How to be Famous 101
Occasionally, some of my friends ask me for advice on how to become famous. Now I would not consider myself particularly famous at all — however, I’ve had notable news outlets report on my work such as the Seattle Times and Bloomberg as well as various local news outlets do the like. While I am not by any means some type of A-list celebrity, I hope I can share some valuable insights into becoming “famous”.
Capturing and Maintaining Attention
The biggest insight towards becoming famous is how well one can capture and maintain attention. The most valuable currency in the eyes of the media is attention. What are things which draw people in and keep them engaged?
Is it novel?
New things often are able to capture people’s attention mainly because it is new. A new way to do things. A new way of thought. A new way that engages the 5 senses. There are many things that can be new!
Is it impactful?
There are many new things, which people don’t care about. Perhaps a musical artist who has fallen off puts out new music, people don’t care anymore. The next question is whether or not that particular thing is impactful. What value does it provide for people? The biggest drive in a particular thing is the value it provides to people and at scale.
What if it’s not novel?
Perhaps what you’ve done doesn’t reinvent the wheel or offer any kind of novelty. If this is not the case, it needs to be really really good. Where it significantly outdoes the competition. People love learning about the winners. So build something that outshines and outperforms.
How to talk to Media
Media outlets are always looking for the next big scoop. Sometimes news outlets will catch wind of what you are working on. Most of the time, you will need to reach out to the media outlets and draw them in.
Hook them into a story. For example, no one is going to really care about another robotics team. However, a student led robotics team competing in the international stage representing the Pacific Northwest certainly has an attractive quality to it.
Create a Visceral Story
Help the media outlets help you — have a story prepared and walk them through the process. Tell them about your thinking, about your fears, about your moments of triumph and about unique moments which made the experience special.
Having the Right Attitude
Some of my friends wish to be famous for famous sake. Unfortunately, having this type of attitude often sets people up to fail. Selfishness and vainglory sets people up for massive failure.
To be famous, you must not want it at all. I know it sounds a bit counter intuitive, but the best kind comes organically and genuinely. Focus on solving problems and solving them well, and the rest will come. Trust the process!
Lastly, it’s not about you. In most cases, to be famous is a collaborative process. Pixar has a whole studio making famous movies. Olympians have their families and coaches supporting them. Fame is collaborative, so share!