Follow Friday
Baby Yoda, rich moms, the Bono of finance bros

Brooke Hammerling (Pop Culture Mondays)

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Pop Culture Mondays writer Brooke Hammerling
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Today on Follow Friday, The New New Thing founder and Pop Culture Mondays writer Brooke Hammerling talks about the broadening definition of "pop culture," her French bulldog Potato's Instagram fame, and four of her favorite people to follow online:

- Someone she has a crush on: George Hahn, @georgehahnnyc on TikTok
- Someone who has stopped posting but needs to come back: Josh Brown, @downtown on Twitter
- Someone who makes the internet a better place: Christina Najjar, @tinx on TikTok
- Someone she doesn't know but wants to be friends with: Ben Stiller, @redhourben on Twitter

And on our Patreon page, you can pledge any amount of money to get access to Follow Friday XL — our members-only podcast feed with exclusive bonus follows. That feed has an extended-length version of this interview in which Brooke talks about why you should follow PR expert/investor Ashley Mayer.

Also:

- Follow Brooke on Twitter @Brooke and on Instagram @Brooke
- Read her newsletter Pop Culture Mondays and follow/subscribe to her upcoming podcast, Pop Culture Mondays on Thursdays
- Follow us @FollowFridayPod on Twitter and Instagram
- Follow Eric on Twitter @heyheyesj

Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan.

Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, Shinri, Elizabeth, Odette, and Jay

Full transcript of this episode
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ERIC JOHNSON: Can you believe that Follow Friday is almost one year old? I know I can't. I'm recording the first birthday special tomorrow and I am so excited. It's gonna be great. And you know what else is great, is today's episode with Brooke Hammerling, who some of you might know as a PR and communications person, but I wanted to have her on because she writes a really entertaining newsletter that I love called Pop Culture Mondays.
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It's a new year, time to shake things up, so we're doing something different on the Follow Friday Patreon in 2022. Starting this week, the fifth bonus follow, which used to be its own little minisode, will now be baked into the version of the show that patrons get. If you're hearing this line, that means you're listening to the main, public version of the show, the non-Patreon version. But if you're a supporter at patreon.com/followfriday, you should go check out the patron-exclusive feed because in that, you'll get five follow recommendations from Brooke today instead of the usual 4. And if you're not in the club yet, but you want to support Follow Friday, please go to patreon.com/followfriday. Any amount is appreciated, starting at just one dollar a month.
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In addition to our patrons, today's show is also brought to you in part by Timber, a service for craft-loving indie podcasters that combines coaching and hosting. When you host your show with Timber, you'll get one-on-one expert feedback from industry professionals. Check it out at timber.fm.
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AND today's show is also brought to you by Repod, the all-in-one destination for podcasters to build their community. It's a new app that gives podcasters all the tools they need to engage, monetize, and grow. On Repod, you can setup memberships for your listeners and give them ad-free or bonus content, listener shoutouts, merch, and more. Repod is available on the App Store and Google Play. Search for it there, or go to repod dot IO to get started.
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Thank you to our patrons and our sponsors, happy new year everybody. Now, here's the show.
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[theme song]
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ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, the podcast about who you should follow online. Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more.
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Today on the show is Brooke Hammerling, the founder of the communications firm The New New thing. Brooke is also the author of Pop Culture Mondays, which is one of my favorite newsletters. You can find it at medium.com/popculturemondays, and you can find Brooke on Twitter and Instagram at @Brooke. And I also strongly recommend that you follow her dog Potato on Instagram, @Potato. Brooke, welcome to Follow Friday!
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BROOKE: Wow, thank you. It took me everything that I could to not recommend following my dog, so the fact that you did it for me, I'm very grateful. I mean, he really is in control of his own content, I just sit back and watch in awe.
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ERIC: I love to see it when someone's dog has more followers than they do and to Potato's credit, he's amassed quite a following.
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BROOKE: I have to say, several of my friends' kids who are up and coming in social media, that sort of 13, 14, 15-year-old, who just like to go dark on me and say like "Wow, your dog has more followers than you on Instagram." And I always nod in pride and they are so shocked. Like, "Doesn't that embarrass you? Doesn't that humiliate you? Doesn't that make you feel bad?" And I just explain, no, I'm so proud of him.
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ERIC: He has worked hard to get there.
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BROOKE: Yeah, he has. Well, I'm excited to be here, Eric!
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ERIC: Yeah. I'm excited to have you here, but before we get into your follows, I do wanna talk to you a little bit about Pop Culture Mondays. I've been reading the newsletter, I think since the very first issue. Two plus years ago?
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BROOKE: Yeah, almost two years ago, two-plus years, it's so crazy. It was such a whim.
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ERIC: Yeah, and the way you describe it on Medium is "a weekly roundup of all the news you're too embarrassed to admit you don't know, or too embarrassed to admit you do" know. But for people who haven't read it yet, talk a little bit about some examples of stories that you think are perfect Pop Culture Monday-type stories.
