Frontstage Vs Backstage

During a presentation recently here in Holland, I had an experience that was funny, but in a sad kind of way. It reminded me of a really important lesson I learned a long time ago.


I was doing a speaking gig to a large group of people. It was only a 15 minute talk, so shared some things I learned on Necker island and from my time with Richard Branson.

Introducing me was a semi-famous Dutch gentleman. While we were on stage together he asked,

“Can you name the first hit song produced by Virgin Records?”

“Tubular Bells.” I knew this right away because I love that recording.

He then tells me that since I was knew the answer, he had a gift for me – his copy of “Tubular Bells” that he purchased many years ago when it was released.

I was so excited! I literally gave the guy a hug on right on stage.

This was an amazing gift for me, because I love receiving things that have a history or special meaning. Once my friend gave me his copy of the book, Think and Grow Rich, which he bought about ten years ago. It was the first book he every bought and read. He gave it to me with a cool note written inside.

I love things with a personal touch.

Later in the VIP room, when he spoke to me, because I was so excited I asked,

“So, when do I get my record?”

“Oh, I don’t have it. That was just for on stage.”

This guy was simply showing off how for the audience, trying to make himself look good; but then backstage… there was no gift.

I didn’t think a lot about it then. It was a very hectic event. But later in the car, as I was reflecting over the evening I thought to myself,

“Did that really just happen? It did! I can’t believe that really just happened.

Reminder: Your backstage performance is as important as your frontstage performance.

This man’s behavior was a perfect example of people who, when they are presenting, are a different person. They put on a performance and represent themselves to be something they might not really be.

My goal is to always try to be the same person behind the scenes as I am when in public. For example, when I am recording my podcasts, that is me frontstage. The person I am in those moments is the person you would see in private.

That’s why I don’t wear suits. During this speaking event, I was the only guy on stage not wearing a suit.

That’s the real me.

For me, being your true self is not a matter of ethics. It just makes everything easier. When you are really being yourself you don’t have to remember how to act, what you should do, or what to say. I can’t imagine being genuinely happy, at ease or relaxed when there is a big gap between your frontstage and backstage persona.

Life is much simpler when you are the same person all the time.


If you enjoyed this article, please let me know by leaving a comment below or send me a Tweet @EelcoDeBoer.

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  • 13 July 2015
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