Welcome to part 3 of the unofficial series of ‘long-term life success strategies‘.
Look, if you want to make good money (and achieve worldly fame). . .
. . .You need to find out what you’re good at, and practice until you:
- Become elite at what you do, if there’s a lot of competition in that field. Like in sports
- Become “good enough” at at least one thing and leverage social proof like crazy, If you’re in a semi-competitive traditional industry
You will need to fulfill at least one of those criteria if you want to make good money and become famous.
But what if you want to be more than “just elite” — as in being the #1 most paid and famous person in your industry?
Well, in that case, taking shortcuts on your way to “experthood” is not going to cut it. Not even by a long-shot.
You need more than that, and there’s one thing in particular that you need.
You need. . .
Lots of People to Care About You
And you can learn a lot about this from watching the movie Gladiator.
Proximo: “I wasn’t the best because I killed quickly… I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd — and you’ll win your freedom.”
In the clip, Proximo is being poetic and reminiscing about his glory days. But if you distill what he’s saying into a general principle, it would be this:
People don’t care about you. People care about what you can do for them.
And with that principle comes some important implications, such as. . .
. . .When people know you can do things for them, there’s a different set of rules compared to when they don’t.
Once people are emotionally invested in you (your ideas, brand, product, etc.) and they care about you, you can start doing things differently.
Let’s take blogging as an example. No one cares about some unknown person writing his or her memoirs online, especially if it’s done to in a validation-seeking manner.
People (fans) would care if someone famous did it, but if a normal person did something like that, and hoped for it to become some sort of financial success, that would be insane. Yet, you see a lot of people doing this.
For instance, I actually met a lady who had done this. And she wondered why no one was reading her blog/memoirs and her book, which was about how she walked across Nevada and had a religious experience (I swear, I’m not making this stuff up).
Well, the reason no one read her blog was because no one cared. Why should they care? She hadn’t provided any value. Nor had she entertained anyone. She was “playing the game” as if she were a celebrity — as if she already had people who were emotionally invested into her stuff. . .
. . .So, of course it didn’t work out.
Normal people (non-celebrities) have to work for a while to build a track record before anything else. Then, if they’re skilled and lucky, people will start caring about them and their projects (blog, business, ideas, products) and their lives.
And this is the reason why I started off SGM as being very impersonal. Because I didn’t have any readership. I knew people didn’t care about me. I knew they just wanted to be helped, entertained, or learn interesting stuff.
Then eventually, because I put out helpful content, some people started coming back. They started buying into some of my ideas, and as a result they also became more interested in me.
That’s why I’m now taking a more personal approach to my writing, and to SGM in general (and after having received helpful advice from a lot of intelligent readers).
Alright. Back to Gladiator…
. . .Why is it that people started caring so much about Maximus?
Because He Learned to Entertain Them.
Proximo: “All you do is kill, kill, kill. The crowd don’t want a butcher, they want a hero. You want them to keep coming back. So don’t just hack’em to pieces. Remember, you are an entertainer!”
[Note: No need to watch longer than 36 seconds.]
Maximus is entering a fight to the death –alone–facing several opponents. . .
. . .And Proximo just tells him to focus on being entertaining. Because he knows something: Showmanship is the most important thing for winning over the crowd.
And that wasn’t just the case for Roman gladiators.
Showmanship is just as important for most modern athletes, actors, TV people, and A-list celebrities. Because if you think about it. . .
How Many Celebrities Are Elite at What They Do?
Most well-paid professional athletes — and other people like actors, movie stars, and musicians — who enjoy the superstar effect, are rarely truly elite. Elite as in being the best in their industry at what they do.
Sometimes they are, as in the case of Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, And Usain Bolt.
But most of the time they aren’t.
Is Justin Bieber an elite musician? He’s made over $80M this year.
Is Adam Sandler an elite actor? He’s made $37M this year.
Is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson an elite actor? He’s made $46M this year.
So you see. . .
. . .It’s not necessarily the ones who are best at what they do who make the most money or become the most famous. It’s the best showmen — the ones who are considered entertaining by the largest amount of people — who get the cake.
