Kind readers of Personal Branding Blog and other quality materials may be amongst the lucky folk whose antenna does not signal anything untoward when the issue of Personal Branding comes up. Sadly, for many with an untrained eye who have not had the chance to delve into personal branding as conceived by Tom Peters, Dan Schawbel, William Arruda and others, personal branding is all about self-centeredness, inflated egos and personal gain. This highly distorted view prevents them from engaging in a process that, unbeknown to them, revolves around others and hardly about the self (let alone the ego!).
Whatever personal brand we are intent on building and whatever objectives we may have set for ourselves, the fact is that our brand will never achieve anything memorable unless it is validated by others. It is others – and emphatically not you – who hold the key to your professional advancement and recognition, since it is others who will hire you, promote you, spread your message in the social media, purchase from you, believe in you, applaud you and ultimately elevate you to the success they will decide whether you deserve or not. And this stark fact means that anyone with a navel-gazing personal brand not focused on what they can do for others and how they can build a community of supporters and followers they can contribute to with their talents and skills is doomed to failure, despite all appearances to the contrary.
As the old master salesman Zig Ziglar put it, ‘you can have anything you want as long as you give people enough of what they want’. It is only when we put others first and make a conscious, determined decision to contribute personally and professionally to people and organizations that our personal brands can skyrocket. And this is why successful personal brands are never built on mere egos, since the ego’s only purpose is to feed its own unbridled and insatiable needs for power and adulation. I believe that somehow or other we all come to that crunch point in our lives when one day we consciously or not make the decision as to what the driving force behind us is going to be; and I also firmly believe that only those who put giving the best of themselves at their core stand a chance of making a lasting impact.
I was not surprised to learn that the recipient of the 2010 Personal Brand Award was none other than Tony Robbins. That Tony Robbins has managed to impress people like Dan Schawbel or the spiritual philosopher Ken Wilber points to the undisputed fact that Tony’s passion to make a difference in people’s lives has always shined through his work. And it is that unfeigned passion what has sustained him through his grueling schedules for over 25 years now. No ego will keep you going that long: for as depth psychology revealed in the XXth century, the ego is at best only partially in control of our conscious self and most definitely not in charge of our overall lives (we all need to take a break from ourselves and delve into the unconscious every night and, if you are a siesta-loving Spaniard, after lunch too!).
True personal branding experts are hardly ever prescriptive about specific objectives, since it is up to you to build a brand that reflects on your unique mix of skills, talents, values and wishes. But all of them will point to the importance of developing your likeability factor. Unless your brand is likeable and appealing enough to others, they may not even bother to look at it, let alone endorse you and give it the boost it needs to be on the track to success. Honing your likeability skills is a must, and there is no better boot-training camp than beginning to take a deep-rooted, sincere interest in the personal and professional needs of your neighbors, your community, your present and prospective employers and above all your clients.
So there! In a perhaps counter-intuitive and yet profound sense, Personal Branding is never about you and always about others. And internalizing this startling conclusion is the first sure step towards your personal branding success. Make giving and adding to their happiness and success the guiding light of you brand and tell your ego to take a long vacation in a far-away land. In the end, as you achieve your most ambitious objectives building a community of trusted friends and followers, even your ego may realize the wrongness of its ways and be ready to thank that brand called you where others come always first.
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is a regular contributor to several TV and radio programs. He was recently awarded the #TwitawardSV for his participation in El Salvador’s Social Media Day, has been included in the ‘Top 70 Spanish Tweeters’ list and is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’.