How to Become a MegaStar–And What it Takes to Become More Than Elite

Greetings Friend,how to become elite

Welcome to part 3 of the unofficial series of ‘long-term life success strategies‘.

What if you want to be more than “just elite” — as in being the #1 most paid and famous person in your industry?

Well, in that case, taking shortcuts on your way to “experthood” is not going to cut it. Not even by a long-shot.

You need more than that, and there’s one thing in particular that you need.

You need. . .

Lots of People to Care About You

And you can learn a lot about this from watching the movie Gladiator.

Proximo: “I wasn’t the best because I killed quickly… I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd — and you’ll win your freedom.”


In the clip, Proximo is being poetic and reminiscing about his glory days. But if you distill what he’s saying into a general principle, it would be this:

People don’t care about you. People care about what you can do for them.

. . .Why is it that people started caring so much about Maximus?

Because He Learned to Entertain Them.

 Proximo: “All you do is kill, kill, kill. The crowd don’t want a butcher, they want a hero. You want them to keep coming back.  So don’t just hack’em to pieces. Remember, you are an entertainer!”

[Note: No need to watch longer than 36 seconds.]


Maximus is entering a fight to the death –alone–facing several opponents. . .

. . .And Proximo just tells him to focus on being entertaining. Because he knows something: Showmanship is the most important thing for winning over the crowd.

And that wasn’t just the case for Roman gladiators.

Showmanship is just as important for most modern athletes, actors, TV people, and A-list celebrities. Because if you think about it. . .

How Many Celebrities Are Elite at What They Do?

Most well-paid professional athletes — and other people like actors, movie stars, and musicians — who enjoy the superstar effect, are rarely truly elite. Elite as in being the best in their industry at what they do.

Sometimes they are, as in the case of Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, And Usain Bolt.

But most of the time they aren’t.

Is Justin Bieber an elite musician? He’s made over $80M this year.

Is Adam Sandler an elite actor? He’s made $37M this year.

Is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson an elite actor? He’s made $46M this year.

So you see. . .

. . .It’s not necessarily the ones who are best at what they do who make the most money or become the most famous. It’s the best showmen — the ones who are considered entertaining by the largest amount of people — who get the cake.

Of course, those guys are still good/great at what they do, but I would hardly say that they’re elite.

Anyway, the fact that they make such huge sums of money proves something. It proves how important entertainment has become in modern culture. And how valuable it has become. . .


We Live in a Weird (And Interesting) Society

And there are some crazy examples out there.

Think about it. . .

. . .If you went back in time 200+ years and met with the wisest, most experienced, and most well-read people who were living at that time. Guys like Napoleon, George Bernard Shaw, or Andrew Carnegie. And you asked them about the future.

Do you think they would’ve been able to predict Radio, TV, or the Internet?


"I make THE tastiest pizzas!"

“I make THE most scrumptious pizza — and people love to WATCH as I make ’em!”

Do you think they would’ve been able to predict that we would now have celebrity chefs, Nanny experts, famous cooking judges, American Idols, Big Brother celebrities, Kim Kardashians, and other people who got rich and famous just for being on TV?

Hell no.

No one could have predicted that we would invent technology, which would then be used by these type of people, and catapult them to the top of the social hierarchy. Because. . .

200+ Years Ago These People Were Either The Town Fools, Or They Belonged To The Servant Classes

If they lived 200 years ago, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are today. At best, they might’ve become personal chefs for a king.

The same thing can be said about actors and “celebrities”. At best, these people would become popular court jesters. At worst, they would starve to death. And if the jesters weren’t truly elite — entertaining — they could get beaten or killed.

"Do a bad job and we'll cut your head off!"

200+ years ago:
“Do a bad job and we’ll cut your head off!”

"Make one more 'situation' and we'll fire you. . . And give you a severance package of $1.5 M

Now, 2014:
“Make as many ‘situations’ as you want. Just don’t be boring. . . Because then we’ll fire you.”

But, times have changed. For. . .

. . .The jesters of yesterday have become high-status celebrities — all thanks to the crowd.

