Nobody Cares Until…

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Nobody cares who you are until they know what you’ve done.


Nobody cares what you’ve done until they know who you are.



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53 responses

53 responses to “Nobody Cares Until…”

  1. ThatOneGuy says:

    Seems to me that’s a pretty sh_tty value system. You are worth more than what you’ve done.

    • noah says:

      Hmm. Well, yes, in that most people have a motive, like me in this thread. How did I get to this thread? By being inspired by a Jonathan speech. Then I joined to hear more form Jonathan.

      So, I didn’t have the opportunity to care about jonathan until there was something of yours you shared. Otherwise, how would I have known you are you?

      But I don’t think they need to know who you are to care about what you’ve done. It just helps them care more. More story. More context.

      Alright, love the work you are doing. Keep DOING by inspiring us.


      Noah Crowe

    • Taaiebah says:

      Totes agree. We don’t base our nobility on creation’s assessments of us. We’re valuable and wonderful because we exist. But it is our contribution to humanity that makes us extra amazing – whether publicized or not – because we’ve used our powers of choice to add benefit to the world, and not harm.

  2. Nobody cares what you’ve done or who you are until they know that you care.

    • Susan Kuhn says:

      Lisa, yes. So we get down to fundamentals, which is that none of these rules or truths will tell you what to do, how to do it, or what to do first. I believe you have to do something first and use these to course correct as you go along. They are the winds, you are the sailor, your work is the boat, other people appear along the course of your journey, and your deepest inner being is both map and navigator. So act. As Goethe says and so does quantum physics and everything we know about the world, when you move the world moves too and that is the only way you can get anywhere — leave the port. ((Can you tell what my project is this week?)) 😉

      • Kim says:

        Susan, love this and keeping it for inspiration.

        Part of “knowing who you are” is in hearing what moves you. I now “know you” more and am intrigued by “what you do” because of it!

        Point made.

    • Lisa, so true! Either that you care (for entrepreneurs), or that what you do is affecting them in some way (speaking of bigger corporations here)

  3. carmen says:

    As told to me by a recent work affiliate/agency owner: “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or who you are. Most people don’t care. Your colleagues are selfish people . They don’t care about you. So just start worrying about yourself and don’t try to help anyone else.”

    That’s just not me… I’d rather starve, and I am.

    • Susan Kuhn says:

      Warren Buffet would beg to differ. Ask yourself not just what the statement is — but what is the life and level of personal and professional success of the person saying it. There is a way to fail by being generous, which is to codependently fill in the gaps where other’s selfishness leaves important things undone. Exceptional success requires generosity that is tuned to your unique goals and way of being — you as the navigator, generosity as the journey.

  4. Bill Traynor says:

    I appreciate the kick-in-the-ass sentiment of this post. But there’s a small bubble of people who already know who you are and it’s full of the people who love you; family and friends. In comparison to the giant circle that is the “nobody”, this small bubble that is forever with you provides the pin necessary to pop the “nobody” balloon. It’s the “why” I need to push harder. To keep working, keep grinding, until doors begin to open.

    • Susan Kuhn says:

      Bill, you are right. I’ve had three men kick me in the *** over the past 48 hours…and in each case it’s a great sign of what I need to tighten up right now. Just plain hard work absent reflection isn’t enough in my view…it has to be self-directed and self-aware, and free. I am really looking forward to more of that sort of “combat” — to be back in the game, as I have redefined it — in 2014.

  5. Denis Barry says:

    Nobody cares who you are or what you’ve done unless they live in a small town or are country folk. too many people are living life only caring about themselves and what they think they deserve. Life can be so much more enjoyable if we just care about each other.

  6. Todd Deshane says:

    Both are really great comments. Lisa points out a key principle about human nature: we are creatures of emotion. To reach people, even to help them, they need to first know that you understand how they feel.

    Carmen alludes to the point that before removing the speck from another’s eye, we must first remove the plank from our own eye.

    A friend of my talks of authentic love, which I think get to the root of the propositions in the original post.

    I’ll try to follow up with some reference, if there is interest.

  7. My experience is that somebody cares about what I’ve been trying to share. And through that they discovered who I was. And that’s all that really matters.

  8. Pamela Miles says:

    We spend our time pursuing that which is meaningful to us. A person doesn’t have to be famous or accomplished for what he or she has done to be of interest, nor does it have to be a business or professional endeavor.

    How people spend time is intriguing and revealing. Sometimes it’s simply how they get through the day — or that they have gotten through tough days — that is so inspiring.

