Guy Kawasaki’s 5-Point Guide to Personal Branding

PeoplePersonal BrandingSuccess Strategies

If you’ve ever heard the word “entrepreneur,” you’ve heard of Guy Kawasaki, perhaps one of the greatest living writers/speakers on start-ups. His messages are simple, powerful, and to the point. What lessons can we learn from this inspirational guru about personal branding? The following five tips are pulled directly from lessons in his best-selling book, Art of the Start. Let’s see how Guy can jump-start your personal brand.

1. Make Meaning, Not Money

If you’re into personal branding with the goal of making money, stop now. You will attract the wrong kind of people into your life. Instead, start with the goal of making meaning. What better way to align all your actions with your long-term goals.

What kind of meaning will you make? Kawasaki suggests two ideas for inspiration: 1) right a wrong, or 2) prevent the end of something good. What will you do to make the world a better place?

2. Make a Mantra

In three words or less, what are you all about? Kawasaki believes that mission statements are useless. He says, make a mantra instead. What do you stand for? FedEx stands for “peace of mind.” I stand for “connecting passionate people.” What do you stand for, in the simplest terms?

Guy Kawasaki at front of USS Nimitz

3. Polarize People

Personal branding pundits often advise against being a “jack of all trades,” or a generalist that isn’t very good at something specific. They say choose a niche and dominate it. Be great at something, not just good at a lot of things.

What does Guy believe? He suggests being great for some people rather than trying to please everyone. Do not be afraid to make people react strongly for or against you. As my former business partner used to remind me, you’re not doing something right unless you’re pissing someone off. That doesn’t mean be a jerk. That means just don’t try to appeal to all people, or you’ll end up a mile wide and an inch deep, mediocre to everyone. You’ll never find soul mates that way.

4. Find a Few Soul Mates

We’re all on this journey together. It’s silly to think we are alone in our careers or in our life. Find people who balance you. Then make time for them. If you’re busy, make plans in advance so you have to schedule around them. You’re only one person, so surround yourself with people whose skills round you off.

5. Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down

Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will always agree with you. That’s a fact of life. So don’t let criticism or doubters bring you down. As you live out your mantra, it’s your responsibility to be strong in the face of “no,” and “you can’t do that.”

Guy says, ignore people who say you won’t succeed. I agree. Use negative words as motivation. Prove people wrong (isn’t that the best feeling?). The more success you find, the more visible you will become, and the more people you will come into contact with. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Knowing this, don’t let the bozos grind you down.

Ready, Set… Start!

You’re now ready to launch your personal branding efforts with tips from one of the greats. If you haven’t read Art of the Start, read it and be inspired to start something new. I guarantee you will leave with an actionable nugget of wisdom that will improve your life.  To re-cap:

  1. Make meaning, not money
  2. Make a mantra
  3. Polarize people
  4. Find a few soul mates
  5. Don’t let the bozos grind you down

Now, I’d love to know: what’s your mantra?

Leave your mantra in the comments below.


Pete Kistler is a leading Online Reputation Management expert for Generation Y, a top 5 finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2009, one of the Top 30 Definitive Personal Branding Experts on Twitter, a widely read career development blogger, and a Judge for the 2009 Personal Brand Awards. Pete manages strategic vision for Brand‐