Personal Branding Advice

For many media professionals and content creators marketing our business comes down to marketing ourselves. It's difficult to think of yourself as a product but that's what Personal Branding is about. We found two interesting articles with some really good advice about branding yourself.

Personal Branding: 5 Secrets of Success from Guy Kawasaki

By Jessica Stillman

June 24th, 2010 @ 6:12 am


Personal branding is a hot concept, which is both good news and bad. For fans of the idea, its ascendancy means more people can benefit from presenting themselves in a compelling way. For those trying to stand out from the personal branding herd, however, it could be a problem.

With everyone and their mother trying to make a name for themselves, it's harder and harder to be heard through all the noise. To do so you need expert help, and for top tips there are few better qualified to help than entrepreneur and uber-blogger Guy Kawasaki. Recently on Dan Schawbel's Personal Branding Blog, Pete Kistler dug into Kawasaki's book Art of the Start and outlined five secrets of personal branding success he found there:

Make Meaning, Not Money. If you're into personal branding with the goal of making money, stop now. You will attract the wrong kind of people into your life. Instead, start with the goal of making meaning. What better way to align all your actions with your long-term goals. What kind of meaning will you make? Kawasaki suggests two ideas for inspiration: 1) right a wrong, or 2) prevent the end of something good. What will you do to make the world a better place?

Make a Mantra. In three words or less, what are you all about? Kawasaki believes that mission statements are useless. He says, make a mantra instead. FedEx stands for "peace of mind." What do you stand for, in the simplest terms?

Polarize People. Personal branding pundits often advise against being a "jack of all trades," or a generalist that isn't very good at something specific. What does Guy believe? He suggests being great for some people rather than trying to please everyone. Do not be afraid to make people react strongly for or against you. As my former business partner used to remind me, you're not doing something right unless you're pissing someone off. That doesn't mean be a jerk. That means just don't try to appeal to all people, or you'll end up a mile wide and an inch deep, mediocre to everyone.

Find a Few Soul Mates. We're all on this journey together. It's silly to think we are alone in our careers or in our life. Find people who balance you. Then make time for them. If you're busy, make plans in advance so you have to schedule around them. You're only one person, so surround yourself with people whose skills round you off.

Don't Let the Bozos Grind You Down. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will always agree with you. That's a fact of life. So don't let criticism or doubters bring you down. As you live out your mantra, it's your responsibility to be strong in the face of "no," and "you can't do that." Guy says, ignore people who say you won't succeed. Use negative words as motivation. Prove people wrong.

Why Your Personal Brand Sucks: Attack of the Clones

By Jessica Stillman

March 1st, 2010 @ 5:15 am


Personal branding is a concept on fire. On Twitter and other social media sites personal branding and social media experts are a dime a dozen, and that's just the problem, says blog Six Pixels of Separation. With the floodgates of communication thrown wide open by social media, personal branding has become far too impersonal, says the blog's Mitch Joel

Instead of people really digging deep, opening up and living passionately, we're moving ever-closer to the point where most individuals are expressing their personal brands in ways that make them look more like sterile and plastic TV news anchors than original thinkers. It's not everyone... but there is an ever-growing group of those who come off as fake, insincere, and simply out for their own personal gain. In short, they seem and feel like plastic and taste like vanilla.

And, of course, vanilla flavored plastic is a pretty unappetizing dish to serve up to your followers. So what's the cure if you're one of those struggling to differentiate yourself form the army of personal branding clones? Christopher S. Penn's blog Awaken Your Superhero has a suggestion:

Here's why your personal brand sucks. Here's why you're trying to be a clone of Chris Brogan or CC Chapman or Whitney Hoffman and failing miserably at it. It's not because you're's not because you're's because you've failed to distill your essential quality.

Your essential quality is something that transcends any particular job, technology, platform, or idea. Your business card may say that you're a database engineer or a sales associate or the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, but that's not what's essential about you. What's essential about you is a quality, a trait, a method of working in the world that is unique to you.

Penn identifies his essential quality as "playing with blocks... I can see all these different pieces of systems and put them together in new and different ways," but cautions it took him years to figure this out and understand how to communicate it succinctly. But unearthing your essential quality is worth the effort, Penn argues. Understanding what makes you unique will set you apart from the (plastic vanilla) clones and, he asserts, "once you figure out your essential quality, your personal brand will take care of itself."

What's your essential quality?