  9. susan says:

    #1: i disagree, they care.., however they care to presume.., and i do it as well. we make judgments. we may not ‘care’ but we assess, categorize, and pigeonhole another person according to what our life has dealt us. I see Jonathan, and actively appreciate what he does, how he does it, and his caring about the world and people. however, he also reminds me so much of an old boyfriend.., and the clothes J wears, the beads/mala, his neck piece all put him in my extended kurass.., so I watch to learn more about me! let’s face it, it is all about ‘me’ for each of us. so I care.., in that connecting way.., what does it say about me, my friends, my world. it reinforces the view I would like to see…, as well informs and hopefully make some good foundation for connection and change.
    #2: sort of true. no one cares much about me until

  10. susan says:

    second part;-)
    they know who I am connected to.., what I believe/ people care so much more when they have something to connect to you w/: area you are from, ancestry, who you are married to, where your kids went/go to school. it is a rare person who can connect w/ someone they have little connection to. and often that is a good survival mode of safety. I do love to meet people who are different, and they may reveal parts of me from their perspective that I have not seen before. or I learn things that I had not ‘seen’ in the world, or had not been able to hear. doors open.

  11. #3- Nobody shares until you do.

    We’re all storytellers, whether practiced or not. Hearing another person’s story prompts your own, which is why those of us that do share have followers. More poignantly, it is the reason those of us looking to build an audience must continue to do so.

  12. Erin says:

    For me, I think it’s about the impact one puts out there. Sometimes it’s on a small or grander scale. Either way everyone has some kind of influence.

  13. susan says:

    oh, and as far as family. there may be loyalty, and they may have seen stuff that the world may not know about you, but often it is people who are not family who care about the things about us that we want to be cared for! perhaps, one needs a wide circle to be truly ‘seen’, or cared about.

  14. Fraser says:

    I think we just need to concentrate on choosing to spend our time doing stuff that challenges us and causes us to grow.

    By continually evolving into better versions of ourselves we can make those around us that do care proud.

    If you’re doing good things that circle will gradually grow.

    Focus on what you’re doing the rest will come.


  15. Susan Kuhn says:

    We have to be careful that the desire for “fame” doesn’t take pride of place over the desire to do the work. Is it about being known? Is it about doing what we are put here to do? Is fame a drug or a tool?

  16. David Wilson says:

    No one cares what you have done unless it effects them, no one cares who you are unless it inflates them. DJW

  17. Belize says:

    Once you have made a difference in the world, a “contribution” as Stephen Covey says, that is what is important.

  18. Marcus says:

    Hold on a second, people. Let’s start with the obvious first point of discussion: grammar! Please, Jonathan, fix #2 ASAP! “Nobody care” makes me feel like reading a post by Sweet Brown. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!

    Beyond dat, I’d say #1 rules over #2. Until you’ve accomplished something noteworthy around that which you claim to be knowledgeable, people will generally be dismissive of your comments. Unless you’re super beautiful, a famous actor, or Mark Zuckerberg.

    And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      lol. typoh ficksd

    • Jim Mondry says:

      I was going to initially argue that in some instances #2 can beat out #1, but every example where I thought the person’s character was what engaged others, it was that person’s initial actions that created the interest of others to “care”. As another author has helped me understand, a character is made up of what they do, so in real life our actions make clear our underlying personality and “character”, and it’s those actions that will draw like-minded people to listen and engage and care. And if when they find out who we are further engages them, or in the best case inspires them, they will become all the more connected.

  19. Salma says:

    Both are true because of the complexity of our culture these days.

    The exciting thing is that when people see what you are doing and have done, and they can see how it is relevant to them somehow, they may be more inclined to take the time to pay attention, regardless of whether you have a large following or not. In this case you would be providing them with some sort of value, serving them somehow.

    So, these people care about what you do before they care about who you are because it is really all about them. However, if you are just some random person that has no context for them yet, there is no incentive for them to care who you are.

    The beauty of this is that we can pave our own way and we don’t have to wait for permission, get chosen before we act, or be traditionally famous in order to garner attention and build a following. We just have to serve as best we can in ways that are relevant to others.

    Chris Guillebeau and his self-planned 50 State + Every-province-in-Canada book tour is a wonderful example of this. He has fan recognition all over the place because of what he has done and how he has served.

