Tuesday, June 9, 2009

building brand

one of the cool things about the company i work for is that every so often they bring in special guest speakers to help inspire us in our work. yesterday was one of those days.

the speaker in question was a former CEO of our very own company. his resume is also populated with an impressive array of major corporations and start-ups. the topic: managing your career.

the talk he gave really was inspirational, but the part that stood out most for me was the section on building your personal brand. now, having spent most of my career in marketing and advertising (web-focused, but still) i get the value of a brand. more importantly, i get the value of packaging. and after all, what is fashion but your own personal packaging?

sure, finding just the right packaging can be tough. but that isn't really the crux of the issue. because the best packaging in the world won't make a bit of difference if you don't start by defining your brand. when it comes to a personal brand this means asking yourself some tough questions like:
  • who am i?
  • what are my talents and my passions?
  • who do i want to be?
  • what about myself am i trying to portray?
  • does it need to be different in different situations?
now for me, i've always had a pretty strong sense of self. unfortunately i haven't been able to translate that into words. the answer to "who am i?" always winds up sounding either flippant or weirdly esoteric and obtuse like a zen koan. i think the answer is to come up with key adjectives instead of complete thoughts. passionate. sensitive (not always in a positive way). shy. independent... you get the picture (or at least part of it).

so looks like i have more questions to answer. the second one, i will answer though with a quick anecdote:

some friends and i were discussing the lottery. when one friend asked me what i would do if i won, i didn't even have to think: read, write and garden (not necessarily in that order, but probably in generally equal weights). sure, there are other things, and variations on those things, but put most simply, those are it. read. write. garden. couldn't be any clearer than that.

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