Debunking Personal Brand Cultural Myths: Part 2

Personal BrandingSuccess Strategies

This is part 2 of a monthly series where I am sharing ‘myths’ of personal branding. While these myths are typical within Japanese culture, they can easily be debunked in other cultures around the world as well. Make sure to also read about myth #1, “I have to give up my group identity.

Personal Branding Cultural Myth #2: “Personal branding goes against values of humbleness and modesty

Japanese are not usually willing to talk about themselves or accept compliments for their performance. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is a concept that is ingrained in the Japanese mind-set.

When faced with a compliment, the standard protocol is to deflect it, deny it, and come up with some kind of excuse that makes you look worse! As such, there is a sense that defining your authentic self and then broadcasting it to others will put the Japanese at risk of being selfish, stuck-up, and separate from, rather than part of the group.

How to Debunk This Myth

Personal branding is not about making yourself appear superior or “better than” others. It is about managing your future so people are excited to engage and connect with you.

William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson sum this up perfectly in Career Distinction:

“When you are just one of many others with similar skills and abilities, you don’t contribute to the diversity your organization needs to generate creative innovative ideas. Instead you become a commodity. And people don’t get excited about commodities.”

In a competitive job market, you need people to be excited about you. Simply relying on your resume does not make you any different from anyone else with a similar background. By demonstrating your unique promise of value (even in a more modest and softer way), people are motivated to hire you and pay you a premium. What makes you stand out is not your resume, but rather the attributes that demonstrate your values, passions, strengths – your unique promise of value.

Stay tuned for part #3 next week!


Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer” and is one of only 15 Master level Certified Personal Branding Strategists in the world. He is introducing a leading global personal branding methodology to companies and careerists in Japan and adapting it for the Japanese culture. In a culture where fitting-in is the norm, his mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. His background spans over 21 years in intercultural consulting, international outreach, and global communication coaching.