Cinematic pitches: selling certain death at Mordor and King Buddy.

The Confidence Man I am not. I don't ooze cockiness, self-assuredness, nor unfailing optimism in my ability to overcome anything thrown my way. So in a supreme example of confirmation bias, I search out examples of doubt turned into victory.

This past weekend, I found it in a ranger who would be king, while watching Lord of the Rings with the family for the upteenth time. Who wouldn't harbor the same fear Aragorn's troops do at the evil black gates of Mordor? Even Aragorn looks worried.

Which he turns to his advantage in this terrific speech.

Aragorn starts off with a confession: "Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me." That doesn't rouse the troops; it brings them down. However, the empathy it generates is key to his ability to shift their emotional outlook on a grand scale--from an obsession with the miserable, black deaths awaiting them to a group thrilled by the unified honor they'll achieve, dead or alive.

Compare that to a scene from American Beauty, one of my favorite movies of all time. Carolyn, Annette Benning's character, is obsessed with being a supremely confident, successful Realtor. And as her hero/lover "King" Buddy Kane says: "In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times."

Here's a classic scene of her working to build her image of success:

And here's her "image of success" put into play, along with its tragic impact it has on Carolyn when success isn't achieved:

Of course, with the right audience and the right "image of success," this approach could've worked for her. But Carolyn being her true fallible self, admitting to the failures of the properties and of the situation, could've succeeded too. In fact, I think she would've come out better.

An alt approach:

"Yes, this home isn't ideal. Because you can't afford ideal. But imagine what it could become with your hard work. And the equity you gain when you untap that potential? Incredible. Your soon-to-be neighbor's home just sold for double its original purchase price, and all they did was some good landscaping and a quickie kitchen update.Oh, this house still doesn't work for you? I can see why. It might be more house than you want to take on right now. So let's look at some other places."

But then again, my Realtor pointed out that I'm no Donald Trump. He, on the other hand, is as close as Utah gets to The Donald.


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