By Jonathan Levi, an EO Silicon Valley member and CEO of Jlevi Streetwerks, Inc. and principal of Lucid Path Consulting.
Two weeks ago at the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) Global Leadership Conference, I had the great pleasure of hearing super-speaker Sasha Strauss give an hour long lecture on Personal Branding. I had heard Sasha before, but his huge personality and incredible intuition drew me in to the lecture, entitled “Branding You.” Personal Branding is quite the hot topic right now in the professional scene, with branding books for everyone from moms to lawyers. As I transition more seriously into consulting and blogging (and away from running the already-established business I ran throughout high school and college), I find that branding myself is an important task that I must do diligently and purposefully.
Sasha’s lecture raised a lot of key points and concerns for me. First and foremost, for those of you who have any illusions about it, let me reassure you that the strategies used to market companies are the same used to market people both personally and professionally. Strauss drives home the point that a brand is not a company or a logo, but merely an idea or concept that influences preference. In the case of personal branding, you are influencing people to work with, follow, admire and respect you based on ideas of who you are and what representations and promises you can consistently deliver upon.
This is consistent with the teachings of UC Berkeley’s professor David Robinson, who describes a brand as a covenant or guarantee made between an entity and its customer base. As a result, you must regularly ask yourself this: Why should your employee or customer believe in you? What are you communicating with everything you say, wear, buy, associate with, and believe in? This isn’t just about your apparel and musical preferences; this transcends the image you present on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Your personal brand is a holistic entity, encompassing everything from the way you talk about your family to the companies you choose to support or not support. Your job as personal brand manager is to meticulously and deliberately stitch them together and present them to the world; “this is me, this is what I represent, and this is what you can expect from me.”
Examples of individuals with strong, calculated personal brands, you say? Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Marilyn Manson, Barack Obama, Tim Ferriss, and anyone else you feel you know absolutely despite never having met. Truthfully speaking, I knew a lot of this going in. I have heard of personal branding, and I consistently monitor my public image to coincide with what I believe to be my “brand.” However, I had overlooked the most critical part. Is the brand I project really representative of who I am, or am I confusing my audience with mixed messages? As if clairvoyant, Sasha looked directly at me when he shouted, “DO NOT COMMUNICATE YOUR BRAND UNTIL YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHY YOU MATTER.” Sasha’s suggestion? There are 6 steps towards identifying who you are, how you are special, who is behind you, why anyone should care, where you are going and what you represent.
I strongly suggest you take the opportunity to see him speak, if you can, or at the very least check out his blog. I can assure you that each and every one of the hundred or so top-ranking EO members who heard him speak left in awe. In essence, you must consider every aspect of your life, extract the influential elements, people, stories, and beliefs, and ensure that they fit together into a readily-explainable yet fully-developed idea that does justice to the many aspects of “you.”
Easy, right? I will try to find a link to one of his talks. At the very least, remember that you are the sole curator of your brand – and that consistency and cohesion of your message are of the utmost importance. So, now I ask you: What is your personal brand? How much thought and effort have you put into developing and marketing it? I would love to hear some personal branding success stories, and I encourage you to tweet your ideas about how I can improve my own brand! Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing!
This post was previously published on Jonathan’s blog.