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smart self-marketing

Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo / BLACKDAY


Entrepreneurs know that smart self-marketing can lead to fame and fortune. But they don’t always know how to get there.

Is it luck? Is there a formula? Can anyone do it?

Today’s guest, Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, the author of How People Become Famous: Geniuses of Self-Marketing from Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian; shares his amazing research and how you can adopt some of these celebrity techniques to grow your business.

Share this episode with someone you think will benefit from it.

Leave a review at

What You’ll Discover About Smart Self-Marketing (highlights & transcript):

How People Become Famous* How Albert Einstein used smart self-marketing to achieve fame 

* How to define fame for yourself and your business 

* How creating a brand dovetails with smart self-marketing 

* What holds people back from engaging in smart self-marketing 

* How being the face of a brand is smart self-marketing 

* The subconscious beliefs that hinder smart self-marketing 

* Short cuts to fame 

* And MUCH more.

Entrepreneurs know that smart self-marketing can lead to fame and fortune, but they don’t always know how to get there. Is it luck? Is there a formula? Can anyone do it? When we come back, we’ll find out because today’s guest is Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, the author of How People Become Famous: Geniuses of Self-Marketing From Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian.


This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matter to your bottom line.


Welcome to Business Confidential Now, I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner and today’s guest is Dr. Rainer Zitelmann. He has a fascinating background. His career path has gone from university history lecturer to editor-in-chief at one of the leading and most prestigious publishing houses in Germany to entrepreneurship that includes public relations consulting and real estate investing.


He holds two doctorate degrees, the second being in sociology, where his research focused on the psychology of the superrich. And as you might imagine, that’s a hot topic that a lot of people are interested in. As a matter of fact, his doctoral thesis was published in the US, the UK, China and South Korea under the title The Wealth Elite. Actually, Rainer published a whole lot more than that.


He’s written a total of 25 books that have enjoyed substantial success in multiple languages around the world including the one I mentioned at the top of the show, how people become famous. He’s an in-demand speaker and a popular source for leading international media outlets, so I am delighted to welcome him to the podcast. Welcome to Business Confidential Now Rainer.


Yes, thank you.


I have to admit the title of your book really grabbed me How People Become Famous: Geniuses of Self-marketing From Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian. Now, most people are aware of the self-promotion and self-marketing that Kim Kardashian does. But Albert Einstein? I was always under the impression that his work spoke for itself and his brilliance is what led to his fame. But based on your title, it sounds like I’ve been a little naive about that. So, can you tell us more about what Einstein did?


Yes, absolutely. I thought, to be honest, the same way before I thought that it was because of his science theory of relativity. But of course, I think 99% of the people don’t understand this theory and I don’t understand it. Maybe you don’t understand it. So, this can’t be the reason why he became so famous. And Albert Einstein is a good example because you see on his example that if you become famous, it doesn’t happen anyway.


It’s no accident for a lot of years Albert Einstein spent more time in public relations and getting famous than his scientific work. I didn’t know it before, so he’s not the only example. I have some others in my book as, for example, the scientist Stephen Hawking. And with him, it’s the same. So, of course, the first reason they became so famous was because they were very good scientists. But there are a lot of others who are maybe better than they were, but no one knows about them and they spend a lot of time in this.


All right. So the self-marketing part, I can’t believe I’m going to put these two names in the same sentence. But how does Einstein compare to Kim Kardashian when it comes to smart self-marketing?


Yes, of course. The title sounds provocative and it should be provocative because I think there are not two people who on the first view couldn’t have less things in common than Albert Einstein and Kim Kardashian. And of course, they are extremely different. And there are a lot of other people in the book who are very different.


Take, for example, Stephen Hawking, on the one hand and Arnold Schwarzenegger or Princess Diana, on the other hand, they are also very different. But this is the reason I want to show that in spite of the fact that all these people are so different, they have one thing in common they are geniuses of self-marketing. And so this is this was the reason why I selected these people because they are so, so different.


It’s certainly an interesting selection of people and I applaud that. Let’s get down to some basics. How would you define fame? What characteristics of an individual seeking fame?


Of course, being famous simply means that many other people know you everyone. Everybody in the world knows Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steve Jobs, or Madonna or Einstein. But this is only the extreme manifestation of fame. Maybe for your audience. Maybe you own a company in Boston and you only do business in Boston, then it’s enough when people know you’re involved. Not everyone in the world has to know you, but all the people you want to do business with.


So, you can define fame in a more narrow sense that this celebrities are famous, but it has another meaning it has that the meaning that the people that should know you, that they really know you and to the second part of your question. The most important thing to become famous is that you really want it. The desperate will like Madonna, is one I write about in my book and she said “I won’t be happy until I was famous as God.”


This sounds a little bit crazy in a way. Maybe it is crazy in a way, but what I want to say, it doesn’t happen. So, you have to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and you have to be very smart to reach this purpose, to become famous. And to repeat it, it’s not only for people who want to be as famous as these people that are in my in my book. The laws of becoming famous are the same, even for people who maybe their goal is only that the people are their potential customers in their own town know them.


