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4 lessons you can learn from TikToker Khaby Lame’s success

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TikToker Khaby Lame arrives for the screening of the film "Armageddon Time" during the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 19, 2022. Source: Loic Venance/AFP

Khabane Lame experienced a challenging year in 2020. Early in the pandemic, he lost his job as a factory worker in a town in northern Italy. Despite his father’s pleas to apply for other jobs, Lame decided to post videos on TikTok under the name Khaby Lame, reported the New York Times.

In 2022, he became the most followed person on Tik Tok, dethroning Charlie D’Amelio on June 22, 2022, according to The Verge. The 22-year-old Senegalese-born creator, who is based in Italy, is famous for breaking down complicated “life-hacks” introduced by other creators on the social media app and ending his videos with a wide-eyed stare.

 

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Here is the craziest part about Lame’s story: he was able to convey his eccentric sense of humour and achieve global success without uttering a single word. In 2021, Lame admitted in an interview with the New York Times that his wordless, expressive reaction allowed him to reach the hearts of fans worldwide.

“It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh,” said Lame. The star also believes his muted reaction is a “global language” the myriad of Khaby Lame fan pages on the Internet proves his point. 

Here are four things we can learn from Lame’s success, and how you can apply it in your life as an international student:

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In the span of two years, the Senegalese Tik Toker rose to global fame. He has been invited to film festivals and recently signed a multi-year deal with Hugo Boss. Source: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Khaby Lame’s success story: Four takeaways for international students

 

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1. Simplicity is a vital ingredient to success

If you scroll through Lame’s Tik Tok, they follow one central theme: keep it simple. He pokes fun at internet hacks and viral videos, doing so in a simple skit that transcends languages.

“His content almost debunks or mocks the overproduced trends that happen across social media, whether it’s life hacks or other things like that,” said Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press. “He almost represents this authenticity over production. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic.”

The same applies to your life as a student. If you’ve got an upcoming presentation in class, you don’t necessarily need fancy gimmicks to hold your audience’s attention. Practice makes perfect, and keep it simple by being your true, authentic self rather than distracting your classmates or audiences by attempting to be someone you’re not.

 2. Self-confidence is a superpower

When Lame started posting videos on Tik Tok, only two people watched him: his father and his neighbour. “In one month, I got nine views and two subscribers,” said Lame in an interview with Nas Daily, an Arab–Israeli content creator.

That did not stop him from creating more videos to entertain his fans. Fuelled by his passion “to make people smile”, he continued his social media journey before he eventually achieved success.

There are several takeaways from this, including how we should trust in our struggles and believe in our capabilities to make our passions work. So, whether you’re looking to create a change in your community to achieving your best in your studies, self-confidence is an important part of your pathway towards success.

 

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3. You don’t need an expensive setup to be successful

All Khaby Lame had when he first started as a TikToker was his phone. As a Senegalese immigrant and a former factory worker, an expensive setup was out of the question. His creativity and talent, however, played an important role in his meteoric success on TikTok.

Similarly, international students should take note that while they may not necessarily have the best in life — be it the best laptop or the trendiest clothes — what truly matters in your quest to be a successful student is your drive and talent.

 

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4. Always have someone who has your back

Behind Khaby Lame’s success is Riggio Alessandro, a social manager who recognised Lame’s potential to become an “international star” even though he only had 1,000 followers when they first met. Today, Lame has 78.4 million followers on Instagram and 145 million followers on Tik Tok at the time of writing.

Similarly, having a pillar of support while studying abroad is crucial for you to adapt to your new environment. It is also scientifically proven that having a few close friends can be beneficial for your wellbeing.