Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Would You Rather Be Famous or Amazing?

I've never been impressed by popularity contests, celebrity, or fame.  Some people focus on becoming "famous" and forget that most people who are really famous were also first "amazing" and not trying to attract their fame.  Now, this is not always true.  You CAN buy fame if you want it.  That's what advertising is- fame for sale, and if you have enough money to spend or a company you're willing to sell your soul for, than you can acquire plenty of fame.

Another way to become famous is to become compelling or controversial- which is how many artists end up getting national press these days.  In most circumstances where fame is created with these strategies, it's more of a flash-in-the-pan kind of fame that doesn't last very long.  Like the one-hit-musician or the you-tube-star.  When it appears to last a long time, it's because the artist is constantly cultivating their next fame-making stunt.  Acquiring fame can be an art form in and of itself, but it comes with a lot of baggage, hate, and jealousy that most people- especially artists- don't have the stomach to endure.  Fame has destroyed plenty of lovely humans who turn to drugs just to tune out the fame monster and have a moment of escape.

Do you REALLY want to be FAMOUS?

Of course, fame isn't all bad.  It provides access to special people and places, and it opens doors more easily to pursue what you love.  However, when you consider the amount of time you have to simply "deal with being famous," it can take a lot of time away from doing work that actually pays the bills or allows you to sustain yourself beyond the next marketing stunt.

As icky as it feels to admit it, I've been in that fame circle in the photo industry and I endured its good and bad until I realized my inner peace and happiness were slowly slipping away from me.  It probably only took one year of "fame" for me to realize it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and in the meantime, my clients weren't getting nearly the attention or love that they deserved.  Once I got to see it in all of its raw ugliness, I realized it was not at all what I wanted for myself.  However, that's me, and I don't assume that everyone is like me.  If you look at the fact that "celebrities"only represent about 1% of the population on the planet- I'd say that 99% of people reading this would feel like I did.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou
To be amazing is to make a difference in the lives of others in a way that goes beyond the original energy you invested.  It is not to draw people to idolize you, but to encourage and inspire people to feel special and courageous about who they are.  This takes so much less energy and offers so many more rewards.  No one hates someone who is simply trying to be amazing at what they do and who they are.  Doors still open and access is still granted to help you pursue more of what you love, but the treatment is so much different.  There's no hate in being as awesome for your own sake.  There's no hate when you've inspired someone to be their own personal best, instead of being more like you.

One of the big mistakes I see now with social media is when people run popularity campaigns just to get more people to "like" their page on Facebook, or ask people to create false reviews just to get more positive reviews and rankings. Those likes and reviews may give you a temporary warm fuzzy, but they don't cultivate an audience of people who really love you and care about what you have to offer. It's much better and EASIER to carefully and deliberately curate your audience by producing amazing work that draws people in and makes them want to stay simply because they want to be a part of the amazingness that you create on a regular basis.

Being famous is hard and requires a lot of personal compromise, but being amazing only requires you to be your personal best and to be true to who you are.

So, what would you rather be- famous or amazing?

Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and smart solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.


  1. Great post. Well written truth.

  2. Being famous is for the birds! I realize that the limelight holds a lot of glamour to many, but what you said about being famous versus being amazing is just so true. It reminds me of a quote I read the other day: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

  3. So true Anne, and a very well written article. Being famous is not all it's cracked up to be and can be a fleeting moment. Being amazing to the people who matter is one hundred times more rewarding!

  4. You're AMAZING. In fact when you get back, I want to hang out. I live in NH and LOVE being anonymous.

  5. I had never really though much about this before... I often tell myself I need more followers... or I need more likes... the reality of it is... being true to myself means more to me than all of that ... thanks for an amazing read at a time I really needed it...

  6. Thanks for the encouragement! It's constant work to stay focused on what matters...