PREFACE - You Are the Message - Roger Ailes, Jon Kraushar

You Are the Message - Roger Ailes, Jon Kraushar (1995)


The passage of a few years and the benefit of experience continue to prove that the principles of this book are timeless and that they work for everyone, regardless of gender, age, status, political affiliation, or nationality. Just after You Are the Message was first published, the book’s ideas were subjected to a public trial by fire when I served as the senior media adviser to Vice President Bush’s successful 1988 presidential campaign. In that campaign, I worked with George Bush on the skills you can read about here: how to effectively combine your substance and style to get what you want by being who you are, at your best.

By 1991, I had retired from political consulting to concentrate on my work with corporate and entertainment clients. I thus removed myself from involvement in the 1992 presidential campaign. However, one of Bill Clinton’s top advisers admitted on television that he had read You Are the Message, and I understand the book had also been read by a number of Clinton’s strategists.

Out of the glare of the headlines, I heard from many people who said that You Are the Message had made a difference in their lives. One woman called me from the airport in St. Louis, Missouri, and told me that the book had saved her career. She had been paralyzed with fear before a very important business presentation but had gained confidence and learned helpful techniques while reading the book during her flight.

Thank-you letters came from recent graduates who had found employment using the interviewing tips in this book. Business leaders called to order, in bulk, copies of the book to inspire and instruct their sales forces.

Members of the clergy wrote to say that their sermons had additional sparkle because of suggestions in You Are the Message. Several schools and colleges added the book to required reading lists. In fact, my niece, a college student in Toledo, Ohio, was told by a professor that she’d better read You Are the Message, and he asked if she had heard of the author. “Yes,” she said proudly, “he’s my uncle.”

You Are the Message has been translated into foreign languages. However, I’ve been told that the English version was used to help Eastern European entrepreneurs and government officials communicate better in their new, free-market economies after the fall of Communism.

As I’ve often said, my interest in communication began with a quest to understand how and why audiences react. It is my hope that as a result of reading You Are the Message, many people will increase their understanding of the “composite messages” of others—friends and foes alike. People whose messages need to be carefully analyzed include politicians, journalists, business leaders, customers, competitors, family members, teachers, public officials, and everyone else capable of changing our lives. When you think about it, that includes anyone.

It is only through study and application that we can develop the capability and control needed to be intelligent speakers and—equally important—intelligent listeners. It is only through knowledge and discussion that we can sharpen our critical judgment, to distinguish between messengers who are harmful versus those who are beneficial. The message behind You Are the Message is: Take responsibility for the communication you send and the communication you receive. If there’s misunderstanding either way, assume the responsibility for correcting it. Be a proactive—not a reactive—communicator. This book teaches you how to do that.

In 1993, I turned day-to-day management of my company, Ailes Communications, over to Jon Kraushar, my longtime colleague and collaborator on this book, because I was offered a challenge too big to pass up. I was asked to run the NBC-owned cable television company CNBC and to design and launch a new all-talk network, America’s Talking, which I did on July 4, 1994. I remain associated with Ailes Communications as its founder, and Jon continues to teach the Ailes Method, as it is explained in You Are the Message. But, in returning full-time to an early passion of mine—television production—I have new opportunities to observe and apply the lessons of this book.

Today, more than ever, we see that television, mass media, and the blooming of the Information Age have changed the way we communicate. For better and worse, we live in an age of exposure where electronic media can record, monitor, and broadcast our thoughts and actions. Whether we like it or not, society’s views of people and ideas are shaped and influenced by the flickering images on television and other electronic screens worldwide, carrying video, text, and sound. It can be breathtaking, exhilarating, or frightening to watch the impact and speed of the changes wrought by those images dancing across the monitors. We have seen political systems crumble or emerge, countries collapse or form, and personal fortunes soar or crash in, literally, seconds—just as long as it took to communicate.

As it says in this book, it takes only seven seconds for you to make an impression on other people. Ours is an era in which both information and interpretation keep getting more tightly compressed. That seven seconds is crucial in the making and breaking of impressions, relationships, sales, and decisions that affect the direction of our lives. Again, like it or not, a communication symbol of our age is the easily distracted, time-stressed television viewer using a remote control device to “channel surf” from program to program—from personality to personality—in mere seconds, in search of some gratifying mix of entertainment, inspiration, and information. That same restless, opportunistic viewer mentality confronts each of us as we present ourselves and our ideas to audiences small and large. You Are the Message is your guide for keeping others tuned in, to you.

Throughout the years, I have been a television producer, a frequent news source, and a commentator on issues including politics, entertainment, culture, and effective communication. But in 1994, I took on a new role. I became the host of a program on America’s Talking, called “Straight Forward,” where I interview interesting personalities from all walks of life.

I’ve thus come full circle in my career—from the coach to the presenter, from the man behind the camera to the man in front. Like all of us, I am subject to the rules and rewards described in this book. I occasionally stumble, and when I do, I review the principles of You Are the Message. I hope you enjoy this book and profit from it—by being who you really are, at your best.

Roger Ailes
March 1995


The world has changed. So has the way we communicate. Those who fail to adapt will be left behind. But for those who want to succeed, there is only one secret:


That is the subject of this book.

This book is different from anything you may have heard or read about communications. The most exciting—and revolutionary—information in this book is that to be a good communicator you don’t have to do tedious drills or alter your basic personality. We’ll show you that you already have within you the tools to persuade and influence other people who are important to you, whether in your professional or personal life. Together we’ll examine what I call the composite you. That composite makes up the total message you send to others, and it includes: the words you use, your voice, the way you move, the signals you send with your facial expressions, and your attitude.

Among the things we’ll cover:

✵ How television has changed all the rules of communications and why it affects you more than you think

✵ How other people see you

✵ The four communications errors that your listeners won’t forgive

✵ Breaking through fear and other performance blocks

✵ A few simple rules to insure speaking success in every situation

✵ Who some of the master communicators are—and how they do it

✵ How you can get what you want by being who you are