Time to grab your cup of coffee and dedicate a few minutes of your time to examining John Jenson’s Law of Personal Packaging.
John is a speaker and author who helps companies and individuals develop their message and deliver it in a way that invokes confidence and trust in their audience. Years ago, he told me something critical to any personal branding objective:
“Questions create uncertainty. Uncertainty creates doubt. Don’t give your audience a reason to doubt.”
I spoke with John recently, and he explained some of the most important questions one needs to ask of themselves in order to define – and then build upon – their personal brand. Here are a few gems from our conversation:
Wendy: You often say the key question is “What do you bring to the table?” Can you expand on that?
John: Here’s the thing – people will forget many of the things you say and do, but they’ll never forget how they feel in your presence.
Now, sure – if you go to a party, and bring a really nice bottle of wine and some good conversation, I’m not saying the host won’t remember that – those are lovely things. What I am saying is that the wine and your presence at the party isn’t enough—you have to bring something that contributes to the room. Do you bring something of value? Do you bring a solution? That’s what is going to matter in the long run. That’s what people will really remember.
And the essence of your brand is consistency. You need to bring that something to the room every single time—not just one out of five.
Wendy: And that brings us to the Law of Personal Packaging – can you explain what that is exactly?
John: Okay – if you have only one word to use, how do you want people to describe you? Do you want them to say you are professional? Compelling? Decisive?
Now, package that word – in the way you look, act, and speak.
While I’m not a huge acronym guy, the LAW of Personal Packaging always rings true. The L is for “look.” A is for “actions,” and W is for “words.” It has everything to do with that presence, consistency, and congruity that we’re talking about.
With “look,” an example that comes up time and again is the guy who says the one word he wants people to use to describe him is “professional.” But he wears cartoon ties two or three times per week. That doesn’t match up. One guy told me that he can’t stop wearing the ties – that he’s known for them. I said, okay – then you need to find a different word than “professional,” because those two things don’t match up.
Wendy: And I know you have a long-time pet peeve with one of your “actions” examples –
John: Definitely. I have people tell me they want to be described as “engaging,” but you can see that when they’re having a conversation, they’ll say “hang on a second” and take a call, or respond to a text. They think it’s just a quick second, but those actions are incongruent with the word “engaging.”
Whether it’s throughout personal interaction or represented in your presence online, people who want to define their personal brand should think about this: if you and I spent 5 minutes together – or if I spent five minutes searching for you online or on your blog or website – and I went home and described you and that five minutes to my wife, what words would I use?
That’s where you really get down to the essence of it all. And if someone uses words that are opposite the words you want them to use, that’s your fault – you need to look, act, and speak in the ways that are congruent with the words you want.