Very good. I understand. So, it doesn’t have to be the world. It can be within your country. It could be within your city or just an even smaller community that you are known to be the best in your field or just the most well-known because, as you said, there may have been absolutely smarter scientists than Einstein, but they just didn’t have the public relations that Einstein had. So, what makes people famous besides the end result of, yes, everybody knows them? What goes into smart self-marketing? In your opinion, you’ve done so much research in that area.


Yes, there are a lot of points, let me mention some of some of them. If you want to be famous, I have some recommendations to process. Don’t hide your rough edges. If you want to turn yourself into a friend and this is what I’m talking about, you can’t waste time worrying about rubbing other people the wrong way. So, what I mean, people who are addicted to harmony have a harder time becoming famous because geniuses of sales marketing such as Madonna or Muhammad Ali, they knew that it’s not just about being better.


It is about all, about being different from others. And polarization, provocation were key elements of their brand strategies. So, people who always strive for harmony and want to be liked by everyone, I think, they have really a hard time in life and they have an especially hard time becoming famous. Then there’s another thing maybe it sounds a little bit funny, but even the outward appearance does matter. Think about brands. Think about products.


Every brand has a trademark. If you think of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Apple or Mercedes and if you want to turn yourself into a brand, you need to make sure that you are recognizable and distinctive. Think about Donald Trump, Albert Einstein or Karl Lagerfeld. They could be more different, but all of them turned the hair into their trademark. Donald Trump is one example for this with Albert Einstein.


Rumor has it that before people took photo of him, he messed up his hair because this was his image of this genius professor or think about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps or Kim Kardashian.


We spoke about Kim Kardashian. She made her back as her trademark, so sometimes even it’s a good idea to have something like a trademark. And the other thing is PR, public relations. If you want to be famous, you need to be a master of public relations. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very good example. Everyone in the world knows his name.


I had lectures in China or in Korea and a lot of countries, and even in China, everyone knew the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he didn’t spend any money. No dollar in advertising, all such things. All that what he did was public relations and who made Ali or Andy Warhol and Stephen Hawking, they devoted a great deal of time and energy to press and public relations work to build their brands.


They gave countless interviews and knew exactly how the media work and which stories, shortlists, were most interested in and they delivered those stories all the time. So, if you want to be successful in public relation, I think, you have to find out what stories journalists are interested in or rather, you have to find out what journalists think their readers or viewers are interested in. Then you just need to figure out how you can deliver exactly that kind of story. And all these people in my book, they were masters in public relations.


Fascinating. So, don’t worry about the rough edges. Have something recognizable that when people see it, whether it’s your hair or Kim Kardashian’s butt. In business, people may not want to put their butt out there but still. But especially the PR being able to work the publicity and as you said, know your audience what they’re looking for and connecting with the right journalists or podcasters. I’m going to put that out there. Rainer, what do you think holds people back from doing smart self-marketing necessary to become famous?


This is a good question and some thoughts about it. When you become famous, you have many advantages in life but to be honest, is it as with everything, there are also drawbacks. You have to pay a price. You have fans, but you have also haters. I think everyone who is active on social media, Instagram or Facebook knows that you have fans and haters, and people who are very harmony oriented, they will shy away from that. And so it has always two sides of the coin.


Well, that’s definitely fair to say because some people do more than just hate online, but they take it to another level and actually try to stalk people and follow their family and actually threatened people.




So, that could be the downside of scary and having paparazzi follow you. But I think for a local business who really is trying to build their brand that wants their brand to be famous – okay, let’s say they’re not the face of the brand, but they have a product. They have a service. They want it to be well known, to be the next Amazon, to be the next Google. What are some factors that they need to be aware of besides what you’ve explained about how to get there? But have things changed over the years because this is not Albert Einstein’s world right now?


No, but I think I was the leader of – I founded a company, a very successful company. I managed it for 15 years and then I sold it. And so what is my experience, especially with small enterprises, people don’t trust the name of your companies. They will trust you. I think this is especially true for a small or mid-sized business, that people trust you.


And I think sometimes even this is true for this big brand. Like Tesla with Elon Musk, for example, of Virgin with Richard Branson or Microsoft with Bill Gates. They understood that it can be an advantage to link the company with your name because people trust people and not abstract building. I think if you ask what advice I would offer to individuals whose goal it is to become famous or say better – let us not speak about being famous, but let’s talk about turn yourself into a friend.


I think the most important precondition is that you first realize whether you have internalized harmful beliefs in your subconscious mind. Let me explain what I mean when I’m talking about this. There are beliefs that prevent you from becoming famous or that are harmful if you want to turn yourself into a friend. I think many of us have heard from their parents in our childhood or use things like “Don’t blow your own trumpet” or “Modesty is a virtue” or “Don’t be a show off.”


And as long as you have such beliefs in your subconscious mind, you will never become famous. Don’t forget becoming famous, it doesn’t have an accident as well. If someone becomes very rich, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not something that doesn’t just happen. You have to do something for it. Whether you want to grow rich or whether you become famous, of course, you have to learn a lot and especially you have to have persistence.


