Friday, July 14, 2017
My favorite definition of a brand is "the personification of an organization or its products and services." In this way, the brand can hold a certain set of values, stand for something, have a personality and make promises. It can also connect emotionally with its customers and its other audiences.
That is why the notion of personal branding seems somewhat ironic to me, because, given that definition of a brand, personal branding must be the process of making a human being more human. Or put in a slightly different way, it is imbuing the human being with a unique and admirable set of human qualities that are highly compelling to his or her target audiences.
My approach to personal branding began with a very useful course that I took at Harvard Business School (HBS) - Self Assessment and Career Development. The course was based on the school's realization that those alumni who pursued what they loved were the most successful throughout their lives. So why not give its students a jump start in determining what they love and how that could lead to a highly successful career choice?
For more than two decades, I have developed, refined and taught a course entitled, "Discovering Your Truth, Living Your Truth." It is informed not only by that HBS course, but also by several courses that I took at Center for Creative Leadership, Esalen Institute and through a variety of other leadership and personal development organizations.
Our approach to personal branding is very simple. Develop a succinct and powerful personal elevator speech that is no more than 30 words (and hopefully far fewer words) based on deep personal and marketplace insights. We spend most of the time helping our clients develop the insights necessary to craft the right personal elevator speech (sometimes called a personal value proposition).
Core to that statement is focusing on attitudes, attributes, skills and competencies that are found at the intersection of the following three sets: (1) this is one of my personal strengths, (2) I love using this skill and (3) it is a strong marketplace need.
The trick is to use the most powerful assessments and other tools to help people determine what is in each of these three sets (personal strength, personal motivation and marketplace need) for them. This includes extensive journaling against a set of highly introspective questions.
I am increasingly asked to teach this as a one or two day "boot camp" as a part of the MBA student's career development at business school MBA programs throughout the country.
If you have not gone through this process and you are competing for jobs in the job market, you are at a disadvantage.