How’s that for social mobility?

The power of radio, TV, and the Internet now allow for someone to amplify his personality and thoughts to the point where it’s possible to reach thousands of other people.

Anyone can now become rich and famous given that they have enough leverage to move the crowd. Is this a good thing?

Just 10-15 years ago, no one would’ve expected this.

Time — and technology — can really change things.

It’s so important to reflect on this.




. . .

[Reflect a little bit on the importance of what I just said . .]

. . .




O.K, enough with the reflection. Onward.

Here’s a riddle for you:

What happens when you have someone who’s truly elite at what he does, while at the same time being an entertaining showman?

You Get a “MegaStar”

And this is the type of person who has the chance of going to history as one of the greatest within his field/craft.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Jamie Oliver — chef
  • Gordon Ramsey — chef
  • Robert Downey JR — the best-paid actor of 2014. Made $75M.
  • Brad Pitt — acting
  • Tom Cruise — acting
  • Will Smith — acting and music
  • John Lennon — music (rock)
  • Elvin Presley — music (rock)
  • Tupac Shakur — music (hip hop)
  • Biggie Smalls — music (hip hop)
  • Big L — music (hip hop)
  • Mike Tyson — boxing
  • Muhammad Ali — boxing
  • George St. Pierre –MMA (UFC)

Speaking of fighters. . .

. . .Let’s take a look at how the megastar effect works when it comes to the fighting business.

Just as in Gladiator, where Proximo told Maximus to win the crowd, Cus D’Amato often told the young Mike Tyson that:

Boxing is entertainment, so to be successful, a fighter must not only win but he must win in an exciting manner. He must throw punches with bad intentions.

To win in a dull and mechanical manner is not enough. The fighter has to win with style. He has to knock the other guy out. He has to do something spectacular. That is. . .

One of The Key Points Mike Tyson Makes in His Biography

And Tyson isn’t just a boxing megastar, he’s also one of the most knowledgeable people alive when it comes to the history, and the industry, of boxing.

In fact, it’s highly unlikely that boxing will ever produce another megastar like “Iron” Mike Tyson. Why won’t there be another?

In Mike’s own words, here’s why:

Fighters today don’t understand the sport, they don’t understand how to entertain the people, they’re not scholarly enough to examine the past. . .

Tyson thinks that the reason MMA is winning over the crowd and becoming more popular than boxing, is because MMA fighters are more passionate. More intense.

I’m not sure if Tyson is right in what he’s saying or not. But I do know that I find MMA ten times more entertaining to watch than I do boxing. So I guess he’s right.

And besides, you’re not going to see something like this in boxing.


Tyson continues:

There’s no guy that really has the heart to say “Not only do the gods deliver me and vex me, but one day I will reign with them.” Today’s guys don’t say that shit, they don’t have the balls, they spring from a milieu too meager to comprehend my kind of reality. They don’t want to do that because they’re afraid they will fail and people will laugh at them. That’s why today’s fighters don’t get the total respect. Because they’re afraid to really grab true greatness. They look at boxing as a check, they don’t see it as something noble. They want money and adulation. I wanted adulation and immortality.

You’re not going to want to pay top dollars to watch two muscle freaks slug away at each other mechanically, or lying on the mat hugging  each other. . .

What you want, is to see someone with an unconventional style of fighting. You want to see something spectacular. You want to see showmanship.

You want to see someone like Muhammad Ali with his trash-talking and lightning-quick reflexes. Someone like Nick Diaz who throws punches from strange angles that look dull, but knock people out. Someone like Lyoto Machida, the MMA version of Ali, who evades all strikes. . .

. . .Or, best of all, someone like Mike Tyson: A small guy (for his weight class) with unprecedented knockout power and enough ferocity to scare the shit out of his much bigger opponents:

What makes an exciting fighter is his ability and willingness to want to hurt the other man. That makes for great fights and superstars. When I was in the ring I projected myself as an animal. Like a dog in a pit, I was there to entertain the audience. The more I hurt someone, the quicker I hurt him, the more adulation I got from the crowd, and I fed off that.

