Douglas Crowe
May 14, 2021

The term influencer may be overrated. Being called an “authority” may seem a bit cocky. But making an impact — that’s a respected and important term.

Betty White is definitely a well-respected icon, yet she never set out to become one. After watching interviews with Betty White and her life in television, it’s clear she didn’t plan a career path or roadmap to fame. She didn’t have an internal drive for becoming famous. Nor was there a hunger for making millions. Surprisingly, with the exception of her charitable passion, she never mentioned creating an impact.

Entrepreneurs have a lot to learn from her. If you intend to make an impact, your intention is tainted with ego. If there’s a hint of ego laced in your intent, your brand, influence and impact can be significantly dampened. People can sense intent, so let it go. Like Betty White — just be.

1. Be likeable, not just authentic

“Authentic” is a buzzword that has been taken to new heights, bordering the absurd.  Authenticity does not mean revealing your daily dinner selection on social media or bearing all your disdain for your ex on a livestream. In Betty’s case, she’s simply herself. Pure. Natural. Unassuming. It would take a Herculean effort to find someone who dislikes her.

2. Be useful, not simply an authority

In many marketing channels, there’s a massive drive to become the authority or a thought leader in a given topic. The prevailing idea is, if you can show off how many followers you have, the herd must be right.

But White took a different approach. She championed animal rights and did endorsements for her favorite animal charities, but she never claimed or positioned herself as the leader in the cause. She leveraged her fame for the betterment of animals. This sincere campaign was her embodiment of servant leadership.

3. Be a leadership creator, not a leader with followers

Is Betty a leader in television? Not by a longshot. Her iconic brand, however, is founded not only by her longevity in the industry, but by her accolades from those who support her. True leaders create other leaders, first and foremost. Failure to do this and leadership suffers.

4. Be entertaining, not an entertainer

Unless you’re naturally funny, don’t try. Being entertaining in business is much more delicate a dance than it is in television and movies. Actors, dancers and musicians all practice their craft with the intent to entertain. When they are successful, it is one of the most highly paid professions. In business, you don’t have to do stand up on a Zoom call and you don’t have to do magic tricks to warm up a prospect. Betty White is naturally humorous, so she doesn’t need to try to be entertaining. But all entrepreneurs can channel their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is compelling. Enthusiasm is contagious. With the right passion for your clients and team, enthusiasm is the type of entertainment never gets old.

5. Be socially fun, not a social marketer

Don’t waste time and destroy your brand value with fake significance. Posting about how cool you are is always a dangerous game of narcissism. Social media posts are great for social interaction, but don’t fool yourself thinking you can create a lasting impact with a newsfeed that moves faster than the speed of light.

With the speed of our business ecosystem, it’s easy to want to move fast and often. In the world of lasting impact, the opposite is true. Consistency with these 5 principles is the path to making a lasting impact. Don’t wish for it. Don’t plan for it. But if you seriously want to make a difference, play the long game.

Betty White has created lasting influence with a lifetime of patience and being genuinely likeable. Are you prepared to invest your life with the same commitment?