‘We attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life when we use our native capacities to their greatest extent’ – Dr Blanton
I have a Gucci suit which I bought for a tidy US dollar sum. One day I saw a colleague wearing the same ‘Gucci’ suit. I made a comment about how the suit was a nice Gucci, and that I owned exactly the same suit. He just laughed and opened the inside of the suit to reveal the suit label. Alas it was a ‘fong kong’ or a ‘zhing zhong’. It had all the appearance of a Gucci suit but was not the real thing. On a closer look, the inside lining was already torn, and the outside material had bubbles betraying every pretence of being a Gucci.
Ok, ok let me play the bad guy, lest you lose the lesson because you think I am being self conceited. My brother in law recently got a birthday present of an Arsenal football club jersey bought straight from the Emirates Stadium in the UK. It has the look and feel of an authentic Arsenal jersey…sweat absorption, aerodynamic texture…all the bells and whistles. I also have a Chelsea club jersey bought from ‘downtown’. Each time I have worn this jersey, my 3 year old daughter Zoe, always says, ‘Dad everyone will laugh at you’. I don’t know what she saw in that jersey, but I have now restricted wearing that jersey to the indoors following her ‘daughterly’ advice.
What are the lessons? Your personal brand is pretty much like a product. If you are not authentic, when people take a closer look, they will see the torn lining, bubbles, warts and all. Let’s dig deeper into this.
Personal Branding is a way of clarifying or communicating what makes you different and special. It is an understanding of your unique attributes namely your passions, strengths, values and skills. It is about what makes you ‘younique’. It is more than a logo, a tagline, airbrushing or a spin job but a unique promise of the value you were born to add to this world. Those attributes which make you fit to execute your special assignment in this world. Your personal brand cannot be separated from what makes you unique – your strengths, skills, passions and values. You cannot fake these attributes otherwise you will soon be exposed as not being authentic. Understanding your personal brand helps you define the direction which your life must take professionally or in business.
You Are The Real Thing
Purpose authenticates your brand. Your purpose is linked to your wiring (passions, values, skills and strengths). Passion for your purpose comes when you are exceedingly motivated by your work because you have faith in its inherent worth, and you can apply your capabilities to utmost effect. Personal branding is permission to be your authentic self. A secure identity is the foundation for developing a strong and authentic personal brand. The best brands simply express who they are. Coca Cola is ‘brrrrrrrrr’ wherever you are…it will always be Coca Cola. Like Coke, be driven by your unique attributes. Do not try to be another Mother Theresa, Jack Welch, Branson, Motsepe, Dr King Jr, Masiyiwa, Mandela or Oprah. The world needs fresh inspiration from you. You are robbing the world of the next biggest thing after Obama by sitting on your immense gifting.
Generational Personal Branding
There is nothing inspirational about being the ‘ex-powerhouse, former top leader, once a democrat et.c. I know of leaders in different spheres from my hometown who are now a former shadow of themselves. What went wrong? They failed the generational branding test. If your personal brand will die within one generation, then it is not an authentic brand. Generation is made up of two words gene and ration which literally means spreading or rationing your genes over time. An authentic brand is able to be reproduced and spread over many generations. You were born when Coca Cola was around, and I have no doubt that your grandchildren will still drink Coke. Now that is an authentic brand.
Success is not about ‘having’ but about ‘being’. Greatness is not measured by what you have, but by what you give. You give by investing in your personality, so that you become so great that many aspire to your inspiration. ‘Being’ means becoming what you must be and maximizing your full potential. Invest in your strengths, skills, passions and values so that you can positively influence those in your sphere of influence. One day future generations must be able to celebrate your personal brand, stand on your shoulders see greater possibilities ahead and be inspired to open new frontiers for the next generation.