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Influence vs Fame

“Can you help me to become more Influential?

This was the question I was asked by someone at a recent networking event.

I replied: “Why do you want to be influential?”

He responded: “I want more people to know about me.”

I said: “Why?”

He answered: “Because I’d be more successful if more people knew who I was.”

I asked: “What would you do next if more people knew who you were?”

He stared at me blankly: “I’m not sure…. does it matter?”

I responded: “I don’t think you really want to have influence…. I think you want fame.”

He responded, with a beaming smile: “Can you help me become famous?”


Influence – it’s not just about the size of your network or how many people hear what you say – it’s about your capacity to impact the actions and and opinions of others.

Fame – the state of being widely known or recognized; renown; celebrity.

Fame or Influence – which would you prefer?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I would like to be influential, but I would also like to be recognised for the work I do. I don’t mean recognised to the point where I walk down the street and people are pointing and saying “Hey look, there’s Elyse!” I’m not sure I’d like that – people have a habit of focusing on themselves when people start to know their name and face (not every one though, there are the exceptions!). I just want to focus on helping others, which I think fame makes much harder to accomplish.

  2. Febap Liew says:

    you will be remembered if you are influential no matter how long it would be … however with fame, you are only recognized that particular moment in time..
    fame can be categorized in many ways but i believe most importantly is that fame is govern by how you stand out from the rest. it could be a powerful voice, or a super makeover or the way you dress that is out of the norm. that would bring you fame.
    to be influential , there has to be something that you have done that inspires people. that are able to help them out from their troubles and needs.

    i believe fame can turn into influence…but it depends. lets say you have a powerful voice and you sing so greatly. you have fame. but as your voice pierce give strength to others,giving hope physically and emotionally, you are an influence then…
    =)
    my side of the point to share.
    thank you.
    cheers

  3. I’d rather have the influence than to be famous because I think if you influence people on how they decide on things, how they act, on how they live their life then you will have a lasting legacy. On the other hand you can lose your Fame in a split second, one day you are famous and the next day you are not.

  4. George says:

    I prefer Influence and being a blogger we have more of a chance of influencing events.

    Just by blogging a new idea or perspective on a matter can cause significant affect on that issue once other people understand and propagate that perspective .

  5. Watching the last couple of comments come in (email), it struck me as interesting that we all seem to be coming at this question from a slightly different place. Some are coming at it from a blogging perspective, others from a celebrity perspective and yet others from an entrepreneurial perspective.

    I think most of us here would prefer influence, but it’s interesting to see the different takes on fame!

  6. Toya says:

    Fame today is fleeting. Fame can come to the guy who finds a potato chip that looks like Prince Charles. From there he’s on the TV Morning Shows. Then he gets a book deal. Then he gets his own movie. I don’t want to be famous in any way. I would much rather be influential even if it means I only influence those around me. To be influential is a long term life goal that has positive effects for the influencer and the influenced. Fame can happen by chance but being influential takes determined steps.

  7. Joe Smith says:

    I want fame AND influence.

    At first, I said I want influence. Influence is what enables me to help people improve their lives.

    But then I realized that it’s hard to influence people unless they look to you for advice.

    There is no influence without some degree of fame.

    For those who want to be recognized for your efforts – I believe you are in search of neither fame nor influence, but glory.

    Here’s to your fame, influence, & glory.

    Live. Love. Laugh. Learn. Leave a legacy.

  8. Terry says:

    I can go walk around naked at the US OPEN and be famous but who the *insert bad word* am I influencing?

  9. Really worthy discussion. Well first you should know about your goals,after that start struggle. Popularity comes only when you share some thing valuable and unique.

  10. By attaining the status of being influential, you have by definition made an impact in your niche or field, challenged perceptions and are spoken of with respect. This beats the fame thing for me.

  11. Influence is definitely better over the fame. Aim of influence should be to bring the better in other people and not to take advantage of them.

  12. axel g says:

    That’s a good one Darren!

    I think most of us hunger for money and fame…

    Influence is only secondary.

  13. axel g says:

    That’s a good one Darren!

    I think most of us hunger for money and fame…

    Influence is only secondary.

  14. Robin Alley says:

    Influence to be sure! Britney Spears is a great example of someone very famous but not influential (unless you’re a prepubescent girl!).

  15. Darren,

    Now I can understand why you’re such a great blogger. You have the ability to say 40,000 words in three paragraphs. As I always say, anyone can make the complex sound complex. It takes a great deal of intelligence to make the complex simple….

    Perhaps a bit off topic, but re: Influence and fame, the sad P.S. to this whole story is that, quite often, when one becomes famous, they’re often automatically granted the power of influence. Sadly, all too often, the things that come out of their mouths make me cringe (that’s being tactful). I’m not even referring to politics, but TV, music and movie celebrities, are sometimes a good example (OK, I’ll admit it, I can’t leave out Joe Biden). To be fair, the majority of those I refer to are quite intelligent.

    (Not referring to Joe Biden here) I can only assume that, if you’re an idiot, by definition, you can’t possibly know you’re an idiot.

    I suppose the moral of the story is that there is indeed a huge difference between influence and fame and recognizing the difference is the key.

