Don’t be a personal brand…

You are a personal brand… Think of yourself as You, Inc.

Common advice on the interwebs in the current year. Based on what I see, the advice is woefully misinterpreted and misapplied. Most people think of personal branding as separate from their person. It doesn’t work that way.

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

“Don’t be a personal brand. Be a person.” – James Altucher

When you lose sight of this, your personal brand ends up being a caricature of who you thinkyou should be. Or, who you think people want you to be. In both cases you’re living a lie.

“Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live for their image.” – Bruce Lee

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Here is a post I saw the other day in a Facebook group:

“…One thing I get fired up about is getting women the kind of work environment that helps them thrive. That means women in leadership, speaking at conferences, at home writing away with their bevy of happy clients, coding at Google, shaping policy at the statehouse… wherever they dream about being. I want to create an environment where women can do what they do best: kick ass. That means giving men (and other women) resources they need to support women doing their best work. It’s action, not just inspiration.”

Now, I don’t know if she’s being sincere or not. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she truly believes this. But isn’t it a little convenient this is the exact same thing Every… Single… Woman… Online is “fired up” about? Convenient is putting it politely; I really want to say lazy.

The funny thing is, in the paragraph prior she gives us an glimpse into her personality:

“I’m the basic-est of basic (Target shopping mommy with a love for Starbucks mochas, fall, and the blanket-turned-wearable-scarf esthetic) and I’d rather joke about with friends that then turn it into a branding element. So I tend to shy away from physical traits determining my personal brand.”

Isn’t that much more interesting? And honest. It’s the kernel of an authentic personal brand. Here’s the thing…

When you live a lie you will be exposed

No… no one will find you out. You may be a pro at doin’ it for the ‘gram. But your subconscious will sabotage you because it cannot abide your hypocrisy. Putting on airs won’t last; your true personality will always surface. And all it will take is for something to go wrong or for you to be removed from your carefully constructed persona bubble.

So don’t be a personal brand, be a person. It will be better for your person AND your brand.

What’s the most authentic, REAL AF side of you that you’re afraid to show online? Let me know in the comments.

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