Luciano Pavarotti’s Secret for Online Success

What, you didn’t know that Luciano Pavarotti was huge on Twitter?

Oh yes. Or at least, he could have been.

See, every day I talk with various people about their projects. Inevitably, I hear a lot of questions that are rooted in this premise:

“How can people give me their attention?”

In other words: “How can I get more for myself?” The more in question varies: interest, customers, website traffic, subscribers, money, whatever—but it always relates to an increase in focus on the individual.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. I’d like more too. But motivations can be interesting predictors of success. The more that we want tends to come along when we give more, but when we give because we want to receive, it doesn’t always turn out so well.

If it sounds complicated, it’s not. Here’s the secret:

Some singers want the audience to love them. I love the audience. – Luciano Pavarotti

Interestingly enough, in the business I’m in, I’ve noticed that almost everyone who is successful in the long-term lives by this lesson. Yes, there are a few exceptions. But you can usually tell how it goes down within a few minutes of meeting someone—and these days, you can “meet” someone whether you’re in the same place or not.

Therefore, the better question to ask is:

“How can I give more?”

Sometimes I’m ashamed at my giving / receiving ratio. Look at that guy Jonathan Fields! He’s always saying nice things about me. I can’t keep up. I wrote him and said, “Dude! Slow down. You give too much.” (To which he said: “There’s no scorecard.” Of course he would say something like that.)

Look at that guy J.D. Roth! He writes about me all the time, even knowing that some of his more conservative readers think I’m crazy for spending my money on flying to Cape Verde without a good reason.

Quick update on that: British Airways is still on strike, but last night I made it back to London on a charter flight operated by EuroAtlantic. I’d never heard of EuroAtlantic before, but BA switched me over to them and it worked out OK. Next stop: Sal Island.

These people, the Jonathans and J.D.s of the online world who give back all the time, are incredibly rich in goodwill. I feel like I am permanently in their debt, and it makes me want to give them whatever it is I can give.

And of course, it’s not just the famous people. It’s Everyone Else. All of YOU who read from more than 100 countries now. Every day I look at the comments, the emails, the trackbacks, the fun things everyone is doing and think… am I really giving enough? How can I give more?

Understand: there’s nothing wrong with promoting your thing, asking for help, making a living. I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with wanting more.

But I figure the first step is to adopt Mr. Pavarotti’s perspective. It seemed to work out fairly well for him, even without a fan page or a LinkedIn profile.

Give back. Show love. If you want to change the world, love the audience.

What can you give the audience?


Image: AA

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  • Eduard says:

    I believe you’re spot on. Pavarotti would have been o very good tweeter. Because he had the right mindframe for it. That quote about loving the audience is pure gold.

  • Etsuko says:

    I love this!!
    This morning I woke up thinking, how can I get most out of my day today? Where can I go and whom can I meet? How can I make a contact with this person or that? But I was asking all those questions with the intention of getting more for myself. Well there is a reason why I made reading your blog on Monday morning my priority (I’ve been slacker last 2 weeks while on vacation!)….this is why.

    Thanks Chris! I’ll get busy thinking about the other question; how can I serve and help whoever I’ll be meeting today? How can I give more?


  • Sloane Berrent says:

    I agree with your post, and have been a huge Pavarotti fan for most of my life. There is something to be said for giving of yourself to your audience and being real with them and expressing yourself with theatrical honesty. But that can also be trying and hard, as most of us find we have to hold something back for ourselves. I believe the truly great performers know how to create multiple personas to do both, giving completely of themselves to their audience but holding something back for when they get home at night. That to me, is a standing ovation.

  • Rishi says:

    “Be the change you what to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandni

    If I reflect on my life, I notice that when I’m “giving” versus “receiving” I feel a much greater sense of happiness. This is in many facets of my life, especially relationships.

    Many times we get caught up on what we don’t have. This trap can cause us to forget the true source of happiness. Love.

  • Glen Stansberry says:

    Wow, fantastic post Chris. I love the Pavarotti quote.

    What I love about what you’re doing is that when you ask for people to buy your products, you’ve already established yourself as a “giver”. When people don’t first establish themselves as givers and try and sell to their audience, it doesn’t go over well.

