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An interesting phenomenon exists in the world of celebrity. In general the industry produces TV shows and movies, popular music, or sports greatness. The performers, along with a lot of hired help, create our entertainment. This is one huge business.
But here’s the phenomenon: The folks out front create an ancillary billion-dollar industry that has nothing to do with acting, writing tunes or playing sports. The day-to-day movements of celebrities are worth money. Tons of it. The voracious appetite in our culture for all things celebrity generates countless bits of TV, video and magazine content. Photos of even C-list celebrities can generate big paydays for paparazzi (depending on what the photo, ahem, reveals).
Sometimes that ancillary industry is slimy and venal. After all, every billion-dollar industry has a dark side. But a lot of good comes out of this gigantic money grab, too. One example would be celebrity couples who sell wedding or baby photos to a magazine and donate the money to charity.
Another good example is George Clooney. He uses his celebrity to generate income and attention for worthy causes (and we’re leaving political fundraising out of this equation, folks, so let’s not raise any partisan flags). He’s been out front on causes all over the world, especially in Sudan, and he organized the Hope for Haiti Now telethon after the 2010 earthquake. Generating good results simply through your presence is a powerful tool, and Clooney is a master at it. As he’s said, “You have only a short period of time in your life to make your mark, and I’m there now.”
Which raises a question: What if you could ramp up the results around your own renown?
It’s easy to say, “I’m not George Clooney.” But you are you. Most people do reach a certain level of local celebrity through general leadership—hustling to start a business, managing a group of people, running the youth soccer league. What if you decided to leverage that renown to start an annual charity golf tournament? Or a fun run to raise money for needy kids? Or even start a nonprofit business?
If you execute like a pro, you become even more well-known. And you start to generate more of that ancillary economic power that Clooney and other celebrities sometimes use to move mountains a little closer to where they ought to be. You can create money and forces for good out of thin air. You can create demand.
All it takes is a little love of the spotlight, ambition and a good sense of humor. Or maybe it’s just as simple as Clooney puts it: “Keep looking for new trouble.”