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BROOKE: Well I'll start with the genesis of the newsletter, and the icon of — I think, our sort of founding father, if you will, of the newsletter is Baby Yoda, or the Child. And this is when the newsletter really started, which was around the time that Mandalorian aired and Baby Yoda became a phenomenon. Everybody, wherever you were, was like Baby Yoda.
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And I have people in my life who are incredibly accomplished, have incredibly busy lives. They not only run companies or anchor shows on news networks, but they also manage families and have children and have a million things. And I am fortunate in my life to not only have a little bit of an obsession with pop culture and an obsession with really unimportant news, but I also have the ability to retain all of it. I don't have kids, so I also have a little bit more free time than most of my friends do.
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So what happened was I started getting texts from a few different friends around the time of Baby Yoda, basically asking me the same thing. It was Baby Yoda, and it was the perfect storm of pop culture. Then if you remember the banana on the wall with duct tape at the Art Basel in Miami. This was all 2019, and it was sold for $200,000 or something like that. And people heard about it, they understood that, but they didn't understand if it was a joke, what was happening? And then it disappeared, somebody stole the banana? It was just the perfect storm.
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And so I found myself sending the same text to several people and it was now becoming tedious and I was bored with myself. So I sent a note, and I'll never forget, I was actually racing to go out to dinner. I was living in New York at the time and it was cold and I was putting on boots and I couldn't get these boots on. And I just took a minute and I saw another text from a friend, and I decided to just send an email to like 15 of these women, mainly women.
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I asked them, "Would you guys just be interested in a roundup email every Monday of sort of like the different trends that are happening so you guys can stay relevant either with your kids or the people who work with you?" And really, like a very strong yes, yes, yes in a very quick amount of time, faster than I could get any of my friends to respond before. So that's how it started, and that's the perfect pop culture story that then led to its genesis.
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Pop culture, to me, isn't necessarily just what you would see on the Daily Mail, right? It's not celebrity gossip. It can play into it though. Being in tech, we have pop culture icons, whether it's Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Elizabeth Holmes, these are pop culture. It doesn't mean that it has to necessarily be glitzy and glammy and all of that jazz, but as TikTok evolved, all of these platforms started to see their own viral moments. And trends, memes, memes on Twitter, sounds and trends on TikTok, Instagrams that sort of had their moment, things that people were saying on Twitter around topics, all of these sort of fell into that pop culture zeitgeists.
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And I've tried to summarize them the best I can this week, being obviously the queen, Betty White passing away. That was something, it's like how do I tackle that? Because I don't cover every celebrity's death, but it was such an iconic moment. People remember where they were when Betty White died, I thought how best to cover it? Well, let's remind people who Betty White was, some of the things that Betty White said that were iconic in their time, but also how people reacted to her death, the different sort of things that started to appear online.
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And so that's sort of what I try to do every week. I don't have any sort of formula or rhyme or reason, I just track notes in the notes app on my phone, and I forward myself throughout the week a lot of TikToks, a lot of tweets, a lot of Instagrams. And just sort of wing it every week, but its icon is and for the foreseeable future, remains to be Baby Yoda.
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ERIC: Yeah, and I don't know where you get all these Baby Yoda pictures. But even if someone is listening to this, even if you think you're totally on top of all pop culture, somehow Brooke finds fresh images of Baby Yoda every single week that will amaze you. So for that reason alone, you should read Pop Culture Mondays.
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And Pop Culture Mondays, it's also gonna be a podcast soon, is that right?
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BROOKE: Yes it is gonna be a podcast, this is the light under me that I need. Thank you Eric, I will give you credit. I have actually been working on a podcast. I'm sure you're the first person to know this, but podcasts are not f**kin' easy, they are not easy, and I have been working on it. We've been doing a podcast almost every week.
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I have my friend Frances, who is an amazingly funny, insightful, beautiful, hysterical, brilliant woman who happens to also have a very fancy New Zealand accent, which I think adds a lot to a podcast. She and I are gonna be doing it together and it's called Pop Culture Mondays on Thursdays. And it's just a matter of me actually sitting down and telling my producer we're ready, this is the week we're gonna go and put it out there.
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Also, I think people think that you just make a podcast and put it out, but it requires a lot of work. Once you've recorded it to go back and do all of those things... So we can't do it on Monday, obviously for Monday, it wouldn't make sense. So what we're trying to do is Pop Culture Mondays on Thursdays, where we'll talk a little bit about the newsletter, maybe one or two stories that came out of that. And then something that inevitably has happened since then, because so many pop cultural moments happen.
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After I publish my newsletter, inevitably, there's something Monday or Tuesday. Like this week, for example, Elizabeth Holmes' verdict came in, that's very pop culture-y. So that would be something we would be able to talk about on the podcast before the next week's newsletter.
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ERIC: Well, I'm looking forward to that. Like I said, I love the newsletter, and I'll put a link to the podcast in the show notes for people who want to subscribe to that.
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BROOKE: Oh God give me strength, you are giving me the kick in the butt I needed.
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ERIC: This is what I do. All right, well let's get into who you follow online. Everyone else, you can follow along with who Brooke follows by following the links in the show notes and in the transcript at followfridaypodcast.com.
