Personal Branding is Not What You Think
I'm really excited to be hanging out with you over the next couple of days and I actually just wanted t get started by telling you a little bit about my own story in terms of personal branding and two barbers point professional reinvention, which I think is another part of it because for many of us you know we didn't necessarily start out you know, being born entrepreneurs are being born into whatever area we want to go in professionally, so sometimes there is a little bit of reinvention that's involved in our personal brand so for me it actually started after I finished graduate school my first job that I got was a reporter I was ah political reporter at the boston phoenix, which was super cool alternative news weekly in boston it was really a dream job for me I mean, it was something that I had read while I was in school and you know, it was so amazing to get toe work there to goto any event I wanted and to ask people questions and meet people it was just great and so I've been doing...
it for about a year and I got a phone call in a super super casual right? I think people practice this from the hr guy and he says, oh, dorry, you know, would you would you mind just stopping by my office before the end of the day and you guys are probably a little more sophisticated than I was but you know, I thought, oh, they're going to change our dental benefits or something right? Easy it's sign a form but it turns out that I got laid off that day and you know, it was it was devastating was so sad all my colleagues were streaming out of the office at the end of the day and I had to go back to my desk and pack it up and you know, just just sort of leave at the end of the day and so that was hard enough but it got even more frightening the next morning because I woke up and I had been laid off on a monday afternoon it was it turned out september tenth, two thousand one and I woke up the next morning and, you know, I turned on the news like usual and the world had changed, jj and I thought, what am I going to dio um, I ever going to get another job? You know, the stock market had stopped airplanes were no longer flying, the country was was terrified, and so that was really an ah ha moment for me where I realized, you know what the plans that I had for myself aren't necessarily the way that things were gonna work out, I have to adapt have to be flexible with it and so I feel really fortunate that in the ensuing decade plus I've had a lot of really cool careers I've gotten to be a presidential campaign spokesperson I ran a non profit I made a documentary film all kinds of cool things but what I've really learned along the way is that if you want to be successful at those things one of the most important pieces is that you have to be really deliberate about your brand because otherwise if you just assume that it's gonna happen by accident people are going to be thinking about the thing that you did like three jobs ago you know I would I would run into people and they'd say oh, you know how is how is you know, being a journalist going and it's like wait, well I haven't I haven't done that since two thousand won so you really need to find ways to tell your story so that people understand who you are and what you're capable of now not three years ago or five years ago because they're going to be the people who can really help you who can give you leads you can give you business, give you referrals, help you get a job or get clients and so that's why I think personal branding is is so important and so valuable and so a few of the things that we're gonna be talking about today I'm really excited about a lot of the stuff that we're going to be covering and I want to make sure we really are able like, you know, since we're going to be solving all of sally's problems, we want to make sure we solve your steer right? So this is going to be good stuff, but so we're going to start out this morning by talking about kind of the nature of personal brandy I think that this is something I've been curious about your thoughts but it's something that's a little bit loaded in the cultural imagination, right? Some people see oh personal branding I need that I want that you know and other people say personal branding what is that? You know, I don't I don't want to be a brand I don't detergent somebody somebody sent a tweet yesterday I announced the class and then somebody sends a tweet music I'm not a brand I'm a human it's like ok good for you, pal, but uh but you know, we're course we're all we're all humans, but being a brand doesn't mean what many people think it isthe personal branding is not about being fake it's not about selling yourself as you know, some some bill of goods to people it's not about trying to pretend to be something you're not it is fundamentally about authenticity and that's what we're going to talk about personal branding is about being a human it is about being yourself and I think that's the most important thing to get out there the next thing a little bit later today we're going to talk about creating your narrative this is something a debt you were talking about it sally you mentioned it it's you know it's really critical ah lot of people I think actually I get questions sometimes about what is the most common problem or pitfall when it comes to personal branding and I actually think it relates to narrative that if people don't pay enough attention there that's where it falls down because other people, you know, they're kind of only paying half attention, you know? And they can't construct the narrative for you if we differ that if we delegate that to them they're not going to construct the right kind of narrative, they're just kind of going to make something up or they're going to say, oh, I don't know, I don't know why she's doing that and instead we need to really help them connect the dots. If we can do that, we can be successful third later today we're going to talk about leaving your brand because the really crucial