Definitely. And I like your point about some of the values that we maybe internalized growing up from what our parents told us or friends about not bragging and so forth, and modesty is a virtue and all that type of thing that probably weighs more than we realize. So, those are those are really good points. Are there any shortcuts to smart self-marketing to achieve fame?


Shortcuts. I should tell you the secret. Maybe.


Sure. Yes.


I have one. Run naked across the field at the Football League final because – I’m joking. You know that there are no shortcuts. Becoming famous is the result of years and years of focused and smart effort for many years. I mentioned it before people like Einstein or Hawking spent more time on becoming famous than on scientific research. It’s really a lot of work.


But my book can help you by seeing how others have done it. Not that you should copy it. I think it’s a bad idea if you try to copy other people. But maybe what Confucius said and I like the saying very much, he said “By three methods we learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” So, you don’t have to make every experience by yourself.


You can learn from other people. And even if you don’t, if you never have the goal to be as famous as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Madonna, you can learn a lot from them. And by the way, the book is now very successful in Germany, in Russia and even in China. And there were more readers than I had expected who told me, “No, I don’t want to be famous.” But for me, it was interesting as a social statement to understand how people become famous.


So, I changed the title. The German title “The Art of Becoming Famous.” And then I understood there are some people say, “I’m not interested. I don’t want to become famous.” And so I changed the title for the English version in “How People Become Famous.” to show it’s also interesting for someone who maybe he doesn’t want to become famous, but it’s interesting to understand it’s, I think, a social phenomenon to understand it.


I think it’s interesting, even if you don’t want to become famous to understand what Albert Einstein or what Stephen Hawking or what these people did to become famous.


Absolutely. It’s the behind-the-scenes people like to get the inside scoop, so to speak on the back story. How did this happen? And if they can take some pearls of wisdom from it and apply it to their own world to their own business endeavors, then wonderful. I think those are all really valid points, especially when it comes to celebrities and people that are famous. I mean, that’s how some of these magazines, they are exclusively devoted to it.


And I particularly like your point about learning from other people because it’s a lot less painful and expensive to learn from their mistakes, which is one of the reasons that I do the Business Confidential Now podcast because there’s just so many aspects to business and marketing, including this piece about smart self-marketing that can help.


And my goodness, just even the tips that you’ve given us, Rainer, if that could help somebody save some time and focus their attention on some tips and strategies that have worked and have worked for these people that are household names. Then my goodness, that is definitely time well spent. Thank you. I definitely appreciate your tips for entrepreneurs on self-marketing.


And if you’re listening and you’re ready to engage in more smart self-marketing, raise your profile or that of your business. Rainer’s contact information is going to be found in the show notes at, along with the link to his book How People Become Famous: Geniuses of Self-Marketing From Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian.


And if you know someone who wants to be famous whether it’s on TikTok or whatever your favorite social media site, tell them about Dr. Rainer Zitelmann’s amazing research and this podcast episode. Share the link. Leave a positive review, so others can find out about his tips for success too. And you could do it on your podcast app or because this is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner.


Thank you for listening. Have a great day and an even better tomorrow.

Best Moments

How Albert Einstein Used Smart Self-Marketing to Achieve Fame

How to Use Smart Self-Marketing to Achieve Fame for Your Business

What Holds People Back from Achieving Fame Through Smart Self-Marketing?

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Guest: Dr. Rainer Zitelman

Dr. Rainer ZitelmannRainer Zitelmann studied history and political science and graduated with distinction. In 1986, he was awarded the title doctorate Summa cum laude. He then went on to lecture history at the Free University of Berlin from 1987 to 1992, before becoming editor-in-chief at one of the leading and most prestigious publishing houses in Germany, Ullstein-Propyläen. He followed this by taking up the role of section editor at the major German daily newspaper Die Welt, a position he held until 2000, when he embarked on a career as an entrepreneur. He set up the public relations consultancy Dr. ZitelmannPB. GmbH, which he quickly established as by far the leading PR consultancy for the German real estate industry. He sold the business in 2016. Zitelmann built his wealth through his entrepreneurial activities and as a successful real estate investor.

In 2016, Zitelmann was awarded his second doctorate, this time in sociology, with his thesis on the psychology of the super-rich under the mentorship of Professor Wolfgang Lauterbach at the University of Potsdam. The study has been published in the United States, the UK, China, and South Korea as The Wealth Elite. 

Zitelmann has written a total of 25 books, which have enjoyed substantial success in a range of languages around the world. For example, his book Dare to be Different and Grow Rich has been published in 12 different languages alone. He is a popular guest speaker at events in Asia, the United States and across Europe. Over the last few years, he has written articles and given interviews to many of the world’s leading media outlets, including Le Monde, Corriere de la Serra, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and numerous media in China and South Korea. 

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Contact Rainer and connect with him on Instagram .

You can also learn more about his work at

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