Fame ≠ Success: Why Health And Fitness Fame May Not Lead To The Career Success You’re Hoping For
There seem to be a lot of people making successful careers out of Internet fame. But what you see on the outside isn’t necessarily what’s going on behind the scenes. Here’s why following their lead could stand in the way of your long-term success.
Back in 2004 I was sitting in a bookstore with my younger brother, boasting confidently that: “I’ll have a book for sale in this store by next year”.
Now, in my 30-year-old mind, having a book in that store meant something grand: I’d be rich, drive an awesome car, and have a big house on the hill.
Guys would want to be me, women with me, and children in awe of me.
I’d be famous, recognized, respected, and pestered for autographs.
Yep, I’d be the shit.
A year later, by 2005, I did manage to get my first book in that bookstore. Yet no adoring fans. No marriage proposals. And no riches.
Well, I got exactly what I asked for: A book in the bookstore.
I also got one of my most important career lessons: I learned that confusing fame, financial success, occupational success, notoriety, importance, and respect can lead to disappointment and disillusionment.
You see, as a young man I somehow thought these things were connected. And that if you got one — in particular, fame — the rest would come.
Like the old joke:
Step 1: Take cute cat pic
Step 2: Post on the internet
Turns out fame, financial success, occupational success, notoriety, importance, and respect are separate entities. And, while they might be correlated, they don’t necessarily come together in a tidy package.
Learning this was frustrating but valuable for me.
As it was for my friend, let’s call her Samantha.
Famous And Living In Her Parent’s Basement
Samantha was a figure competitor in the early 2000s.
She was on the cover of many major magazines.
She had a popular online presence.
She even was part of a blockbuster television show on a major network.
(I promise, if you’re over 35, you’ve watched the show).
In the health and fitness space she was famous. But she still lived in the basement of her parents’ home because she wasn’t earning much money.
Turns out those girls on the cover of Oxygen magazine were paid in “exposure”, not in real dollars.
NOT Famous And Retired At 35
Contrast this with another friend, we’ll call him Tino.
Tino is in his late 40s and has been retired for 15 years.
In his early 30s he wrote a book that, as an introvert, he didn’t feel like promoting. TV shows, radio appearances, guest columns; they were all available to him. But he wasn’t interested. He didn’t like the attention.
So he turned the book into a success coaching program that helped small business owners (working in industries like chiropractic, dentistry, real estate, etc) make more money and take more time off each week.
To get the word out, he partnered with thought leaders in each space. He provided the content, they marketed and delivered, and they shared profits.
The program was great, and it worked, so word of mouth spread. It became such a huge hit that he was able to retire just a few years later.
While almost no one has heard of the guy, including some of the people whose lives he changed, he’s now wealthy and living a life of leisure.
Chasing Fame As A Business Model
Before moving on, let’s be clear.
I’m not saying money is the only definition of “success”.
Your “success” may be personal growth, professional development, having interesting adventures or opportunities, and so forth.
What I am saying is that fame doesn’t necessarily equate to other things you might be seeking… including feeling like a valuable human being.
Yes, noteworthy accomplishments, money, fame, are sometimes related. If you’re famous you might be afforded the opportunity to do bigger things. But it’s not a given.
That’s why it’s really important to define exactly what you want to achieve. And then create a plan to go after that. Because, like me, you don’t want to end up saying “I want to be a published author” when what you really mean is “I want to be wealthy and famous”. Or vice versa.
That’s why chasing fame as a business model is a risky proposition.
It’s also why, if you want a great business, you need to focus your energy on building a great business. That means creating valuable products that serve a real need for a specific group of people. And then, as outlined in this article, make sure every one of those people hears about you.
Remember that social media doesn’t always reflect reality.
What looks like an abundant and successful life online, might look quite different offline. As they often say: Don’t compare your real life to someone’s highlight reel.
Don’t conflate different ideas about success.
Fame, financial success, occupational success, notoriety, importance, and respect may sometimes be correlated. But they aren’t necessarily a package deal. That’s why it’s important to define which is most important to you and then consider how you’ll strategically go after that.
If you want to be famous…
That’s okay. Great in fact. Just be sure to figure out what that means (and doesn’t mean) before going after it.
If you want a successful business…
That’s great too. Go build a great business. Getting attention is certainly part of the equation. But you’ll also need to create great products and services that solve people’s problems.
Consider how media fits into the big picture.
If you’re going after a successful business, think about where your ideal customers are. Where can they be found? Then go after them there. But only after you consider all the tasks you have to complete in your business. Then prioritize media time appropriately.
I teach effective prioritization in these two articles:
- The Tournament Technique: Here’s How To Prioritize What Really Matters In Your Health And Fitness Business
- Important Or Not? 12 Questions To Help Health And Fitness Professionals Better Prioritize Their Time
Want To Learn More? Go Deeper?
Then download this FREE sample of my latest book, Change Maker.
Change Maker shares the tips, strategies, and lessons I learned growing Precision Nutrition from a two-person passion project to a 200 million dollar company that’s coached over 200,000 clients, certified over 100,000 professionals, and revolutionized the field of nutrition coaching.
Whether you work as a health coach, strength coach, nutritionist, functional medicine doc, or rehab specialist, Change Maker will help you discover the right direction to take, the fastest way to make progress, and the practical steps required to build the career of your dreams in health and fitness.
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