On fame and generosity

Most people aren’t famous, and even if they are, they are only famous to those who know them.

There is a big difference between Steve Jobs famous and Steve Pavlina famous, even though both of them have their own Wikipedia page. Then, there’s Steven Sashen famous where he doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page but his startup does.

Pretty much everyone knows Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, the creator of iPhone, etc. But Steve Pavlina? Only those who are interested in the field of personal growth would have heard of him. And Steven Sashen? Only those interested in barefoot running and have heard of Xero Shoes would have any chance of knowing him.

And I’m willing to bet that you don’t know that many famous people. Famous celebrities and movie stars, perhaps. But famous historians, scientists, thought leaders, religious figures, musicians, philosophers, poets, etc? Probably not. Give it a try, of Wikipedia’s 129 “vital articles” under “people”, how many do you know?

Note: I don’t know if it’s fair to use Wikipedia as a benchmark for how famous or important someone is since anyone can edit it, but they do have their own system for assessing biographies, along with a priority scale for importance.

So if you accept that most people aren’t famous, even the somewhat famous ones, and that famous is only relative to the stuff you’re interested in, you can make either one of these conclusions.

Either a) it is nearly impossible to be famous because even famous people aren’t really that famous and you yourself don’t know that many famous people, or b) it is now easier than ever to be famous because it’s all relative.

Being famous to a billion people? Extremely unlikely, but being famous to just 10 people? Easy peasy, chances are, you already are! How about 100 people? Or 1,000 people? Those are all very doable, just join an active community somewhere and start contributing. Be generous, give lots and don’t expect anything in return. Over time, those 100 people or 1,000 people will come.

It doesn’t have to be an online community, you can volunteer offline, work at charities, join conferences and talk to people, help coworkers in your workplace, help other students in school, start a blog or youtube channel about something you care about, as long as you are generous and keep on giving, it’s easier than ever to become famous.

If you really think about it, what does it mean to be famous? Who are famous people but those who have contributed lots to society? And who are those famous to you but people who have contributed to the stuff you care about?

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