    On the other hand, there are opportunists who wish to profit off of the success of others. They will only associate with someone who already is “somebody.” By somebody, I mean, if the person has a following and through associating with them, others can boost their own status. So, those people only care about what you do if they know who you are (meaning, you’re at least somewhat of a celebrity, rock star or notable name.). In actuality, they only care about what you do because who you are somehow can boost their own credibility and status.

    Again, using the Chris Guillebeau example, now that he is “somebody” in the eyes of the media, the opportunists, he has gotten the attention of other publishers. Now, they care about what he does and says because he can make them money and make them look even more relevant.

  20. Great challenge, Jonathan!

    I agree with Susan here. Nobody cares until we do.

    There’s a lot of caring – and indeed action – that has an agenda. If I make it look like I care for you, then I’ll make money/be happy/whatever.

    I get exhausted just thinking of all the “trying” that goes on in the name of getting people to care.

    But to my mind the starting point has to be me: do I care? When I do and it comes from a deep soulful place, then I can act on that and in my experience that gets the attention of the people whose attention it needed to get.

  21. Doug says:

    I hope not everything revolves around “they” with people! Who cares what “they” think! The best rewards are the ones that impact “your” heart to the point that you feel like you have given the best to whomever/whatever you were helping or doing something for. Rewards at work and socially are great….but I see my most memorable rewards are those that only myself and person I am ‘touching’ understand. When my heart is full and my smile is so genuine that everyone can tell….then I know that the “theys” around me are feeling the impact too. “They” don’t even need to know what has gone on in my life to give me the glow and rewarding feelings. Live your life not caring about the “they”…..dive deep into your heart for the feelings you want people to remember “YOU” by. “They” need to take care of themselves!!

  22. #3: Until you care, you’re nobody!

  23. susan says:

    I believe in a circle of influence.., that what one does makes a difference even if no one hears ‘the tree fall’. I would like to act regardless of who will see or hear or care. and I believe the greater good comes from that as well as the greatest good for me;-) being all I can be.., effects the whole, whether they see it, like it.., etc.., it effects me, and my heart and mind via my connectedness w/ you.., that invisible thread.., will effect your world.

  24. Ailís says:

    Both statements are equally true; yet neither is absolute, but merely a perception generated as a result of our personal truth and based on our direct experience of the world.

  25. Brian Yeager says:

    One of my mentors always says, “no one cares about what you know until they know that you care”.

    I think if you approach life this way, you can make it. Show people that you care, serve them and provide excellence and you will be successful.

  26. Seems to me both statements could be true, depending upon the person you are interacting with. Neither are universal human nature laws all the time, or at all.

    For me, my curiosity and/or need and/or desire drives my interest not a judgment about whether a person cares. The premise that I can accurately determine that is thin.

    Also, tons of great stuff is done by people who have not done much (duh…think newborns and Youtube).

    There is great power and joy, which leads to an overflowing cup that we are then able to share with others, with focusing on yourself and what you love. Some may call it selfishness. I call it alignment with Source. Focusing first (or at all, really) on what others will do or feel because of you is looking at the least effective piece. All greatness starts from within.

  27. Ross says:

    I personally find people from stories about what they’ve done. I don’t care who they are at first. Finding out more about them becomes a secondary interest but it makes what they’ve done even better.

  28. Karen says:

    Doug, I see things a little differently. Sometimes we can’t do things on our own and we need to motivate others to help. Those others are “they”. They won’t care to help until they know what you have done, who you are and why you are doing it. So, sometimes we do care what “they” think.

  29. Banu says:

    We won’t care about everyone and not everyone can, will or SHOULD care about us. It is not necessary to put that pressure on ourselves and on others.

    What’s more important is having an ability to co-exist even with completely opposing ways of thinking, being and living.

  30. Asata Radcliffe says:

    Both #1 & #2 are assumptions. I’ve seen many stories during this past month of strangers who have gotten out of their cars in snowstorms to help others who were stranded. Or on a bigger scale, how about people running into a burning building to save lives on 9/11? I watched my favorite Christmas movie last night Love Actually, and as one of the main characters state in the opening of the film, “If you look for it, love is actually all around us.”

  31. Jonathan Fields says:

    You guys are awesome!

    Love how you’re bringing up so many of the ideas and “angles” and assumptions that underly those two seemingly black and white choices, which are anything but. Yet, so often this and other questions are framed that way.

    A few more observations –

    1 – Who defines what knowing “who you are” includes. So interesting to see the assumptions baked into each person’s lens. Is it just pedigree or list of accomplishments or can you not actually know WHO someone is without also knowing their WHY?

