The Kardashian School of Success: How To Generate Popularity, Money, and Fame From Thin Air
Featured Photo: The KardashiansMiller Mobley/E! Entertainment
Your instinct is to hate on this article upfront — don’t
How do you feel about the Kardashians?
From seemingly out of nowhere, the entire family has found material success, fame (infamy), and the secret recipe to captivating masses of people — for better or worse.
Regardless of whether or not you think they deserve it, they have it. When you think about their success, how does it make you feel?
Do you feel envy?
Do you feel like they don’t deserve what they have?
Do you cast them off as a group of ditzy socialites who lucked their way into success?
Personally, I don’t have anything bad to say about the family. In fact, I admire them. Yes, you read that right.
Look, I don’t agree with everything they do. Not even close, but I see smart business people and marketers from a mile away. And they know what they’re doing. It’s very easy to cast them aside by saying they were born rich, but that would miss the point entirely.
Whenever I see someone doing well in life, my first instinct is to ask myself one simple question: How the hell are they doing that?
Sure, the Kardashian family started with more money than most. Kim’s father represented O.J. Simpson in the most infamous trial of all time and Kris went on to re-marry (then) Bruce Jenner, an Olympian who had money from endorsements. But being somewhat affluent doesn’t explain the business empire they’ve built.
There are plenty of trust fund kids who not only fail to build on their wealth but go onto squander it. Not Kim. Not her sisters. Not the entire family. Guided by Kris, who has a great business acumen, they were pioneers of the “famous for being famous” category.
There are plenty of attractive people who try to reverse engineer what this family has done and can’t because they think being attractive is what makes them successful. It’s not.
When you break down all of the skills necessary to have the type of success they have, you come to realize that these people are anything but dumb:
The list goes on and on.
But why do so many people prefer to bash a family like this and other successful people in general?
Because they’re a metaphorical giant mirror reflecting what you don’t have back at you. People wouldn’t hate them if they weren’t winning in life. If nobody hates you, it means nobody knows about you. Success breeds envy — it always has. But the more you find yourself being envious, the less you’ll personally achieve.
If you’re the type of person who looks down on the success of other people, you’ll build a subconscious script that tells you success is evil. If deep down, you equate success with evil, you can’t become successful because…why would you aspire to be evil?
// Learning From Successful People
I used the Kardashians in this example because they’re easy to pick on. You can make a solid case for their success involving a heavy amount of luck, but doing so would still be counterproductive. Even if they are 100% lucky, who cares? What does their success have to do with you? If they get more, do you get less? No. People who have a weird negative preoccupation with successful people can only create one outcome — the lack of success.
Instead, if you dig deeper, you’ll come to understand that you have something to learn from everyone around you. Yes, sometimes that means learning what not to do, but always find a way to reverse engineer the positive things people are doing and emulate them in your own life.
I guarantee you’d learn more about marketing, business, and branding by following the Kardashians around for six months instead of getting a business degree. I’m not kidding.
// Kim Kardashian’s Long Journey to Success
Few people know the entirety of Kim’s backstory. They think she made a sex tape and got famous without any steps in between, but this is far from the truth. Did you know that she used to organize Paris Hilton’s closets? The now nine-figure entrepreneur used to organize closets for a living.
Before she made it to the top glamour magazines, she did many a shoot from lower-tier magazines. I listened to a Podcast by Charlamagne tha God once, and I remember him talking about how misunderstood she was. How she used to hang around backstage at the Wendy Williams show and do all the little intern-like grunt work and schmoozing it took to be successful. How she used to talk about having the vision for being famous when she was organizing Paris Hilton’s closet.
So I hate to break it to you, but even someone who you think just sprang up to success like Kim put in a decade of work. And even if she gave the rest of her family a leg up, like her sister Kylie, it still takes work to succeed.
