There are ways to become famous that don’t require spending a bunch of money – or killing anyone. It is easy enough to become famous but it is a bit harder to become famous for positive reasons. Avoid the negative ways of doing this such as jumping off a building. The challenge is to engage the media with a solid something. We came up with eight positive ways to pull this off. You might come up with some more to add to this list. Let us know if you do.

Is there a way you can become number one in the world at anything? Opening up the Guinness Book of World Records and looking for a category might work for some people. But this won’t work for everyone. Being first at something will often work. Being the best at something works just as well. Becoming the worst in the world at anything works great too.
The whole point is to find some way to stand out and be different. There also needs to be media around – the more people it accesses, the better. Getting on a reality television show is currently a quick way to do it for some people. Here are the eight ways we came up with:

  1. Being the best at something. Obtain a copy of the Guinness book and pick something that is free. Then work at it. But keep in mind that this category is a tough one because it involves actually becoming really good at something.
  2. Being the first to do something. Trying something new in a conservative setting counts and has become popular lately. In other words, it only needs to be perceived as first. Roger Bannister was the first person to break the 4 minute mile in 1954 and many people still recognize his name. Most competitive runners these days can surpass that.
  3. Being the worst at something. William Hung has made it by consistently performing really bad Ricky Martin impersonations. Being a bad driver is one thing but the British have taken it to the extreme by creating a television program on this concept that has become globally franchised.
  4. Being radically different. Mahatma Gandhi was the most unlawyer-like lawyer around in his day. This can involve either breaking or living a stereotype.
  5. Doing something generous that most people wouldn’t. This is a popular one for volunteers going out to raise awareness for a cause. People who go on long walks or runs across their countries figured this one out in spades.
  6. Being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing. Saving a life fits the bill well. In January, Wesley Autrey saved a man who fell onto the New York subway tracks. He was a 50 year old construction worker who was taking his two young daughters home before work and saw the man fall while the train was coming. He made a split second decision, then leapt in and was able to hold the man flat between the rails while the train rolled over them. They were both bruised but okay afterward. Wesley was all over the news and was a guest on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
  7. Blowing the whistle or uncovering a scandal. Erin Brokovich was a unknown paralegal who uncovered a major scandal in which a big utility company in Barstow, California was leaching toxins into the environment that killed many people. She was instrumental in winning a huge lawsuit that also resulted in a feature movie being made about the story.
  8. Getting a lucky strike. Winning a big lottery is an obvious one that people can relate to judging from sales of lottery tickets. But this one doesn’t count if you need to buy the lottery ticket! Picking the right parents is another good one for some people.

You need to ask yourself, why do you want to become famous? Before you go out and kill yourself putting in a lot of effort, maybe consider if fame is something you really want to achieve. If you look at some of these above examples, it seems these people, except for maybe William Hung, were not trying to achieve fame. That is part of the magic.

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis now available.

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