On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I had a conversation with Axel Rüger, Director of the renowned Van Gogh Museum about what it was that made Van Gogh so famous. Was it his talent, the fact that he cut off his own ear, or a combination of both?
As we continued the discussion, perhaps an even bigger question that we debated was whether Van Gogh and his artwork would be more famous or less famous 100 years from now?
Naturally, this line of thinking raises many other questions. Is there any kind of formula that can guarantee fame? Does grandstanding, plus talent, equal fame?
If a talented artist today engaged in a similar form of grandstanding by cutting off their ear, or some other part of their body, would it have the same effect today?
Probably not, because it has already been done before, and we rarely remember those who come in second.
As a professional speaker, I find this line of questioning very intriguing because I find myself rubbing elbows with some of the most recognizable personalities in the world.
So what kind of grandstanding has worked in the past, and how will it change in the future?
Radio stars of the 1920s were very different than TV and movie stars of the 1980s. And those celebrities took a far different route to fame than many of our well-known personalities today.
After Justin Bieber used a few homemade YouTube videos to carve a path to superstardom, thousands of other talented young kids began posting similar videos with hopes that lightening would strike again.
Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg and his team of rule-breaking Harvard-dropouts inspired thousands of other young startup pioneers to jump on the fast track to becoming the next Internet billionaire.
Is there a limit to the number of famous people the world can have at any given time? Does a famous person have to die to make room for someone new? Will everyone have their 15 minutes of fame like Andy Warhol famously suggested?
Here’s why all these question are so important and how the path to fame will continue to change in the future.