“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?

The Blur

This is a guest post from Carlos Miceli.

Photo cred: Ségozyme

There are two reasons why anyone would want their business life to meddle in their personal life: more money or more freedom.

If your job or projects are going to get in the way of your leisure time, they better make you some cash, or help you enjoy life more. The problem is most people are working harder and the money or freedom never comes.

Take social media for example. There’s an air of business-like responsibility once you get involved in it. Business concepts like deadlines and networks get together with more philosophical terms like authenticity and transparency, and the result is a set of rules that you can’t ignore even if you are there “just for fun.” The reason this happens is because in social media there are no fences. People doing business and people being social are in the same room.

This is positive for those that work with social media. But for those that don’t, they see their social life getting tainted by these professional impositions like personal branding that force them to be more professional in their social life. I’m not even sure there’s any way to avoid this, but I’m sure many people didn’t choose it. And the worst part? All these people are not even getting richer; they are just getting busier.

These rules brought more responsibilities and fewer payoffs.

The real opportunity of this blur is to get more freedom, but it’s not what capitalism wants you to do (despite its claims of the contrary). People that have let their business and personal life unite in a positive way, have improved either the amount, location, or schedule of their work. Sadly, very few people have made this possible. To pull it off you need either a very valuable set of skills that let you negotiate effectively your professional life, or you need to be very good at critical thinking to develop a customized professional life of your own.

In the end, this fusion of rules may be disguised as a positive change, but I doubt that most people are enjoying its perks. It seems to me that we are only complicating our lives with it.

What do you think? Is this change good? Did we want this to happen?  Would you go back if you had the choice?

Carlos is an Argentinian philosophy lover, who surfs through life smiling, debating and reading. He blogs at OwlSparks, and is also co-founder of Untemplater, the guide to shatter the template lifestyle!  Follow him on Twitter @carlosmic.

Personal Branding from 9-5

clockAt last night’s #u30pro chat we asked the participants to share professional obstacles that they’ve been facing, and then turned it over to the chat to discuss how to overcome these obstacles.

The final obstacle that we discussed left me with a few questions. It was about using twitter while in the office.  This person’s superior asked them not to.

This question forced the young pros that were participating to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror.  Few who have worked in an office can honestly say they’ve never peeked at their facebook, or twitter once in a while.

Then Meghan Butler brought up the “advantage of personal branding” for the company.  That’s to say that to build your personal brand benefits the company, and so it should be alright to do it on company time.

Now I’ve spoken about the battle between your personal brand and your company’s brand before.  In that post I said that your company’s brand should take priority over your personal brand.

This is different though.  It’s about company time.  Should employees be allowed to spend time building their personal brand, while they’re on the clock?  Should they be allowed to use social networks at all?

EDIT: To add to the conversation, Dan Schawbel just tweeted about a research report claiming “24% of employees have been disciplined at work because of social networking”.

An Epic Battle For Social Media Professionals

tankAre you truly committed to your brand?

If you’re a CEO you’re probably nodding your head.  If you’re just an employee, you might not be so quick.   For an employee, the success of their brand isn’t necessarily directly related to the success of their personal brand, and so the epic battle ensues.

If you have a personal brand network that overlaps with the community of the brand you work for, you will always face a dilemma of whether or not you should post content on your blog or on your brand’s blog, on your twitter account or your brands twitter account, etc… It’s your personal brand vs. your company’s brand.

You might have a GREAT idea for a blog post.  It’s one of those posts that you know, when you hit publish, the traffic and comments will just start rolling in faster than uncomfortable moments in a Ben Stiller movie.  It can go to either blog.  Where do you post it?

The answer is you give the content to your company’s brand, not your own.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but the brand of your company should always take priority.  Why? Because…

  • You still get credit for it.
  • You shouldn’t hold yourself above your company.
  • The better you do your job, the better you look in your boss’ eyes.
  • The better the company looks, the better you look.
  • They pay your salary.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own personal brands, that we forget our primary responsibility is to our company’s brand.  You have a job, do it well.

My Problem with Personal Branding

Beard Branding

Personal Branding is misleading.  It is deceiving.  It focuses on creating awareness of your self and manipulating the perception that others have of you in order to make it seem as valuable as possible, regardless of whether or not you are in fact, valuable.

A harsh exaggeration? Perhaps…but while this may not be how everyone approaches personal branding, but by the Beard of Brogan! some certainly do.

Alliterative “Anchorman” references aside, lets look at Chris Brogan.  Now lets look at his goatee.  It’s magnificent isn’t it? It radiates success.  It’s obviously where he derives his power.

Therefore, if you were to grow out a goatee similar to that of Chris Brogan’s, you would obviously be perceived to have the same amount of value that he does. Correct?

Ridiculous.  That thought is completely preposterous but scarily relevant.  People think that if they fit the look of a social media expert (there isn’t one), slap “social media expert” on their bio, start regurgitating the things they read on other professionals’ blog on their own blog, communities and message boards, that they’ll have created a powerful personal brand and will be successful.

It gets even scarier when other companies or community members actually buy into that crap.

Personal branding is important.  It’s important to be consistently recognizable on platforms across the board.  It’s valuable to be recognized for your talents.  Your reputation is a vital aspect of your career.

My problem with personal branding is what many have made it into.  A shortcut.  A manipulative success tactic.  A way to make yourself look more valuable than you actually are.

Dan Schawbel, in a LinkedIn discussion on personal branding, said that “[your personal brand] should be determined by you before you even participate in a community.”  I think describing personal brands in this manner is dangerous, because it assumes you can choose your personal brand, rather than earn it.

The key to Personal Branding isn’t what you say about yourself.  If you provide value in your words and actions, and make it very easy for others to recognize that value, across the board of tools, communities and anywhere else you are present, you will have established a strong personal brand.

It’s not the beard that makes Chris recognizable, its Chris that makes the beard recognizable.

Ultimately, your actions will determine how your personal brand is viewed by your community.  To determine your personal brand before you participate in a community is to assume you can manipulate the community’s perception of you to be something other than a representation of your actions.  If you provide value, isn’t your only goal with personal branding to make your community aware of your actions?

It’s not your personal brand that makes you valuable. It’s you that makes your personal brand valuable.

Important Disclosure: yes I have a similar facial hair situation to Chris Brogan right now…but he obviously copied me…and I’m obviously just trying to get onto Stuart Foster’s next beard post.