    2 – How much does it matter whether other people care about either who you are or what you’ve done or both? As some of you shared, it doesn’t. It’s all about how you feel from the inside looking out. But, then as some others brought up, that’s likely a bit oversimplified for when you also seek to in some way serve, impact or create. Or, gulp, earn a living.

    The moment you bring others into the equation, how THEY experience YOU matters. No way around it. Their lens need not determine who you are and what you do, but it becomes in independent variable in the equation. It plays a role in both being able to serve them and rally them to serve others. And, at times, exchange value for some blend of who you are and what you do.

  32. Richard Wood says:

    Most people won’t care about either unless the think you are genuinely interested in them. Of course there are exceptions, but If you take the time to get to know a title about others, you will earn the opportunity for them to learn about you and what you have done.

  33. Nikki says:

    #3. People do care.

    #4. They may not know it yet.

  34. Hor Hen says:

    A really man who produced a great things or have made a great benefit to human being he/she doesn’t care how many people know who they are but they care how much they produced and how much it can benefit to the people.

  35. Chris Jarvis says:

    Surely no-one can know you until you do something.. meaning that who you are is revealed by what you do..

  36. Carol says:

    I find that if I do what I was meant to do… and do it with honesty and love, I can let go of the worry/need for others to care (or think I’m special). I know that they will connect because I am functioning from a place of integrity. It’s built in to the equation!

  37. Kimunya Mugo says:

    Nobody cares about who you are until they know that you care!

  38. Denise Emma says:

    ahhh..but do YOU care who you are? Do YOU care what you’ve done?…

  39. Clarity says:

    #1 -Nobody cares who you are until they know what you’ve done.
    *Care: Holding one in Regard.
    *Regard: A feeling of Respect for someone.
    *Respect: A feeling of Admiration or Understanding of One’s Importance.
    * Definitions – excerpts from

    Thus…a restatement of #1…No one will think I’m important until they know what I’ve done.

    Even when they know what I’ve done…they may not care / think it is important. [I put sardines into cans. Do you find that important? OK…I don’t really, it’s just an example.]

    Each person is an individual with personal preference [individual choice]. I believe I should not worry about what you think about what I do; you may hate sardines. The good news is that, if you leave a wide enough swath between us, you may not even see or smell them; Which brings up the question of whether what I do actually touches your life / impacts you, or not.

    If you imagine each of us a circle, bouncing around in the world, the ones we touch – or ones touched by those we touch [ripple effect] – will be impacted and, understandably, judge the importance of what I’ve done. Still, personal preference will rule their judgment of what I’ve done.

    As a very wise woman once said to me [I call her “Mom”] “Sometimes the only reward you get in life is that YOU know you’ve done something good” [aka, important.] So even if you LOVE sardines, if you don’t see that I’ve packaged them and personally delivered them to your table, you won’t reward me [care about me]…I don’t even exist to you…even thou I did something “important” in your world.

    I argue each person is entitled to their preferences/choices as long as each choice respects others. [Here, I argue that the definition of Respect includes – causing no harm.]

    #2 -Nobody cares what you’ve done until they know who you are.

    [You may choose to review the definition of Care, etc…above.]
    Clearly if you don’t know I’m alive [my circle – or the ripple from it – hasn’t touched your life] I’m not in your awareness – you can’t possibly admire me or find me important – let alone “know who I am”. And even if you specifically pause to think about the person who hand packed your sardines, you don’t know ME.

    Let’s look at what Merriam-Webster says about the definition of –
    Know: to have a clear and complete idea.

    Digging into the definition of Know…
    Complete: having all necessary parts: not lacking anything
    Idea: An opinion or belief

    Given this expanded definition of the word “know”, I imagine many people do not have the ability to describe “who they are” – at least not in a clear, complete description – regardless of the fact that it may only be their “opinion or belief” and need not be based on facts. And let’s not forget that “to know a person” is not the same as knowing a rock. People are ever changing. To assume you know me is to ignore the question of whether I am the same person that I was when I started writing this response; because, perhaps I learned something about myself and have chosen to change in some small, yet significant way. To ask if you know me is like opening a can of…sardines. Only you can choose if you care about me…or not. Either way, I care about me the way I care about you [with respect]…and know what I’ve done.

  40. Venkatesh Narayanan says:

    Finally it comes down to what you have done or contributed. Definitely no body cares unless you have done some concrete work. If no body cares about your work unless you are famous. But then there are ways to attract attention.
    It does comes down to the value addition you are bringing with the work you do. If there is value add, then you will be noticed.

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