I know many people. Some are successful, but most aren’t. They come from many walks of life. They all share two things in common: (1) they know me; and (2) they are oddly disinterested in my opinions. The only exception to this latter point would the occasional mundane inquiry about something like how to get gum off a shoe or my view on the gold standard–neither of which, by the way, I know anything about. Nevertheless, I now offer the world my secrets of success. More accurately, my secrets of the appearance of success. Let’s face it, most of us are not great successes nor do we stand the chance of being one. I have found that appearing to be successful is close to actual success, albeit without the financial windfall or fame which typically accompanies actual success.
As an initial matter, a very few of you don’t need to read this. Drive, passion, intelligence and perseverance are the keys to success. If you possess even one of those attributes, you likely are a success yourself and need no advice. Also, an inexhaustible trust fund is the core of many a success. If you have one of these, stop reading now. Your bizarre and even repugnant behavior was long ago dismissed as the eccentricities of the rich. You need no advice from me. Finally, if you have married into money or a person with any of the above-mentioned attributes, hang on for dear life. You have succeeded. The rest of you should continue reading.
Below is my simple 5 Steps to Success Program. I offer it free of charge as a service to the public. Hang on for the ride of your life. Remember: The only thing that stands between you and the top is all that stuff in the middle!
No. 1 AIM LOW
You have likely heard advice such as “surround yourself with winners” or “hang with the winners.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Winners associate with winners. If they would voluntarily associate with you, you would in fact already be a winner. It’s not going to happen. Besides, if you surround yourself with people far superior to you, how will you look? Like a loser, that’s what. Do you have a sibling that is far more successful than you? How has that worked out for you? The same applies in the real world
The first step toward the appearance of success is to surround yourself with people who appear to be vastly inferior to you. Now, I realize that may be difficult to do. In my case, it’s close to impossible. Close. We all know people who through a series of unfortunate choices or circumstances (or a combination) have failed to rise above mediocrity. Seek these people out and embrace them. Your meager accomplishments will shine in comparison. For example, if you are a student, your 2.4 grade point average will impress compared to students who have been placed on probation or outright expelled from school. If your parents berate you over your grades, you can point to the academic failings of your colleagues as proof that your junior college is a stern task master.
Similarly, in the employment arena, you will have many co-workers who are just as pathetic as you are. Look for those who nap periodically, arrive late and are constantly in turmoil. Perhaps, you have a co-worker with a drinking problem. Avoid anyone with the appearance of being a “go-getter” or “self-starter.” These folks will only drag you down.
You may be tempted to aggressively seek out losers. Be careful. Like many a good thing, this can be taken too far. For example, did you know that every state in the Union has an on-line sex offender registry? It’s true. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can find numerous undesirables in your own zip code. You may view this as a ready-made pool of potential colleagues. True, but I must strongly advise against this approach. First, such an approach is far too aggressive for someone of your ilk. Second, while you certainly will shine in comparison to this pool of flotsam and jetsam, you may find yourself drawn into a lifestyle rife with its own complications.
No. 2 Talk Like the Winners
Successful people have a lingo all their own. These words and phrases are a veritable gold mine of potential for you. I offer some of the more important ones for your consideration.
Think Outside The Box: No one really knows what this means, but the successful say it and do it. You must too. The box is closed and confined, while outside the box the world is wide open. Go out there and think. That’s what the successful are doing. Most importantly, remind people that you are outside the box and encourage them to join you. Then, think.
Shift a Paradigm: Man, oh, man, successful people do this all the time. They take a paradigm and just shift it. Shift the hell out of it. Find a paradigm and shift! Again, tell people you’ve done it or, better yet, tell them to do it. It’s always good. Have at it.
Be Pro-Active: This is just like being active, except you’re more pro at it. Successful people LOVE proactivity. Practice saying: “I am proactive” and “You need to be proactive.” Outside the Box is a world of proactivity waiting for you.
Take One for The Team: Successful people want you to do this. What does it mean? Do something that a successful person would never do, regardless of the harm it will cause you. Offer to take one. Suggest that others do so, too.
Be a Self Starter: This means do a bunch of stuff without being told to do so. Now, you may be wholly incompetent at what you do. In this case, being a self-starter is quite dangerous. You are likely to commit all manner of foolhardy and dangerous acts. So be it. You are a self-starter
You’ve probably figured out that saying these things is far more important than doing them. Remember: Appearances are everything.
3. High Hobnobbery
The one exception to hanging with losers is when one of your loser friends inexplicably becomes a success. It can happen. Unexpected inheritances, lottery winnings, and large personal injury settlements are just a few of the ways that one of your friends may achieve great success overnight. Take advantage of this. After all, you’ve all been in the same boat.
Your newly successful friend has, in all likelihood, associated solely with people of your unfortunate ilk. He or she will not have made any substantial friendships or associations. This is where you come in. Attach yourself like a stubborn barnacle to the hull of a luxury yacht. Offer to tag along to cocktail parties, fundraisers and other important events. Your friend, uncomfortable with his or her new financial largesse, will almost certainly take you up on your offer.
At this point, you may want to refer to my earlier blog on the art of small talk. You’re in now. You’re walking the walk. Time to talk the talk.