    It’s clear that guys like you, Jonathan and J.D. are so spectacular because you GIVE first. And second. And third. And then when you finally ask for something, people are very receptive.

  • Frankerson P says:

    That’s some great advice. Definitely something I need to work on. I tend to be more generous and open in ‘real life’. I think the anonymity of the Internet makes it more difficult for me to start conversations and talk to more people. Thinking about it now though, I suppose it should be even easier online.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Julian Summerhayes says:

    If you want to truly master the art of giving then the best ever book to read is the Go-Giver by Bob Burg. I haven’t stopped smiling since I read it.

  • Starr Cline says:

    I think your attitude is spot on – I employ the same strategy in my endeavors, but there’s something I would like to add. This “I’ve gotta give more” attitude can become self-destructive. Some people I know spend massive amounts of time visiting and commenting on blogs in the hope of getting more traffic for themselves, but neglect to think of what they’re really giving – good content of their own! Giving isn’t just sharing connections and making nice comments about others, that initial offering of quality content and insight must be focused on first. I know as well as anybody that it can be time consuming and taxing to respond to all comments. If that time/energy expense is not kept in check, the quality of my content goes down. In my opinion, quality over quantity must win the day!

  • Janet says:

    When you truly love your audience, there’s an authenticity that can be felt. You can’t help but to like someone if they like you.

  • Briana says:

    And here I thought you were going to comment on Pavarotti’s volume. Great advice for a new blogger like myself to keep in mind. I need to keep slowly and steadily developing content and trying to find my niche.

  • Kevin Dubrosky says:

    I am curious, Chris, as to how you personally are seeking to apply this post.

    In all sincerity…

    Why do you “care” about your readers? What is it that drives you to want to keep helping them?

  • Chris says:


    I care because they are not just faceless readers – they are the reason why this whole community exists. Without them it would be much smaller and much less helpful to anyone.

  • Siggi says:

    Words of truth dude. Its karma. What goes around, comes around. Rock on and good luck with your travels and everything else. You’re an inspiration.

  • Richard Riley says:

    Just wanted to say congratulations to both Khristian and Julie for winning the Empire Building Kit. I was going to comment on a more appropriate post but it seems that comments were turned off (perhaps to ward off all the angry people who didn’t win?). Anyway, I remember reading Julie’s post and thinking, “Wow, I really hope she wins.” And she did! It’s a lofty goal that she has. A goal that I think will greatly impact a lot of people in France that don’t quite have the resources we have for this niche in their own language. Congratulations and I wish you both luck on your empire building year ahead!

  • Chris says:


    Yep, Khristian and Julie are great! And so were many of the other entries; it was a very tough choice.

    We have comments on every Monday and Thursday post, but not on the weekend updates.

  • cindy g. says:

    I tell myself it is challenging to be a giver when you are unemployed and need the money. I have plenty of experience that shows when I get busy doing SOMETHING often the answer to my situation comes to me seemingly from left field. This “out of the blue” scenario is more likely a result of me getting out of my own way. Out of myself and giving to others. I hope I listen to my experience today. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Krista says:

    Wonderful post! You are absolutely right, and it’s nice to focus on others. It takes the pressure off of trying to promote yourself and you get HIGH returns in good feelings, which is enough for me.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Nancy Hess says:

    Great stuff Chris! I would like to see more on this, for instance, “what does it look like when you are giving on social media sites?” As some have mentioned, these sites can be a little intimidating or daunting. Certainly it is not easy for some (like me) to open up and share my personal side. You have indicated you are not a (social type) people person off-line, yet you come across as very personable in your writing. Any tips on how you do this?



  • Matt Ray says:

    Thanks for the post, Chris. I needed this reminder today. I love people in general and it’s easy to transfer that sentiment to my customers. I can see how it would help my business grow.


  • Brooke Thomas says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I finish reading one of your posts with the words, “Glory! Glory! Hallelujiah!” in my head.

    As I work with my first group of students in my online course I can’t tell you how overwhelmed with gratitude I feel to be contributing to people’s lives in a meaningful way. Service is such a huge gift. Thanks for shining a light on that.

