I’m just sitting here with two dogs and half a glass of red wine thinking:
What in Sarah Palin’s underpants do I know about personal branding?
The answer is nothing. Jack. Zilch. Less than Bristol Palin knows about birth control – that’s how much I know about personal branding.
Now that I’ve spent a good seven and a half minutes lamenting over that, let me figure out what I do know something about. You’re dying for pearls of wisdom and who am I to deny you? I suppose I could make a list:
- The proper proportion of bacon to stuffed jalapeno
- How to perform a relatively outstanding rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”
- At least three ways to incite a riot at my family’s Thanksgiving table in under thirty seconds if all siblings are present
- How to be me*
* Disclaimer: This bulletpoint took me roughly 37 years to figure out. If you’re not interested in waiting that long, keep reading. If you’re four-years-old, why are your parents letting you use the computer without supervision?
That whole “how to be me” thing is pretty useful. I have no idea if it has anything to do with a personal brand or not.
In any case, here are some things I know on the subject and how they’ve led me from a not-so-pretty place on my sofa earning $900 per month to a six-figure-plus income doing what I adore every day in just over two-and-a-half years.
People Do Business With People
Many years ago, I worked for a family-owned diamond broker in Knoxville, Tennessee. Aside from the fact that I lived in Knoxville, it was an invaluable experience for me.
The owner and his son were wise – they knew how people bought diamonds. All it took me was watching them for a few short weeks – I was soon the top salesperson in the store. I was in my early twenties and the other salespeople were in their mid-thirties and older.
Not only were they pissed I was outselling them – they were pissed I was even allowed to have any customers.
The funny part of the entire scenario was that I never sold a single thing to one of my customers who walked into the store. I talked to them.
I was new to Knoxville so I asked them about favorite places to eat, not-to-miss local cultural events, fresh ideas for where I should take my boyfriend (a lifelong resident of Knoxville) for an anniversary dinner. I asked them about the person they were buying for.
Through it all, we probably talked more about stuff than we talked about what they were buying. And y’know, I didn’t agree with all of them on everything. That’s because…
Humans Have Opinions
Holy turtles on toothpicks – don’t we? Imagine me – a brash, outspoken gal with a socially liberal bent keeping house in a conservative (and quite Christian) hotbed like Knoxville?
Our differences didn’t keep me from sharing with the person standing in front of me, though. I can remember an assortment of lively debates held over a jewelry counter – politics, principles of marriage, Ford versus Chevy (ummm, neither?!). You name it.
What I realized is that we have a choice in this life: we can stand by what we think and feel or we can roll over and show the belly.
When’s the last time you had a productive conversation with a bobblehead doll?
Skip the nonstop nodding and pick a side. Nobody goes to the store to order “meh” and roadkill? That’s what happens to folks who prefer a life in the middle of the road.
Humans Screw Up
It’s inevitable. In fact, I screwed up today. When I admitted to myself that I was fallible, humility wasn’t far behind. This point is pretty simple.
There’s a guy (or gal) you know. You know, the person who knows everything. The person who is never, ever wrong. About anything.
He could be wearing a Broncos jersey at the Superbowl and when the Pats win, that’s who he was rooting for all the time. Someone’s always holding him back, it’s never his fault, and he knew what would work but NOOOOOOOOOO – Bob had to do it his way.
Bottom line? He’s an idiot. People screw up. You screw up, I screw up. Life’s a giant hokey-pokey ring of people screwing up 24/7.
The best we can do is build the relationships that allow us to not just apologize, but ask how we can do better.
Humans Build Relationships
They’re the greatest gift I have in my life – the people in it. And it took me a long time to figure it out, but they have to be earned.
You can come blasting in somewhere like a bull in a china shop, telling people that THEY MUST LIKE YOU AND RELATE TO YOU. Kind of a jackass move – and one that doesn’t work.
Relationships require that we first be human, have opinions, respect people for those opinions (and find people whose opinions we respect), and have earned the right to ask for forgiveness AND assistance when we screw the pooch.
I’m asked frequently if, on account of my outspoken and brash personality, I’m ever afraid that I’ll lose business.
And the answer after 39 years of living is an unqualified no.
I don’t know anything about being a personal brand, but what I do know about is being human and being myself.
If you’re in charge of building a brand, just go back and fill in the word “brand” in various places above. You just might find that the principles of building a respectable, beloved, and persevering brand have a whole lot to do with being human and not so much to do with fancy logos or hex colors.
About the money…for all that’s holy – sure, we’re all in business to earn a living, but I don’t much care about the money. What I care about is waking up every morning and getting to be myself, not someone else’s version of the person I should be.
I want people to have the tools to do better business and build better brands from the get go. Maybe these four things will get you thinking about who you are and who you’d like to be – and what you’ll do when you actually grant yourself the chance to be the most fantastic thing on the planet: yourself.
After all – everyone else is already taken.
Lindsay Bell writes - If you haven’t noticed by reading the above, the inspiring Erika Napoletano has a healthy sense of self, and IS – in every aspect of her life and work – just who she IS, the rest of y’all be damned! So it’s no surprise that her recently released book is titled “The Power of Unpopular” – if you haven’t read it yet, you should. Also, when you do pick up a copy, follow us at @jugnoome, and tweet us a picture of yourself and your book gadding about around town, or hanging out together on your back deck! We will DM you a special “The Power of Unpopular” discount code for tickets to Social Mix 2012. Also, we will be awarding an autographed copy of Erika’s book to TWO (2) lucky Blog.Jugnoo readers who leave their thoughts (popular or not!) in the comment stream of this post. So, get out there and get popular by being unpopular!!