Why You Should Be A Famous Founder

A few weeks ago I was flying back from Fast Forward’s amazing Data Leadership Conference in New York. As I was trying to figure out what I was going to watch on the in flight entertainment system I came across the trailer for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Near the end of the trailer, Welles started talking about some of the actors and actresses in the film that were, or soon to become, big stars.

The funny thing is, I didn’t know who any of these people were.

These people were no doubt “somebodies” back in the 1940s when the movie was made. Yet, two generations later, most of these “famous” people were irrelevant.

If I were to sit down and make a list of the great people of history, names on that list would include people like Neil Armstrong, Henry Ford, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Newton, etc. Many of the people on the list were born a hundred if not thousands of years ago and continue to be remembered. I’m quit confident that their names will continue to live on overshadowing tens of thousands of other “famous” people who lived during and after their lifetimes.

During Ford’s era there were probably thousands of famous and powerful people but why did Ford shine though? Both Caesar's and Alexander’s lieutenants were among the elite of their era. Yet, over the course of history, both the soldiers and the Ford era famous have been forgotten.

Similarly, most Americans, including myself, can really only name a handful of former US presidents without Wikipedia. Even fewer citizens can explain what contributions were made by these presidents.

Over time most of us, even the famous, will be forgotten. So chasing for fame for fame’s sake is really just a waste of time.

This is because we only remember the people who have made lasting contributions.

It is all about what the people we remember did, not who they were. Eg, Armstrong walked on the moon; Ford industrialized the building of motor vehicles; Alexander the great unified much of the known world during his time.

Do you think my daughter’s grandchildren will know who Kim Kardashians was? I don’t think so. Kim is someone to a lot of people, but what has she really done?

Contribution is a dependency to being rememberd. Thus fame only exist in the short term to increases the auctoritas of the person who is famous. This gives the famous access to better resources that can be applied to larger, more difficult problems.

So at its core fame is just a tool that can be applied to larger problems.

And solving big and hard problems is how you change the world. Not by being a celebrity, but by using celebrity to make the world better for everyone.

So if you want to change the world, fame is a tool to help you do so. But seek it out like you would seek out a wrench. And don’t get attached because remember it never lasts. At the end of the day, all that will remain is what you do with it.

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