Back in college I had this hilarious geology professor who told me that “tsunami” was Japanese for “Where in the hell did all that water come from?”
That’s kind of how I feel about life on the web at the moment. I just hit 30,000 followers. That’s crazy.
Two years ago, I started a tradition of documenting my social media journey and at each major milestone, I write a post describing what it is like and how things are going. I just hit 30,000 followers so it is time to reflect on the situation.
When I started writing this post, it started out describing the mechanics of connecting with so many followers but it morphed into a psychological self-examination. I decided to cut out the parts about Twitter tips and expose the raw edge because there has been a significant personal development since my last “journey” blog post.
In a very small way, in a very small niche, I am achieving an element of celebrity. I have a gag reflex even saying that, but I can’t be honest without describing it that way. And I’m not handling this situaiton so well.
The tribe grows
First, the numbers. Friends and followers has grown as I mentioned, but is also escalating. It took me 18 months to get 10,000 followers, a year for 20,000 and six months for 30,000. This is being fueled by teaching, speaking, The Tao Twitter, and the blog.
My virtual assistant and I continue to prune the spammers. If I didn’t do that I would probably have 100,000 followers by now. I love the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, all my Twitter followers are real people. So the number is big, but the tribe is real, and amazing!
Whether it is because of the “social proof” of the numbers or (hopefully) the way I am connecting with people through my speaking and writing, people are starting to describe me as an “A-Lister.” This makes me cringe. I walked into a room last week and somebody said “here’s the superstar.” Some people tell me they are “fans.” Others have said they are afraid to talk to me.
This is a deeply uncomfortable situation. I am just a guy writing a blog, a husband, a father, a friend, a son, a brother, a teacher, a writer, a business adviser. That’s plenty for me. That’s a good place to be.
Celebrity as a mindset
This notion of “celebrity” exists in people’s minds and there is nothing I can do about that, but here is my wish: I want you to know that I am no more worthy than you … or anybody, for that matter. Every person is amazing in their own way.
I know when people use these terms they are meant with affection and I want to handle it with grace but boy I am out of my element with this fan stuff. And it’s about to get much worse.
This situation is going to be profoundly more challenging when my new book comes out in a few months (will be announcing this in a few days when the title is finalized). Here is my promise on the book — It is going to be unlike any other book you have ever read on business and marketing. You are going to love it. And I know that to do a good job for my publisher McGraw Hill, I’m going to have to be in the spotlight. In fact, I will need to seek it.
That “40,000 milestone report” I will be writing for you a few months from now is going to be interesting. How do I promote myself and this book without coming across as a jerk? I am seriously concerned about this. It goes against the grain. I love to write, teach, and help businesses grow, but I don’t seek to be a “celebrity.” Increasingly, that seems impossible to avoid.
The results of the experiment?
Now I know this seems improbable. You may be thinking … “Geez you idiot, how can you expect to write a book and not have to deal with the spotlight?”
I have been simply following what seems like a natural path. Consulting and teaching led to the blog. The blog led to The Tao of Twitter, which took off like a rocket. That book led to more speaking and exposure. New ideas formed and I started writing the next book. And then, I looked up and people were calling me an “A-Lister.” Ummm …. what???
People go into acting to become famous. People run for office to achieve power. I did not start the blog to become a celebrity. It was an experiment.
And here is what the experiment proved. With content and an engaged network, anybody can have influence now. Even me.
So it is what it is. I know that as long as I am engaging and writing, people will have this expectation of me and that’s the way it will be from now on. So I need to view this as a privilege and deal with it gracefully.
This turned into a stream of consciousness blog post, eh? Maybe too weird? Oh well. I decided to let it rip. Yes, this is one of those times I wondered about pushing the “publish” button. I exposed the edge and took a risk but I trust you guys.
Are celebrities made or born? Do you have to have a certain kind of personality to thrive in the spotlight?
I know I can stay centered in my personal life, but is it possible to find joy outside the comfort zone? How do I re-frame this situation so I can stop cringing every time somebody puts me in the spotlight?
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