Of course, those guys are still good/great at what they do, but I would hardly say that they’re elite.
Anyway, the fact that they make such huge sums of money proves something. It proves how important entertainment has become in modern culture. And how valuable it has become. . .
We Live in a Weird (And Interesting) Society
And there are some crazy examples out there.
Think about it. . .
. . .If you went back in time 200+ years and met with the wisest, most experienced, and most well-read people who were living at that time. Guys like Napoleon, George Bernard Shaw, or Andrew Carnegie. And you asked them about the future.
Do you think they would’ve been able to predict Radio, TV, or the Internet?
Do you think they would’ve been able to predict that we would now have celebrity chefs, Nanny experts, famous cooking judges, American Idols, Big Brother celebrities, Kim Kardashians, and other people who got rich and famous just for being on TV?
No one could have predicted that we would invent technology, which would then be used by these type of people, and catapult them to the top of the social hierarchy. Because. . .
200+ Years Ago These People Were Either The Town Fools, Or They Belonged To The Servant Classes
If they lived 200 years ago, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are today. At best, they might’ve become personal chefs for a king.
The same thing can be said about actors and “celebrities”. At best, these people would become popular court jesters. At worst, they would starve to death. And if the jesters weren’t truly elite — entertaining — they could get beaten or killed.
But, times have changed. For. . .
. . .The jesters of yesterday have become high-status celebrities — all thanks to the crowd.
How’s that for social mobility?
The power of radio, TV, and the Internet now allow for someone to amplify his personality and thoughts to the point where it’s possible to reach thousands of other people (as I am now doing with SGM) for very cheap.
Anyone can now become rich and famous given that they have enough leverage to move the crowd. Is this a good thing?
Just 10-15 years ago, no one would’ve expected this. Time — and technology — can really change things.
It’s important to reflect on this.
. . .
[Reflect a little bit on the importance of what I just said . .]
. . .
O.K, enough with the reflection. Onward.
Here’s a riddle for you:
What happens when you have someone who’s truly elite at what he does, while at the same time being an entertaining showman?
You Get a “MegaStar”
And this is the type of person who has the chance of going to history as one of the greatest within his field/craft.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Jamie Oliver — chef
- Gordon Ramsey — chef
- Robert Downey JR — the best-paid actor of 2014. Made $75M.
- Brad Pitt — acting
- Tom Cruise — acting
- Will Smith — acting and music
- John Lennon — music (rock)
- Elvin Presley — music (rock)
- Tupac Shakur — music (hip hop)
- Biggie Smalls — music (hip hop)
- Big L — music (hip hop)
- Mike Tyson — boxing
- Muhammad Ali — boxing
- George St. Pierre –MMA (UFC)
Speaking of fighters. . .
. . .Let’s take a look at how the megastar effect works when it comes to the fighting business.
Just as in Gladiator, where Proximo told Maximus to win the crowd, Cus D’Amato often told the young Mike Tyson that:
Boxing is entertainment, so to be successful, a fighter must not only win but he must win in an exciting manner. He must throw punches with bad intentions.
To win in a dull and mechanical manner is not enough. The fighter has to win with style. He has to knock the other guy out. He has to do something spectacular. That is. . .
One of The Key Points Mike Tyson Makes in His Biography
And Tyson isn’t just a boxing megastar, he’s also one of the most knowledgeable people alive when it comes to the history, and the industry, of boxing.
In fact, it’s highly unlikely that boxing will ever produce another megastar like “Iron” Mike Tyson. Why won’t there be another?
In Mike’s own words, here’s why:
Fighters today don’t understand the sport, they don’t understand how to entertain the people, they’re not scholarly enough to examine the past. . .
Tyson thinks that the reason MMA is winning over the crowd and becoming more popular than boxing, is because MMA fighters are more passionate. More intense.
I’m not sure if Tyson is right in what he’s saying or not. But I do know that I find MMA ten times more entertaining to watch than I do boxing. So I guess he’s right.
And besides, you’re not going to see something like this in boxing.