thing about personal branding is that it's not just what you say about yourself I mean that's important that's you know that's a good starting point but you can say whatever you want about yourself it's actually about the message that other people are receiving and the way they received it is not just you say stuff to them it's that you live out your brand and everything you d'oh, it's something you manifest through your activities through the people you interact with through the work that you dio we talk about about the act of living, your brand and force. And finally today we're going to talk about developing your online portfolio and I think that's probably especially relevant for you guys because many of your creep creative professionals in the visual arts, photography and graphic design and things like that. But even for people who are not doing work, that is quite so visual we all need to take a page from this. We all need an online portfolio because whether it's images, whether it's text, you know whether it's videos whatever it is we need to help people understand who we are and what we can d'oh a resume these days is nice, but a resume is pretty twentieth century. What is very twenty first century is a google search because why would I look att you know this sheet of paper that we all know you know plenty of people make things up on anyway. The rial resume of today is the google search because it is independently verifiable things, if, you know, you say you're a good photographer, you say you're a good designer well, how do I know it? It's? Because I can see your stuff. And similarly, even if you have a job like your project manager or something like that, you khun blogged about it or you can, you know, have testimonial videos are all kinds of things you could tweet about your profession and those air ways that people can really see the proof that you are what you say, you are so that's kind of exciting and just is a preview for you guys about what we're going to be talking about tomorrow day too it's really exciting. We're doing a whole bunch of different things in different ways that we can get the message out about the, you know, your brand and who you are in the morning. We're starting with mastering media interviews because this is an area where I think a lot of people get nervous, you know, most of us in our daily lives aren't necessarily dealing with the press all the time. And of course, when you hear about it, you get these thes stories about, you know, does like terrible blow ups like, oh, this politician got you know got a reporter after him and you know is this terrible debacle and so fortunately the good news is it for most of us unless you are in fact watching this creative life in a bid to run for public office most of us are not going to be facing a hostile press core but nonetheless even if you were facing a perfectly nice reporter from the local paper or from you know a lycan art you know, art paper or whatever it is you know they want to do a good job they want to make you look good but we have to give them the tools to allow us to look good you gotta sharpen your message you've got to get good that sound bites you know, things like that how do you make sure that what you're saying is clear that it makes sense that it will come across well in the press so we're going to talk about those things and especially how do you know how do you deal with your nerves that's kind of you know, a tricky thing for a lot of people it's like oh my gosh reporter so we're going to fix that and make sure we're all cool they're number two networking you know networking is actually some people may say well what does that have to do with personal branding but it actually really ties in because your personal brand gets disseminated through other people right and so your network is very critical in terms of spreading the word about hey wow this is you know there's this cool person she's an amazing for horse photographer you should hire her so networking actually is a really key piece of you know spreading the word carrying the message so we'll talk about network and we actually even have a special guest susan rohan who's coming and who's a networking expert that can come in and join us eso it's always fun when we shake it up a little bit in the third section we're going to talk about connecting with mentors and powerful people so you know slight distinction here so networking is important in general and then there's the whole other layer of how do you network with people that may seem a little inaccessible to you? Maybe they're kind of big names in your industry maybe there really influential folks how do you connect with them how do you get to them that can seem a little bit tricky to crack because everyone wants to do the same thing so we will talk about strategies for that and we have joining us by by google plus hangout another friend of mine a colleague named john corcoran who has really perfected the science of doing that and he'll share his insights as well with us and then fourth and finally we're going to be concluding the two days by creating your campaign plan and this is, you know, this is my special little hobbyhorse, right? Because I used to work in presidential politics, but I believe that we all need a campaign plan for our careers and for our personal brand. I actually wrote a piece for the harvard business review in the november two thousand twelve issue. They decided that they were time it with the presidential election just to be super cool escorts called creating a campaign plan for your career, and so we're going to be talking about some of those strategies and practicing them together. How do you how do you pull it all together? How do you make sure that what we're doing is cohesive and that all the pieces come together to really enable you to max out the value of, you know, spending this time together and creating a powerful personal brand? So that is what we're about to embark upon on I'm excited to do it with you so personal