I also suggest investing in a cell phone with an excellent camera. Why? Nothing impresses more than photographic proof of your “success.” I live in Kentucky, where there is nothing more impressive than to associate with the University of Kentucky’s basketball team. You will have truly arrived when you move in these circles. Of course, it’s laughable to imagine that you will ever do so. BUT, with the resourceful use of a cell phone camera, you can appear to have “made the scene.” I offer two examples of my own experience.
Below is a photo I took of Chuck Hayes, beloved former U.K. basketball star and current NBA player. I surreptitiously took this photo at a football game where I had insinuated myself into the suite level of the stadium (by the way, it was at no personal cost!):
I immediately uploaded this to various social networks with the caption: I keep texting Chuck to distract him from the game. Here he is firing one back at me! Now, everyone thinks I know Chuck Hayes. I have his phone number. We text! I have arrived.
Below is another example. I happened to find myself at a luncheon where the speaker was none other than U.K. Basketball Coach John Calipari. Someone asked me to take her photo with him. I did so, but kept a copy for myself. Note how I skillfully cropped the offending bystander while keeping Coach Cal properly centered. With a little computer magic, I deftly doctored the photo to remove all traces of the other person.
Now, people think I know Coach Cal. We’re friends. We hang out with Chuck Hayes. I am someone YOU want to know. See how easy it is.
You can do the same in your world. Wherever you live there are prominent people who lack sophisticated security. You can get close to them and claim them as your own. Try it. You won’t regret it. NOTE: Please consult law enforcement in your area regarding your state and local stalking laws.
4. Make a Name for Yourself
If you have followed my earlier steps, all that is left is to make your name known. You could do something like invent the iPod or Post-it Notes. Be serious. You’re not going to do anything like that. All the good stuff has been invented. Don’t despair. You are not defeated.
Letters to the editor and radio call-in shows are fertile ground to get your name “out there.” Now, you’re thinking: “Wait a second. A lot of people do that, and I don’t know them.” You’re inside the box, my friend. Venture outside it with me.
You must choose controversial causes to champion. Such “hot” topics as gay marriage, arcane zoning laws and war have been beaten to death. Do you really have anything of substance to add? Of course not. How about bestiality? Whether you support it or oppose it, you’ll get attention. Legalizing child labor? No one is offering anything of value on that subject. What if you became known as the person who opposes heterosexual marriage? These are just a few ideas that quickly come to mind. You can think of many, many more.
You may be tempted to try to educate yourself on a variety of subjects. I must warn you that such a course of action requires a lot of reading, mostly books. Some books are as long as 300 pages and very complicated. There is no need to burden yourself. The Internet is a vast canyon of knowledge. Just do a quick Google search. You’ll be conversant on your topic in no time.
One thing you should consider is quoting other, more intelligent people. Again, the Internet is your friend. Just search “Quotes about……” and you’ll find everything you need. Now, many people quote so-called experts such as Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and George “Goober” Lindsey. In keeping with your new controversial image, quote incendiary figures. Try Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan. How about Benito Mussolini? Serial killers also have insights on a variety of topics. These and many others are a font of information.
Many years ago, I read a valuable suggestion from writer Michael O’Donoghue. When quoting someone, freely use the Latin word sic to signify any word which is misspelled or the least bit odd. Let’s say you’ve found a quote from famed Scottish poet Robert Burns. Look what you can do to him:
“The best laid plans o’ [sic] mice an’ [sic] men gang [sic] aft [sic] agley [sic].”
You have butchered one of the most famous quotes in history by questioning the intelligence of the author. You appear to be profoundly intelligent, while Burns has been discredited and rendered unreadable.
Regardless of how you approach your subject, just be sure to keep after it. You may even find yourself writing missives, pamphlets, leaflets and whatnot about your subject. Soon, they’ll know your name, and that’s all that matters.
Keep your nose to the grindstone. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Put your shoulder to the wheel. These old saws have been around for centuries and all mean one thing: Help yourself. Okay, let me ask you a few questions. What will you get if you put your nose to a grindstone? My guess is a ground up nose. What the hell are bootstraps? I guess boots used to have straps on them. Imagine pulling on them. What? Now, you’re wearing a freakin’ pair of boots. Congratulations. Exactly what kind of wheel do you put your shoulder to? A spinning wheel, like for making thread? Hey, welcome to Loserville where we can’t afford to buy thread.
Forget all this well-meaning bilge. While you’re at it, if you have any self-help books, pile them up and burn them. Why? Simple: If you could help yourself, you wouldn’t need useless advice from self-help gurus. Take Tony Robbins, the infomercial guy with the gigantic head and Chicklet teeth. Do you really think he wants you to succeed? Oh really? The man sits on a throne of money. He knows you can’t do what he’s done, because he wrote the books and made the DVDs telling people how to do these things that none of them can do. From Dale Carnegie to Zig Zigler to Ho Chi Minh, charismatic snake oil salesmen have fooled you into believing that you can follow a few simple suggestions and–PRESTO!–you’ve made it! We know this isn’t case at all. But all is not lost.
You can appear to be a the winner you have no business of thinking about being. If you follow my suggestions, you will soon seem to be the man or woman you want to be. And isn’t that what life is really all about?