview with his guest. You are on the edge of your seat because you cannot wait to see what Jimmy will talk about next, and the answer from his guests often leave me shaking my head because I can’t believe the guest actually just said what they did. The interview is much like two college friends that have not seen each other in a few months and they are catching up over a few beers at their favorite watering hole.

How the Interview is really a ‘Story’

Compared to most where there is a scripted set of questions, Fallon’s interviews typically follow a different, more entertaining path. He usually starts with a story about the guest that he either witnessed first-hand or heard about from a friend. They will talk about the story and from that usually spawns the ‘Story behind the Story.” This can go in any direction from here. They will talk for 4 to 5 minutes basically about nothing, but it is pure entertainment and you’ll be amazed what Jimmy can get the guest to say. Then, about the last 30 seconds of the interview, Jimmy will remember that the guest is actually there to ‘pitch’ something and they’ll briefly talk about the movie/TV show/etc. This off-the-cuff interview is much more entertaining, and Fallon leaves you feeling as though he has just uncovered some personal nugget about the guest that you never thought you’d learn.

Watching Jimmy one night recently I realized why I love The Tonight Show again. Yes, Jimmy Fallon is an amazing performer and his skits with Timberlake, The Roots, and the games with the guests are hilarious, but what I really enjoy are the interviews. His interactions with his guests mirror the interaction that I have with my clients during our Initial Consultation (interview).

It’s the Personal Connection that forms a Bond

Just recently, I was at a meeting with potential clients for the first time. These were not my typical client with whom I already have a relationship or who are personally referred. These people are the meticulous engineer types; they do their research about you before meeting. They knew my ‘stats;’ they knew all the listings I’ve sold this year. They commented how amazing all of my listings photographed and wanted to know the ‘key.’ They also ‘interviewed’ a couple other Realtors, because that’s what engineers do, they research and analyze everything.

This meeting and the flow of the meeting was typical for me, but I could tell it was far from what they were expecting. We talked about their kids, their grandkids. We discussed the home they are in the process of building ‘in Carolina’, I looked at their house plans. They have a fireplace… I told them to be wary and my ‘Story’ about my fireplace, the explosion and the overnight stay in the hospital. We talked about their grandkids playing sports and how I’m coaching Alex’s soccer this year, after coaching Anthony’s soccer last year. And during this conversation, I gave some pointers on how to properly present their home and what my ‘Team’ (Stagers, Cleaner, Photographer) would do to help maximize the profit from their home without getting into specifics.

I left the meeting as I always do. I thanked them, wished them well, and told them that they could expect a full, detailed customized analysis/game-plan within the next 2 days.

If you know me, I don’t chase. I don’t hunt people down. I don’t pester. About 3-4 days after they got my game-plan they called to tell me they were going to list with me. So I put the wheels in motion with my Team and arranged another meeting to go over the specifics of the Plan. During this meeting, I asked them why they chose me and their answer went something like this. Eric, first of all we were impressed with the depth of your analysis and your suggestions to help us sell our home for the most profit. And when we met, you asked questions about our family, about us and it didn’t feel like a sales pitch. This is the typical answer. I’m not trying to sell them. I’m informing my clients and potential clients and give them a blueprint, but more importantly, I’m finding out about them on a personal level. Like Jimmy Fallon, my meetings are anything but scripted, anything but the same generic 4-5 questions that every Realtor asks. I think – no I know – that, if we are going to be working together for 3, 4, 8 months it’s important that we have some personal connection.

Want Scripted? Look Elsewhere

If you are someone that enjoys the ‘scripted’ interviews with the same 3 or 4 questions then you are probably not a good fit with my style. However, if you find value in genuine conversations and enjoy hearing Stories instead of a ‘Sales Pitch’ then you might be a fit for my program. I’ve implemented a client application that takes care of all the real estate questions, so that when we meet we can actually have a meaningful conversation. Much like Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show I never know, and neither will you, what path our conversation might take when we meet. We could talk about dogs or kids for an hour, but when we’re done I will know something about you and vice-versa that you’d never thought your Real Estate Agent would know. At the end of our chat it’ll feel more like 2 friends from college catching up and having a beer together rather than an interview with a Realtor.

Next time you are watching a Talk Show, see if you can script the next question before the host asks…. Fun game…. Enjoy!