If the fighter isn’t totally committed to winning the fight, he’s not going to win the crowd, and then he’s won’t become a megastar. And then he’s not going to leave behind a legacy of greatness.

[Buster] Douglas just quit. He got hit a little and laid down. He was a whore for his $17 million. He didn’t go into the fight with any dignity or pride to defend his belt. He made his payday but he lost his honor. You can’t win honor, you can only lose it. Guys like him who only fight for money can never become legends. I can tell that it still affects Buster to this day. Years later, I ran into him again at an autograph session we both attended. No one wanted his autograph. This was the guy who made history for beating me but now his legacy had been reduced to nothing.

–Mike Tyson, Undisputed Truth

No one cares about Buster Douglas today. Few people even know of him, despite the fact that he was the first man to beat Mike Tyson, and take the title from him.

Because, as Cicero said:

We hate gladiators if they are keen to save their lives by any means, we favor them if they openly show contempt for it.

And that’s why everyone knows  about Mike Tyson. He’ll go down as one of the greats in boxing. (Plus he’ll be remembered for being “the most dangerous man on the planet”, and for biting Evander Holifield’s ears).

Clearly the megastar effect holds true in the fighting business.

But fighting has always been interesting to the crowd, even before fighters had to be entertaining and do crazy things. What about something less primitive and aggressive?

Something intellectual. Something like. . .

Professional Chess

Chess is boring as hell to watch — if you don’t play it yourself (which I don’t).

Yet, for some reason, there’s still a decent amount of money in chess.

But, there aren’t that many megastars in chess. This isn’t strange if you think about it. Because what kind of people usually become elite chess players?

Highly analytical and introverted people. Not exactly the traditional charismatic type.

However, there’s been a few “bad boys” of chess. Not really bad boys in the traditional sense, but when contrasted to the typical dull, nerdy, chess player. Megastars like the mysterious Bobby Fisher, the multi-talented Gary Kasparov, and the child prodigy Josh Waitzkins.

But those guys are all history now.

The newest up-and-coming megastar in chess is the current champion. . .

Magnus Carlsen is bad enough to model for fashion designers.

Magnus Carlsen is “bad” enough a chess player to model for fashion designers, and make a lot of money.

. . . 23 year old Magnus Carlsen from Norway.

These guys have become megastars because they’ve created an image, an aura of mystique, or something else that draws you in and makes you intrigued to find out more about them. They’re not just good at moving chess pieces across a board.

And these megastars have another powerful advantage over their competitors. Something that gives them a big advantage.

Not only are they liked by the crowd, but. . .

. . .They are also liked and supported by the influencers and professionals who’re making money in that particular industry.

And this is very important, as you will see next week.

Photo Credits:

1, 2


Can you think of a megastar in some industry?

How important do you think entertainment is? (In your life? In society? In the future?)



  1. I didn’t fingers this article useful. I know showmanship and skill are important. So what?

  2. Great article Ludvig….

    It got me thinking that maybe this is the reason people hate mediocre, 9-5 jobs. They never get the chance to become great, or to be remembered forever. Maybe that’s even more important to a human being than money and security.

    • PS Ludvig – I have a question for you since you’re quite knowedgeable with regards to the human brain and how it works.

      The last sentence in your article goes “…….as you will see next week”. I swear when I read it I literaly saw “as you will see next” and I clicked photo credit (2) thinking it was page two of an article.

      Do you understand wtf just happened? I’d like to know what the actual explanation for what my brain just did is.

      Thanks in advance.

  3. MR. VEINS says

    Spartans were Megastars – they still entertain us today.

    Take the movie ‘300’ for example.

    Interesting post, Ludvig.

    Your man,

  4. Love this post dude!! Tyson, I can listen to that guy all day. People don’t realise how knowledgeable and compelling a character he is. You should check out the recent documentary – ‘Tyson’ – if you haven’t already.

