Monthly Archives: January 2009

Your Personal Branding Business Model

One of the most important aspects of creating a personal brand, is first attempting to determine what your goals are. Are you trying to become the President of the United States, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a serial entrepreneur, a social activist? This will certainly help you understand how to frame your brand, how to develop it, and how to continually move you towards your end goals.

In order to do this systematically, you should think of your personal brand just as a company does of it’s own brand; like a business.

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It starts with the product

That’s right, it starts with the person. After all, it is a personal brand, and you ARE the product. Write down how you want to be defined. What are the attributes of your product. Are you innovative? Are you a trendsetter? What are your specialties? If you were sitting on a shelf at a store, why would someone choose you over the competition?

Make sure you can deliver

Great customer service defines companies. It also defines you. Great customer service means you are servicing people who have already given you a chance. That means creating deep, meaningful relationships. It involves listening as much as it involves talking and responding.

Personal service involves great follow-ups with great communication.

You have to remember that your customers have immense power, and if you service your following correctly, they should be creating word of mouth for you. If they’re not, then you need to either re-vamp your product or your customer service.

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Finish Strong

I received great advice the other day from my friend and boss, Brant Barton. “Finishing strong is more important than how you start”.

It took me a while to really understand how true his advice was.  Common wisdom says you need to make a good first impression. First impressions leave a lasting memory, right? Even a simple Google search for advice on first impressions, and you’ll be flooded by advice on all sorts of “rules”, “tips”, and even videos.  Try the same search for finishing strong and you’ll probably be underwhelmed.

However, I did find one result which was particularly fascinating.  It’s by a man named Nick Vujicic.  Nick Vujicic was born with no arms or legs, but is using his disability to inspire people.  He gives  a very moving speech called “Are You Going To Finish Strong?”.   I suggest giving this a watch; It’s only two minutes and forty seconds long and it may get you to think differently about life and how you approach problems. 

The most interesting thing to me is, that we HAVE been taught to finish strong, but finishing strong takes more effort.  That makes it harder advice to listen to. Finishing strong involves hard work, concentration, and a clear focus on an end goal.

Think about it from the athlete’s point of view.  What’s more important to the athlete, how they start the race or how they finish?  For the corporate executive, is it more important to start a presentation correctly or to finish strong?  What do you think would create a more lasting memory?   While the start IS important, the finish is everything.  It determines whether you win the race or lose.  It determines whether you get the sale or don’t.

A good start will help you get to the finish line faster, but without a strong push at the end,  you’ll come up short.

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Ryan Paugh’s Interview of Me

This interview was conducted and posted by Ryan Paugh. If you are not subscriber of Ryan’s, I’d highly recommend checking out his writing.

When people ask you what your blog is about, what do you tell them?

That’s evolved over time. At first I used to say Personal Branding. After all, the majority of my content was centered around career and self-branding.

The ironic part is that I branded myself as a “Personal Branding Guy” when internally I felt I had more to offer to people. Not many people know that I was a Political Science major in college, that I grew up on the border with Mexico, or that I was a competitive powerlifter in high school.

I think now, I’m more focused on letting my blog be an extension of my full personality and life, so when people ask me what my blog is about, I tell them it’s about me.

You took some time off from blogging. Why did you take the time off, and what brought you back?

For one, I was extremely interested in expanding my blog beyond career and personal branding. While I love those topics, I felt like I was cheating when I wrote an article outside those topics. Around the time I was getting the urge to expand my writing, I also got a promotion, and had to focus intensely on getting up to speed with my new role. By the time I knew it, 6 months had passed. I knew it was time to re-launch.

Do you currently subscribe to other bloggers in the Brazen Community?

Adam in Napa after a little too much ripple

Adam in Napa after a little too much ripple

At this point, I subscribe to a lot of the founding Brazen crew. I follow folks like Tiffany Monhollon, Rebecca Thorman, Dan Schawbel, Andy Drish, Andre Blackman, Shama Hyder and Devin Reams. A couple of other contributors I like are Ryan Stephens and David Giesberg.

I love this video David Giesberg put together on social media and the 2008 Presidential Election. A lot of people focus on social media and business, but it’s great to see how social media also revolutionizes politics. Every future President will have to take note of how our generation uses social media.

