HINT: it’s neither about how smart, nor how hard you work.
We all have different definitions for “making it big”. For someone people, it’s about being able to stand on stage and deliver a performance to adoring fans. For others, it’s having readers cling onto every word that they read from your books. Yet for others, it could be having a popular YouTube channel where die hard fans tune in every week for your vlogs.
Regardless of how you define it, a common factor seems to be that you’re impacting people en masse, millions at a time. By impact, I refer to moving people in an emotional way.
You could be:
- firing up,
- making them cry, or
- making them take action.
A principle of marketing and human behavior is that people make decisions based on emotion and justify with logic. We want to be perceived as being rational and logical, but every one of us — even people who swear they make decisions based only on science — will ultimately make them based on how we feel.
If you make it big, you’re essentially affecting thousands or maybe millions of people in such a way that you can act in a certain way. It sounds like mind control, but celebrities and people constantly in the media do it all the time.
You might want to change the world. You might feel like impacting millions is the best way to go about it. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of characteristics I’ve observed of people who have done exactly that.
Here are 10 signs that you will make it big some day:
1. You think in terms of years, not months.
Someone doesn’t go from obscurity to mega star over night. Bar viral sensations (that always fizzle out if the spark isn’t kept alight), building up a reputation takes years.
Gary Vaynerchuk has said before that if you’re not willing to put in two to three years into what you’re trying to do, your idea won’t have the time to gain traction.
We as a whole are also becoming more and more distrusting. The cacophony of ads is getting louder and louder. We’re having to tune out nearly all the time, making it harder for anyone to be heard.
This is a blessing in disguise. You see…
We are listening for the quiet people whose statements make the noise.
A well-thought out message that cuts through the clutter is truly rare and hard to find. You need to spend the time to make it heard. And when it is, people will talk about it.
2. You ARE in it for the money.
Yep, you read that right. You’re all about the dollar signs. You’re probably expecting me to say “not”, but there’s a valid reason why I think money matters if you’re trying to make it big.
No matter which way you look at it, money makes the world go round. We might hope for a utopia, but the game is played by certain rules. While certain rules can be broken, the money rule cannot.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I think we should all go in with the intent to charge for everything we do. Philanthropy still has an important role to play. But even with that, you need money to make an impact.
To make it big, you need to impact millions of people. To do this, you have to create something that adds value to their life. To value it, they have to pay for it with money.
The size of the problem you solve determines how much money you can make. It also determines the level of impact you can have on people. So don’t shy away from making money. You will be able to help more people that way.
3. You genuinely care about the people you wish to affect.
This sign is a given. Even if you are impacting people millions at a time, you see each person as an individual. You have a crystal clear idea of who the ideal customer, the typical follower or average fan is, you can name their fears and hopes and you know what they’re expecting out of you.
In marketing, this is called an avatar. It should be used by anyone looking to make an impact to many people.
The thing you’re creating is useless if you don’t know who it’s for.
People will not support you just because you make something cool. They will support you because you care about what they want and are trying to solve their problem in a way only you can.
Creators and entrepreneurs have to accept responsibility for who they are. The moment they decide they want to make it big, they have to realize that people put them on a pedestal.
They look up to them and admire them because they aspire to be like them, all because they care for them. It’s not easy, but it’s the cost to impact people at scale.
4. You focus on the $10,000 per hour jobs.
The work we do can be classified into different categories. At a day job, we do work that, on average, ranges from $10 — $30 per hour. However, in reality we know that our level of output isn’t worth the same amount every hour.
Someone might come in to work not completely awake yet. They have their morning coffee then — BOOM! — their productivity shoots up. Their hourly rate is suddenly worth closer to $50, maybe $100 an hour. This would fluctuate on a daily basis.
Then you have different classes of jobs. Surgeons, lawyers and senior management are worth $100’s, maybe even $1,000’s an hour. That’s because the problem they solve is expensive or involves something extremely valuable.
When you make it big and are impacting a lot of people, you’re multiplying your impact many times. You’re also solving a big problem, be it entertainment, making sales or something else. That’s why your work can be worth $10,000/hour. It might even be worth six to seven figures an hour!
Someone who makes it big as people they delegate their $10 to $100/hour jobs to. These are jobs like admin, reception, management, responding to emails and putting out daily fires.
Someone who’s made it big focuses on the work that has made them big. Someone who does everything will never make it big.
Some people are scared that someone else will not be able to do a certain task as good as they can. Guess what? They’re right. They won’t. But that’s the cost of becoming an influencer.
5. You look for “no’s”, not “yes’s”.
Jon Westenberg wrote a piece recently about loving the word “no”. Society operates harmoniously when everyone is in agreement. Conflict, in general, is seen as a bad thing.
It depends on the scale. I would concur that agreements do strengthen the fabric of society. Truces are agreements between warring nations to stop fighting. Business agreements can help solve more problems that companies couldn’t solve on their own.
However, the agreements would have taken several “no’s” to get to.
