June 6, 2016
The Greatest at Personal Branding
On Saturday I woke up to the news that Muhammad Ali, arguably one of the most well-known sports figures of all time had passed away. My first reaction was a bit of surprise as I had been fairly unaware of his detiriorating condition. My next thoughts went instantly to the highlight reel in my head of the best moments, quotes, and interviews with the legendary loudmouth. As I Googled my way through the classics a new thought began to enter my marketing mind…
I was front-row firsthand witnessing a master of personal branding. As I reflected on this fact I tried to put my finger on a few of the reasons why I found myself admiring this master marketer. Here are the five big takeaways that I believe make Ali “the greatest” even in the world of personal branding.
Ali was bold
No one would ever accuse Ali of not speaking his mind. One interview would quickly prove that Ali was bold in his approach. He spoke frequently about his abilities and his talents. But not just bold in words. Muhammed was bold in other areas of his life as well. He stood by what he believed whether that was related to religion, politics, or boxing. After beginning life as Cassius Clay he boldly changed his name in response to his conversion to Islam. When the United States attempted to force Cassius to join the military during the war he boldly stood up for his beliefs, not to be defiant, but to be resolute and true to his own beliefs.
Ali was creative
As I stated in the beginning one of the first things that came to my mind when I thought back on the life of Muhammad Ali was his colorful and creative use of language and even poetry. I’m sure almost everyone knows at least one famous quote which began “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” (Can you finish the couplet?) Ali never failed to flash a great big smile before dropping some creative rhymed taunt aimed at his opponents. He used this creative talent to make his name and his brand memorable and enduring for generations.
“I wrestled with an alligator, I tussled with a whale, I handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail, I’m bad man….Last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
Ali was not afraid of offending
Secondly, Muhammad was clearly unafraid of what others thought or what their reactions might be to his life and his vocal outspokenness. This was not because he didn’t care, but more that he was so completely compelled to be himself and share those beliefs he was not deterred by the response he might receive. If someone was offended by him, well that was their right and freedom to be so. But that potential offense would not keep him from broadcasting his beliefs and speaking his opinion. The key thing to remember is what motivated him. He was driven incessantly by his beliefs and convictions. He didn’t offend just to offend someone, but he wasn’t afraid of offending when it contradicted his passionately held personal beliefs.
Ali owned up to defeat
While it might not have happened often there were a few times that Muhammad lost the fight. These were very telling moments for Ali. Rather than faking it or falsifying the truth the world renown fighter owned up to the defeat. He may not have humbly rolled over and claimed complete failure; but he did give credit to the victor. There’s plenty of evidence to this fact, one of the most memorable for me is an interview before his infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. Ali praises a litany of his competitors for their victories in previous fights. It takes a big person to humbly accept praise in victory, it takes an even greater individual to be gracious in defeat.
Ali wrote his story
The last point I dwell on is perhaps the most important and also the most poignant. Ali was his own biggest promoter. He constantly referred to his skills, his abilities, his talent. He never sat back and let others describe his character or his performances. If Ali was in the room while someone was sharing something about him, Ali would immediately speak up (usually louder) to share his own opinion and view of himself. One of the most entertaining things to watch is any instance when Ali begins to pontificate on his own abilities and his greatness. And here’s where I think we learn a valuable lesson from Muhammad Ali. He branded himself as “The Greatest” – this was a self-claimed title. And yet, within hours of his passing, the branding he had worked on building his entire life, the story he had spent every interview instilling in his audience was fixed and established forever. “The Greatest” had died.
This is the ultimate in personal branding. Ali provides us with an excellent example on how to brand ourselves. We must be bold to share what we believe. We must be creative in how we share those beliefs. We must not be afraid to stand up for what we believe in (even when that boldness is potentially considered offensive by some). We must be gracious when acknowledging the successes of our competitors And finally, we must never give up writing our own story. Tell the world what you want them to know about you. Craft your own successful image. Be relentless in the pursuit of your goals and be intentional in sharing your story with others.
The world has lost one of the greatest sports figures of all time. Perhaps even the greatest. But the lessons we can learn from this persuasive, powerful master of their brand will continue on forever.
June 16, 2014
The Power of Personal Branding
When you’re working for a company in today’s world there are many more opportunities for sharing and discussing your opinions with others around the globe. Your ability to gain a personal following of people is greater than ever before. How does your personal branding interact with your work life and why does personal branding matter?
Many companies now like to impose certain limitations on social postings when it relates to their business and what employees can and should say in their personal social networks. Why should they care about those personal branding opportunities and what should be the accepted solution? Personal branding is a hot topic although perhaps not with that term. A more familiar term might be personal social networks. Or who you are online. Or to put it simply – what you say and do.
