The Wall Street Journal has obtained a wonderful e-mail written by Tom Barrack, a man who has helped a company raise $16 billion dollars in real-estate investments (buying property like gaming company Station Casinos Inc., Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, and Walt Disney Co.’s Miramax movie studio, and many others) in which he encourages his employees to consider other points of view, even if they don’t agree with them in the beginning, or are 100% dead-set against them. What inspired him? Reading something he never thought he would care to read… Twilight.
During a lonely evening on a yacht in Turkey, Tom found himself desperately bored. The only thing he found to entertain himself was the book Twilight. He fought against himself and the idea of reading the book for many hours, worrying about what would people say (especially his male friends) if they knew, but he ultimately surrendered and read Twilight. And New Moon. And Eclipse. We’ll let him tell you the story:
There, staring up at me from the ebony coffee table was a book. On the cover was a gorgeous red apple nestled between two soft and caring hands. Between the hands were written the words that strike terror in the hearts of every macho, red-blooded male…TWILIGHT.
AAAARRRGGGGHHHH!! Alone, on a boat, with no wifi, no satellite, no magazines, no newspapers, just me and this book. This piece of chick lit, teeny bopper heartthrob stuff. Terror on the high seas! I wanted nothing to do with any of it. Not relevant, not interesting.
As I sat there with nothing to do the book kept taunting me. I began to think that there must be something I don’t understand. What could it be? What is it all about? Women don’t just read these books, they live them. They become each paragraph. I picked it up, but then immediately dropped it like a hot coal. What if someone saw me reading this? My macho reputation would be finished! I would be kicked out of the bench press section of the gym. My polo compadres would send me packing to the pony rides and my surfing buddies would exile me to the kiddie pool.
But it was a long night and there was absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING else to do. Long story short – not only did I read Twilight, I read the other two as well!! I was fascinated, captivated even. However, what intrigued me was not the same thing that hooked the millions of women whose lives and had been changed by this series, but something else entirely.
Here is my macho take – Stephanie Meyer is a total genius. As I flipped through the pages I was startled by the lack of detailed description of Bella and the surgical and illuminating development of Edward. As hard as I tried I could not really picture Bella, but I was grabbed by Edward’s character – gorgeous, super human, super strong, super fast and most importantly encompassing the wisdom of a 109-year-old man in the guise of a 17-year-old boy.
The description of Bella on the other hand, was not moving, or compelling. What I realized is the genius of Stephanie was that she knew that by keeping the character generic, any and every woman could climb inside and picture herself in Bella’s shoes. Thus the fascination and deep emotional reactions to what many (including myself) thought was a foolish teenage trashy novel.
I definitely got that the “anticipation” was much more romantic and sexy than the “consummation” to the woman. Slow, patient, caring, tender…. (guys have you heard those words before?) I found him incredibly appealing as he was taking care of Bella, putting her first, distancing himself from her to protect her and yet never being able to get her out of his mind. The relationship stood the test of time through many years, other men, family challenges and misconceptions of valiant and loving acts. A human relationship with a vampire is challenging on many levels, the least of which being you get older as your partner remain timeless. It was enticing, captivating, alluring…and dangerous. Through it all she believed that she could do it…. change her life… change his life…make it different…in spite of what conventional wisdom dictated.
Every woman longs for the anticipation, the romance, the journey, the taboo, the patience, and the attentiveness. Men, however, are all about the destination, the result, the speed and the outcome. The journey is merely penance to get to the destination. Which is why despite the vampires and werewolves, this book is kryptonite to most men.
Here is my point. The idea of devoting half a day to reading these books was something that never, NEVER, entered my mind as something I would ever, EVER do. I hated them. I mocked them. It made no difference to me that over 20 million books were sold, movies made, and Team Edward and Team Jacob pandemonium had engulfed the world. I was simply stuck in my point of view.
Once I ventured into the books I learned something. I now understand why some women are emotionally altered from merely reading a book. I have also gained a deeper realization that understanding the circumstances and points of views of those with whom we are negotiating, working, living, loving or fighting is the key determinant factor in an enduring relationship.
This is not even half the e-mail. You need to read the complete, adorably enthusiastic e-mail here at the source. I think it’s amazing that someone like him was willing to give the books a chance and use this opportunity to encourage others to do the same and try new things, try to understand other people’s points of view. That’s what makes him a great leader!