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Brooke, before the show, I gave you a list of categories and I asked you to tell me four people you follow who fit in those categories. Your first pick is in the category "someone you have a crush on," and you said, George Hahn who on Twitter @georgehahn. He's also on TikTok @GeorgeHahnNYC. His bio on Twitter describes him as an actor, satirist, and an "urban raconteur." And I have a confession to make, which is that I had never heard of George Hahn before today. So please disabuse me of my ignorance, who is George Hahn, and why do you have a crush on him?
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BROOKE: Oh my God, I am so in love with him. This is also probably why I'm single because I don't think George would fancy me. I don't fall into his type, but I was introduced to him through the lens of, interestingly enough, Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway and on the crazy algorithm of TikTok. So it's sort of this perfect storm. I can't remember exactly where I was when I first sort of clocked George Hahn, but I think he was in the background of my Twitter feed, I would see replies to Kara's tweets or Scott's tweets. And then saw him on a TikTok because of the way the TikTok algorithm works ... I think you had a guest on talking about it, I don't even know who the people are that I follow.
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ERIC: It just serves up recommendations based on what you already watched.
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BROOKE: And/or probably stuff that I've said and my phone's listened. I don't know! It's incredible, but it's the FYP, which stands for the 'For You Page' and that's literally the videos being served to you by TikTok. And if you've followed no one, you just start going through the For You Page. And I think what it does is it tracks how long you linger on a video. So even if you stay on it for like two milliseconds, that's longer than you would if you're just scrolling through. But if you stay on it through its entirety, or if you repeat it, or share it with somebody or if you duet it or all of the other really cool TikTok features you can do, it tracks that. And it'll say okay, so Brooke has now watched three videos of French bulldogs skateboarding and a French bulldog surfing. She's clearly into not just dogs, but French bulldogs, and she's clearly into dogs doing crazy stunts, so then it'll start to navigate that.
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And so somehow George Hahn appeared in my video and on my For You page. His TikTok style is ... He's very handsome and he's very chic and he's a New York City guy. And his style is him walking, holding his phone generally in sort of like a black and white, feel, very sort of movies from the thirties sort of style. And he has sort of like a leading man Cary Grant vibe to him. And then he'll just pull out something really sarcastically where he's like acting as if he's like a Trump supporter. And it's obviously sarcasm ...
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[clip of George Hahn]
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GEORGE: I'm not getting vaccinated, I don't need the vaccine, because fer mee, I'm young! I'm healthy! I'm juicy! I'm happening! Oh really, sugar? Do us a favor: Go have some unprotected sex, share some needles, don't wear a seatbelt, drink and drive, and please, start smoking. Because you're young! You're healthy! Juicy! Happening! You got this.
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BROOKE: ... but some people might not get it. So they think that he's then a Trump supporter, so they'll go after him. So it actually, I think, it beat the algorithm because it would serve itself to Trump supporters because the algorithm mistook him for being a Trumpy. Whereas it also would go to people like me, and so it was very funny.
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He also started like this catchphrase, because the anti-vax people would be like "You know, fer mee, it's just not what I wanna do right now," and so he took this whole phrase "fer mee" and every time he would start a video he'd be like, "You know, fer mee ...," and he actually launched a merch brand around it. And I bought six t-shirts and gave them to all my friends and I love them so much. I should have bought more, I will buy more, like George, call me babe, I wanna buy all your merch.
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But then I discovered him through the lens of Kara, which I don't like to give her too much credit for. For those of you who don't know, me and Kara are actually quite close, but we have this very funny banter on Twitter where we tear each other down, but then we also bring each other up. We love each other very much.
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But he then was a guest or friend of Pivot, and so he has been on that sort of world, so he crosses over as well. And I find him so smart, so sexy, and really speaking the truth, he gets right to the core of the ridiculousness of the anti-vax community and the hypocrisy, especially around people like "my body, myself, I own it, but I'm anti-abortion." Like, "you can't tell me to do vax because I'm pro my body, but abortions are bad." So he calls it like he sees it, but he does it in a really amusing, brilliant, thoughtful way.
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I'm a New Yorker through and through, I left New York in the middle of COVID, and I feel pretty much like I've betrayed my city. But I did move to Los Angeles, what I thought was gonna be temporary, and I did fall in love with, for the moment, palm trees and flowers and grass and whatnot. And I have to admit that watching George or following George gives me my New York City love back, and it makes me really miss New York. And every time he is doing one of his walk and talks through this city, I have that pang of "Oh God, I need to get back there," but I've never met him. So I hope I do get to meet that fabulous, gorgeous George Hahn one day.
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ERIC: Let's imagine that George calls you up tomorrow and says "Brooke, I'm flattered by this declaration of love, let's go out some time." Where do you take George Hahn on a date?
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BROOKE: Again, I just don't think I am his type but hey, anything is possible. What I would do with him is a quintessential New York night. First of all, I would love to do a walk and talk with him through the streets of New York and then we would obviously go to Balthazar, and we would sit and have the seafood tower and French fries and a bottle of rosé. Now I don't know if he drinks, but assuming he does, we would probably start with dirty martinis and then maybe ease into a rosé. I'm envisioning a summer situation where we're outside and having all of this fun stuff.
