brand, dark matter

Truth Happens


One day in 2003, Matthew Szulik came to us and said he wanted to create a video to show before his keynote at Linuxworld. Now no one in our group had ever done a video before, but we figured we’d take a shot. My good friend David Burney had just hired a guy right out of college into his design firm (his name was Tim Kiernan, one of the most talented guys I have ever worked with) who specialized in video/film, so we got to work. If I remember correctly, we produced the entire thing from beginning to end in about a month. Originally, we only planned to show the video once, at the keynote.

Today if you do a search for Truth Happens on You Tube, you’ll see it has been posted tons of times and has hundreds of thousands of views in all of the places it has been posted around the world. On redhat.com, its been watched over a million times in its different versions over the years. It’s been translated into many different languages, only a few times by people at Red Hat. And I’ve personally shown it to groups on four continents.

I’ve had people tell me that Truth Happens was the thing that inspired them to come work for Red Hat. I’ve had sales people tell me that it is the most important sales tool they use with customers. And I’ve fielded requests from people in the open source community, from other technology companies, and even from completely outside the technology industry, who wanted to use it or show it, even though it doesn’t mention their group or company.

It has been one of the most successful tools we’ve ever created for Red Hat. Yet, you’ll notice in the film Red Hat is barely even acknowledged at all until the Shadowman logo appears at the end. I actually think this may be one of the key reasons it was successful. That Truth Happens was an articulation of the dream of a movement… not just a company. That Red Hat was speaking on behalf of a worldwide community of open source advocates.

Truth Happens is channeling the feelings and emotions of this community rather than co-opting them. It is intended to have humility. To show we are part of a movement rather than that we own the movement. It is an important distinction. The best way to become a leader isn’t to tell people you are a leader. It is to lead.

About Chris Grams

Chris Grams is Head of Marketing at Tidelift. He is also the author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World.

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