  • Leyla Torres says:

    Inspiring post, I tweeted it! Thank you for all your work.

  • Brian Myers Cooper says:

    I just finished Leadership and Self-Deception from the booklist of Michael Bungay Stanier. It really delves into how your motivation behind a given action inevitably affects how that action is perceived and received, and ultimately determines what you get back in return. “Do unto others…,” yes, but not just so that they “…do unto you.” We all know when we’re being played and manipulated, even if on an unconscious level.

  • Misha Herwin says:

    Great stuff which really made me think about how, if anything, I’m actually giving. At the moment it feels like not much, so this is a huge wake up call.
    Thank you.

  • Susan says:

    This was refreshing. I try to use this as a motivator, if I love my audience, then I truly want to write useful, compelling, helpful posts. If I love my audience, I want to respond to their emails and comments. I want to write about their achievements. It also makes me excited for what’s coming down the road, my goals and vision and how that can truly help my audience.

  • YoPedro says:

    It’s rather comforting to read an article that so closely resembles my own path. As a person who creates for a living, giving is the bedrock of my philosophy and way of life. I believe that this is true of most creatives, irrespective of their field. Perhaps I am naive in this regard, but I revel in my naivete.

  • soultravelers3 says:

    So true! Giving, loving and “over delivering ” is always the key!! You gave some great examples. Hard not to love Jonathan, J.D. , Pavarotti and you! 😉

  • Devin says:

    Thanks Chris,

    Interesting on more levels than the obvious, for me.

    I care about my readers because many have become friends and this is a good thing. And I really don’t need more of a reason to care. However, I write about ideas I am passionate about. The people who read what I do are either also passionate, or may be in the future, about the topics I write. Meaning we already have some very important ideas in common with some ideas hoping to change, or inspire change, in the world — my readers are my peeps and I am theirs. There is good reason to get excited and genuinely care about my audience. Thanks for reminding me.

  • Melanie Kissell says:

    What goes around, comes around. Right, Chris? I believe in the boomerang “affect” and hence, the boomerang “effect”. Whatever you choose to give of your talents, time, energy, and self … WILL come back to you threefold.

    I loved going to Sunday School when I was growing up. One of the lessons that has really stayed with me all these years is, “Give and ye shall receive.” Who knew, way back then, that this would turn out to be the wisest and best online marketing and social networking lesson of all?! 🙂

  • Cris Buckley says:

    Thanks for the inspiration, Chris. And very good news for the new entrepreneurs who are naturally relational…to understand that they can market their business by doing what comes naturally….giving.

  • ami | 40daystochange says:

    I love this perspective. Seems like a small tweak in perspective that can make a big difference in how you approach problems, how you brand yourself, how you interact with customers or readers, and what you produce. thanks for the quote and the insight.

  • Wyman says:

    Great post and you are a great example of giving. Just being true to your writing schedule shows your love for all of us.

    This is truly a wonderful and giving tribe. I enjoy the comments as much as the posts.

  • Melissa Dinwiddie says:

    Great post Chris! I know in my own life the things I’m most drawn to–even those that are purely “for me”–are sharing with others in some way. As a singer, when I concentrate on what I can *share with* and *give to* the audience, I always give the best performance. As an artist, I create what inspires *me*… but in the hope that it will inspire *others*! Same thing with my writing.

    French philosopher Michel Foucault said that everything you do is ultimately self-interest. Even if you run into a burning building to save someone, he would say you are ultimately doing it for yourself. I’m inclined to agree, and I don’t think this is a bad thing. Giving back *feels good*!

    Living a life of gratefulness and purpose feels better than living the other way.

  • dezy walls says:

    As a performer I know the truth of that. Thank you for sharing it as I’d never heard the quote before. I’d seen it in his smile, though!!

  • Jason Lennick says:

    Excellent points Chris, a very useful reminder to focus more on the giving and maybe just let the receiving take care of itself. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own selfish wants and desires with the ‘me, me, me’ mindset so prevalent in the developed world. Especially so for those of us hit hard by the recession and struggling to pay the bills. I’m going to keep your nice Pavarotti example in mind with my next few projects and see how I can exceed client expectations and ‘over deliver’.