There’s no guy that really has the heart to say “Not only do the gods deliver me and vex me, but one day I will reign with them.” Today’s guys don’t say that shit, they don’t have the balls, they spring from a milieu too meager to comprehend my kind of reality. They don’t want to do that because they’re afraid they will fail and people will laugh at them. That’s why today’s fighters don’t get the total respect. Because they’re afraid to really grab true greatness. They look at boxing as a check, they don’t see it as something noble. They want money and adulation. I wanted adulation and immortality.
You’re not going to want to pay top dollars to watch two muscle freaks slug away at each other mechanically, or lying on the mat hugging each other. . .
What you want, is to see someone with an unconventional style of fighting. You want to see something spectacular. You want to see showmanship.
You want to see someone like Muhammad Ali with his trash-talking and lightning-quick reflexes. Someone like Nick Diaz who throws punches from strange angles that look dull, but knock people out. Someone like Lyoto Machida, the MMA version of Ali, who evades all strikes. . .
. . .Or, best of all, someone like Mike Tyson: A small guy (for his weight class) with unprecedented knockout power and enough ferocity to scare the shit out of his much bigger opponents:
What makes an exciting fighter is his ability and willingness to want to hurt the other man. That makes for great fights and superstars. When I was in the ring I projected myself as an animal. Like a dog in a pit, I was there to entertain the audience. The more I hurt someone, the quicker I hurt him, the more adulation I got from the crowd, and I fed off that.
If the fighter isn’t totally committed to winning the fight, he’s not going to win the crowd, and then he’s won’t become a megastar. And then he’s not going to leave behind a legacy of greatness.
[Buster] Douglas just quit. He got hit a little and laid down. He was a whore for his $17 million. He didn’t go into the fight with any dignity or pride to defend his belt. He made his payday but he lost his honor. You can’t win honor, you can only lose it. Guys like him who only fight for money can never become legends. I can tell that it still affects Buster to this day. Years later, I ran into him again at an autograph session we both attended. No one wanted his autograph. This was the guy who made history for beating me but now his legacy had been reduced to nothing.
–Mike Tyson, Undisputed Truth
No one cares about Buster Douglas today. Few people even know of him, despite the fact that he was the first man to beat Mike Tyson, and take the title from him.
Because, as Cicero said:
We hate gladiators if they are keen to save their lives by any means, we favor them if they openly show contempt for it.
And that’s why everyone knows about Mike Tyson. He’ll go down as one of the greats in boxing. (Plus he’ll be remembered for being “the most dangerous man on the planet”, and for biting Evander Holifield’s ears).
Clearly the megastar effect holds true in the fighting business.
But fighting has always been interesting to the crowd, even before fighters had to be entertaining and do crazy things. What about something less primitive and aggressive?
Something intellectual. Something like. . .
Chess is boring as hell to watch — if you don’t play it yourself (which I don’t).
Yet, for some reason, there’s still a decent amount of money in chess.
But, there aren’t that many megastars in chess. This isn’t strange if you think about it. Because what kind of people usually become elite chess players?
Highly analytical and introverted people. Not exactly the traditional charismatic type.
However, there’s been a few “bad boys” of chess. Not really bad boys in the traditional sense, but when contrasted to the typical dull, nerdy, chess player. Megastars like the mysterious Bobby Fisher, the multi-talented Gary Kasparov, and the child prodigy Josh Waitzkins.
But those guys are all history now.
The newest up-and-coming megastar in chess is the current champion. . .
. . . 23 year old Magnus Carlsen from Norway.
These guys have become megastars because they’ve created an image, an aura of mystique, or something else that draws you in and makes you intrigued to find out more about them. They’re not just good at moving chess pieces across a board.
And these megastars have another powerful advantage over their competitors. Something that gives them a big advantage.
Not only are they liked by the crowd, but. . .
. . .They are also liked and supported by the influencers and professionals who’re making money in that particular industry.
And this is very important, as you will see next week.
Can you think of a megastar in some industry?
How important do you think entertainment is? (In your life? In society? In the future?)