I spent the weekend with my cousin in San Antonio, TX. He’s as close to a Godfather a Jewish kid can get. After all, he held me during my bris. My cousin is the typical Gen-X’er. He lived through the tech boom, but like many other Gen X’ers, didn’t ride the wave.
My cousin is a very successful employment lawyer. In fact, you can say he’s one of the best in the State of Texas. As a subscriber to my blog and a natural mentor of mine, he had some thoughts on branding himself. His point of view was that you must find a niche, and become the foremost expert on that subject. He had done it in employment law, but mentioned that the people who get recognized in this world are known for one thing, and are the best at it. Seth Godin’s Squidoo is a perfect example of this.
It’s funny though. As simple as finding a niche sounds, I think a lot of people in my generation are scared of this. We don’t want to be pigeon holed. While one offers security, the other offers freedom. There are definitely examples of both in my generation. Take two Gen Y leaders who are polar extremes of this notion. Dan Schawbel has taken the lead on Personal Branding. He’s found his niche in Personal Branding and he’s perfectly comfortable there. Rebecca Thorman, on the other-hand, is a Gen Y leader who discusses a whole slew of issues that Generation Y faces, yet makes no effort to find a niche.
While both are successful, finding a niche IS the easiest way to find success. (Depending on how you define success)
Everywhere we look, we’re taught to find our niche. Our teachers and professors teach ONE subject in which they are the foremost experts. Our bosses are usually really good at one thing, and they make careers out of them. There are few places to find great personal brands that don’t have a niche. It will be interesting to see how our generation responds as we enter the workforce, but I don’t see things changing much. Experts will be noticed, and those who don’t have expertise will have sit on the sidelines.