Have you seen Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” movie? What an inside view into the artist that Michael Jackson truly was on, and off, stage. Before I saw this movie, again recently on TV, I was blind to the deep talent Jackson held.

Group to solo artist

In ’77, after 14 years and 14 albums with the Jackson Five and Motown Records, Michael emerged as his own brand and released his first solo album, “Off The Wall”, with Epic Records. On the heels of “Off The Wall” came “Thriller” , which sold over 50MM copies worldwide, had 7 hit singles, and won Jackson a record-breaking 8 Grammy awards in one night. It was 1984 and he officially announced he was leaving the group and going solo.

Musician, movies and money

When you watch “This Is It” it becomes clear that Jackson is talented in many ways. Every element from selecting principal dancers to reviewing each song note and music key; he had his hand in each part of it. That’s not all he had his hand in though. Jackson was in more than just this movie, he collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on Captain EO, a $30MM movie that was shown at Disney theme parks.

Businessman and philanthropist

A budding businessman, Jackson acquired ATV Music Publishing, including the Beatles music catalog and rights for $47.5MM in 1985. Just 10 years later, Jackson merged ATV with Sony and sold 50% of his rights for $90MM. By 1992, he founded
Heal the World Foundation, sending millions of dollars around the world to support children threatened by war, poverty and disease. Putting his financial pursuits aside, he donated 100% of the $100MM Dangerous World Tour profits, and the tour broadcast rights sold to HBO for a record-breaking $20MM, to charities.

Children and world aid were just the beginning. Jackson was an avid supporter of the HIV/AIDS movement; petitioning the Clinton Administration to contribute funds to HIV/AIDS charities and research and completing a goodwill ambassador tour to Africa and Egypt visiting over 100K people.

Brand diversity

We can’t all be Grammy-award winning artists, moviemakers, businessmen and philanthropists to this extent. However, we can learn from Jackson’s savvy personal branding. He diversified his brand while keeping each area focused on his core ability: music (e.g. philanthropic via charitable concerts, investments in music publishing companies).

It’s important to keep your personal brand focused on your key skills yet diversify it into areas your skill set will allow you to expand naturally and your skills will transfer into generously.