    But in response to your questions- Entertainment is a big deal in almost everything. When you see someone doing something in a way that isn’t just good, but that grabs your attention, it’s a different level. Politics today is a perfect example, it’s not about policies and competencies, it’s about personality. Can people engage with you? Can they feel connected to you? But how do people who don’t have that panache or charisma, gain it? What are they missing? What belief is holding them back? This post throws up some pretty cool questions. Great reading.

  5. That kick from anthony Pettis is sick. Didnt know you also liked the ufc. Cool.

    Btw Im surprised you aint mentioning Floyd Mayweather, speaking of fifgting and boxing. Hes probably greater than Tyson is

  6. Donthedon says

    Sure anyone can be rich/successful/famous if they can leverage the masses as you say. The trick is HOW…

    But, even if that may be true, what is the cost? If you want to be popular in the mainstream you are basically killing off your freedom of speech. I wouldnt want to pay that price to be honest.

    “Just 10-15 years ago, this wasn’t possible. Time — and technology — can really change things”

    Yeah when you put it like that it’s pretty amazing. It is worth pondering..we often just see bad and negative things with mainstream media and YouTube and so on.. but this could be a good thing too.

    It definitely is for Michael “The Situation”

    • Don,

      “If you want to be popular in the mainstream you are basically killing off your freedom of speech”

      –I think that depends. But it seems to be the case for politicians at least.

  7. sidingilizwe ndiweni says

    thanks once more for another well written article…you are on your way to megastardom.

  8. I have another theory about the popularity of MMA (and bare-knuckes “tough man” fighting): It’s more violent than boxing. Under Queensberry rules you don’t get to see a guy get kicked in the nads, take an elbow drop to the kidney, or get his face pounded while he’s down. It’s like pro “wrestling” but for real.

    Pro “wrestling”, by the way, is a great example of showmanship over substance. It’s /explicitly/ about stories and imaginary characters, and while the participants are certainly great athletes they aren’t great wrestlers or fighters. They are actors foremost. Some got to be millionaires without ever fighting for real (at least in the ring).

    • Hm, perhaps!

      I’ve never understood how wrestling could get so popular. I remember watching it on TV a couple of times when I was 13-14. I did like Rey Mysterio though, he was very athletic and could do flips and stuff like that.

      ” Some got to be millionaires without ever fighting for real (at least in the ring).”

      –Yeah. Brock Lesnar is one of the exceptions though.

  9. Larry Ellison , my personal ideal is a kind of megastar in the tech business.
    While tech entrepreneurs are generally thought of as bespectacled geeks , he has created quite an interesting and enviable public image and lifestyle.
    Of course , he busted his ass , to create a great piece of software for managing tremendous data.
    This work ethic , and a grand public image , I feel , make him a megastar

  10. This is by far one of my favorite post . Gladitor my top movie flix and Mike Tyson my all day fav boxer I grew up on all his fights here in NYC. Tyson was bad ass and scary ,people feared him he’s in a league of his own. Anything with being rich an famous I love . A lot of people talk shit about celebs an athletes but for the most part the great ones not the sex tape “actress” ones work hard to get where there at especially great Atheletes .

    In the words of a Gatorade commerical ” Winning takes hard work”.

    Great post .

  11. “The jesters of yesterday…” – That’s catchy

  12. Hey Ludvig,

    You’re right. There are people who are elite, and their product (either themselves,, or what they do) is so good that people leverage their social media for themselves, or people are mediocre/”good enough” to be of help, and leverage their social media, and advertise themselves.

    You must have one or the other if your goal is the be a “megastar” , or if you are inching towards status, wealth, power, or all of the above.

    • Hey Dragos. What are you saying here? It seems interesting (and like you know what you’re talking about) but I don’t really get it.

      • Hey there mike.

        Thanks for asking. I’m simply saying that due to the availability, popularity, and activity of social media these days; anyone who knows how to leverage and use social media to benefit their mediocre skills, hold the opportunity to label and advertise themselves as an elite/”megastar”.

        On the other hand, you have people who are elite through their skills (or in their fields) and let others advertise for them.