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ERIC: Summer in New York, it's great.
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BROOKE: Yeah, and that is my quintessential George Hahn date, and recording the "fer mee," that's the oysters at Balthazar. That's how I envision it.
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ERIC: All right. Well that was George Hahn, who is on Twitter @georgehahn.
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Brooke, I asked you to tell me about "someone who has stopped posting but needs to come back." You said Josh Brown, who is on Instagram @downtownjoshbrown and is also on Twitter @downtown, although he has largely stopped posting there. So first off, you're friends with Josh in real life, right?
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BROOKE: Oh my gosh, yes, he's the best. Downtown Josh Brown needs to come back.
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ERIC: Okay, explain a bit who he is and what he does.
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BROOKE: Okay, I will try, he is a complicated man. No, he's amazing. First of all, from all I've seen, he has the most wonderful wife and children, so he is an amazing family man. He's a classic just "tell it like it is " guy, he is a music fan and incidentally, as much as he is a finance guy, which I'll get into. I met him in a concert in Long Island, we met at a rock and roll music concert, but he runs a wealth advisory company. And how most people know him ... he's not really an anchor, I don't actually know his role, but he's on CNBC Power Lunch three or four days a week.
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ERIC: Like a pundit, I guess? Or a commentator?
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BROOKE: I think he is like more of an anchor, I mean he runs the show. He's on there, but he's not full-time CNBC, and he's not a formally trained journalist or broadcaster. He's just natural at it, and I think I've never seen anything like it. I am very fortunate to know an eclectic group of people, but I will tell you, Josh is up there... I've gone out to meals with Bono, for example, who's the lead singer of U2 and very well known and recognizable.
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ERIC: Heard of him.
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BROOKE: People will, for the most part, either stare or be looking at him, but they don't generally mob him if he's having a private lunch, but occasionally, people come up. I will say, Josh Brown, he's like the Bono of finance, I don't know how else to explain it. People come up to him, like he'll walk in, and everybody sort of gives a nod, and it's always like these nods of recognition, or "I love you Josh!" Or I've had people come up to him and be like "you look just like Josh Brown on CNBC, did you know that?" So it's so crazy, he's like the Bono of finance bros.
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He has over a million followers, I think, on Twitter, he's so great on Twitter. And there was some little ... whatever. Everybody gets dramatic and people jump to conclusions on things. I think it was the early days of COVID and whatever it was, he decided for his health and wellness to get off of Twitter, which I appreciate, I do.
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And you put that much effort into something and then you get attacked by people, it's sort of like what's the point. And he has a podcast called The Compound with Josh Brown, which is awesome, and he is great on Instagram. He's also just announced this really cool festival that's gonna happen in September in Huntington Beach called Future Proof. Which is gonna be like tech and FinTech and finance, and sort of like South by Southwest of those things, and I'm really excited about.
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And so he's occasionally dipped his toes back on Twitter to sort of announce that, but his banter and his insight just around life, generally with the lens of what's happening in the markets and finance and tech, but he's just so smart, and I really loved him on Twitter. I loved the sort of real-timeness, the realness of what he was saying, the insight he made me smarter on finance and he makes me smarter just watching him on CNBC. He's just such a real down-to-earth guy, you don't feel like you're being played. He talks to us, not in a condescending way, he talks to us in a sort of "we're in this together" kind of way, and I love it.
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ERIC: And that's a fine line to walk when you're talking about business, talking about finance, things like that because there is such a high-powered insider community that's a big part of the audience for a place like CNBC. But if you're able to cross that divide and get across to people who are not super well-versed in Wall Street jargon or things like that. Or who maybe even haven't studied any economics in college or whatever. I mean there are people who need to be reached by information, by news about business who just are not very well-served by most outlets.
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BROOKE: No, that's exactly right. I think you feel like if you're not an insider, you feel outside and if you're not in the minutia, you're not a day trader, you're not following the markets with every bated breath. Then you can log onto that or see something and you just feel like, "what?" And Josh did such a great job in sort of navigating that and he does that on TV very well, but I love the opportunity on Twitter to see him outside of that window. And I would hope 2022 is the year Josh Brown comes back to Twitter.
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ERIC: Are you primarily a Twitter person, is that the social app where you spend most of your time?
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BROOKE: Like some of your other interviewees, I am multi-platform. I would say I probably lose most of my time to TikTok because it's just so delightful and fun. Now, I understand the negative side, I understand that the Chinese are probably capturing all of my data and information and probably have cloned Brookes running around in the metaverse. But at the same time, I just really love it, people are very creative. It brings me joy to see how creative it is, and TikTok has really evolved. I remember even before TikTok, it was an app called Musically, which is primarily music, which is what lent itself to why TikTok started around music and dances. But now you see the cross-generational moment where it's not just 16-year-olds doing dances, it's people in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties.
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I mean there is a horrible person out there on TikTok right now, who's an anti-vaxxer and she shaved her head and did some video on TikTok saying like, she's in "camp anti-vaccine," sort of making a Holocaust reference.
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ERIC: Yikes.