  • Ann says:

    Thank you for this, Chris. Great post! I subscribe to this maxim wholeheartedly. I may be long(er) on years, but I’m short(er) in my new working from home&computer business. I am now “following my bliss” (Joseph Campbelll) and passion, and enjoying just about every moment of evey day. It’s web copywriting and travel writing.

    What YOU gave to me today was the name of the airline Euroatlantic and the book title ‘Go Giver’ by Bob Burg (from a comment). I had heard of neither and will pursue both.

    Will you be coming to Calgary on your Canadian book tour? I live just north of that city and would love to meet you if you come this close. And it may be an opportunity for me to give back to you (-:

  • Chris says:

    Calgary – yes indeed! Every state, every province. It would be great to meet you.

  • April Moore Skelton says:

    I once had the opportunity to interview the poet Rita Dove and she said something similar to me that I really took to heart. Regarding being nervous when she does readings (nervousness from a former US Poet Laureate!), she said she gets over nerves by remembering it’s not about her: “Once I get up there, I think, ‘OK, this is for you.’ This is for the audience. And then I read my poem…It’s not about me.”

    Good thoughts.

  • victoria thorne says:

    Magnificent post!

    Straight to the heart.

  • Giulietta says:

    The Pavarotti quote says it all! I’m with you on this new breed of business owner. As far as I’m concerned we’re all in this “thing – whatever it is” together and there’s only one way to return our garden of Eden to its former Eden-like state: Lift each other up. Slapping each other down has not worked.

    Why not reverse engines and go in a different direction?

    It’s easy to give back or give forward. One way. Leave comments on people’s blogs. It’s a free way to make other folks feel good! People love comments on their heartfelt words.

  • tourto says:

    Sorry, currently travelling, I didn’t take the time to read all comments, but I would like to just make a comment on the article, well what i think about the giving/receiving ratio…

    Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Should I give more to everyone than the sum of what everyone is giving?” (I understood like that).

    I propose that one “Should I give more?”

    And in your philosophy (as far as I know, I have just discovered your interesting website), you point that : target excellence. That mean, looking for doing better, more, evreytime, in order to avoid common mediocrity. Not doing more than the others do for you, just doing more.

    And as a ratio, if giving support or anything could be quantifyable, let’s say for each 100 you give, you receive 1000, that’s because you gave 900 to other people in the world, who have been giving 900 to others, who have been giving 900 to the people who give you. Circle closed!

    In other terms, we shouldn’t expect directly the return of a favor.

  • Natalie Wilson says:

    Boy did this hit home for me today! An opera singer myself for many years, of course I had to see what this article about Pavarotti was about. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

    I wrote just yesterday on my blog about ambition verses contentment, about always wanting more and trying to figure out how to want more and be happy where I am at the same time. Looking at what I am GIVING instead of what I am GETTING would be an excellent place to start.

    Thank you.

    Play-fully yours,


  • Greg Blencoe says:

    Great reminder, karma rocks!

    I think another reason to do this is that it just feels so good to help other people out. I know that when I am REALLY down, the quickest way for me to feel better is to do something for somebody else without expecting anything in return. It’s amazing how well this works.

    I think the reason is that we are all connected in some way. And therefore by showing love to others, we are also showing love to ourselves.

  • Natalie The Tiny Soprano says:

    Hey Chris,

    You already know how much I love this post.:)

    As a singer myself, it’s ALL about giving back. There are “selfish” performers – who you can actually tell are only there for their own ego and gratification – and there are the performers who you know are making themselves vulnerable, throwing ‘safe’ out the window and giving…

    But it’s also a really easy way to burn yourself out. I know, because it often happened to me in my early career. It became vital for my vocal wellbeing for me to find a balance between being the firecracker I was on stage and the need to conserve my voice…and I think this is really important.

    And I love the Pavarotti quote – sums the great man up completely.

