You have an obligation to be famous. Be it for 15 minutes or for the next 15 years, you owe it to yourself and your company to be front and center. The only thing standing between you and fame is the fear that holds you back.
How do I know this? Because I spent some quality time with Hank Norman, who helped pilot and produce The View with Barbara Walters. He also helped launch the Oxygen network, where he was an on-air "cross media" correspondent reporting what was going on across all of Oxygen's online properties. He's worked as a development executive at ABC Disney and has written and produced films.
Here's some of Hank's broadcast television personality wisdom that I found interesting and inspiring:
Standing out is more important than being liked. Let's face it--you can't please everyone. Most people hold themselves back because of their desire to be liked. Even famous people fall into that trap. "Howard Stern was the worst judge on America's Got Talent," Hank mused, "because he wasn't honest. And I'm a huge Howard Stern fan. But I'm glad they fired him. He's lost his edge as he's become more famous, because he cares more about what people think of him." If you are a long-time listener to Stern, you've probably noticed a change from when he was just starting out and had something to prove. The more amiable you try to be and the more people you try to please, the more vanilla your personal brand becomes.
Love (and convert) your haters. "I'm in love with my haters," says Hank. "That's because they use the very formula I teach. They take a controversial position, stand out, and are extremely vocal. I simply give them the attention they deserve, and suddenly I convert them ... or at least most of them." It's so true. Your haters have tons of passion. You average fan is boring by comparison. So what if they consumed your content. If it dies there, then they really aren't helping your boost your audience. But haters have fire in their bellies and that passion helps fuel conversation around your position. So what if they disagree--at least they're talking!
Face your fear and be heard. One of the greatest things about that iPhone in your pocket is that it's the only thing you need to become famous. "You have everything you need to be famous and wildly successful in your pocket," says Hank. "With today's smart phone, all you need to do is put yourself out there and you're going to get more business; you're just scared." Scared of what? Most people fear just how powerful they truly are and what it means to be out in front. It's a primal instinct. Our survival instinct is to stay toward the middle of the pack and blend in--it's what got our ancestors to today. But it no longer serves us. Standing out is what it's all about--your personal brand matters so much more than you realize. Have you Googled yourself lately? (See "10 Ways You Build (or Damage) Your Reputation Online.")
Train to be extraordinary. "People will hate you, so build up your callus," says Hank. "Get uncomfortable. That's the starting line. How does this translate into the marketplace? Figure out what to do to be outrageous with your audience. I'm asking you to be honest." And that's the thing. Most people get in front of a mic or video camera and immediately try to be something they are not in a desire to be liked. To be extraordinary, you need to be willing to be passionate, determined, adventurous, creative, and a little weird. Just ask the employees of Zappos--it's in their core values. And that's what we all want to see. Normal is boring as hell. Seth Godin, in his book Purple Cow, said it best: "Being risky is safe. Being safe is risky." Sounds like a paradox, but it's actually a dialectic. Taking big bold risks is interesting and gets the attention of everyone around you. Even when you land flat on your face, you have a lot more respect for being brave enough to try in the first place.
Above all, keep it real! Look at Donald Trump. He's a guy who fully took the gloves off and spoke his mind. You can disagree with him. You may even think he's an idiot. But you simply can't ignore him. A friend of mine referred to the Donald as the Republican id--that is, Donald Trump says out loud what many Republicans think, but don't have the courage to say. So is it any wonder that he's taken the spot light and has no intention of giving it back? He's spent the least amount of paid advertising and has the highest brand recognition in the Republican party. Is it a circus? Absolutely. But we're all so exhausted by the double-speak nonsense that wastes our time that it's actually refreshing to hear a politician take a stand and not look to public opinion polls to know what should be said (and not said) to please most registered voters.
Fame is an obligation. You owe it to yourself and your company to be yourself and to stop trying to be someone else. Play full out. Yes, you will attract haters, but that lets you know you're saying things that are important. Would you rather hear crickets when you speak or loud contrarian feedback? Energy trumps the silence treatment every time. So go on, be bold and take a stand. If you need help, engage a company like Hank Norman's 2 Market Media and it will help you get outside your comfort zone.
If you think this article is a joke, then have the courage to say so. If you are moved by the insights of a true master of fame, then tell Hank Norman what you enjoyed about his insights, find your voice, and stand tall. After all, you only live once. Find your voice and be loud and proud. Your brilliance is needed in this world. Speak up!