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BROOKE: And an elderly man who I believe had been in Auschwitz or at least one of the horrible death camps came out on TikTok and called her out, and said "I am a Holocaust survivor, how dare you do this? You're a disgrace." And then he was so beloved by the TikTok community, he now has these TikToks, he's sort of gone viral and he's having fun with it. But he's gotta be in his eighties or 90, and he's out there using TikTok and also using it as a platform to shine a light on bad behavior.
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So I love TikTok. I love it from an entertainment perspective. I love it from a creative perspective. It did use to be less about the imaging, because Instagram is definitely more about like "let's stylize our photos, let's use filters," and all of that. TikTok was much more about the realness. That's changing a little bit as all things do, opportunists get involved, and they figured out how to create these filters and make people look different. I mean it's crazy, but for the most part, creativity is beautiful.
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Now, from an information standpoint where I get most of my information, my news, my day-to-day, sort of what makes me smarter in this world is definitely from Twitter. And like anyone, there are different verticals in Twitter, I mean Twitter is a platform for which you can enter into the river of information at any given point. You have media Twitter, where it's just like inside baseball of media people tweeting at each other, and you're like, what? Or journalism Twitter, or you have politics Twitter, you have sports Twitter. Like my least favorite days are when there's a football game that everybody's watching and they're like "No!", just tweeting things that I'm supposed to know. And then I get annoyed and resentful, and then people get mad at me. I think Twitter is so interesting, and I wish that people used it in the right way and not in this sort of hateful, divisive way, but such is life, here's where we are. 2022, all about divisiveness I guess.
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ERIC: And people using it the right way, that's why we need people like Josh Brown back on Twitter.
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BROOKE: Yeah I agree.
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ERIC: So campaign for that to happen 2022. And does he know that you call him the Bono of finance bros? Because it's quite an honorific.
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BROOKE: I think I just came up with that. Hopefully, he'll love it. He did something though that, I mean true loyalty and friendship, he talked about Potato — my dog, my French bulldog with more Instagram followers than me — on CNBC, it was on Fast Money or Power Lunch, one of those shows. And all I know is I had no idea what was happening because I wasn't watching at that particular moment, but my phone blew up and I got maybe 75 messages within five minutes from people that I haven't heard from since high school. And some people that are CEOs of very large companies like, your dog was just mentioned on CNBC. And I just thought it was amazing, so yes, I hope he will like the Bono of finance reference because it's very true.
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ERIC: The classic CNBC to pet influencer treadmill. It's a tale as old as time.
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BROOKE: Classic, as old as time!
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ERIC: Well that was Josh Brown, who has left Twitter, but you can still find some updates from him there at @Downtown, and you find him on Instagram at @DowntownJoshBrown.
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BROOKE: Downtown Josh brown.
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ERIC: We are going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with Brooke Hammerlling.
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ERIC: Welcome back to Follow Friday. Brooke, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for "someone who makes the internet a better place," and you said Christina Najjar, also known as Tinx. She is on TikTok @TINX and on Twitter and Instagram @itsmetinx. You said in your email that Christina was your gateway drug to TikTok, which we've already talked about a little bit, but explain what she does and why you fell in love with her work.
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BROOKE: I would say that of all the people I've talked about, I would imagine most of your listeners have some reference point for Tinx. And mainly because she is that sort of cross-generational, iconic creator in the sense that the teens love her, the 20-somethings love her, the 30, 40, 50, 60, people all have a reference point to her. And she's not huge on Twitter, I think she only has 7,000 followers, but that doesn't stop her from using Twitter as a platform in a very smart way. And then obviously, she's massive on Instagram and TikTok, and she's very clever. I think she's somebody who understands that this is a moment in time and how to evolve that, I think that's really smart, and it's really interesting to watch it unfold.
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She is a woman that is not the average TikToker when it started to have its big moment in the middle of quarantine. When I first started getting into TikTok, like watching it, it was when I was in lockdown, staying with some friends and their kids and their teenage daughter — hi, Sydney! — she was really into TikTok, but they were doing the dances. She was popping up her iPad on the top of the car in the garage or in the driveway or in the kitchen and she was doing dances and she kept trying to get me into it. And I was like Syd, it's not for me, I'm not gonna do a dance, I look so stupid, but I did start to play around with it and get into it.
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And then I had just moved to LA and there's this video on TikTok where Tinx was holding a little mic that she holds, this is like her classic thing, and she says "What your dog says about you if you live in LA." There was a picture of what could have been Potato, and it was "if this is your dog, if you have a French bulldog, you live in West Hollywood," okay check, "you're power gay or power gay adjacent," okay check. I'm not gay, but I have a lot of power gays in my life. "And your dog has more followers than you."
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ERIC: Check!
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BROOKE: And I was like, what is this?! What's the weirdest thing is she said, "And his name is Potato," and I was like, holy ... what? And then I put that out on Twitter and was like, "What is happening? I'm freaking out." Kara Swisher tweeted it, and then Christina/Tinx got wind of it through Twitter, and she was like "Oh my God," and I was like "Oh my God." I was 46 at this time, but I might as well have been 16, I couldn't believe it.
