“You, Inc.” a New Way To Look At Your Personal Brand

Photo cred: Thomas Hawk

Do you get emotionally affected when someone criticizes your professional work?

Do you get depressed when business doesn’t go your way?

I’m reading the War of Art (affil) by Steven Pressfield and he discusses a concept he calls “Me, Inc.”  It may be more relevant to the self employed, but it really has me thinking…

Pressfield separates himself from his work by looking at himself as two different entities: Him as a Person and him as a Corporation.

“Making yourself a corporation (or just thinking of yourself in that way) reinforces the idea of professionalism because it separates the artist-doing-the-work from the will-and-consciousness-running-the-show.  No matter how much abuse is heaped on the head of the former, the latter takes it in stride and keeps on trucking…

If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance on ourselves.  We’re less subjective.  We don’t take blows as personally.  We’re more cold-blooded; we can price our wares more realistically.”

Then this really resonated with me…

“Sometimes, as Joe Blow himself, I’m too mild-mannered to go out and sell.  But as Joe Blow, Inc., I can pimp the hell out of myself.  I’m not me anymore.  I’m Me, Inc.”

Is this the same as what we call “personal branding”? Are you the same as the personal brand you’ve created?  Or is your personal brand a separate entity from yourself, created to distance your emotionally driven personal self (You) from your professionally driven corporate self (You, Inc.)?

I think if you separate yourself in this way, personal branding, the way we understand it, becomes more acceptable.  You’re not promoting yourself, you’re promoting “You, Inc.”  Because really, that’s why we’re here right?  To build our careers or corporations.

Sure the personal and professional lifestyles are become intertwined, but that doesn’t mean they’re one and the same.

What do you think?

16 thoughts on ““You, Inc.” a New Way To Look At Your Personal Brand

  1. My intent was to keep separate personal vs. professional. But it’s too damn hard and there was so much cross over that it simply didn’t matter any more.

    The rules for “personal branding” are the same as they are for most corporate social media interactions: Don’t be a dope.

    1. Well I think the way Pressfield meant it was more of an internal distinction. In your mind, looking at yourself in two different lights, a professional and a person. This way, it’s easier to do respond to professional issues as a professional.

      The way you present yourself to others is a different story. Sometimes people, because they are in the professional space, detach themselves from personal responsibility, and that’s where “personal branding” goes wrong.

  2. Great topic! I think that it’s also worth pondering how much of one’s personal brand exists online…so do you act differently online than in person? I have to admit, I may be slightly shyer in person than online.

    Great stuff, as always. 🙂

    1. That’s exactly it. By looking yourself in these two different lights, it allows you to be less shy in your professional endeavors, respond to professional issues objectively, etc…

  3. Great post Dave, I think seperating you from your work is important, even more so in an entrepreneurial lifestyle… The stress that comes from running your own company and building your own brand can be overwhelming so from a mental health standpoint if you can wall off that part of your life from your personal life you will be able to remain more focused and productive.

    1. I think this is hardest for entrepreneurs but perhaps most important. Entrepreneurs become consumed by what they do. Their business is their life, professionally and personally. Sometimes as an entrepreneur we can forget all about our personal side. It’s important to keep both around…

  4. I am who I am on and off the clock; I purposely do not make a distinction. I have found that being consistent in all aspects of your life is very important… so allowing that sort of “Me, Inc.” branding into my personal life raises self esteem and honestly makes for a more equal platform of expectations all around.

    You wouldn’t want your significant other to seem slightly two faced during different times of the day, would you? This is no different in my opinion.

    1. I think you’re right. Your morals and intentions should remain constant in whatever you do.

      This is more about how you approach situations. You don’t act the same way in front of your significant other the same way you do when other people are around. The way you act changes, based on the situation you’re in.

      See what I mean now?

