Personal Branding Digest, July 24, 2015

How to Build Your Personal Brand (Courtesy of a Dolly Parton T-Shirt)
(The Huffington Post, 09.07.15)

I accidentally learned about personal brand when I was a bar-hopping single guy. You see, I’ve always littered my wardrobe with ironic t-shirts. And while every other guy at the bar wore pretty much the exact same button-up dress shirt, I wore goofy tees just to be a little different. One evening, I wore a Dolly Parton shirt (image above) to the bar, and this is where I learned the value of having a “brand.”

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Personal Brand
(Entrepreneur, 07.07.15)

Marketing is the act of getting people to know who you are, what you stand for and why they should buy from you. As the saying goes, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Your success in business hinges on your brand: the inner core of your business and yourself. Try these five tips to stand out from the crowd.

Keeping Your Personal Brand Professional in a Shark Fight
(Business2Community, 24.06.15)

The higher you climb, the more fans you get. Subsequently, the higher you climb, the more people are there to point out flaws in your arguments. Openly calling someone out for misinformation has always been a practice. Whether through poetry as was popular in the 1700s or through the internet as is popular today, you can’t amass an enormous following without amassing watchdogs there to make sure your ego doesn’t climb too high.

Why Developing a Personal Brand Is Essential for Every Entrepreneur
(Forbes, 10.06.15)

An essential part of developing a personal brand is mustering the boldness to discover and express authentically who you are and own it.

“Aim at the sun, and you may not reach it; but your arrow will fly far higher than if aimed at an object on a level with yourself.” —Joel Hawes

Corporate Branding Digest, May 29, 2014

Smart Leaders Keep Their Egos in Check and Listen in
(Entrepreneur, 20.05.14)

Confidence is what helped you take your idea from a mere thought on paper to a full-fledged business. But the more successful your business becomes, the more likely you are to let your confidence become overwhelmed by your ego. Although flexing that muscle may put extra cash in your pocket, it could also damage relationships with those around you, especially employees. Instead try putting the “I’m the smartest person in the room” aside when it comes to dealing with your workforce.

Is a Truly Flexible Workplace Possible?
(Fast Company, 14.05.14)

When it comes to work perks, flexibility is one of our favorite nice-to-haves, whether that means occasionally telecommuting from home, working variable hours or being part of a job share. In fact, a 2013 LearnVest study found that more than half of us would prefer a flexible schedule. But are employers actually meeting this request?

How Top CEOs Transform Companies Around the Customer, Like the New Kentucky Derby Videoboard
(Forbes, 21.04.14)

Walmart’s founder Sam Walton once famously said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” This quote is more relevant than ever in today’s digital world where customers are armed with libraries of accessible competitive data. This is why the leading companies are increasingly collaborating with customers. In fact, according to a recent IBM study, today, 43 percent of CEOs report they involve their clients in business strategy with that number growing to 60 percent in the next three to five years.

Study: Female Executives Make Progress but Mostly in Support Functions
(Harvard Business Review, 21.04.14)

Sixty percent of the top U.S. companies now have at least two women on their executive committees. Eight companies (including IBM, Pepsico, Lockheed Martin and General Motors) have a woman CEO. But closer inspection shows there’s a long way to go.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” —Maya Angelou

Corporate Branding Digest, March 7, 2014

Be Bold: 10 Lessons from Women at the Top on International Women’s Day
(Forbes, 06.03.14)

“International Women’s Day is our opportunity to reflect as women on how far we have come and what more we need to do to make sure women everywhere have the opportunity to write their own story. Changing the world, like living your own life well, requires a sense of purpose, the courage to pursue it and the preparedness to risk the most public of failures. Nothing big was ever achieved by cowering.” —Hon. Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia

What Separates a Great Leader from a Good One?
(Entrepreneur, 04.03.14)

Good things don’t come easily—at least not in my experience. Becoming an expert requires focus, consistency, discipline and dedication. In the SEAL Teams, we honed a particular skill every day: jumping, shooting, diving, small unit tactics, looking cool (or not). Some days were fun, others not so much (you never get used to cold water).