If I were to give you the social media following of the Kardashians, the looks, and everything in between, could you bring yourself to put in the amount of work they do? People think flying all around the world doing photoshoots is glamourous. It’s not. Shooting pictures all day, constantly, is grueling work. You see their lifestyle, but you don’t realize the sheer amount of work that goes into displaying that lifestyle.
It does seem as if they generated fame out of thin air. But if you know marketing, you can see how this was all meticulously planned from the jump. Most people don’t, or can’t, think like that, though. Can you be different?
// Looking Under the Veneer
As far as intelligence and hard work go, the Kardashians have much to show for that, too. Kim is going to law school, working on criminal justice reform, and has legit helped people get out of prison. Do you think those freed inmates care about her photos? No. When you look underneath the veneer, there is substance. And this is often the case with many people.
The key is to look under the veneer. It’s so easy to look at a thin layer of other people’s lives and think you know everything about them. This is actually what losers do quite often. They think they know everything about the world, the central piece of their ethos being that successful people are just lucky and don’t work hard. This, of course, is a lie.
I’m a pretty motivated and successful guy, but I doubt I work even close to as hard as that family. You can’t build that type of empire without 14 hour days and endless travel. You’re just seeing the end result of all that effort, which looks easy.
Don’t get it twisted — behind all of the giggling ditziness and Instagram posts is a level of marketing knowledge almost none of the people reading this post have. Hell, more knowledge than most of the people writing posts for this publication — Better Marketing — have.
These days, I look beneath the surface. And when it comes to successful people, I’ve learned that what you see is just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t see the mountain of work submerged under the water. That is, unless you look.
As far as the marketing itself goes, here are some great takeaways from the most infamous family in the world.
// Never Be Boring and Have Super Thick Skin
Say what you want, but they know how to make a splash. I’m not saying make a sex tape, but sometimes being a little crazy and audacious gets you the attention you need.
I was at a business conference yesterday where the speaker told this story about a salesperson who was trying to get in touch with a CEO and couldn’t. So what did he do? He sent a baby goat to the CEO’s office. The employees had a riot over it, and they called the local news and it turned into a story. And of course, the CEO met with the salesperson.
Too many of you are afraid to be bold, stand out, and do something crazy. Even coming up for the idea with this post made me a little queasy because I knew I’d get some push back. But so what?
If you can’t take push back, you’ll never be a great marketer. Think about this. As much as people like to pick on the Kardashians, almost nobody has the thickness of skin to be them.
Think about it. Could you mentally handle the ridicule they deal with? Probably not. To be a leader, you have to be able to stand out and be vulnerable to attack. Even literally — remember Kim’s robbery?
You don’t make a splash by fitting in.
// Become a Marketing Machine
You could keep up the same pace of social media posting that the Kardashians do. Sure, you don’t have a team of photographers or fancy equipment, but an iPhone and some Instagram filters would suffice.
You could plan out all of your social media for the month and shoot it all in a day, but you won’t.
You could easily create a line of products to sell based on the business or aspiring business you have with dropshipping and a call to China, but you won’t.
You could even begin to learn the deep nuances of video editing, photography, marketing, and social media, and you could put in enough work to save cash and hire a team to help you.
But you fucking won’t.
I respect the Kardashians more than I respect you. Because they work. You don’t. They put in twice the amount of hours you do at your day job when they don’t have to. Wake up.
Marketing takes work. And all the tools are out there. But you have to do something with them.
// Keep Winning and Double Down
They’ve figured out what works for them. And they double, triple, and quadruple down on it. They know they’re not dumb and also know you think they’re dumb so they’re content to play that role as they laugh to the bank.
When you figure out your edge, your style, your brand, double down on it. I have a unique writing style that pulls no punches and can be a little bit in-your-face at times. It does rub some people the wrong way. I don’t care. Because other people — my tribe — really like it.
As polarizing as the family is, they have a massive following that loves them to death. The polarization stirs the pot and keeps the buzz going, but they really serve their tribes.
What do you do? Where are you with your marketing? Who do you serve?
How about instead of looking at the tabloids, you look in the mirror.