  • Mars Dorian says:

    Thanks for the reminder,

    that’s the beauty of the web: You can reach the planet with your message. And if you do it in a caring and giving way, then you can build a great community and let the community build you. I love people that keep coming back. There’s already a connection in the process, and I#m loving every minute of it. Lover your blog, love your community 😉

  • Daniel says:

    I’ve been hearing/reading this idea a lot lately. I couldn’t agree more although I must admit I find it difficult. I feel like I’m constantly fighting “materialism” which is good. It makes me question my motivations – it helps me realign.

    When I can give more, it feels good.

  • Nancie says:

    I can attest to this. I spent my first career in sales. I always gave 110% to my customers. They were the reason I was successful.

  • Lana Kravtsova says:

    awesome Chris! Most importantly truly LOVE the audience. Don’t give for the sake of getting back, give for the sake of giving. The world will respond.

  • juds123 says:

    I remember somebody saying ” Giving is its own reward.” Followed it ever since and without expecting it, the act usually generates a lot of goodwill. That is another reward! But will still do a good deed without it. 🙂

  • Krista says:

    Chris…I completely agree with your post. The richest lives come from giving service to others…giving more than taking. I spent this morning with a group of people who have made their “full-time” job giving service. It was impressive and I felt joy from the little time I spent with them.

    We would all be richer from living by Pavaratti’s secret.

  • Steven says:

    Chris, I like this post even better than the “Broken Windows Theory” post, in that it has a positive message. The broken windows theory is all about prevent things from going downhill and the negative behavior that follows.

    Thanks for the positive post, the Pavarotti quote, and the continued inspiration.

  • Cheryl Paris says:

    Hello Chris –

    Great work here. Being yourself is one way to get the more attention. I am taking this a little off track. People who have won Big brother or Big Boss catch the audience by being themself and not someone else. No drama queens or kings have won the competition.

    As Mahatma Gandhi said – ‘be the change you wish to see in the world”.

    Bye for now,

  • Joe Oviedo says:

    Beautiful Chris. Let’s give more. A lot more. Let’s give love. 🙂

  • Wilson Usman says:

    I really like what jonathan fields said “there’s no scorecard” this is now big in my life too. “Don’t keep score” you don’t repay people with money anymore, we live in a new economy and we pay with generosity. “That’s the new currency” if you ever read never eat alone you will understand that’s a great way to build relationships. Don’t ask anyone when you meet them what is in it for me? but, what can I do for you?

  • LInda Pilgrim says:

    Thanks for reminding me of another person w/sincerity (and another).

    Your thoughts nicely complement something I was just reading by Regine Basha called “The Many Guises of Sincerity” for the contemporary art (non-profit/dot org) quarterly publication: ART LIES…

    Safe and happy travels to you. -LP

  • Carissa says:

    True that! Loved this article

  • Matthew Newnham says:

    Wonderful post, Chris. And the resulting conversation is a joy – what a great, thoughtful and dynamic community have gathered here!

    Natalie The Tiny Soprano (what a great name – and latest blog post on Flirting with the Unprepared) makes a great point about understanding and managing your capacity for giving.

    What I’ve found works best is the practice of “Effective Giving”, which I learned from Roger Hamilton and other leaders in the social enterprise arena (e.g. the ever-inspiring Lynn Twist).

    This means:

    1. Give from your core, where you have something unique or at least highly valued
    2. Give selectively – where can we effect the greatest good?
    3. Give to empower, not create dependency (see The Hunger Project, for example:
    4. Know when to pass the ball to others (i.e. learn to get out of the way)
    5. Commit to constantly grow and sustain your own ability to give

    Hope this helps!

    Love what you’re doing here, Chris. Thanks so much for the inspiration and community!

  • Farnoosh says:

    Pavarotti was a brilliant man and a beautiful soul….lost to us way too soon. I only wish I had had a chance to see him perform live one day. Loving his audience, I bet he did. And loving our readers, our communities, our fellow bloggers and our supporters, without first thinking what can they do for us, that is the best way to succeed – or to just live and be, whatever the outcome may be. Thank you for mentioning Luciano Pavarotti.

  • Sonicsuns says:

    It’s ancient wisdom, really. Various cultures have this concept in one form or another. The Golden Rule, for instance, is a pretty similar concept.

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