  5. Personal branding is a very relevant topic. I think every individual has to look at themselves as a brand and market themselves to make them more attractive to perspective employers, colleagues, customers and clients. I follow what I call the ABC’s of personal branding; Authenticity, Believability, and Consistency. If someone is not authentic in their brand, they are misrepresenting themselves. It is very important to be believable in everything that you do. Equally important is making that you are consistent across all mediums that you use to express your brand. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be that one special person to that one special client, customer, or employer.

    1. Well, how you want to brand yourself is another discussion. You’re right, on the ABCs aspect and it is a good standard to build your brand on. I think what people misunderstand however, is that “authentic” doesn’t have to mean “be yourself”. It means be true to your intentions. We change who we are all the time based on the situation we’re in. Our morals is what needs to remain consistent.

  6. I find the more I use the tools, the more that line gets blurred between my personal and professional self and the more comfortable I feel in both worlds. While I get the urge of separating the two to avoid personalizing criticism, I imagine you lose more than you gain.

    The people I tend to gravitate towards and admire are usually the ones who are similar in both realms. It just feels more genuine. Although I have to admit, it would be funny if we are heading toward the humanizing of brands and the incorporation of people…

  7. I was really intrigued when I saw the title of your post because I’m re-reading “The War of Art” for the third time now and recently that section (in fact, I put a sticky tab on the exact section you said really resonated with you).

    I think the “as Joe Blow, Inc., I can pimp the hell out of myself” thought is absolutely fantastic. We all (for the most part) tend to hate – or at least dislike – salespeople. So we never really want to see ourselves as salespeople. Which then leads most of us to avoid situations where, even if we/our service/our product can be helpful to a friend (or stranger even), we tend to shy away from recommending or promoting ourselves. Usually, if what we do or sell is a good product or service, we’re hurting both ourselves and the person we feel too guilty to sell to.

    But once you get over that and approach things with the right mentality, you can do so much more for yourself and for the people in need of what you do. And I’m not saying that the “Me, Inc.” mindset should allow you to just become a “look how great I am” salesman, but I am saying that it should allow you to view yourself as a professional who does professional work (or creates professional products/solutions) for people. I think that’s the switch that hits when you go from pushy, stereotypical salesperson to helpful, life-aiding sales associate of “You, Inc.”

    On a side note, that Steven Pressfield is a wise, wise man. For anyone reading the comments, I can’t stress enough how great “The War of Art” (and all of his fictional works) are. The end. Great post, David. Way to share what was on your mind in a thought-provoking way (as usual).

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head with distinguishing between “me” as a person and Me, Inc. for the sole fact that thinking of yourself as a corporation makes it easier to break out of some of the habits/tendencies that are an innate part of your personality. I’m not normally super gregarious or one to self-promote, but when I started my blog and began thinking of myself as Ellen from elle la mode, it became easier for me to approach new people and create new connections.

    I think these skills will translate into my personal life – but I think it definitely helps to have an alter-ego (almost like the Peter Parker/Spiderman) when venturing out on your own and establishing your place in the market.

  9. My personal brand. Perhaps I am more than one (and are we all not more than one flat coin?) I have been an artist, poet, writer, ghost writer – then I had to make a living to raise children on my own so business woman of several licenses… So do I divide all the personalities into brands to sell?

    When someone says “I pass” I’m not hurt if it’s about my job or if they say “you are old and ugly” I care not much about that as well, but if they say I bore them or my children are bad, the bear comes out

  10. Personal branding as a concept has to be a 2010 model. It should not be like the ‘ME generation’ babyboomers. The Gordon Gekko model (the movie ‘Wall Street’) has proven disastrous.

    The best personal brand is one of good solid work, trustworthiness and the ability to work with others. Good work includes being able to deal with mistakes of your own or others quickly without drama. Flexibility is a must. No drama over new business processes, software, etc. Just get the job done.

    When setting up a profile on LinkedIn or other sites, advertise solid work performance, trustworthiness, team leadership and flexibility.

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