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Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Julien Smith, Chris Brogan

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Chapter 2. Make Your Own Game

Poster Child?

Mario Lavandeira, circa 2004, sounds like a real winner. First, he gets fired from Star magazine, the gossip rag. Next, he jumps on a plane to New York to become an actor. He blows that, too. But don't cry for him just yet. He is the poster child for the power of trust agents called Make Your Own Game. While you may not know that name immediately, you might recognize Lavandeira's much more famous alter ego: Perez Hilton.

If you haven't heard of Perez Hilton, you haven't met a force of nature. Hilton's celebrity site, PerezHilton.com frequently outperforms People magazine, TMZ, and nearly every other celebrity-focused site on the Web. How did that happen? Lavandeira—er, Hilton—made his own game.

He's not alone. Sam Walton was running a Ben Franklin store, but the corporate entity kept getting in the way of his profits, so he started Wal-Mart. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn't think everyone wanted mainframes, so they created their own type of computer. Richard Branson does it all the time, most recently by deciding that he should make commercial space travel part of his game.

But making your own game is not just about trying to find innovative ways to improve your brand or business: It's about understanding that the tools to let you do this are at your disposal, and most of them are free.

Set Your Own Rules

No matter what industry you are in, there are very specific protocols in place. If you are an aspiring young journalist, there is a ladder ...

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