It's not exactly shocking that a guy like Simmons doesn't recommend blending in, but Simmons has very strategic reasons for spectacle. He traced the lesson back to trying to sell fruit on the side of the road in his native Israel.
"The bigger of a nuisance and the bigger of a spectacle I made of myself, the more we sold. That's the first lesson of mother nature and in show business," he told Fortt Knox. "You have to grab life by the scruff of the neck and demand to pay you some attention."
In your workplace, that probably doesn't mean carrying an ax guitar and spitting blood. It probably does mean zeroing in on which of your skills benefit the organization most, and making sure they get noticed.
Own your own persona
Simmons is very specific about this: When he appears on stage as "The Demon" it's not a character, it's a persona. The difference is, he's not pretending to be something else, as much as he's giving free rein to one aspect of his personality.
"If I put on the red lipstick and the star over my eye, I wouldn't be convincing," Simmons said, contrasting his persona with Paul Stanley's.
Lest we think personas don't have power, remember Steve Jobs, and think of Mark Zuckerberg. Jobs began wearing a black mock turtleneck and jeans later in life as a sort of uniform – or superhero suit.
Mark Zuckerberg used to wear jeans and a hoodie or fleece; now he's most often seen in a gray t-shirt. Jobs's persona drew attention to design and simplicity. Zuckerberg's communicates a connection to the programmers who try to keep the company relevant.
Sometimes you have to take it off
For more than a decade – from 1983 until 1996 — KISS took the makeup off. The band's popularity had been on a downward spiral. Aside from Paul and Gene, the band members weren't getting along.
"We decided, there's nowhere else to go. Let's take the makeup off," Simmons said. "It's much harder to be yourself. Much more difficult. You're aware people are looking at you."
Yet removing the masks that had made people pay attention, it turns out, proved to be a novel way of making people pay attention again.
Fortt Knox, hosted by CNBC anchor Jon Fortt, is a podcast about rich ideas and interviews with powerful people.
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