        Essentially saying, you can make it as long as you know how to market yourself, or hold the skills that others will market you for you.

        Hope I cleared up any confusion I may have lead you into.

        Cheers Mike,

    • I agree with you Dragos. Except I don’t think it’ll make you a megastar (super elite). But it will make you successful at least.

      • I hold no idea of what “megastar” means to you (I guess now I know it’s super elite).

        Right, as long as you know how to leverage your talent, or lack of, you can still become successful (which is what the general population wants).

        As for tabloid, everyone knows your name type of deal, you need to hold some sort of substance, ie: entertainment, personality, humor, etc.

  13. Mankind’s capacity for entertainment is infinite.

  14. Is entertainment important? Good question.

    To make money, get famous, and be a “megastar”, yes absolutely, I agree.

    To me? Yes it is, but I try very hard to stay away from instant gratification. I’m not part of the crowd and I’m trying very hard not to be, so I’m succeeding.

    Is entertainment important to society? Yes it is, as you prove, it is far too important – to the point where most people (the crowd) will spend (see: waste) their entire lives just chasing pleasure after pleasure, just following their primitive instincts.

    I think what you’re doing here on SGM is good, because it is what I refer to as “edutainment”, where you take some educating and useful (often regarded as boring by most people) topic and make it more entertaining. This is something I like about the site, and something I try to incorporate into my own life.

  15. You think Tom Cruise is the best actor? I gotta disagree with you here ludvig

    • Haha, Marvin.

      No I don’t. But he’s a megastar. And he’s probably going to be remembered 100+ years from now on. Not only has he done some good movies, but he’s also done some crazy and memorable things to get a lot of attention. Stuff like “jumping-on-the-couch-and-grabbing-Oprah” as well as his whole Scientology-thing, for example.

    • Donthedon says

      Lol talk about taking things out of context..

  16. This totally reminds me of megastar Chinese pianist Lang Lang. He would sacrifice musical interpretation for some crazy antics and gestures, which happens to actually win over the majority of the listeners. Unfortunately. But it’s also thanks to him that tons of Chinese people started developing an interest for the piano and classical music. Might be a good thing?

    I would say Lang Lang is in the elite category, but nowhere near legendary. With his current status, it’s a very good trade off I think. In the classical music world, legendary musicians tend to still be remembered even if they didn’t act as much like Lang Lang did in performances. I believe it’s probably because of the nature of classical music listeners.

    I’d like to add 2 more historical figures to your “MegaStar” list. Franz Liszt (piano) and Niccolo Paganini (violin).

    Great article again, Ludvig! How do you do it? It just keeps getting better, haha.

    • Hey Jeremy,

      Haha, I just watched him on YouTube. Very dramatic!

      “Great article again, Ludvig!”

      –Thanks a lot. I’m glad you like it.

      “How do you do it?”

      — I read and write a lot. Often when I read (between the lines) I find some interesting underlying theme, and I start looking into it. This is one such example.

  17. Very very very key things your saying in the beginning about emotional investment. I guess you know from experience. This just ‘crystallized’ for me.

    I guess you just have to be patient about it and think long-term about these things?
    Reason i ask is because Im beating myself up a lot for not ‘succeeding’ with a 1-year project Ive been doing in my free time. But now that i think on it i see Ive been doing it wrong. I will keep it up and change my approach.

    • Yeah patience is key. You gotta remember that the brain is wired to learn via feedback, and wants it to come as fast as possible. That’s why a lot of people, even though they know all the theory about delayed gratification, can’t do it.

  18. Is adam sandler an elite actor?
    Hahahaha this made me laugh out loud, and Im sitting on the bus! People are looking at ne strangely!

    Adam Sandler is a JOKE — and NOT a funny one!

    Adam Sandler is the worst actor ever with the possible exception of stephen seagal.

    But dont think Im hating or anything. actually, this makes me feel optimistic about the world even though Im on the way to a lowpaying job that i hate at this very moment. Because if someone like Adam Sandler can make 35 million dollars then so can i!

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