Don’t Flush This Out of Your Personal BrandI grew up in the ’70s. Which means I grew up with full-size urinals.Economy of size and space was not a priority. We weren’t concerned with ultra-low-flush toilets. The government didn’t tell us how much water should woosh. (1.6 gallons of water or less nowadays, per the Feds.)And so, we didn’t care that a futuristic three-foot tall urinal could accomplish the same thing as our five-foot urinal. Our urinals started at the floor and extended up near the ceiling. They were roughly the size of a coffin. At least it felt that tall in 4th grade.4th grade was also the year I had my first real fight. Well, excluding all the fights with my big brother. But those don’t count. Mom or Dad was always nearby to referee or stop the bludgeoning. This was a school fight.School fights are real. And my first and only one happened at a full-sized urinal. And kind of in a full-sized urinal. But I’m jumping ahead.A line of us 4th-grade boys headed into the bathroom. We just finished lunch and recess. This was the final pit stop before an afternoon of full of classes.
Like every 4th grade class in the ’70s, ours had a bully. I don’t remember his name. I do remember his intimidation.
He was classic bully material. Three shoe sizes bigger than me and my classmates. A few letter grades below most of us when report cards came out too.
If ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘No Bullying’ posters existed back then, his picture would have been on them.
Like any other day, I was minding my own business parked in front of urinal number 4. Buzz the Bully finished first. So he took the opportunity to pace behind the rest of us like a Drill Sergeant. You could feel the fear circling like a shark. Had we not been standing eight inches from these urinals, we would’ve peed our pants.
Buzz hurled insults. He called us names. Names NOT included in the sex-ed film we saw in class. And then came the classic urinal prank. He began pushing each one of us into the urinal, mid-stream. One-by-one he made his way down the line.
(Now, any male will tell you, once you start, you cannot stop. You can only finish. It takes however long your bladder decides it takes. You are just a passenger. Buzz knew this. He waited for us to start and caught us with our pants down, so to speak.)
Remember, I’m parked in front of urinal number 4.
With each shove…urinal 1, urinal 2, urinal 3…I went from terrified to angry.
My turn came with my bladder nearing E. I was helpless.
In I went. Both feet wet.
But somewhere between finishing and zipping, I’d had enough.
A man possessed, I calmly stepped OUT OF my urinal. I turned to the right in time to catch Buzz on his way back down the line—enjoying his spoils.
He approached. My eyes caught his. And I could see the moment he registered what my eyes were screaming. His widened, filled with shock.
My right hand involuntary balled into a fist. With the force of a wrecking ball, I punched him right in the gut. It hit like a bowling ball slung at a down feather pillow.
He bent over in two, grabbed his stomach, and started crying. His whimpering echoed across the tiled bathroom. All else was silent.
To this day, you’d be hard pressed to determine who was the most shocked. Me? Buzz? Or the rest of my classmates whose jaws were on the urinal floors along with their wet shoes.
Looking back now, I think I know ‘who’ (not ‘what’) was going on. And ‘who’ (not ‘what’) it has to do with your personal brand.
Bullies Still Exist And Can Shove Your Personal Brand Into the UrinalWhen it comes to marketing your personal brand, you will come across bullies.They may not come in the form of an intimidating figure like Buzz. They will come in the form of success and failure.Yes, success and failure in your personal brand can both bully you. They can shake you up. They can toss you around. They can prevent you from not only doing what you want to do, but being who you want to be.
Ritz-Carlton Yourself as a Person to Defeat Personal Branding BulliesI was recently listening to a podcast featuring the founder of The Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel brand.The Ritz-Carlton story is a fascinating one.The podcast interviewer asked this question of the Founder. “How do you get the vision and mission of your brand from the Boardroom into the conscious of every team member in such a large organization?”
Check out his insightful answer…
The first day anybody comes to work, we teach them who we are. We don't teach functions [IE tasks, processes, or practices]… —Horst Schulze, Founder of The Ritz-CarltonHis answer jumped out at me. My headphones almost popped out of my ears.He starts with Who…and I couldn’t agree more.Who is where you start if you want to defeat the bullies of success and failure in your personal branding journey.
Simon Sinek’s “Why” Matters…Depending on Who You AreSimon Sinek is famous for teaching us Why Matters. I love his work on this subject.It is critical for your personal brand. Why are you doing this? Why aren’t you doing something else? What is compelling you forward?But there’s another question you should ask. Because I believe Why depends on Who. Especially for personal brands.Let me explain…
One Hop This Time
First, there is only ONE hop between Why you do what you do as a personal brand, and Who you are.Big brands and corporations are different. There are often numerous hops between Why and Who.Corporations have a Board of Directors, C-Level management, Mid-management, and corporate headquarters. There are floors of separation between the end customer and the top floor of the CEO’s office. Who is up there somewhere in the clouds.
