I am an avid cyclist and even my own personal branding work combines cycling imagery with branding strategy.
I often say that being your brand is “just like riding a bike” – once you believe in your brand you are inspired to take action and train to become your brand. Like riding a bike, becoming your brand includes combining a series of coordinated steps in an uncomplicated way. Your hard work and training then enables you to naturally be on-brand all of time and, like riding a bike, you never forget.
We can draw many parallels between cycling culture and personal branding. Here are 6 of my favorite quotes related to the culture of cycling and the connection I see with the culture of personal branding. I hope these six quotes motivate you to use the power of your personal brand to “shift gears, get out of the saddle, and sprint to career and life success.” Enjoy!
1. “Life is like riding a bike. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Once you have uncovered and communicated your personal brand, it is critical to always be managing your brand in everything you say and do. Clearly, consistently, and constantly stay “on-brand” and if you get “off-brand”, make sure to have the communication tools in place in maintain your balance and pedal forward.
2. “Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers – those people ride a bike.” – Wolfgang Sachs
Branding yourself is all about taking control. Being good at what you do is no longer good enough, and simply waiting for others to recognize your hard work is a waste of time. You must consciously act upon your authenticity and broadcast it to others by standing out, showing up, and spreading the word.
3. “Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles M. Schultz
In cycling you need to use all of your gears. If you stay in the same gear you may not be able to climb the mountain or out-sprint your competition. In our careers we can also run the risk of finding that “easy” gear to simply coast along. We ignore the other gears and when our careers get “derailed” we are not ready to shift gears. Personal branding gives you the tools you need to shift gears so that you can beat your competition.
4. “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” – Greg LeMond
Once you have your brand communication tools in place your brand is up and running. You are “in the zone,” as many elite cyclists will say. However, it is essential that you continue to manage your brand environment – appearance, physical surroundings, brand-identity system, and professional networks. Maintaining your brand environment is not easy, it requires a lot of consistent effort to keep your brand up to speed. Always ask yourself if what you are doing contributes to your brand message or distracts from it.
5. “It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.” – Heinz Stucke
Nothing in life goes as planned and being prepared for the unknown may just be what gives you the edge over others. The world of work has changed forever and careerists worldwide need to be prepared to stand out and deliver on their unique promise of value, or run the risk of losing opportunities. Your personal brand will give you the edge you need to succeed in this new economy.
6. “It’s not about the bike.” – Lance Armstrong
In cycling, it’s ultimately not whether a bicycle is lighter, stronger, or more technologically advanced. It is how the rider engages and uses the bicycle that truly matters. The same must be said for personal branding. In the end personal branding is about you, the person. For example, we cannot get caught up in social media tools and whether one tool is better than another. What matters is how we engage and use such tools to communicate and manage our personal brands, and how we walk away from these tools when needed to ensure the human side is always first and foremost.
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.