This past weekend the US Marshall’s office held an auction of Bernie Madoff’s possessions. You should be very interested in the results of that auction because they directly affect you.

A NY Mets jacket with Madoff’s name on it sold for $14,500. A plain, old crappy satin Mets jacket – $14,500.

A few sheets of his unused personal stationery sold for $850. Three duck decoys that were expected to sell for $53-$80 sold for $11,500. A pair of his wife’s earrings that were expected to bring less than $7,000 sold for $70,000 – over 10 times the estimate.

Why is this so important to you?

For years I’ve been telling you how critical it is for you to create your own celebrity status. For the past year I’ve not just told you, I’ve implored you to do it.

If your possessions – or mine – were auctioned off, they would bring pennies on the dollar. But Madoff’s sold for astronomical sums. Why? Because of his celebrity status. Of course, I don’t want you to create that type of celebrity status. But the implication is clear – if you don’t create your own celebrity status, you’re at an increasingly great disadvantage. It makes absolutely no difference whether you make yourself a celebrity in your tiny little neighborhood or across the nation. Without that status you’re headed for trouble. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Maybe you disagree. If so, let me know. Post your opinions below.

So the sale of Madoff’s possessions has added pressure on you to become a celebrity.

I was listening to a story about the auction on NPR radio. They interviewed one guy at the auction and asked him why he was there. He spent a minute or so spouting off the script of indignation. He righteously spewed on about how terrible Madoff is, how he damaged so many lives and on and on. You know the gibberish.

The reporter asked if he was going to bid on anything in the auction. This potato head said: “Probably. I want to own a piece of history.”

History? HISTORY???

I’ll bet this jughead couldn’t name one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, one Supreme Court Justice or one Nobel Prize winner, but he thinks that by owning something once owned by that slime-with-a-heartbeat, Bernie Madoff, he’ll own history.

I was incredulous, but only for a moment. I quickly reminded myself of what I’ve been telling you for years – we are a celebrity obsessed society. It may not be right, it may not be what you want to hear, but it is what it is. You can either use that to your advantage or have it used against you.

If you are a carpet cleaner, a real estate agent, a dentist, a chiropractor, a chimney sweep or whatever, I’ll guarantee that eventually there will be a competitor of yours that will realize how critical it is to create that celebrity status. He’ll learn how to do it – and you’ll be in trouble.

Some of you may already be in trouble. One or more of your competitors may already have created that celebrity status and is sucking away your customers.

If you want to know more about how to create that celebrity status, read the postings on this blog. I’ve written about it often.

If you subscribe to my paid publicity newsletter, read the back issues. Again, is a favorite topic of mine.

Frankly, this whole celebrity status thing bothers every cell in my body. We’ve spiraled down so far that we adore Kim Kardashian and want to know everything about her vacuous life. We even watch a TV show all about her wedding.

People take medical advice from the likes of Suzanne Sommers and Jenny McCarthy. If I recall, the height of their accomplishments included posing nude for Playboy. Neither of them has any medical credentials whatsoever – unless you consider the University of Google a certified institution of higher learning.

But they are celebrities, so hoards of people are entrusting their health, their lives and the lives of those close to them, to these two!

And it’s not a tiny minority of us who are celebrity-obsessed – it’s the majority.

In my opinion, it’s a harbinger of very sad things to come.

But what I think makes no difference. The only thing that matters is what is – and celebrity is what is.

So, you’ve been screwed over by Bernie Madoff. How does it feel? More importantly, what are you going to do about it?

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  1. Roger Brown Says:

    Hear! Hear! Mr. Hartunian. Right on! Thanks for the comments.

  2. Public Speaking Training Expert David Portney Says:

    I think I understand why the now-mandatory celebrity status bothers you and why you believe it’s the harbinger of bad things to come; it’s because it’s one of the most obvious outward symptoms of the dumbing-down of America.

    As Tony Robbins once put it – “too many people major in minor things”.

    Over-consumption of entertainment has become acceptable or even encouraged – and the desire to become a rock star, rap star, or the next Paris or Britney or Kim – far outpaces the desire to become a scientist or engineer.

    So what do we get, 10 or 20 years down the line, when most Americans know more about celebrities than they do about math, science, or history? and they commonly use words and phrases like “irregardless” and “a whole ‘nother”? and where the desire to randomly express your baseless opinions online about anything – even things you have zero knowledge or experience with – becomes the major way you want to spend your time?

    I get why you’d have some concerns.