Why Personal Branding Matters
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos
What people post online matters. It matters a lot. The reason why is because the internet of today has allowed for audiences and networks of people to connect who never would have connected before. The stage is much bigger. As a result what is said online and how it is said matters because it is powerful. Why do companies limit social network profiles of employees? Unfortunately they limit them because of fear.
Most companies worry about lots of things. They worry about their competitors, they worry about the market, they worry about revenue, and they worry about employees just to name a few of the worries. Everyone missteps and makes mistakes and a company is no different. To grab a famous quote:
“You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
The larger a company gets the more likely they will at some point make a decision not particularly appreciated by everyone. Companies fear this moment. They use words like backlash and scandal to describe these moments. As a result they try to monitor and limit personal social networks to help ease this fear. Is this acceptable? Should a company be allowed to dictate what is or is not shared on social networks? I believe that’s the wrong question. The better question would be: Has the company hired the right type of employee?
The Right Employee
If companies are hiring the types of employees who love their job and love their company and resonate with the core beliefs and missions of the company then their online personal branding will also reflect this. Of course I would never be so bold as to assume that if a person agrees with their company vision they will never have a difference of opinion or be disgruntled over a decision. The difference is the reaction. It always comes down to the reaction. Sometimes there is no power over the decision made, but there is always power over the reaction.
The right employee understands more than just the decision made. The right employee understands the intentions and motivations of the company and interprets the decisions made through those beliefs. No, they will not always be right. But understanding the heart of the company results in a different reaction. And elicits a different response.
The Right Company
It’s not all about the employee. The right company makes the decisions which best follow the mission and values established. Making decisions that match up to these core beliefs allows others the opportunity to acknowledge why a decision was made and the thinking behind the choice. The weight of a good decision is indeed a heavy one but the right company handles them through careful listening and proper communication.
Secondly, online personal branding matters because it provides a way for you to grow as a person. A personal brand is an opportunity to expand. An opportunity to make new connections and to grow beyond a current position.
A personal social network provides a platform to share thoughts, connect with others, and to grow. Ultimately self-improvement occurs. Beliefs are shaped, friendships established, and opinions formed as a result of social network interactions and the availability of others. This personal growth also allows for personal branding. Posts and thoughts shared help to establish a niche. No longer are social conversations limited to a small and local audience. Voices are much louder. You now have the ability to expand your horizons. And you should make the most of it. Force yourself to grow, challenge yourself to think and encourage others to become better as well. Your personal brand matters.
The community perception is the last point we will look at quickly in regards to why your personal branding matters. By community perception I mean what does your personal branding say about you to others. We’ve looked at the risks and fears of personal branding to corporations; and we’ve looked at how personal branding can encourage your own growth. Now let’s look at how personal branding shapes what others think of you.
I left this point until last because this is the most common way personal branding is interpreted. What you say and do online is most commonly associated with how others think about you. As you’ve seen above however it is much more than just what others see. Personal branding affects where you work, how you work, and how you grow as a person. Only after those things begin to take shape do you really notice how others view you.
3 quick tips when establishing your personal branding
I’d like to offer three very quick tips to help you as you establish (grow) your personal branding. Follow these and you’ll find satisfaction in your personal brand efforts.
Be true to yourself
Your personal brand should be a true reflection of who you are. Don’t try to be someone you’re not to please others. Don’t put on a fake persona purely to reach a certain market share or demographic. Your social networks, your connections, your communication should be a true reflection of who you are and what you believe. Anything else and people will see right through you. Be honest with yourself and with others. Your personal brand should always be genuine.
Your personal brand should always be considerate. Learn how to disagree with respect and dignity. As mentioned earlier you will never agree with everyone 100% of the time. Understand you’ll disagree with others. Handle personal disagreements with character and grace. You’ll gain their respect even if they still disagree on your opinion. Being considerate also means listening. Don’t talk down to others or attempt to force them to agree with you. Listen to what they say and understand why they think the way they do. Your personal brand should always be considerate of others.
Never be afraid to share your thoughts and your opinions. They are yours. No one else holds the power over your feelings. It’s easy to think of boldness as loud. I recommend trying to be quietly bold. Be bold, but not brazen in your approach. Yes, you are in control of your own feelings and opinions, but temper them with consideration. Be respectful of others while still expressing yourself. Your personal brand should always be bold.
Remember your personal branding efforts should never be established because of a desired outcome. Your personal branding should be a genuine reflection of who you are and what you believe. You should be considerate to others and you should be bold to share and interact in the community. Personal branding is an image of you, a reflection of your values and beliefs.
Your personal branding is powerful. And your personal branding matters.