branding let's, let's launch in here, it's not what you think, you know, maybe some of you guys are one hundred percent onboard already, but I wanted to start out because for a lot of people, even those who are excited about personal branding and, you know, people who say yes, yes, I really need this. There is sometimes, you know, some hesitation about whether it's really necessary to spend time on whether it's a good idea whether it means kind of selling out in some way and so let's, take it head on, right? So, first of all, the reason that I think that this is so important, I mean, personal branding is more important today than it ever has been in human history, that sounds like a really bold claim, but I will tell you what I mean by that I'm guessing that you guys probably all have, you know, tons, hundreds and even thousands if you're super popular of facebook friends, right? Some of you may be on twitter, you're probably unlinked in, you know, all these things we are now subjected to a stream of information that is enormous. You may be familiar with a concept called the dunbar number this is something that the cool kids and sociology like to talk about, and it became popular in malcolm gladwell's book, the tipping point and basically what? This, says there's, a sociologist named robin dunbar, and he wrote about the fact that historically, in terms of human groups, how they, you know, connect with each other and interact that one hundred and fifty seems to be about the maximum number that weaken process properly. You know that in ancient human societies that was the size of a unit and so you know, there's this idea that okay? You know that's that's about it all the brain can handle for friends? Well, guess what? I have a lot more than one hundred fifty facebook friends you probably do too it is a lot going on and so what it means is that our our attention isn't diffused and those individuals are not necessarily paying him. Pardon me really close attention to all the things that you're doing. But here's the kicker here's the really interesting part it means they're overtaxed but those people actually your extended network what do you know what technology has made possible? The fact that, you know we can now still be friends with people that we worked with it a job like ten years ago our went to summer camp with or whatever they actually can be a really powerful resource for us he's also. So you know somebody that malcolm gladwell wrote about he has he has a good nose for finding the cool research and sociology and psychology a germany mark granted better in the nineteen seventies did a really famous study and glad will turn this the strength of weak ties and basically what it meant when they ask people where did you get your job? Where did you get your last job from most people, when you ask him the c o friend, you know, friend referred me and I got the job makes sense, right? It turns out, however, that if you dig just a little bit below the surface, peel it back. It's not really a friend it's not technically a friend it's, an acquaintance that help them get the job. And the reason why that is significant is that your friends like you're really tight friends, that you see all the time they're the ones that actually know basically the same people and have the same information is you acquaintances are even more valuable when it comes to professional opportunities because they're off here, they know different people, they know different things, they're more likely they subscribe to different list serves, you know, and they're more likely to hear about stuff that you would not ever otherwise here about. And so the amazing opportunity is that because we do have all of these crazy connections, we have to keep on top of it's, hard to keep on top of them. But if we do, if we can somehow keep that relationship going, they could bring us opportunities that could be really powerful for our careers and vice versa, because we want to give a cz well, let's get and so what do we do with all this? Because it's a paradox right? We want to stay in touch with people we want them to know what we're up to hey, I launched the school new business hey, I'm looking for a job whatever it is but you know how do you break through the noise and that's where personal brandon comes in and I think the peace that kind of gets people sometimes is they assume oh well there's only one way to break in right? The way to break in is you just you get your big megaphone and you say you need to listen to me here's what I'm too and I'm the best you know and it's it's making yourself sound like a jerk and I want to say upfront okay at home audience don't do that that's not cool we're not in any way telling people that you need to foghorn into other people's consciousness that will turn people off it will be counterproductive instead, personal branding means something really different it is the art it is a little bit of science and a lot of art of finding a way to make sure that other people really do understand you know what you're good at where you're coming from, where your passion lies but doing it in a way that is not obnoxious in fact doing it in a way that is helpful and interesting and mutually beneficial so that that's so I wrote a book a sally and jean marie were saying this is the book actually it's called reinventing you so it sounds like it's up your alley barbara about personal brandy and professional reinvention there's a little link at home audience just f y I for that but but so how I learned this was not only my own experience and I wrote about changing careers a zillion times in my twenties and arriving at the understanding that I did about about personal branding and professional reinvention but also um I interviewed dozens and dozens of successful professionals who have found ways to brand themselves the right way and so I tried to share best practices for that so I wanted t just kind of start you know, pull pull back thirty thousand foot view on personal branding just just for