This post needed to be published on my personal blog. It’s strictly an opinion, one that involves spiritual beliefs, and has nothing to do with marketing companies.
My professional post last week on reputation vs. personal branding sparked another wave of comments and posts about personal brands. Ironically, the people that seem to care the most to write posts are personal branders. Or is this really a surprise?
I mean we are talking about people who think about themselves nonstop to the point that they manicure an online personal representation, so why should their defense of this practice be so surprising? In fact, that’s why I truly loathe personal branding: It’s so selfish in nature.
This post was triggered by a response from Scotty Hendo stating that character was the most important part of a personal brand. Boiled down: In essence, if you don’t work on character than your personal brand will be mud (read the full post to get it). I have a question for Scotty, and that is what kind of character does someone have if they are thinking about and working on their personal brand all the time?
By my very nature I am a selfish person. I am the pot calling the kettle black. In fact, much of spiritual journey in life has been about combating my own selfishness. I’d rather not rehash my past on the Internet, but for the purposes of this post, when I was a young man in my teens and much of my twenties feeling good was more important than doing the right thing. I lacked character, shirked accountability, and hurt many others; family, friends and acquaintances — all to feel good.
Today, I am not the man I used to be. There was a moment of clarity, one where I literally looked in a mirror and saw a man I did not like. As a result, I worked my tail off to change.
This work continues more than a decade later. I do service work throughout the week to think of others instead of myself. I do some of this without publicly stating (or tweeting) it, and without recognition… Why? Because it is simply not about me, it’s about doing the right thing. That’s why I have such a love for nonprofits in my heart.
Beyond these acts, I spend countless hours in prayer and meditation to become a better person. These spiritual acts help get my head to a point where I can at least think about others for a while everyday, perhaps acknowledge my wrongs, make amends, and continue striving forward. I will not claim sainthood or a boy scout badge. I am a flawed man (and there are many folks who would agree with that statement), but the road I travel today can be and often is a better one.
Am I selfish and egotistic still? Yes, but I recognize it as a core defect of character. Thus, when I see personal branding — in addition to the professional dangers it offers my clients — I am repelled. Even revolted. Because it is dangerous to me. It represents a major step backwards. I’d rather walk in the opposite direction and focus on something, or someone else. Like helping a friend in need, a cause, or some other random act of kindness.
To my personal branding friends, I hope that some day you will reach a level of awareness that you can see there is more to life than image. Or follower counts, or even publishing books and selling companies. In others we find solace and greatness. Through spiritual giving, we come to find a better world.
In the interim, please forgive me, but I simply cannot accept or participate in the personal branding wave for many of the professional and personal reasons stated. May your journey be a good one.