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The Kim Kardashian Principle: Review

I admit, checking this book out at the library was an impulse checkout. The library had recently acquired this book, and it sat proudly next to other new books the library was showcasing in their new books section. So I did what most people do when they see Kim Kardashian’s name juxtaposed to something useful, I checked it out. After a few weeks, I finally read it and came away surprised.

I summarized this book into the following phrases:

Be yourself

Jetender explains how it is difficult to maintain an alter-ego in a world of almost instantaneous availability. He cited trends on social media where the new wave of attention comes from pure honesty, imperfections and all. The young generation today can spot inauthenticity rather quickly. Ever so often I come across an article about companies that avoid Photoshopping their models and experience higher levels of brand engagement. Or how Chick-Fil-A has stayed true to its Christian beliefs in how it operates and has continued to enjoy increased sales with its core market. While much of Jetender’s analysis has been met with surprise, his book proves that his once outlandish theories become validated with time.

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy

I grew up watching the Magic School Bus, which is where this signature quote originates. At the end of the day, influencers conforming to the tried and true will eventually be forgotten. He cited Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston as examples. While Aniston was once the IT girl, Jolie has managed to remain in the spotlight for an extended time (although in my opinion she’s been long gone). Jolie’s honesty and willingness to be vulnerable is probably best cited when she made public her double mastectomy a few years ago to reduce her chances of breast cancer. Flying in the face of “you do not tell people about such things or you will risk being viewed as inferior or incomplete” logic, she connected to many individuals experienced similar circumstances. He explains how Kim Kardashian flew against the standard IT girl (not so skinny, not white, not blonde, etc) and just remained comfortable with herself and authentic with her followers that has led to her meteoric rise in the spotlight.

Jetender discusses different concepts throughout the book, concluding each chapter with an analysis of how Kim utilized such principles to make herself famous. I came away shocked because I truthfully did not think much about Kim except for becoming famous for not doing anything spectacular (which I still hold). The key here is that she chose to rewrite society’s rules for being famous and led a trend in show business towards vulnerability and authenticity.

One particular concept that stood out to me was the idea of complex beings having inner conflicts. For example, Unilever owns both the Dove and Axe brands. If you know anything about these companies, they are as different as light and day in the personal care space. Axe pushes a “bro culture” body image, oftentimes bordering on misogynistic levels (or maybe they have crossed that line?), whereas Dove markets positive body image in all shapes and forms. How does Unilever reconcile this apparent discrepancy (and evident hypocrisy)? The short answer is that it does not, letting each brand run itself. Ironically, sales of both brands have been doing well, despite the backlashes and shortcomings. I cannot remember some of the other examples but the conclusion Jetender makes is that humans are complex individuals, and there will be times where things we stand for can conflict with other things we stand for. I found this interesting.

Read this book: If you are willing to read about celebrity culture and how people become famous in today’s world, as well as some pioneers of these principles long before the 21st century. It is particularly encouraging to realize that being true to yourself (however cliche that phrase is) still carries weight, and conforming to societal standards can backfire.

Don’t read this book: If the name Kim Kardashian or anything celebrity or pop culture turns you off. Some of the examples cited in the book did not quite sit quite well, but they did illustrate the point Jetender tried to make. It is an easy and quick read with the numerous examples, but could easily bore you if you are not aware of the many cultural references he makes. Do not read this book if this post was enough for you.

Jetender writes fairly, and uses examples from different areas to illustrate his points. He is careful to avoid too much personal analysis or opinions on whether some examples did the right or wrong thing. When I first checked this out I was curious, then I became bored as it sat in my house waiting to be read. But I have a cardinal rule where if I check out a self-help book, I have to read it. When I finished, I concluded that this was an interesting book that changed my expectations.