Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

What Madonna Knows (And NFL Refs Don’t) About Pleasing A Crowd

It was quite a scene last night. On Monday Night Football, on the final play of a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, a ball was simultaneously caught by two guys. As they struggled for it in the end zone, the Green Bay player appeared to have it – which would have ended the game. But they were playing in Seattle, and to the delight of the more than 50,000 screaming fans – one referee on the field slowly raised his hands to signify it was a touchdown. To anyone watching on television, or not from Seattle, it appeared clearly to be the exact opposite – but the referee gave the crowd what it wanted.

Ordinarily, this might just have been a bad call. But every week the scrutiny is getting harder for this group of referees because they happen to be replacements thanks to a labor strike from the “real” referees. The replacements are inexperienced – but the truth is, any of us might have done the same thing. When you have that many people screaming desperately at you to say or do what they want … it’s easy to bow to the pressure.

The day before last night’s game, I had the chance to see Madonna live in concert in Washington DC. She is still an amazing performer, easily making you forget she happens to be 54 years old. At that concert, too, people were screaming at her to play their favourite songs. As we walked out at the end of the evening, almost everyone said the same thing … “that was an amazing show, but I just wish she played __________________.” When you’re in front of a crowd, they will always find a way to demand more than you have to give.

The thing is, pleasing an entire crowd is almost impossible. When you try to play to the crowd, you might get a short term cheer like the referees in the Seattle stadium on Monday night. If you do it by compromising on what you know, you create much different reactions in the long term. When Madonna started her concert, she knew she would never be able to play every one of her songs that her audience loved. But she interacted with the people there that night. She talked to them and asked them what they wanted. And she delivered a great experience. All of which proves that most of the time the best way to please a crowd is make your own choices, and not cater to the screamers.


1 thought on “What Madonna Knows (And NFL Refs Don’t) About Pleasing A Crowd”

Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)


Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.


#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object


Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message