In the mid-1990s, Apple ran a series of insightful ads entitled "Power Is," featuring several celebrities describing what power meant to them.

Spike Lee said power is succeeding when the odds are against you and you have a constant desire to learn. George Clinton, on the other hand, shared that power is the ability to motivate, communicate, and reinvent yourself. Marlee Matlin described power as having confidence, no limits, and the freedom of expression.

Simply by their celebrity status, all these people have a certain amount of power--a power to live how they want, influence others' perspectives, and motivate people to take action. Of course, this power has its downside. How would you like your every move publicly dissected? But if celebrities treat that reality with respect and use it to uplift, inspire, and encourage others, then they can make a real difference--as well as a profit from their brand and their reach.

The question is: How do everyday people--specifically entrepreneurs--obtain this power?

While there is such a thing as "overnight success," most celebrities work hard over a long period of time to reach their powerful status. Here are three strategies of the stars that business professionals can use to make a difference in the world and do things that truly matter to them:

1. Build Your Tribe

Who you align yourself with affects your values, reputation, success, and often your financial well-being. Most success stories involve individuals surrounded by people they trust who share their values and genuinely have their best interests at heart.

Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. She has had consistent support from incredibly loyal staff, close friends, and colleagues who have stood by her for decades. Personally, she's benefitted tremendously from the mentor relationship she enjoyed with the late Dr. Maya Angelou, as well as from her long-time partner, Stedman Graham, and her best friend, Gayle King.

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre's business partnership with Beats is another great example of a professional relationship that was mutually beneficial. Beats proved to be highly profitable for both of them in its recent sale to Apple--something that may have been more challenging to do if not for the power of their partnership.

2. Pursue New Ventures

If you've had success as an entrepreneur once, you already know how to make something from nothing. Now, you have the ability to take your experience, resources, and prominence to create new businesses that fulfill a lifelong dream or generate revenue streams for a cause--or both.

Actor Paul Newman founded Newman's Own in 1982 with pal A.E. Hotchner after his homemade salad dressing became a hit with friends. The company's offerings have expanded, but always with the purpose of donating all proceeds to charities. To date, the amount contributed has surpassed $300 million.

Among other entrepreneurial endeavors, Sandra Bullock opened the eco-friendly Austin, Tex.-based Bess Bistro. She must love this pursuit because she was involved in every detail of making it come together.

3. Explore Other Interests

If you look at most celebrities' rsums, you'll notice a large number of multihyphenates--people with multiple job titles. It's rare to truly excel in a number of areas, but many talented people who work hard can do it. Don't feel like you have to stay in one industry or skill set. Branching out can often create multiple sources of income and fulfillment.

Take Beyonce Knowles, for example. She doesn't stop with music--she's built a business empire endorsing companies like H&M, creating a line of fragrances, and heading up a successful clothing company. It's no wonder she topped the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

You should also use a variety of tactics to engage with your audience via social networking. It's what Hillary Clinton calls "smart power" (i.e., finding ways to connect with people so they can then influence their governments). While Clinton's celebrity status often distracts from her work, she's excellent at using her power to engage and empower youth, women, and entrepreneurs as she works toward change.

You may not be a "celebrity" to the general public, but if you're successful in your field, there are likely a number of people who know who you are. As your recognition grows, the number of people you influence will increase. In all of these cases, the celebs referenced have used their power and influence to make a difference in a way that allows them to invest their heart, soul, energy, passion, time, and even money into something they love. That's real power.

What will you do with your power?

Published on: Sep 12, 2014