a little bit of perspective this gentleman right here his name is tom peters and he you may be familiar with him he's really legendary in business circles in the nineteen eighties he was incredibly popular. He wrote a book called in search of excellence which was mega bestseller in you know during the time it sold millions of copies and he became known as a real business thought leader but so you know, he's somebody that kind of stays on top of trends and in nineteen ninety seven he wrote a cover story for fast company magazine called the brand called you and that was really the turning point where people began to use the term personal brand and to discuss that as a concept but of course you know so that was helpful and, you know, we give tom peters a lot of credit for that, but of course he did not invent the idea. Personal branding was not magically invented in nineteen ninety seven he named it and he framed it for us. But really what we're talking about fundamentally, only when I say personal brand that means your reputation that's what we're talking about, what is your professional reputation? What do people think about you when you leave the room? What do you say about you? Is that what you want? That's? A really important question and that's something that people have been dealing with for millennia. But it is even more tricky and important today because the word spreads you know, thirty years ago, it's oh, well, what do your co workers think about you today, it's? What is the world think about you? Because it's online it's everywhere and there's a million opportunities because someone could hire you, you know, to photograph their their horse in australia, you know, across the world, right, sally can hook you up with all her horse friends, but but, you know meanwhile, it's uh you know, good things can spread and bad things can spread and we just we have to be mindful we can't have this sort of ostrich head in the sand mentality of like well, you know, you know it's okay if I do good work you know, magic things will happen I mean that's nice that's important that is unnecessary prerequisite but we you know, we all know that we can't count on it to happen it's a little bit of strategy can be incredibly invaluable in terms of actually getting things happen. And so I was mentioning earlier alluding to the fact that, you know, I give talks like this all around the world talking about reinvention about personal branding and I do hear from a lot of people that you know they're they're they're qualms that some people have said, oh is this for me? Do I have to do it? And I think you know there's a lot of reasons for discomfort but you know, I don't want to hopefully allay them because for me I actually feel like personal branding is a powerful cool way to get to know yourself and help really crystallize the value but you can bring to the world I think it's a pretty empowering thing but but before we can get there we have to really figure out well, why is it that some people get nervous about it and so one thing is especially question I have for you sally is I know you know different countries I've done a lot of research into personal branding in different cultures and things like that and I understand that something that happens in australia is I hear from a lot of my my aussie friends they talked about the tall poppy syndrome have you experienced this and can you tell me a little bit about what it's like growing up there the tall poppy syndrome is the reason I left australia so I feel very strongly yes oh poppy syndrome is I think a hangover from britain yeah and maybe a class thing or maybe it's the australian basically what it is is you can't be better than anyone else you can't think you better than any whales this actually also ways into personal branding because you can't tell people you're good right little puppy sigh and so the metaphor here right is it if you were the poppy that's taller than anybody else you get you get weed wax so where is in this country and I believe japan also friends of mine tell me he has a very strong told puppy so in this country you know you say oh, I've designed this I've done this and it goes that's awesome do it in australia like for instance my first design was a high chair and I'm an architect so I was doing a product and I designed the same that won all this stuff and people, and yet my colleagues would go, what makes you think you could design a high chair? And then people would come to the shows and try and break it because I'd be like, how would you know how to design that you like, what makes you a literal form of tearing you down eyes it is how it goes, australians coming to the u s I find it really hard to tell you a ll that were really good because we like what we go yeah, we're good at that and then we wait to just get tank like chaos. Wow, yeah it's a tricky thing absolutely. And of course clearly it's it's not just australians, right? This is not a unique barrier faces by sally and her people I hear from from people all around the world. A couple of months ago I was doing on asian book tour. I was in asia for a month and, you know, I kept hearing really similar things. They're variations all you know, all around the world. They say, oh, you know, in asia were taught tohave humility toe have you no modesty and tio kind of play down our accomplishments? I even have written articles about this and I get in the comments people from the u s s see well in the midwest we don't do that were midwesterners were modest we don't talk about ourselves and so you know, of course there's cultural variations there's regional variations all of these things but I think that what you know what were you know, kind of getting at here is that number one in america and in a moment I'm going to talk a little bit more about this, you know, and I've done some research about it, but in america we are basically as a country not necessarily every individual but as a country were the most pro personal branding country in the world and