Five Ways to Inspire and Encourage Everyone You Work With
(Fast Company, 21.02.14)

You have an all-star team and vision for miles—what’s missing? Bring your focus back to your people’s potential with these tips from the authors of Everything Connects.

An Oft Unspoken Key to Success: Put Aside Your Ego and Be Vulnerable
(Entrepreneur, 18.02.14)

If you are an entrepreneur already, or want to be one, you know how to work hard. Really hard. There are no such thing as “long hours” because those are the only kind of hours you know. You are a one-person problem-solving machine. You make things happen and you chase dreams that others think are crazy. And you love it. That’s who you are and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” —Henry Ford

Ideas Conferences as Brand Builders

[Originally posted on]

We’re in an age of ideas conferences—not just such stalwarts as Davos and TED but also upstarts like All Things Digital’s D conferences (D11 is next, in May)—and attendance is increasingly seen as a mark of legitimacy. They’re the ultimate see-and-be-seen gatherings. Smart talk is today’s hot commodity, whether you’re speaking, listening or, perhaps most important, hobnobbing after the formal sessions.

“It’s easy to think that money is the currency of the world,” TED staffer Duncan Davidson told New York earlier this year, “but there are other currencies.” Davidson was being interviewed because three years earlier, a well-dressed mugger had tried to steal his all-access TED badge in Long Beach, Calif. That’s the significance these confabs have taken on.

But what do they say about your personal brand? Are Davos people different from TED people different from SXSW people? What about the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and Renaissance Weekend? Is there a big half-dozen in conference-going that lets you borrow for your brand (today’s equivalent of name-dropping) and build it up? And if there is, do you have to attend all of them (who has time?), or do you need to decide what each stands for and how it helps make a person a brand? Does your choice of conference send a message about what generation you see yourself in?

That same New York article includes a helpful history lesson:

“At least since the early seventies, when Davos was founded, there have been exclusive gatherings that mix fizzy ideas with major-league networking. The eighties gave rise to Renaissance Weekend, for a largely political crowd; Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley retreat, for media machers; and an early version of TED, for the titans of the converging worlds of (as the organizers had it) Technology, Entertainment and Design. But recent years have seen a furious proliferation of these status events. There’s PopTech, FOO Camp, the Clinton Global Initiative, Solve for X (Google’s conference for ‘moonshot thinking’). And beyond the higher-profile events, a lengthening tail of gatherings you’ve never heard of like the Feast, Do Lectures, the 99% Conference and Techonomy. All promise much the same thing: a velvet rope to keep out the attitudinally unwashed, serendipitous interaction, quirky content and at least the illusion of egalitarian elbow-rubbing.”

But I’d argue that some conferences are becoming so ubiquitous and trendy that their velvet ropes are being pulled back. TED has gotten so democratic—not just in making its 18-minute edited TEDTalks available online for all the world to see, but also in its increasingly frequent TEDx gatherings (270 events in 58 countries last month, according to the TEDx website)—that it’s more the brand of might-bes than überachievers.

Production company executive and Atlantic contributing editor for tech and media Michael Hirschorn coined the memorable term “clusterfuckoisie” to describe the tribes that pile on in hopes of proving or improving their social rank. A blogger at the Jane Dough asks if all the conferences have lost their mojo, simply because there are too many of them.

I don’t think they have, but it’s increasingly hard to know which conferences are really relevant to you. A forum on Quora about which conferences someone “needs to attend to meet world and industry leaders” has a few recurring answers—Davos, TED, CGI—but not much consensus overall.

And so, like Deadheads 40 years before them (but with espresso as their drug of choice), a new tribe has formed to follow the route from Sun Valley to Aspen to Austin to Switzerland. But following the knowledge takes its toll, and these conferences are eating alive the would-be thought leaders who join the circuit, traipsing around the world in search of ego food and new smarts, one quick bite at a time.

If they’re getting anything from this, it’s primarily that they’re strengthening their networks. Davos still seems to make careers—the others, mostly connections.

When you are managing your brand, it’s unbelievably important to remember that co-branding is vital: You are the company you keep, and that also means the conferences and events where you are seen and seeing. Unfortunately, in our reality-TV world, perception is reality and reality can be insanely demanding.

[photo: markovski]