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So it turns out we live five minutes from each other, we met for a coffee, and now she's an incredible friend. And I don't know if she would say I'm a mentor at all, but she's certainly been a mentor to me. She's taught me so much about personal brand, and I've always told people whether they're clients or friends about how to use social, and I always call it an implied sense of transparency. Like, bring people in, you don't have to tell them every single thing, but bring them in, give them enough to where they feel really connected to you. And that doesn't mean that you have to go through all your ups and downs, especially people like me. I mean, I can have 18 different emotions before I even get outta bed in the morning. And if I bring people into that, it's chaos, but Tinx has done that and then done it in a very real way.
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She shows a lot of emotion, she has given guidance to people about dating in general and what to look out for, and what to be wary of. She's gone through her own breakups and brought it to the public in such a way that it was so different for her, she was very vulnerable. I got, I think about 30 calls and texts from people, asking me if Tinx was okay when she was going through a breakup? That just shows this power, this impact that she has, and these were with people that never cared about anybody they didn't know before, this was all just through social media engagement.
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She also does these sort of "rich mom" series that are making fun of people.
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[clip from @tinx]
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TINX: Rich mom starter pack, Brooklyn edition. So you and your indie movie director husband are loaded. You're too intellectual for Manhattan, so you move to Brooklyn. Here's what you'll need to fit in with all the other rich moms: Firstly, you're gonna need something subtle, like a $15 million townhouse in Park Slope. You'll need a car. You're going to get an Audi, because even though you're actually from Westchester, you identify as European. You'll need 40 pairs of Golden Goose, so all the other moms know you're casual. By "casual," I mean, you spend $530 on a pair of sneakers that look like they got run over.
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BROOKE: And then the funniest thing is that she's tearing these people down in a way, whether they're in Aspen or Greenwich or Palo Alto, but the very people that she's tearing down love it. They can't get enough of it. They are like, she needs to do my town and so much so that she got Gwyneth Paltrow and I assume it was a paid-for thing with her and Goop, but Gwyneth Paltrow came in and took over when Tinx was doing the Rich Moms of Brentwood, which Gwyneth Paltrow is a rich mom of Brentwood. And it was the first time that I've ever seen Gwyneth Paltrow — I mean I don't know her — but in the public domain, making fun of herself in such a fun, really relatable way that made me be like, oh my God, she's in on the joke, I get it. I love that.
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[clip from @tinx]
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GWYNETH PALTROW: Before buying some heirloom tomatoes and some gluten-free macrobiotic bread, head over to Tracy Anderson for a work out.
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TINX: Have to be front row, so everyone can see how good your choreography is.
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GWYNETH: Date nights are John and Vinny's, or Baltaire.
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TINX: Have your chef mix Goop Glow into your smoothie every morning.
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GWYNETH: Or your 2:00 p.m. margarita. Just make sure you take it daily, so that your skin glows like a 21-year-old who just got back from Cabo.
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BROOKE: And so I think Tinx is so incredible, she brings so much joy to the internet. She also connects people from these different generations.
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Going back to a Bono reference, I spend a lot of time in Ireland, or I did before the pandemic, and I love Ireland. And one of the things I am drawn to is the pub culture in Dublin, and in Ireland. And it was Bono that pointed out to me "what you love Brooke is that love of family. And what you're seeing is grandsons, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, they're all together at a pub." When I was growing up, the last thing I wanted to be seen in public was with my parents and my grandparents, I was like "get me the hell away from them." And that's a very American thing like "come on mom, you're embarrassing me." Whereas in Ireland, it's about bringing cross generations together and it's about grandfathers going and having a bag of crisps with their teenage grandson at a pub with the boys. It's just so cool.
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I know this is such a weird thing, but that's what Tinx does, she brings these sorts of people together. The rich housewives with the 16-year-olds with the sort of superpower tech person, and they all relate to her in some way. I think that's extraordinary, and it makes me feel really fun and good about myself in a strange way, and about society as a whole like oh, we're not all bad. She's also not beneath saying like "Oh my God, I'm an influencer, and I'm gonna open up and unbox something, da da da." She's complex, she goes from that into talking about how she graduated from Stanford and went and got her MFA at Parsons for writing. So she's really multifaceted is the best way I can explain it, and I think it makes the internet smarter and more empathetic.
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ERIC: I mean, as you mentioned earlier, on a platform like Twitter, there's all these silos of media Twitter, and there's film Twitter and sports Twitter, but what you're saying is that she's able to reach all these different audiences. That's something that, to an outside observer, you don't realize how hard that is. It takes such a talented person in order to reach all those different people at the same time.
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Is there anything that you have learned from following Tinx, either just from how she conducts herself or advice that she's given ... She gives a lot of advice in her TikTok videos. Is there anything you've learned from following her that has really helped you in any way?
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BROOKE: Yeah, absolutely. The thing is that when you're on Instagram, generally the lens is either outward, right? Like, my stories on Instagram generally don't involve me, they involve images that I'm taking or video I'm taking. Sometimes they're still regular posts on Instagram or I'm in them, but it's really about the surroundings. And what she's done is sort of flip that where she's talking at you. She's a broadcaster, in the most modern-day sense of the word, I think of her as sort of a modern-day Howard Stern/ Oprah.