so if you want to succeed in america, you do kind of need to learn how to do it and how to get comfortable with it because you know sally said it's being a tall poppy in america is actually really good like standing out and being accomplished is pretty great every you know everybody thinks like oh, steve jobs that's amazing what a visionary you know and s o I think that's a key thing, but there are these strands right? It could be you know, the your culture if you're from a different culture it could be you know, your region it could be your family maybe your parents you know, always brought you up with a very strong, you know, don't brag don't you know don't put yourself in front of other people and I think it gets kind of modeled sometimes because when people are equating personal branding with bragging, you're never gonna want to personal branding because it feels wrong and literally, you know, feels like like a terrible thing to dio I did research with a colleague we you know, we did a couple of articles about this for a harvard business review named andy molinski from brandeis university and he actually worked with a guy who was indian and he said personal branding feels like a sin hopefully it's not it's not as intense for you guys but everybody has certain levels of you know of qualms about you know, what does it mean to put yourself out there? How do you how do you get comfortable doing it? And so I'm curious for you guys here do you have? Do you have any degree of discomfort? Yeah barber how do you feel? Well, I noticed when I had the crepe marie it was so much easier to sew the crepe because it's not me yes, so when you're creative and you're trying to sell yourself it's not easy yeah it's it's so true because because it does feel more personal because it is more personal, you know you're selling your vision, you're selling your art, you're selling the things that you've put time into so yeah it's one of the strategies were actually going to be talking about a little bit a little bit later I think um is it today I think it's today we'll we'll see is about the wing man strategy which actually enables us to leverage this principle and you know if if you're feeling a little uncomfortable putting yourself out there it's actually a way that you can get a partner in crime and help them and they'll help you so that's that's one way to do it but I think that's really important samantha what's your experience been like it's difficult for me to talk about myself sometimes it's easy to talk about everyone else you know and I could direct you to my website heat really easy but the one on one conversation gets real uncomfortable when they're not there you know? I feel uncomfortable what what is it exactly? Because you feel like you're bragging a little bit and that's not my way I'm more of a do er than a talker so you know just gets uncomfortable and then I rather have someone else to do that you know worked for me? Yeah, no, absolutely and it's it is a real challenge because I think sometimes, you know, and I'm so glad that you're here I'm so glad you know, at home watchers that you're here because someone's we have this vision, particularly if we're creative professionals that like oh well, you know I can do my thing I could do my art or create my projects and you know, maybe I can hire someone to the market me or you know, maybe I could hire someone to brand b and I mean yes, you know you you can to a certain extent you could hire a publicist or something like that but fundamentally, you know they could do pieces of it but they can't they can't be the ones to express your vision to the world you can you can hire certain elements of it but we have to get comfortable with the fact that if we are creative professionals a piece of it you know, a really important piece is that you know it's a wonderful thing to do things for yourself but you want to share things with the world you want to make an impact and in order to do that we have to get comfortable talking about ourselves and embracing what it is that that you know we love and sharing that passion with other people and feeling ok doing that if we can do that that will help us increase are our sales are revenue but even more than that it will help us increase the way that we can connect with people and make a difference in the world so I think you being here today is really important I love that when do you have some objections on line two or some misconceptions? Elijah says I always thought personal branding was something that only marketers and advertisers do for them selves on dh then we have other people coming in and popping in talking about hoping that you will help to discuss help for companies whose brand has been ruined. How do you how do you reestablish and build that trust again? So there's just a lot of conversation too for sally about the ex pat the tall poppy syndrome so there are people who are are bringing their opinions into the conversation and hopefully they'll be able to see it in a different way yeah, that's fantastic. So to the question about repairing a damaged online reputation, we're absolutely going to talk about that this really important in section four today. So later this afternoon we're going to be talking about your building, your online portfolio in your online reputation and that is definitely going to be one of the key pieces there about you know what? You know what happens if you know when you google yourself it's not quite what you wanted to say if there's a negative things, what do we do about it? S so that's that's a big, big piece and yeah, in terms of the idea about personal pretending, you know, is that something just just for marketers certainly you know, I mean, marketers are the ones that you talk about it a lot because because you know, it's it's sort of in the realm of what we do I mean, I'm a marketing strategy consultant in addition to my work is a writer and a business school professor but but it's something fundamentally I mean, these days you guys are the