11 Reasons Not to Become Famous (or “A Few Lessons Learned Since 2007”): While most people fight to learn “in-demand” skills, smart people are learning rare skills instead. If you’re interested in building a large audience to become rich and famous, some warnings and recommendations are in order. If you’re interested in building a large audience you also truly care about and with whom you are vulnerable, even more precautionary tales are in order.

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Jul 16, 20237 min read

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11 Reasons Not to Become Famous (or “A Few Lessons Learned Since 2007”): While most people fight to learn “in-demand” skills, smart people are learning rare skills instead. If you’re interested in building a large audience to become rich and famous, some warnings and recommendations are in order. If you’re interested in building a large audience you also truly care about and with whom you are vulnerable, even more precautionary tales are in order.

Many of the things I’m proudest of in life would have been difficult or impossible to accomplish without a large audience. Using fame as a lever, however, can be tricky. First off, what type of “fame” do you want? In concrete terms, what would “successful” look like and over what period of time? From 0–100%, how confident are you that you can convert exposure to income? If more than 0%, what evidence do you have to suggest that your strategy will work?

“You want everyone to know your name and no one to know your face.” I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: ‘try being rich first.’ But when you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job. That week, I shared the above story with a female career blogger. She laughed and said soberly, “Welcome to the party.” She got an average of one death threat and one sex request/threat per week. At the time, our audiences were roughly the same size. The point is this: you don’t need to do anything wrong to get death threats, rape threats, etc. You just need a big enough audience.

If you’ve ever wondered why many celebrities disappear for a period of time, sometimes years, it’s often in the hopes that the below will fade or go away. Sadly, it’s very hard to put the toothpaste back in the toothpaste tube once you have a large Google footprint. Stalkers. Death threats. I get regular death threats, and this is common for public figures. I would estimate I get at least one per month via some channel. The people sending death threats are normally suffering from psychotic episodes, and there is nothing you can do to prevent them. Given how often I get threats, and how truly dangerous it can be, I decided to get a concealed carry permit and carry concealed firearms.

Harassment of family members and loved ones. There are at least two categories of people who will want to find you: fundamentally nice people (albeit overenthusiastic), and fundamentally malevolent people. I hate to put it that way, but I’ve learned that there are people in this world who derive great pleasure from hurting or threatening others. If either group can’t easily get to you—whether to find you or harm you—they will often go after your family and loved ones.

Dating woes. Desperation messages and pleas for help. In other words, if you have more fame than resources, you paint yourself into a vulnerable corner. If you have fewer options and fewer allies, you’ll be attractive to predators. If you appear to make an attractive target, they will then go to the airport an hour before you land, find the driver with your name on a sign, and pay or threaten them to leave. They then replace your driver with their own driver, who now holds the sign and waits for you. B’bye! This can take other forms too. The more visible you are, the more people will attempt to impersonate you or your employees.

Attack and clickbait media. “Friends” with ulterior motives. Once you have a decent sized audience or “platform,” the majority of people who want to grab coffee, ask mutual friends for an intro, or—especially—offer you unsolicited favors will have ulterior motives. It took me a long time to accept this, and I paid a hefty tax for being Pollyannaish. What I can’t stand is fakery to get in someone’s good graces over months, followed with a surprise of “Oh, I’ve been meaning to tell you about my new book coming out in a few weeks” and similar shenanigans. Be wary of anyone who just “wants to get to know you.” 99 times out of 100, that will be untrue.

Invasions of privacy. For all of the reasons in this post (and many more), if you’re doing anything public, you should never have anything mailed to where you live. If you violate that even once, it’s likely that your name and associated address will end up in company or government databases. Those mailing lists are then rented and traded as revenue streams, and it all ultimately ends up searchable. For safety, unless you want to take huge risks, use a UPS Store or other off-site mailing address for everything. This is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

Instead, fame is likely to magnify all of your insecurities and exaggerate all of your fears. It’s like picking up a fire extinguisher for your pain that ends up being a canister of gasoline. If you think you have problems that fame will fix, I implore you to work on the inside first. At the very least, work on both in equal measure. I’ve found books like Awareness and Radical Acceptance to be helpful. “I think everybody should get rich and famous, and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

While Most People Search For In-Demand Skills, Top Learners Search For Rare & Valuable Skills. Many of the scientific ideas we take as obvious were at one point heretical (the earth revolves around the sun, time is not constant) and many of the biggest technology breakthroughs seemed like toys at first (Internet).

Learning rare & valuable skills is following the Hero’s Journey — the most common archetypal myth that has existed across all human societies throughout time. History repeats itself. But sometimes it takes decades or even centuries to repeat itself. So people shouldn’t just use their own life experience to draw big conclusions.

“What do you believe is true that no one else agrees with you on?” While Most People Search For In-Demand Skills, Top Learners Search For Rare & Valuable Skills. Many of the scientific ideas we take as obvious were at one point heretical (the earth revolves around the sun, time is not constant) and many of the biggest technology breakthroughs seemed like toys at first (Internet).

Humans have value blindspots. They under-estimate skills with abstract, long-term payoffs; micro-skills; skills from other disciplines; and classic ideas that have been forgotten. To be an outlier, you need to be a contrarian who is smarter than the market. If your skills match everyone else, then you’re a commodity. If you want solid returns, simply learning skills everyone says are important is probably a solid bet. But, tautologically, if you want to be in the top 1%, you need to think differently than 99% of others and be right. You can’t expect to follow the herd and somehow beat the herd.

Learning rare & valuable skills is following the Hero’s Journey — the most common archetypal myth that has existed across all human societies throughout time. Be first, face difficulty, look for hidden benefits, and redefine value. By pursuing these rare skills, you become an outlier who stands out from the crowd. It may not be the easiest path, but it can lead to exceptional results.

In conclusion, while fame may seem alluring, it comes with a multitude of challenges and risks. The price of fame can be high, including death threats, harassment, invasion of privacy, and the loss of personal relationships. Instead of chasing fame, it may be more beneficial to focus on developing rare and valuable skills. These skills can set you apart from the crowd and lead to greater success and fulfillment. So, be cautious about seeking fame and instead, invest in yourself by acquiring unique abilities that can truly make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Actionable Advice:

1. Prioritize personal growth and inner work before seeking external validation through fame.

2. Be wary of ulterior motives and fake friendships in the pursuit of fame.

3. Focus on acquiring rare and valuable skills that can differentiate you from the competition and lead to long-term success.

Resource:

  1. "11 Reasons Not to Become Famous (or “A Few Lessons Learned Since 2007”)", https://tim.blog/2020/02/02/reasons-to-not-become-famous/ (Glasp)
  2. "While most people fight to learn “in-demand” skills, smart people are learning rare skills instead", https://medium.com/accelerated-intelligence/while-most-people-fight-to-learn-in-demand-skills-smart-people-are-secretly-learning-rare-skills-f9b26856c9d6 (Glasp)

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