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She's broadcasting, she's bringing you into her world, she's speaking at you directly, and it's really impactful. And if it's done correctly ... like, it's really hard to be genuine and put that much energy and show that much compassion. She also addresses issues, she calls out trolls in a way that's not ineffective by the way, and she gives permission to people to be vulnerable, and so I find it really interesting. I don't necessarily have the ability to do what she does, but it teaches me a lot about people's social graces and people's appetite for what's appealing.
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There are only so many selfies somebody wants to look at, but when you're actually talking to you, looking at you through the lens of that phone and giving guidance or sharing feedback... And then she's really smart in how she sort of parlays that into like her Twitter stuff, which the written word is still very powerful, she is a writer. So it's interesting that her platforms that took off and she became a TikToker during the pandemic. She's very new at it, but her storytelling visually then carries over into her writing on Twitter, and it's very interesting. I think she's gonna have an incredible career as a broadcaster in some capacity, and I just think she's everything.
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ERIC: A hundred percent, hope you're right. That was Christina Najjar who is on TikTok @TINX.
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We have time for one more follow today. Brooke, I asked you for "someone you don't know, but want to be friends with," and you said Ben Stiller, who is on Twitter @redhourben. Most of our listeners probably think of Ben Stiller just as an actor, but you said specifically you like the way that he uses Twitter and the things that he talks about there. Can you talk a bit about what are the things and what do you like about his Twitter specifically?
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BROOKE: Yeah well, like everybody, I'm a big fan of his humor. I think his parents — who you might not even know who they were, but they were iconic actors and comedians and….
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ERIC: Jerry Stiller, and I don't remember his mom's name.
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BROOKE: Anne Meara, she was an actress and comedian, and Jerry Stiller. And I just saw a tweet actually today that had a visual of all these famous people that had their first or very early on roles on Miami Vice. An incredible list of characters, from Helena Bonham Carter to Julia Roberts, to Ben Stiller. And Ben Stiller looks the same age that he does today, he's like the Paul Rudd of comedians, he certainly hasn't aged that much, he's one of those faces. But obviously, I know him from iconic films, like Zoolander and Night at the Museum, and I just think he's a darling actor/comedian.
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I do not know him personally, but I started to see him interact on Twitter with people that I knew. And I was really impressed with myself when he liked a tweet of mine or two tweets of mine and then started following me, but I really dove into it. He's like some of these people that have made their name as actors, or as entertainers, and have really become something else later in life. Whether it's being an activist, whether it's being an investor, whether it's being an entrepreneur, I find it really interesting that people can have these second acts.
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Like Bill Gates, despite what some people might think of him being a conspiracy theorist who's implanting us with chips during the vaccine. Bill Gates is an extraordinary guy, I mean he really is, but he's more extraordinary now than he ever was with Microsoft. Microsoft won't be the first thing on his tombstone, it's that he's a philanthropist.
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Now, some people are the opposite of that. Like I would've never expected the evolution of Jeff Bezos to be the Jeff Bezos world that we're in, and I'm here for it from an entertainment perspective, but it's slightly disappointing. Whereas Ben Stiller is an actor, and that's a very noble thing and he entertained us and he brought joy and I loved his movies, but he is an incredible advocate for refugees. And he's a very big Knicks fan, which I have to say, helped me understand why people sort of tweet the way they do about sports.
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They're in it, they're exciting, and I felt that energy and I've never wanted to go to a Knicks game before and sit on the floor just through his lens. I also like when people of that sort of world, it's another world, right? It's very different, and it's easy to bubble yourself in and be your own sort of celebrity world. But when you interact with what I call the normals, us, me, the normal out there, and you interact with them and you realize that you're learning from them as much as entertaining them or whatnot, it's a really interesting place to be.
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I think that's why it's so extraordinary that we have social media, where you can bridge these worlds, and I think he does a really good job. He's following really smart people, he is clearly interested in what people are saying about tech, about culture, and about the world outside of Hollywood. That was really impressive to me, and he is doing it in a way that's not preachy or angry or accusatory. It's really all very thoughtful, and it seems to me — fer mee, as my boyfriend George Hahn says — that Ben Stiller, and I don't know him, he could be an asshole, I have no idea. He seems adorable though. But it seems to me that he's out there really trying to broaden his horizons and learn from new people and follow people that he wouldn't have had any insight or knowledge of otherwise without Twitter. So that's why I find him really fascinating, and somebody I wish I knew and wish I could go to a Knicks game with.
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ERIC: You're making me think of something that I heard. I think Tom Hanks said this in an interview once where someone was asking him about the trade-offs of being as famous as Tom Hanks. And he said "Well one of them is you can never go in the front door of a hotel, ever again." It's just the little things that normally we would take for granted. And so I imagine for someone who's as famous as a Ben Stiller, if they so choose, hanging out online in a place like Twitter, that may be the closest they can get to just hearing people chatter. Just the kind of informal, no-expectations way that people talk. That's something that I think a lot of folks who are famous in one field or another, they don't really get to hear a whole lot of that. Because they're surrounded by people who are adjusting their behavior, and it's like "oh my God, it's Ben Stiller over there. You know?"
