Each week, I share with you one practical way to become a leading name. But every now and then, it's worth stopping to ask 'why' you should become a leading name. In my new book, 'What Makes Them Great?', I count 11 separate reasons why I believe it's worth your while: 


  1. Experts do what they love for a living 

What could be more satisfying than a life doing the thing you love, and doing it at the pinnacle of your abilities? As the leader in your field, you exist at the event-horizon of all things new and pioneering and constantly draw from yourself higher and higher levels of performance. You get to poke, prod and play with the subject matter you love most, over the span of decades.

  1. Experts earn exponentially more

As I’ve studied the concept of industry icons, I’ve come to believe that they do not merely out-earn their contemporaries by a measure of double or triple. Sometimes, ten-fold doesn’t even capture it. In many industries, it’s not unheard of for the leading handful of names to command one hundred-fold and more what the average practitioner earns. The intrinsic value of an icon is perceived to be higher not by increments, but by an order of magnitude. This ultimately means that your working hours can go down while your income rises. Or at the very least, that with the employment of the same working hours as others, you could earn dramatically more.

  1. It’s more satisfying to be a leading voice than it is to be a cog in a system

Imagine: Rather than keeping up with the latest trends, you set them. As you continue to imagine and innovate, you are one of the primary voices driving the whole industry forward. When they need insights and understanding, the media and the authorities seek you out and ask for your guidance.

  1. They come to you

Positioning yourself as an expert radically overhauls how you go about your sales and marketing efforts. As an unknown practitioner, you must essentially become a cold-caller. You tap people on the shoulder one by one, introduce yourself, and then sell your services, always one instance at a time.
As a desired icon, people seek you out instead. You move from a business model that focuses on unit-by-unit deals, to one that prospers reactively, with the deals coming to you. In a best-case scenario, you will even find yourself choosing between the deals presented to you, on the grounds that you can’t accept them all. This level of choice is rare in any career and entails a life of interesting options.

  1. The rules don’t necessarily apply

Think of the last time you worked with a large organization. Can you recall plowing through the hopeless swamp of compliance and bureaucracy, and slowly but surely losing the will to live? ‘Please fill in the attached forms, then have them signed by a Commissioner of Oaths, then dipped in the waters of the River Jordan, then licked by a reigning regent, then returned to us, so that we may consider the remote possibility of adding you as a vendor, and possibly even paying you one day in the distant future, provided your compliance is all in order and there’s enough salt on our bagel that morning. May the odds be ever in your favour.’
That sort of professional stomachache drifts away in the wake of serious notoriety. The terms and conditions become yours. You decide whether you will work with an organsiation, and they must find ways to bypass their own systems in order to accommodate you. When you are that desirable, the you-factor is more important than their rules.

  1. Remarkable gains privileged access 

Buzz Aldrin was one of the astronauts on the first moon landing. Today, he champions the cause of a manned landing on Mars, alongside other icons who believe in this cause, such as Elon Musk. By virtue of his name, Buzz Aldrin is given more or less instant and unquestioned access to all things pertaining to Mars, including think tanks, conferences, the ear of the highest levels of government official, key players and more. When you’ve been Buzz Aldrin, precious few doors are closed to you. People answer your calls and listen to your ideas. Elon Musk enjoys similar privileged access.

  1. The total life experience is richer

Imagine treading the streets and browsing the markets of distant countries you might otherwise never have visited. Imagine the memorable characters and the exotic music playing in the background, as you dine on spiced cuisines you might otherwise never have tried. Sunsets in strange locations on the far side of the world, seen from skyscrapers where the names are displayed in a different language. The total life experience of a high-level expert is richer than might otherwise be the case for you.
Globally, people tend to be extremely keen on showing visiting VIPs the local highlights, be it cultural, social, or even marginally depraved. Whichever way, it’s all fascinating, it’s all out there, and it’s all the more likely that you will see it, as a notoriety. And the friendships formed on trips like this can bloom and last a lifetime.

  1. It forces you to remain current 

Obligatory curiosity is a necessary part of the mix for the relentlessly relevant icon. You are compelled to remain at the forefront of industry knowledge, at the cutting edge of performance and in touch with global trends. You must know which ideas work and which have been falsified. You must be able to see threads and patterns. This lifestyle forces you to know all the key players, and to build something of a global network, all of which can keep a person young of spirit. An inquiring and engaged mind must be the norm for you; a satisfying way to live.

  1. You become recession-proof

Big or small, the unwelcome jolt of recessions has become an intermittent part of working reality. Recessions tend to winnow out the less serious contenders, often with the result that top experts actually prosper more after a recession, with less competition.

  1. You get to fight for what you believe in, and it has an effect  

Many forms of expert positioning – indeed, most of them – have some degree of a cause or campaign built into the lifestyle. Even Schwarzenegger, now well into his 70’s and back in the world of bodybuilding (he always said he would be), speaks and writes with great passion about causes, in his case, topics like reclaiming the aesthetic ideal that today’s enormous meat-juggernauts appear to have forsaken in pursuit of sheer bulk.
Every industry has its passion points, its causes and its callings. Some industries are even built around the fight, as we shall see later when we meet Ben Shapiro and a handful of his ilk.
It’s rewarding to be entitled to go to war for the thing you most believe in.

  1. Legacy: You could become the face of the thing you love 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is bodybuilding. Tony Hawk is skateboarding. Simon Cowell is talent shows, and likely will be for some time to come, and it’s difficult to think of natural history documentaries without hearing Sir David Attenborough’s calming voice in your mind. Imagine if people could not functionally speak about your world without a reference to you. Imagine if your name hovered at the end of the suggestion: “You know who you should speak to about that?”
It is deeply rewarding to achieve such a status, turning ‘work’ into ‘legacy,’ and ‘career’ into a meaningful life-story. So yes, it’s worth the extraordinary effort. And that's why, each week, I will continue to provide you with one practical 'way' to get there. 


Meet professional speaker and business author Douglas Kruger at www.douglaskruger.com. Book him as the motivational speaker at your next event.