If you’re reading the Personal Branding Blog, you’re probably like me and spend 8+ hours online each day between work and play. Take a second and think, how many online services did you use today and what did you use them to do? Yesterday, I used 19 online services to create and share information, connect with friends and business contacts and generally run my life.
As bloggers and social media types, we’re constantly throwing ourselves out there into the ether. We share ideas and connect with new contacts and old friends every single day on networks like Facebook and Twitter. We share photos of our family and friends on Facebook, Flickr and Picasa, videos on Youtube and Vimeo and continually curate our personal brands all across the Internet.
You’re probably thinking “Yeah, so what? I already know all this.” I know, I know, I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re thinking about personal branding, you already know that you’re living your life digitally. You already know you create tons of digital information every single day, but consider this…
Your online accounts and personal brand are real assets
We all know how much time and effort we’re spending to create our personal brand, but what kind of value does it have? Your personal brand is made of of all of your “digital assets” which can have both economic and sentimental value. Economically valuable digital assets have real monetary value and include domain names, blogs, business documents, contacts lists and ebooks. Sentimentally valuable digital assets include your family photos, personal emails to your friends, interactions on social networking sites, videos, personal websites and digital versions of family heirlooms.
It may seem crazy, but my digital assets are probably more valuable than my physical ones. My blog, websites, domain names, digital photos and social media accounts are all more valuable to me than my offline, physical assets. My financial accounts and certain physical assets like my 1994 Carolla have value, but they aren’t what my family and friends will remember me by. They’ll remember me, of course, from the time we spent together offline, but they’ll probably also remember me in large part by the digital photos of us together, my blog posts about trips we took together and the casual interactions we had on Facebook, Twitter and via email.
Your digital assets are your legacy
Imagine that you’re a historian trying to study early US culture from the 1770s. You have to rely on newspapers, letters and historical interviews. Fast forward to today. Think about the amount of digital bits that will be collected about us for future generations to look back on. From our seemingly mundane tweets to the most carefully crafted blog posts, there will certainly be no shortage of ‘you’ remaining even after ‘you’re gone.’
The truth is, we are the first generation in the history of the world that is able to craft our own lasting legacies. It’s a pretty empowering idea: you have the ability to shape your own legacy. Because the Internet never forgets, we are the first generation to be able to create lasting, primary records of what our lives are like. Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to see the people, moments and ideas that were important to us on a day to day basis and made us who we are.
We’re also the first generation that can make sure that the things that we’ve worked on that are important to us stay accessible to our heirs. You can start curating your digital legacy by:The personal brand you are creating today, along with all of things you create and share online, are digital assets and part of your digital legacy that you will be able to share with your heirs even after you’re gone.
- Thinking of your online activities and personal brand as real assets
- Considering which digital assets you’d like people to remember and which you’d like deleted
- Making an offline or online list of what you’d like done with each of your digital assets
Nathan Lustig is the cofounder of Entrustet, a website that helps you manage your digital assets (online accounts and computer files) and decide what you’d like to happen to your digital life after you pass away. During college at the University of Wisconsin, Nathan ran a tickets and textbooks website that was later acquired by its ad network. Nathan is the founder of Capital Entrepreneurs, a network of Madison, WI technology businesses and is the cofounder of the Forward Technology Conference.