You Are The Headquarters of Your Personal BrandWhen you build a personal brand you will experience ups and downs. Success and failure. Sometimes your marketing will work. Other times it will flop.Those successes and failures can smack you like bullies.They have a far more direct impact on Who you are as a personal brand because you’re it…You are a walking, talking, breathing headquarters.There’s no giant concrete building to buffer the effects. There’s no corporate division to blame. It’s just you.
The Woo of Success Can Bully Your Personal BrandSuccess can woo you into all sorts of trouble. Cutting corners you never thought you would. Working more hours than you ever planned on working. Chasing things you never intended to run after.
The Woe of Failure Can Bully Your Personal BrandFailure can woe you into all sorts of distress. Self-doubt. Fear of trying again. Focusing on the negative. Giving up on the dream.
Why ‘Who’ Matters to Your Personal BrandWho you are as a person is the most important part of your personal brand.Read all the marketing tactics you want. Attend all the marketing conferences you can. Rub shoulders with all the marketing influencers you can get your hands on. Go for it.But do NOT substitute what you do, what you know, or who you know for who you are!You are your personal brand.
I’ve Found The Foundation Is FoundationalI teach my clients an absurdly simple marketing framework to free up their marketing mojo. Why? Because so many personal brands feel overwhelmed when it comes to marketing.I save personal brands from drowning in a sea of marketing channels and choices so they can get marketing clarity, gain marketing confidence, and grow their business.The foundation of my absurdly simple marketing framework is Who. (And I use the word, ‘foundation’ literally.)The foundation that drives all of the marketing for your personal brand is you—who you are!Who you are will determine Why you do what you do.As I teach it in my framework, your Character drives your Values. And the combination of the two permeates all of your marketing. It’s inevitable.
This Is Insta-gramably Apparent (Example After Example)You see this play out across Instagram.To show you how important and evident WHO is, I’ll share a few snippets of three personal brands. Each account has 14K+ followers.My point isn’t to pass judgment on these three examples. Rather my purpose is to demonstrate how your WHO (character and values) shapes your marketing.(I’ll tweak a few words from the originals to ‘protect the innocent’.)
Insta Example #1
- Bio: I help [insert female audience demographic] kill limiting beliefs & actualize all their desires!💰
- Instagram Story Collections: ‘Happiness!!’, ‘Money!’
- Quote Card: “You can stream Netflix all weekend and still succeed. Just saying.”
Insta Example #2
Post & Caption: (Portrait B&W) Noza and her family fled on foot to the Syrian border to escape bombings in her village…in the refugee camp, her family received poisoned bread…she made it to the US…got her Bachelor’s… homeschools her girls…her greatest fear is people will not see past her hijab (headscarf) to see a grateful woman, mother, and wife.
- Bio: Artist / Founder of [insert business] & [insert social good project]
- Instagram Story Collections: ‘Art’, ‘Family’
Insta Example #3
- Bio: Everyone can change the world
- Instagram Story Collections: ‘Truck Stuff, ‘Money Ma…’ (not sure, it’s cut off)
- Post & Caption: (Pic of the person’s 6-pack abs) Always chase your feelings. And don’t overthink everything. Overthinking does more harm than good.
Personal Brands Should Spend Time in Whoville Preparing for The GrinchWhen the Grinch of success and failure come to knock you off your game… When your marketing pays off and when it pays nada…you need to know who you are.I mentioned in the opening story, I think I know the reason I finally punched Buzz in the gut.I did it in large part because I knew who I was. I wasn’t tough. I wasn’t particularly brave. I wasn’t a fighter. But here’s what I knew about myself, even as a 4th grader…
Knowing who I was meant, even if I got ‘caught’ or ‘in trouble’ for punching Buzz, I was ok. My character wasn’t going to be redefined by one incident. My love and acceptance at home weren’t going to disappear. And best of all, I had a powerful advocate who knew me through and through.So if you want to gut punch the bullies of success and failure that come with being a personal brand, spend some time on the person you’re marketing. Stop off in Whoville.Know who you are apart from what you do, accomplish, produce, or earn.Otherwise, you’ll wind up with wet feet standing in the urinal.
- I wasn’t the proverbial troublemaker. All my teachers knew my character…and Buzz’s lack thereof. I had nothing to gain.
- I was loved and accepted by my parents. I had nothing to prove.
- I had friends in high places. My elementary principal was a close family friend who knew me like a son and my parents like family. I had nothing to lose.