“Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all costs. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.”
SURROUND YOUR NAME WITH THE SENSATIONAL AND SCANDALOUS
“Draw attention to yourself by creating an unforgettable, even controversial image. Court scandal. Do anything to make yourself seem larger than life and shine more brightly than those around you. Make no distinction between kinds of attention-notoriety of any sort will bring you power. Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored.”
Once people's eyes are on you, you have a special legitimacy. creating interest means creating a crowd, creating an audience. Every crowd has a silver lining, and crowds tend to act in conjunction. If one person stops to see your beggarman laying bricks in the street, more will do the same; they will gather like dust bunnies. Then, given a gentle push, they will enter your world or watch your show. To create a crowd, to create an audience, you have to do something different and odd. Any kind of curiosity will serve the purpose, for crowds are magnetically attracted by the unusual and inexplicable. And once you have their attention, never let it go. If it veers toward other people, it does so at your expense.
At the beginning of your rise to the top, then, spend all your energy on attracting attention. Most important: The quality of the attention is irrelevant. No matter how badly the comments may be, or how slanderously personal attacks may be, never complain. If a news or social media critic reviled you particularly badly, make sure to give him or her the best seat in the house. Attention, whether negative or positive, is the main ingredient of your success. The worst fate in the world for anyone who yearns fame, glory, and, of course, power is to be ignored.
Burning more brightly than those around you is a skill that no one is born with. You have to learn to attract attention, as surely as the lodestone attracts iron. At the start of your career, you must attach your name and reputation to a quality, an image, that sets you apart from other people. This image can be something like a characteristic style of dress, or a personality quirk that amuses people and gets talked about. Once the image is established, you have an appearance, a place in the sky for your star.
It is a common mistake to imagine that this peculiar appearance of yours should not be controversial, that to be attacked is somehow bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. To avoid being a flash in the pan, and having your notoriety eclipsed by another, you must not discriminate between different types of attention; in the end, every kind will work in your favor. Welcome personal attacks and feel no need to defend yourself.
Society craves larger-than-life figures, people who stand above the general mediocrity. Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you. Court controversy, even scandal. It is better to be attacked, even slandered, than ignored. All professions are ruled by this law, and all professionals must have a bit of the showman about them.
If you find yourself in a lowly position that offers little opportunity for you to draw attention, an effective trick is to attack the most visible, most famous, most powerful person you can find. The attack will put you in the public eye immediately. A slanderous attack on a person in a position of power would have a similar effect. Remember, however, to use such tactics sparingly after you have the public's attention, when the act can wear thin.
Once in the limelight you must constantly renew it by adapting and varying your method of courting attention. If you don't, the public, your audience will grow tired, will take you for granted, and will move on to a newer star. The game requires constant vigilance and creativity. Never allow yourself to fade into the background; if your name becomes too attached to a particular style, deliberately upset your audience with a new series of actions going against all expectations. Better to create something disturbing, than to let your audience grow too familiar with your work. Understand: People feel superior to the person whose actions they can predict. If you show them who is in control by playing against their expectations, you both gain their respect and tighten your hold on their fleeting attention.
Be ostentatious and be seen. What is not seen is as though it did not exist. Display fills up many blanks, covers up deficiencies, and gives everything a second life, especially when it is backed by genuine merit.
CREATE AN AIR OF MYSTERY
In a world growing increasingly banal and familiar, what seems enigmatic instantly draws attention. Never make it too dear what you are doing or about to do. Do not show all your cards. An air of mystery heightens your presence; it also creates anticipation. Everyone will be watching you to see what happens next. Use mystery to seduce, even frighten.
In the past, the world was filled with the terrifying and unknowable diseases, disasters, capricious despots, the mystery of death itself. What we could not understand we reimagined as myths and spirits. Over the centuries, though, we have managed, through science and reason, to illuminate the darkness; what was mysterious, and forbidding has grown familiar and comfortable. Yet this light has a price: in a world that is ever more banal, that has had its mystery and myth squeezed out of it, we secretly crave enigmas, people or things that cannot be instantly interpreted, seized, and consumed.
That is the power of the mysterious: It invites layers of interpretation, excites our imagination, seduces us into believing that it conceals something marvelous. The world has become so familiar and its inhabitants so predictable that what wraps itself in mystery will almost always draw the limelight to it and make us watch it.
Do not imagine that to create an air of mystery you have to be grand and awe-inspiring. Mystery that is woven into your day-to-day demeanor, and is subtle, has that much more power to fascinate and attract attention. Remember: Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simply holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery. The people around you will then magnify that aura by constantly trying to interpret you.
An air of mystery can make the mediocre appear intelligent and profound. It is all very easy to do, say little about your work, tease and titillate with alluring, even contradictory comments, then stand back and let others try to make sense of it all. Mysterious people put others in a kind of inferior position, that of trying to figure them out. To degrees that they can control, they also elicit the fear surrounding anything uncertain or unknown.
All great leaders know that an aura of mystery draws attention to them and creates an intimidating presence. Donald Trump, for example, cleverly cultivates an enigmatic image; he has no worries about seeming inconsistent or contradicting himself. The very contradictoriness of his actions and words means that he always has the upper hand. No one ever feel they understand him, and he therefore seems larger than life. This also means that the public pay constant attention to him, ever anxious to witness his next move.
If your social position prevents you from completely wrapping your actions in mystery, you must at least learn to make yourself less obvious. Every now and then, act in a way that does not mesh with other people's perception of you. This way you keep those around you on the defensive, eliciting the kind of attention that makes you powerful. Done right, the creation of enigma can also draw the kind of attention that strikes terror into your enemy.
If you find yourself trapped, cornered, and on the defensive in some situation, try a simple experiment: Like Trump, do something that cannot be easily explained or interpreted. Choose a simple action but carry it out in a way that unsettles your opponent, a way with many possible interpretations, making your intentions obscure. Don't just be unpredictable; create a scene that cannot be read. There will seem to be no method to your madness, no rhyme or reason, no single explanation. If you do this right, like Trump, you will inspire fear and trembling and the sentries will abandon their posts. Call it the "feigned madness.” The mysterious makes your forces seem larger, your power more terrifying.
Mix a little mystery with everything, and the very mystery stirs up veneration. And when you explain, be not too explicit. In this manner you cause men to wonder and watch.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
In the beginning of your rise to the top, you must attract attention at all costs, but as you rise higher you must constantly adapt. Never wear the public out with the same tactic. An air of mystery works wonders for those who need to develop an aura of power and get themselves noticed, but it must seem measured and under control. Trump may be going too far with his fabrications; all his lies are making him seem suspicious and nefarious. Do not let your air of mystery be slowly transformed into a reputation for deceit. The mystery you create must seem a game, playful and unthreatening. Recognize when it goes too far and pull back.
There are times when the need for attention must be deferred, and when scandal and notoriety are the last things you want to create. The attention you attract must never offend or challenge the reputation of those above you, not, at any rate, if they are secure. You will seem not only paltry but desperate by comparison. There is an art to knowing when to draw notice and when to withdraw.
Never appear overly greedy for attention, then, for it signals insecurity, and insecurity drives power away. Understand that there are times when it is not in your interest to be the center of attention. When in the presence of a king or queen, or the equivalent thereof, bow and retreat to the shadows; never compete.
Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m.
J. Michael Dennis, ll.l., ll.m.
Business & Corporate Strategist
Systemic Strategic Planning
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