Personal branding is a hot topic these days. Seems a lot of people are rethinking their options, reevaluating their skill sets and reinventing themselves completely.
An advertising executive goes back to school and turns to teaching. A mid-level manager becomes a business owner and establishes a new personal brand. An accomplished professional rebrands himself as a resort-course caddy. The transitions are dramatic.
Career paths don’t follow the comfortable, upward path of our fathers. They zig and zag all over the place, often rising radically for a period of time, only to plateau, fall, and rise again. It’s the natural order of things, these days. Much more natural than the old, corporate model of life-long employment.
In “Re-Imagine,” Tom Peters says the average career will encompass two or three “occupations” and a half dozen or more employers. A job for life is being replaced by a gig for now. Instead of working your way up the ladder you have to leap your way across changing terrain.
It’s a free-agent nation and Tom Peters is a good role model.
When Peters wrote his first book he was toiling away in a small, west coast office of the world’s largest consulting firm. His peers didn’t think the project would amount to anything. In fact, they laughed when Peters suggested he keep the royalties on sales over 50,000 copies.
It sold more than six million copies and established Peters as a rock-star among management gurus. Since then, he’s published a dozen books and transformed himself into a multi-million dollar brand. His fee for a keynote speech: $80,000.
Peters has made millions with his speaking engagements, consulting jobs and publishing contracts. He could retire, or rest on his laurels. Instead, he’s reinventing himself yet again as a blogger.
In a recent interview with Seth Godin, Peters said, “No single thing in the last 15 years has been more important, professionally, than blogging. It has changed my perspective, it has changed my intellectual outlook, it’s changed my emotional outlook, it has changed my life.”
For Peters, blogging is much more than just another marketing tool. It’s a new skill that helps keep him sharp, and his personal brand relevant. I like Peters because he’s a bit of a rebel. He’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, he loves branding, he’s a great communicator, and he appreciates the power of good design. Our brands are strikingly similar.
I used to think if I just kept reinventing myself I’d get it right someday. Obviously, I was missing the point. It’s not the outcome that counts, it’s the process of reinvention that bears fruit. There is no right or wrong in the process of reinvention. As long as you’re learning and growing, it’s all good.
The chapter on branding in “ReImagine” is a must-read…
“Branding is not about marketing tricks,” Peters said, “it’s about answering a few simple (and impossible) questions…
Who are you?
Why are you here?
How are you unique?
How can you make a dramatic difference”
Bottom line: “Branding is ultimately about nothing more (and nothing less) than Heart.”
Whether it’s a giant corporation or your own personal brand, if it doesn’t have heart, it’s not going to be a successful brand.
Southwest Airlines has heart, and it’s demonstrated humorously on every flight.
Bono has heart, and it comes through in his music.
What is the heart of your personal brand, and how can you demonstrate that in your work?
That’s the crux of personal branding. If you can define what you’re passionate about and then demonstrate that passion on a regular basis, you’ll have a successful personal brand.
And no matter how many times you reinvent yourself, the heart of your brand will still be true.