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BROOKE: Yeah, I think that's right, and I think that it's really easy. I do have access to a different world of people through my social connections and whatnot. And that celebrity world is very different, you have to sort of readjust the thinking. Like you are under a microscope, everybody's looking at you. People do change their behavior, they change the way they are sitting or they're pretending to look at their partner at their table, but they're looking behind them to capture a glimpse. It's this weird thing, and I don't think it's American, I just think it's always been that way. Whether in the beginning of time, that somebody who is famous, people are fascinated by.
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There was a person that was in my life, still a good friend, that I was with in England, who's very famous, not being a movie star, but being on a TV show. He says "I'm in people's living rooms every day. I'm on their TV, I'm in their house every single day that when they see me, their brain alters because they're like how do I know that person?" This sense of familiarity and then yeah, and then it's that realization of oh no, that's that person, and they become flustered. So how do you navigate that and have a normal life? Well I can't speak for Ben Stiller, but it seems like at least via Twitter, he seems to be much more aware of what's happening in the world around him than others who aren't living on social media are.
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ERIC: I'm so glad to hear that. It's always great to see. But returning though to Ben Stiller the actor for a moment, I'm just happy to see him whenever he shows up in anything. He's just one of those faces like I said. What is the best Ben Stiller movie, and why is it Zoolander?
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BROOKE: I mean it is Zoolander, right? What was it, Meet the Parents, then Meet the Fockers. First of all, other than Ben Stiller's actual dad, who we all know and love from incredible shows, but his dad being Dustin Hoffman, and his mother being Barbara Streisand, could it be any better? Like that to me is so iconic, and his father-in-law, De Niro, I mean, these are iconic roles that could have been really cartoonish and buffoonery, but they weren't, they were genius.
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But Zoolander, those movies that, I will watch if they're on regular USA with commercials. Whether I'm on an airplane or in bed, I will watch that movie, regardless of when I started watching it. It could be three quarters of the way in, and I know this is so weird, but I love A Night at the Museum. I love it. And it makes me miss Robin Williams and think about what a f**king genius that guy was.
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ERIC: Oh, right! Teddy Roosevelt.
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BROOKE: Teddy Roosevelt, right. But it's such a clever movie, and it's so iconic to me that I will go into a museum, specifically the natural history museum in New York, and I will think about that movie. I'll think about wow, did the whale come alive last night, and did Teddy Roosevelt come plopping through on his horse? Like, Pocahontas? It's just so many things I think about, and that movie just sticks with me. It's got legs, as they say.
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ERIC: Got to revisit these, it's been way too long. I saw Zoolander in 2020, just like a month before the election. And you know this because you've rewashed a bunch, but there's a brief Donald Trump cameo in the opening of Zoolander. And there was just like this involuntary physical reaction of "Ahh," but then after that, the movie is amazing. The rest of it holds up amazingly well.
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BROOKE: Yeah that's right. I mean there are always those cringe moments for sure, but I love it. I'm going to go watch a little Zoolander now, I think.
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ERIC: That sounds good. All right, well that was Ben Stiller who is on Twitter @redhourben.
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That was Brooke's fourth follow recommendation, and you can get a fifth one from her right now by supporting Follow Friday on Patreon. Go to patreon.com/followfriday and support us at any dollar amount to hear Brooke talking about one of her favorite peers in the tech and communications space, Ashley Mayer. Here's a clip from that.
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[clip]
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BROOKE: Sometimes, I follow her tweets and I'm like "God dammit. That was so good, why didn't I think of that?" And I love those types of people on social media, when I'm like "Why didn't I think of that? Why didn't I have the foresight that tweet something like that, or have that insight?" And she's top of that list.
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ERIC: Brooke, thank you so much for sharing all these follows with us today. Before we go, let's make sure that listeners know how to find you online. Where do you want them to follow you?
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BROOKE: Oh my gosh. With warning signs because I don't have it down like Tinx or the others that I've recommended, I can be all over the place. I think it shows that I have multiple personalities because my personality on Twitter is slightly different than my personality on Instagram. And TikTok, I'm much more of a voyeur than I am a creator. I play around with it, but with no real intention.
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But my Twitter handle is @Brooke, and my Instagram handle is @Brooke. And I use stories quite a bit, I find that stories for me are more of a fun way of expression and in the moment than anything else. And then Twitter, I use quite a bit with random thoughts or sharing stories. And then my newsletter is really my favorite thing right now, besides all the clients I get to work with on my other stuff. So follow that on medium, and like you said, medium.com/popculturemondays.
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Follow me on Twitter at @HeyHeyESJ and don't forget to follow or subscribe to Follow Friday in your podcast app. If you like this episode, then check out the past Follow Friday interviews with New York Times writer Kara Swisher, Planet Money co-host Amanda Aronczyk, and Zillow Gone Wild creator Samir Mezrahi.
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Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan. Special thanks to our Big Fri Patreon backers, Jon and Justin, and to our new backers, Jay and Odette.
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That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs … and when you do, say something nice. See you next Friday.

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