The truth is…
The negotiation hasn’t started until you hear “no”.
Some people cannot commit to either yes or no. They aren’t the people who can help you. Nor are the people who say yes to everything. They are usually hiding something.
Someone who has something that you want and wants something from you will tell you “no”. They want to reach an agreement and want to reach a middle ground with you on which you both get what you want.
So always look for the “no”. That’s when you know you are finally moving up.
6. You’re improving every single week
James Altucher wrote a piece earlier in the year, suggesting that people improve 1% a day. I responded to it with my most popular piece on Medium so far, 52 ways to make life 68% more rewarding.
Why 68%? I did the maths and a 1% improvement a week compounds to a 68% improvement in a year, which isn’t too shabby at all. If you are able to consistently grow by 1% a day in your chosen field, all the more power to you. I couldn’t do it, since I would burn out.
People who make it big are constantly growing. The term is a bit of a misnomer; you don’t ever “make it”; you just keep growing. You do things that scare you, you do things that give your life meaning and you choose your own suffering.
As I mentioned in the first point, no one goes from zero to hero overnight. Even if you did, you don’t want to become a player in that way. It wouldn’t feel right. You cheated the system and you cheated yourself.
It’s the reason why I started the 100 Naked Words publication, where I along with select writers write 100 words a day. It’s a great habit, you grow and your writing gets exponentially better. Plus, we’re impacting readers who draw inspiration from our daily words.
7. Your five closest friends are influencers.
The people you surround yourself with are what you’re composed of. Obviously you’re all different people, but their habits, rituals and hobbies are shared. Birds of a feather flock together, after all.
Unless you’re going out of your way to find people to befriend who are in a higher league than your own, you won’t become a part of that league.
No one makes it big on their own.
This is the hardest point to achieve. Our friends might have been with us from day one, but if what you seek is growth, you might have to place less emphasis on that friendship.
This isn’t to say that you can’t stay friends with them. If you both have a dream to make it big, then you support one another. This is the ideal path. However, people are all different and it would be selfish to pull an unwilling friend into your dream if they don’t share your vision.
Getting to know people who have done the hard yards is the only real shortcut there is to making it big. They are already an influencer, so by promoting you to their followers can bestow that clout to you.
Of course, you have to be a genuine friend and be doing something that aligns with their own goals. That’s why it’s important to be conscious with who you align yourself with. So many people just fall into the wrong crowds and then wonder why their life ends up a certain way.
8. People are discouraging you all the time.
These people are the ones who care about the most: friends and family. They don’t want to see you get hurt, waste time or money or end up disappointed.
They mean well, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Most, if not all, of them haven’t done what you’re trying to do before. They’re looking at you from their safe, warm shells while you’re out in the firing line.
They seek the familiar, while something pulls you outside to stare into the abyss of the unknown. It doesn’t scare you one bit. In fact, you feel like jumping in.
If people are trying to stop you from doing what you’re trying to do, that’s a great sign. It means that you’re on the right path of making it big.
People don’t make it big doing normal things. Normal things have normal limits. Unusual things that have no perceivable ceiling are exciting. They’re also frightening to certain people who like that security.
This can only take you so far, though. Eventually, you will have to find a mentor, someone who’s gone down your path, heard all the negativity and still come out on top. But if you don’t have someone like that, discouragement from normal people is a good place to get your bearings.
9. You focus on the problem, not on the product.
If you want to be successful in anything, this is the order of “P’s” you should always remember:
Problem > People > Product
Whatever you’re trying to do, if you’re focused on the problem you’re trying to solve, making it big will become inevitable.
This advice is common sense, but in this day and age, even with the level of insight you can gain into what people think and feel, people still fall in love with their ideas and completely forget about the people whose problems they’re trying to fix.
You don’t have to have all the answers. In fact, having the humility to ask the people who support you what they want from you can actually enamor them even more to you.
No one has the guts to be authentic and human. That’s what inevitably leads to their downfall. Have the courage to ask and understand the real problems and your people will always welcome you.
10. Settling scares you.
I don’t know about you, but imagining myself in 10 years being in the same place as I am now terrifies me. Being a nobody when I could have been a somebody terrifies me. The fear comes from the “could have been” part.
If you’re anything like me, you’re someone who’s been told several times that you have potential. It’s the extent that you believe that statement that defines who you want to become.
Let’s face it:
We all have potential. We’re unique but we’re not special, or different. We all can be someone, but how much we want to become that person is what shapes your actions from today.
Believe it or not, some people are content with just dreaming about what their life could be like. They get a rush from their imagination, then they go back to playing Candy Crush and distracting themselves from the mediocrity of their lives. Sounds crazy, right?
The last thing I would want is to wake up, realize I’m 43, have two kids who don’t think their dad is the best man in the world anymore and a wife who accepted that she chose the wrong partner.
How many of these things can you tick off? Are there any that I’ve left out? Or are there any that you don’t think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments.
By: Johnson Kee