    Of course, Darren says it in 20 words, and it took me 700. Nice post, Darren.

  16. Jay Lee says:

    In my mind, if your stated purpose is to “influence” then you are really just seeking “fame” and using “influence” as a measurement. Those who influence me the most are those who are engaging in activity that reflects their true passion and ideals without concern as to who is paying attention or how they might be reacting.

  17. Steve says:

    I think it’s important to focus on your main goal besides being famous. If it’s to help people achieve something, help them, and the fame (big or small) will follow.

  18. Guy Hogan says:

    Fame is great but influence, actually impacting how people behave, that’s even better. You can be famous for things no one really wants to be famous for. Monica Lewinski was famous.

  19. Barbara says:

    I do not want fame… it would just draw all my crazy relatives out of the woodwork!
    Influence is much more subtle and effective!

  20. Genevieve says:

    Definitely Influence!

    What good does being famous offer anyone?

  21. Linda says:

    I would like to have influence in a quiet, gentle way, encouraging my readers to develop a positive attitude to every life experience, large or small.

    It really is true that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, I discover that every day.

    Slowly, slowly I will get there… with a little help from my ‘blogging expert’ friends…

  22. Nacho Jordi says:

    I join the influence majority. Being famous must be a horrible fuzz. And besides, I prefer quality followers, even if they are few. Any moron can push a Facebook button to become your “friend”, etc…

  23. T.Lee says:

    @Kiesha@weblogbetter, loved your response, nearly brought me to tears–in a good way.

  24. Judy Dunn says:

    As I really analyze this question, it requires me to go deeper and look at my core values.

    Famous? Well, no. I think I would hate that.

    Influencer? I struggle with this, too. As one of the previous posters alluded to, I’d like to inspire people.

    But I’m not sure I want to force my ideas on people—make them change.

    If influence means getting people to take a look at their beliefs, behaviors, the way they do business and to think, then yes, I’d like that.

    I love being a catalyst. Having people say, “Why I’ve never thought of it in just that way before.”

    It’s the most gratifying response I can get from a reader.

    I think that’s the really fun part about blogging.

  25. Hi,
    My ego wants fame.

    I want influence.

    When I’m coming from my ego I think strive, competition and comparison.

    When I’m coming from my higher self I think, service, connect and a better world.

    Thanks for helping me declare what I really want. Influencing others to action equals change that will last and ripple out forever.

    Fame can end at anytime at best when I die.

  26. Maybe the noble thing to choose is ”influence” over ”fame”- hence why the majority of folks have chosen influence. It’s maybe not very cool to say, “well yes, I love to be noticed…please look at me.” Fame is simply an extension of this- and this need for attention, is connected with a primal human need for attention and validation. We all need to be noticed. We can assume it is more noble to bring influence- but what is so special about my (or anyone else’s) influence- am I somehow a superior being who now has the right to influence (ie. shape) the lives of others? How did I attain this lofty position? And if yes, will I always use that influence responsibly and only for the good of others, and have no ulterior motive of my own?.. Great post Darryl- excellent stuff to be thinking/ about…BTW, I also choose influence…(he said quietly….)

  27. Influence for sure.Being influential is about hard working.

    When you will be influential you will be famous by default but opposite is not true.

    Being famous is not that hard or does not hold so much responsibilities as being influential do.

    Ron

  28. Influencer is a trendsetter in example, and Famous is just people who get into television :(

  29. As you become more influencial you can have fame….

    Take you for example you are famous becasuse you are influential.

  30. Sanford says:

    Two edges of the same sword, I think.

    If no one knows who you are you wont influence them. And if you are well known, you will influence others by your actions, if nothing else. (This is why sponsors recruit celebrities for their brands.)

    I guess it’s a matter of quality and degree. People who are happy with the status quo influence others to do the same and succeed by being a majority. Bad celebrities and politicians influence us to distrust them all.

    I think the only way to be famous and not influential is to have stable sponsors and always do what your handlers tell you to do.

  31. Marcie says:

    I would prefer influence. If I can provide information to find the mind, body or spirit, then my work as a blogger is done.

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  33. With the right heart behind them, both are desirable. The affect effect is higher with both.

  34. McKenzie says:

    Love this. It’s so true. I would want to be an influence.

  35. Amber Avines says:

    Thanks for reminding everyone about the distinction between fame and influence. In this age of social media, I think people want to be SOMEBODY, but only because it’s the “in” thing to do. You’re right, when forced to answer the follow up question, people don’t know what they’ll do if they achieve the level of influence and/or fame that they seek.

    That’s why I try not to get caught up with follower counts. I’ve had a few friends zip by me with their Twitter numbers, but I also see that their network is NOT engaged. Too many folks talk AT people and not WITH people.

    Fame is frivolous. Influence is powerful.

  36. Influence is the obvious answer. This is a no brainer for anyone who reads the story.

    However, how many of us have thought about what that really means and where we are applying it in our lives? Darren, I truly appreciate this post for getting us to refocus on what is important, how we can give and contribute to that cause and determining how we will measure the impact. I’d hate to be the person being asked this question and not have a meaningful answer!

  37. This page is precious, I completely loved it, I will be back for much more!