vanguard right? There have been studies into it the silicon valley concern that has, like quick books and things like that which many of you guys probably used for your accounting software they did a study that said that by twenty twenty which is not very far away forty percent of the u s workforce is going to be freelance or contingent I mean, this is this is literally going to be almost everyone and so personal branding is actually more important for us then it is for other people I mean, I give talks of corporations all the time and, you know, I will argue that personal branding is important for everyone if you work in a corporation, you know, if you want to be the one that's promoted or god forbid if there's no layoffs or something, you want to be the person that people say, oh, we can't touch him, you know, he's he's indispensable it's important if you're at a corporation it is essential if you work for yourself or if you were in a business where you were the person that that has to bring in revenue. If you are photographer, if you are a designer, if you're somebody that that needs to make your living by having clients come to you and you know, you know, you you kill what you eat, as they say, no, you eat what you kill that's, how you do it. Yeah, if you you know, if if that's, if that's the idea, you need to make sure that it is crystal clear in people's minds, what, you know what you could do for them otherwise, you know, people won't come in the door, and your business is at risk. And so having a really clear personal brand in your mind and in the minds of customers and potential customers out there that is essential to your business success and in no way is that, you know, selling out our being corporate or whatever it's about how do you make sure you have a sustainable business and a business where you could do the work that you love? Because nobody wants to be in a position where you want to be a horse photographer and it's like, oh, well, you know, I'm I can't eat this month so I guess I have to do weddings even if I don't want to do weddings or you know you don't want to be a wedding with your a wedding photographer and you're like why can't I get a wedding? Why don't have to keep photographing these damn horses you know you want to find the work that you love and you can on lee do that if you know your personal brand and the world knows your personal brand yeah, I don't know if you have planned to take a step back but we have a basic question from oy who says as a coach I find it really hard for people to grasp what a brand is it's really hard to explain to people who don't have a background in marketing the story have a suggestion for quickly driving home what a brand is right yes so a great question I mean a brand you know in and it could mean a lot of different things I mean when we talk about it in sort of a corporate sense right the thing that comes to people's mind is oh like nikes brand okay, so it's it's the swish and it's the just do it and that's you know, that's their brand and if you you know think about it so those are the literal, tangible manifestations of their brand and maybe if you take a slight step back. Okay, well, what is their brand of vocal when you think nineteen when you think just do it you think oh elite athletes or determination and perseverance those air maybe the brand values so people kind of have a sense of that but the less often have a sense of what it means for an individual what is a personal brand look like? Because you know most of us do not actually have low goes you know your business might have a logo you probably do not have a little go unless you have some really cool like tribal art or whatever maybe that could be yours but but you know, when we talk about about personal brand and really basic level like I was saying it's what it's what people say about you you know when you I mean we would love it if you know many of us would if you know the sort of narcissistic moments if you know people spend so much time thinking about our nuances in parsing them and you know whatever angelo you know like like a fine wine like oh, you know how how do we describe samantha is just this is genius iq wa and you know, but people don't write when you think about about other folks odds are there's probably like two or three things that really stand out in their mind and they say oh, you know here's you know here's what that person's like and you know see oh well, you know this this person is, you know, a great photographer and you know, well, this this person has a really interesting hybrid model with, you know, events and entertainment and you know, just if you have two or three words literally and this is where we're gonna be talking about actually in the next session section when we're doing messaging if people literally are only going to expend two or three words thinking about you you want to be the right two or three words you don't want it to be something completely random and so how do we get it focused? How do we get him thinking about the right thing? So your brand is you know what people think about you yeah and so you keep saying of what did they think about you the three words about you it's really not about your work? Yeah yeah I mean it's you know your work ties in for sure but but exactly it's you know if you are self employed if you are an entrepreneur, you and your work are kind of kind of like this and there's there's good and bad that goes with it right? Because sometimes people will want to work with you just because they like you as a person that's, that's a cool thing, you know, there's other manifestations of it, too. I mean, for you, I don't know if you guys do this, but for me, it's actually an obsession. Some people are really into separating, you know, their work and their vacations. But I actually love tohave working vacations, because it means they're tax tio it's. Always like, hey, so I'm going to bermuda is you're a lecture, I can give way, so, yeah, we are. We are kind of our brands.