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  • Replacing a Legend? Be Legendary Yourself!

    Having just experienced the Rose Bowl game and a win by my alma mater, I was overcome by love and a slight hero worship for Oregon’s coach Chip Kelly. How can you not love a coach full of gusto, standing at the helm of a ship that is hell bent on reaching greater heights? Yet I also reflected on how different it could have been for Kelly coming in to replace the beloved Mike Bellotti. Bellotti, who was synonymous with Oregon Football and who is an icon in Eugene, was a man who couldn’t be replaced. Or could he? The same could be said for Steve Young replacing Montana, Seifert replacing Walsh, or Rodgers replacing Favre. None of them had it easy, and all of them had to forge a unique path.

    Having to replace someone who was successful at his/her position is no doubt difficult and takes a strong personal brand to do it. Replacing a legend…well, only a few survive. Whether in business or sports, the spotlight is already there, and only one thing calms the skepticism – success. More than likely you are the type of person who is used to being the one to setting a foundation; the difference now is that someone else has already set one in place. Your focus becomes two-fold, keeping the momentum and making it your own. There are are strategies to help ease the transition, for instance:

    PAY HOMAGE TO YOUR PREDECESSOR. You are the successor so even if the one you replace thinks less of you, be the bigger man. This video example showcasing Steve Young and what he went through replacing Joe Montana offers a glimpse into the feelings of one who replaces greatness. The emotion in his voice is so evident and raw, and the stakes so high, that you can almost experience what he was feeling the first time the two met on their career stage. Montana not acknowledging Young in the KC v. 49er game also gave a glimpse into the deep rooted feelings of the one being replaced. In the video you only hear Steve speak positively of Montana and turn any blame and pressure on himself. For fans it allowed them to still cherish their beloved and set the wheels in motion to embrace a new hero.

    LEAD WITHOUT BLINDERS. There is much to be learned from tradition and past but you will never best showcase your personal brand if you only duplicate. Concentrate on what you can do to demonstrate leadership on your terms. Chip Kelly is a man that clearly wears no blinders. He took the program Mike Bellotti passed on and did what he needed to do to win while bringing attention to Duck football. Colin Cowherd recently said this about the Ducks under Kelly “(They) never made decisions based on anything other than what makes us better tomorrow.” This mentality is undoubtedly working.

    Most people hate change so PICK YOUR BATTLES. Only you can decide what traditions forge ahead and which need to come to an end. Use your brand values to help you gauge which changes are needed. The results of those changes will then align with your personal brand and be worth any headaches.

    BE A MENTOR/COACH. As painful as it is to think that someday you might be leaving, whether or not by choice, make sure that a part of you is left behind. Believe that there are elements of significance you provided that will aid in future success for the team/school, company, and more importantly the people that you influence. This applies even if you weren’t successful in your endeavors, but even more so if you were. Brett Favre was the antitheses of this, feeling that his teaching only needed to come from witnessing his play. His statements about Aaron Rodgers this year in early October only added to his recent actions for tarnishing what was a legendary image. This video on the other hand, which posted only a few days after Favre’s comments, shows Rogers paying homage to his successor. Same position, same team…two very different personal brand strategies.


    Katie Marston is the CEO and founder of DYME Branding, a personal and lifestyle branding company focusing on professional athletes. Follow her on twitter at @ktmarston or learn more at dymebranding.com.

    Katie Marston is President and Executive Director of DYME Branding , a personal brand development company focusing on professional athletes. Follow her on twitter at @ktmarston

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