Take yourself seriously, or no one else will. Have something to say. Mean it. People want someone to believe in, and if you’re frivolous and wishy-washy you’ll get little blowback but you’ll never ascend to the pinnacle. We live in dangerous times and we’re looking for leaders. Not everybody will agree with you, but if some are passionate about you they’ll enlist others and you will ascend.
You don’t want to be an adolescent star. Shame on parents enabling their kids to make it. Especially the educated. Have they not looked at the scrapheap of child stars? Do they think their kids will be any different? They won’t. You want to grow up as part of the group, being bullied, having your peaks and being unknown. You want to go to college to experience others. You want to travel so you’re enriched. This is the well upon which you will base your creativity and life. The school of hard knocks is a pretty good one, but the school that teaches you how to analyze problems, that makes you think, that challenges your precepts, is the one you want to go to. If you think college is about getting a job upon graduation, you’re never gonna be a star. You’re playing it safe. Stars don’t, they put everything on the line. Today you get multiple opportunities to interact with your audience. When you speak poorly and can’t cogitate, when you show little grasp of the issues and no ability to think upon your feet, people laugh at you. Of course there are teen phenoms, but how many last?
DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
You’ve got to be able to poke fun at yourself. Now don’t overdo it, makes me crazy when skinny women keep talking about their fat ass, and when smart men say how dumb they are, or vice versa, this is not what I’m talking about. We all commit errors, all the time. Admit them. Be the butt of the joke. Laugh along with others. Don’t be a punching bag, but don’t be holier than thou. We’re all imperfect, but don’t sacrifice your gravitas at the altar of fitting in.
HAVE AN EDGE
If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing at all. We’ve got too many people who want to fit in, who are afraid to go on the record. We all don’t get along, we all don’t agree, and just because the spotlight shines upon you that does not mean you need to sacrifice your personality. Of course people are gonna disagree with you, be shocked that you didn’t toe the company line, but when the dust settles and they move on to criticizing someone else you’ll still be standing, assuming you didn’t cave, you’ll be stronger. Life is long and so are careers when done right. In today’s overloaded instant world they need a punching bag every day, but they forget yesterday’s, remember that.
GO ON THE RECORD
Don’t say you’re uneducated on the issues, don’t say you don’t have an opinion, EVERYBODY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY! Just wake up your phone and you can’t miss it. It’s your obligation to take the temperature of society, you cannot be removed, because no one else is. Have opinions and speak them. Become three-dimensional, otherwise people can’t get hooked on you.
COMMIT ERRORS, APOLOGIZE WHEN WRONG BUT STAND YOUR GROUND
Never back down immediately unless you feel inside you made a mistake. Just because you’re being excoriated, that does not mean you’re wrong. Hell, that’s what Fox does, and you can learn a lesson from them. When the left goes insane Hannity just doubles down, he pushes back, because those criticizing him are not members of his audience anyway, he doesn’t care about them. Don’t cave to the looky-loos who aren’t normally paying attention. Just because they’re playing GOTCHA! that doesn’t mean you’ve got to, either back down or play GOTCHA! in reverse. Ignore that which does not become national news, unless you have something you’re dying to say, controversy burns out.
Looks are passe. Hell, look at Alicia Keys, wearing no makeup. It’s too hard a job to prettify yourself for consumption. Those grooming themselves for Instagram are living in a false world of appearances, believing models rule, but that was back in the nineties, today it’s about having an identity. Times change. Don’t be lost in the past.
Everybody’s an open book online, you can Google anybody and find out tons about them. By not playing, by restricting information, you look like a zombie alien. Now, more than ever, stars are not on a pedestal, in a world where everybody has a voice on the internet, where all your foibles are revealed, you’re no better than the rest of us. It’s your attitude and your work that make you rise above.
ACCESS IS YOUR CALL
You don’t have to tweet, don’t have to glad-hand if your work can stand on its own. But if you do interact with your public beware that whatever happens becomes online fodder. If you don’t mind appearing rude, be so. Your fans keep you alive. But you’re not in a good mood every day, no one is. So this is dicey, you want to be famous for the perks and then you want to be left alone. There is a line, you get to draw it, but know that all of your audience won’t be happy.
Use it to support your agenda, to weigh in on different topics, as long as your motivation is pure and you’re not looking for a merit badge for your good work.
ANYBODY CAN PLAY
Credit MTV, where the younger generations were exposed to different colors, different religions and different sexual preferences. The younger generations are a lot less prejudiced than their elders. Of course there are exceptions, but straight people now have gay friends, minorities have pride and we don’t care where you come from, as long as you’re fresh and you entertain us.
The world has changed completely. Credit the bulge of the millennials. Credit the internet. Credit progress. Credit dissension. You can’t operate on last year’s rules. Politics is for everybody. Income inequality is rampant. Ignorance is widespread. It’s a crazy world wherein we need people to rally around and inspire us. It’s a hard job to do, most people say they can when they can’t. But if you’re in the game know it’s less about self-promotion than identity, and the trick is to last. Reality TV will make you famous, but it won’t give you impact, never mind a career. Neither will one hit song. You’ve got to play for the long haul. You’ve got to be famous for something, otherwise you’re here and gone. So specialize in your talent, go deep, and continue to play. And if you’re doing it right you’ll gain an audience that will increase. Not everybody gets to win. It’s all not based on talent. You need perseverance, luck and friends. But someone makes it. And if you want a chance, to change society, to have impact, obey the above rules.