What challenges in your real life inspire you to write on your blog?

Like Emily Stoddard mentioned last week, the big struggles are my struggles with time balance. Balancing my career, fitness, relationship, friends and family, and my writing can be challenging, but that’s what makes it fun to write.

Without challenges, we’d have nothing to share.

If your blog had a soundtrack what would it be?

Interesting question. I’m curious to hear what you or some of my readers would say.

If I had to choose a song, it’d have to be something that was fun, passionate, and something people could contribute and sing along to. For some reason, Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey comes to mind.

Social Media’s Effect on Modern Religion

I am writing this from the perspective of an American Reform Jew.

I had a conversation with a friend recently, where we got the chance to talk about pork. As many modern Reform Jews do, I consciously choose to eat pork. In my experience, eating pork amongst Jews is a common point of discussion (and humor), so I asked him why he chose to eat it.

My friend gave me a very interesting answer which I’ll discuss, but it also got me to think about Judaism, and the evolution of religion. The Torah specifically states not to eat pork, but is that outdated?

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What is the Torah?

From Wikipedia, “The Torah refers to the entirety of Judaism‘s founding legal and ethical religious texts.  There is the written part of the Torah, commonly referred to as The Five Books of Moses, and the oral portion which consists of the “traditional interpretations and amplifications handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.”

As part of our discussion, my friend discussed how he viewed the Torah as the mass-communication tool of their era. The world had no other way to mass-communicate to citizens, and the world lacked a moral and legal standard. For pork specifically, the Torah outlawed those foods because they posed a health risk for people in that day.

The question I have posed is, if those foods didn’t pose a risk, would the Torah have outlawed them? If you believe that Man created the Torah, and not God, then the answer is probably no; the Torah wouldn’t have outlawed those foods had they not posed a risk.

Social Media’s Effect on Modern Religion

Obviously, pork does not pose the same kind of risk that it did 3,000 years ago. More importantly, the majority of Jews in the world aren’t following the Torah’s interpretations the same way they used to.  I think this brings up the larger question. 3,000 years ago, if the Torah was the only way a Jew could feel Jewish, it was the only way they could learn about the world, it’s laws, and moral code, then can we say that in a world so different, the Torah is outdated?  Could we agree that this extends to other religions?

The world has changed. We can get information about the world in ways people in biblical days never dreamed possible. We no longer have to rely on religious texts for information on social norms and moral codes, we get that from each other. How does religion survive over the long haul when generations start to get their information not from the Torah, Bible, or Koran, but from each other?

Will social media made religion a thing of the past? What does religion look like 500 years from now?

Convenience, The Core of Every Business

Every business succeeds because of convenience.  There are countless examples.

Before supermarkets, people would go to the market for fruits and vegetables, to the butcher for meat, and to the general store for toiletries.  Today, restaurants allow people to forget about the hassle of cooking and cleaning.

Another example is Netflix.  Netflix allowed customers to forget about leaving the home to rent a movie or worry about late fees.  In fact, Blockbuster’s openmarket share was taken almost overnight when Netflix came in and figured out how they could be more convenient to the customer.  It’s a good thing Blockbuster’s CEO, Jim Keyes recognized this fact when he left his post at 7-Eleven.

Instances of Inconvenience

For the most part, when a consumer encounters inconveniences, they complain, they choose to shop at different places, or they choose to create businesses that solve those inconveniences.

However, there are businesses out there that make money on inconvenience.  As funny as that may sound, luxury brands have created entire experiences around inconvenience.  Their whole business revolves around being as inaccessible as possible.   They reduce accessibility through their extravagant prices and exclusive locations, mostly.  Just recently, LVMH even cut the cord on eLuxury.com, removing e-commerce from the site in favor of a pre-1999 online catalog.

It’s comical to see brands try so hard to be so inaccessible.  The ironic part is, that these brands are essentially selling an experience. They are selling the experience of inaccessibility, which for the most part, was something only movie-stars got to experience.

So are luxury brands actually making money on the convenience of the “movie star” experience?

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to start your own business or innovate in your current industry, the real money to be made is in making products and services that aim to be more convenient.  Convenience is a competitive differentiator;  it’s a way to not only stay ahead of the competition, but it’s also the way to uncover new untapped business models.

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