Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Be a famous pioneer.


Nobody had ever run a mile in under four minutes.
It seemed impossible.
But one day, Roger Bannister did it, and the news spread worldwide.
Over the next two years, thirty-seven people also did it.

This is the power of the pioneer:
To enable the impossible.
To open a new world of possibility.
To show others that they can do it too, and take it even further.
Explorers used to find unknown lands and bring back stories of unfamiliar cultures, which encouraged others to go exploring.
The old finish line becomes the new starting line.

Debussy, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, and Rakim pioneered new approaches to music.
Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Sally Ride, and Malala Yousafzai broke the glass ceiling, encouraging others to rise.
Modern explorers like Tim Ferriss, Neil Strauss, and A.J. Jacobs, instead of finding unknown lands, are finding unknown lifestyles.
Each of them shows new possibilities for the rest of us.

These pioneers were valuable because they got famous.
If someone else innovated in obscurity, they didn’t make an impact.
Marco Polo wasn’t the first European to reach China, but he was the first to write a book about it. Then his book inspired Christopher Columbus, and so on.

Millions of young adults today are living a life their grandparents didn’t know was possible.
They have more options, thanks to the brave adventures of a few people who broke through boundaries.
Pioneers have a massive impact on the world because their stories help people do things they wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise.

A famous pioneer does more for human progress than a billion others who live a normal life.

So if you want to help humanity while having the most exciting life, then the way to live is to be a famous pioneer.
Go to new extremes.
Try new ideas.
Visit undiscovered cultures.
Show what can be done.

Your job is not just to act, but to tell a fascinating story of how you did so, and inspire others to do it.
Make great adventures, but tell greater stories.
Pursue massive media attention, not for vanity or ego, but so your stories can open minds, spark imaginations, and lead to further explorations.

Here’s the best way to do it:

First, make a stage name.
Create a company with the same name, and have it own all the rights to everything you do.
Never reveal your real name.
This is to manage the trappings of your upcoming fame.

Find a writer and a publicist to create your first pioneering adventure.
Collaborate with the writer to make a great story arc before you begin.
So, for example, it’s not just a story of how you escaped a cult, but how you joined the cult, uncovered a surprising history, fell in love, were almost discovered and captured, then escaped by changing the mind of your captor, and finally learned some interesting counter-intuitive lessons along the way.
Consult with the publicist to make sure it’s interesting to the media.
Then begin.

Record everything on video.
Find ways to make the story arc happen in real life.
When you’re done, have your writer make it a fascinating story of various lengths for various outlets — making it a great article, book, video, screenplay, stage talk, and more.
Have the publicist get it everywhere — on every popular platform of the day.
Hire a business manager to turn the attention into profit.
Keep half of your profits in the business, and put half into your private savings.
While your team is promoting your last adventure, you and your writer prepare the next one.
Once fame hits, your biggest challenge is to keep creating — to keep momentum.

Repeat this process as long as you’d like.
Your fame will open new doors, making it possible to do even more incredible things.

So how does it end?
One of two ways:

If this life is really your destiny, do it until it kills you.
Always pushing to see how far you can go, if you die during an adventure, you’ll die happy, knowing you pushed it as far as you could.

But if you start feeling you’ve had enough, then write the ending.
Build the death of your public persona into your last story.
Since you’re famous, this will take some planning.
This is why you used a stage name and company from the start.

Secretly buy a house under your real name in a mundane place nobody would expect you to be.
Buy some second-hand clothes and practice changing your appearance and voice.
Make sure your company is in good hands, run by a team you trust.

Then, when the filming of your final story is done, rent a boat and disappear near the ocean, letting everyone think you died.
Escape anonymously into your new life.
Since your private company owns the rights, it can license your stories, shows, books, and more for years to come, funding your anonymous life.
A benefit of fame is that it carries on without you.

As you watch the world in the following decades, be glad if many people surpass you and belittle your pioneering adventures.
Your final act of generosity is your absence.
It leaves a void for others to step into.