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Avoiding the potholes

More Noise Won’t Contribute to a Signal

When Tom Peters first started the “Brand You” revolution in 1997, the social tools were almost non-existent. Somebody wanted to create a “Me, Inc” and had a tough time to put that idea into action. Today, it’s different. There is no dearth of social media tools. You can start with your own blog (can be created in a few minutes) and expand to other tools (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.)

The entry barrier to get into these social media platforms are VERY low. Most of them are free for the taking. Really, they are there to create signals (something worth sharing) but most of these tools are being used to create more noise (irrelevant stuff not worth sharing).

So the first step for you is to remember to have something compelling, relevant and valuable to share in these social media outlets. If you don’t, it is not worth joining them even if the barrier to entry is low.


Generating more noise won’t contribute to a signal.

If you write because you have to write, then you will generate noise and possibly expose your ignorance by advertising it to the whole world.
When you say something anywhere (via your email or via social media outlets), remember that it costs something (generally time) to the reader to process it. If the reader does not get a good return for that investment of time, chances are that you will lose that reader.

One more opportunity lost to expand your sphere of influence.

Just Because..

I happen to attend the keynote by Meg Whitman (she was the CEO of eBay) at the TiECon conference in 2007. Meg showed the video of a person in Jaipur, India who made custom boxes and wood work and used eBay to sell his work. Before eBay, he was all alone and today he had a team of a dozen people working for him and customers from a few countries buying his creations.

I come from India and I have visited Jaipur before. I know the talent of the people there. However, without the power of the Internet and globalization, this would not be a possibility.

The Internet changes everything. So many things are possible.

Now that has many advantages, but there is a big disadvantage. You can easily lose focus. There are so many side roads on the Internet that it is tempting to take detours throughout your journey.

Just because you can do, it is NOT the reason to do it. Whatever your strategy, if it is not coherent with your overall plan, your long-term goals are in trouble.

Blockbuster or Else

“You cannot do great things. You can only do small things with great love”

– Mother Theresa

You need to aim high, but at the same time execute at the ground level. One quick way to fail is to try to hit a home run all the time.

A home run on your journey to build a personal brand is to go after building a mega personal brand- those that you see in the media day in and day out.

What the media do not tell you is that the people behind these mega brands have made investments on their personal brands. What you see and read are events that can’t be repeated without having made a ton of investment leading up to those events.

Trying to copy or recreate events independent of the investments is a sure-shot recipe for failure.

Personal Branding is an exercise that is spread over your lifetime. You can’t skip a step and you can’t miss an investment.

If your approach is “Blockbuster or Else”, chances are that you will end up with “Else” more often than not.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A personal brand cannot be built inside a shell. You can’t say that you will build a personal brand at work and you don’t care how you behave outside of your work.

Remember that you are one person. You can’t build a powerful personal brand at work and be a jerk in your personal life.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A person cannot do right in one department whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole.” Living a life is to live your personal brand. Incoherence will hurt your personal brand and when discovered by others, it will hurt some more.

Think about it. It would be hard for someone to trust you in business when they know that they can’t trust you outside business. People watch your behaviors everywhere and they expect you to be consistent with your core values – be it within a business or be it outside the business.

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