    Ostensibly, my comments here have less to do with your valid point about using celebrity status as marketing strategy, than with the subtext of the ramifications of a celebrity-obsessed society.


  3. Roger Reid Says:

    How true!!! (Love the word “vacuous.” Pretty much sums up our obsessive pre-occupation with celebrity status in a single word.)

  4. CAROL JONES Says:


    Greetings from rural Australia.

    Celebrity status is alive and well in Australia, too.

    Life has changed. We’ve transformed from a society that mainly worked to pay for our recreational hobbies, to a mass of trance like people who do nothing but work. And experience little personal reward for those efforts.

    Life has become vacuous for many. After putting in long hours at work, they come home, family needs take over, and before they know it, it’s time to go to bed and start over the next day. And all they’ve done all day is attend to chores. And more than likely argue with their family over trivial issues. Because their fuse has become very short and it ignites at the hint of the most trivial slight.

    Because their lives are no longer in balance, they look for ways to avoid both the boredom and stress in their lives. They take the easy option of escaping this tediousness through the mass media hype that surrounds celebrities. Because celebrities seem to have everything except mundane lives. They don’t, of course. Their lives are more nightmarish than a Dracula novel. But celebrity obsession is no less escapism than reading a novel.

    I escaped the city lights for the rural life in 1992. My partner and I live and work from our remote property in the beautiful Central Tablelands of NSW, 3 hours away from Sydney.

    It’s a change we’ve never regretted. Because our lives are in balance. We can run our home based business while at the same time be immersed in the wildlife that visits our property. We’re involved with the local community without living in the pockets of others. We know our neighbours and all the shopkeepers in our nearest town. And they know us. We have a sense of belonging as well as a commitment to support our local community and to look after our neighbours in times of strife.

    But I can see that celebrity mania pervades everything. And your advice to tap into it is important to heed. And I agree with you that you ignore it at your own peril. Agree with it or not, it’s a fact of life and can’t be avoided. So why not make the most of it and sprinkle some sparkle dust over yourself and your business? Why not, indeed!

    It’s a good post, Paul. Congratulations.

    Take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Ilford NSW Australia
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove ™ Ironing Board Cover
    Our simple solutions for difficult problems make every product a joy to use.

    Visit my website Simple Solutions For Difficult Problems at and listen to my podcasts about how I’ve built my business on the foundation of good old fashioned service.

  5. Cruise Ship Speaking expert Joshua Seth Says:

    I think we have always been a celebrity obsessed culture, the difference is that celebrity used to be bestowed upon people who’d actually accomplished something.

    I was watching the HBO documentary on John Adams recently and noticed how Ben Franklin handled his celebrity in France. He said something to the effect that “we are all actors playing a part here”. He used the public’s perception of him to actually accomplish something for his fellow man, whereas many of today’s celebrities neither accomplish anything to merit that fame nor use it to achieve anything for the greater good.

    Fame may be easier to achieve now, but without a foundation of meritorious accomplishment it’s fleeting. Madoff isn’t a part of history, he’s an unfortunate footnote.

  6. Robert Schwarztrauber Says:

    Right on again Paul. Excellent example of influence celebrity has.
    Of course it’s not always bad to follow the advice of a celebrity. Many famous people offer examples and advice that could become the building blocks of your prosperity too. Ivanka Trump, an obvious celebrity, has just written a great new book, “The Trump Card”. Quite the opposite of vacuous, she is a celebrity of great intelligence and accomplishment who’s advice could set many young women (and men) on the road to more prosperous living.

    My children’s book, “Building Blocks of Prosperity” offers many quotations from “GOOD” celebrities; folks who’s advice can help. We’ve always been drawn to the words of the famous, only now through ubiquitous media, many are drawn to follow and revere the wrong crowd.

  7. Charles Burke Says:

    In 1985 I moved from the US to Japan, thus stepping outside the daily torrent of cultural exposure I was accustomed to. In Japan I was both too busy to follow US matters closely, and too limited in my language abilities to absorb much of the daily “stuff” going on in Japan.

    I didn’t return to the States for 4 years, but when I did get back for an extended visit, my first and most profound impression was everyone’s insistence on their inalienable right to be entertained. It was an obsession. I’d never noticed it before because I’d been so immersed in it myself. I had been one of the fish unable to see the water it was swimming in.

    This obsession with being entertained recalls for me the old Roman “bread and circuses” that kept the people quiet and distracted from important matters of state.

    Does anything change?

    Cheers from warm and smiling Thailand,

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