Lets talk about this concept called Personal Branding. Now, for starters, I’m a Xennial, meaning I didn’t have a computer in the house until after the age of ten. More over, my parents, though incredibly good business people, did not really believe in technology. My TV hours were regulated, I watched a lot of cartoons and MyMTV, and I almost completely missed video games, with the exception of the original Tron, Mine Sweeper, Mario Nintendo, Duck Hunter, and of course, Oregon Trail.
In short, it’s not that I’m a Luddite in that I don’t know how computers work. I’ve taken classes in Autocad, and I can run an Intuit system top to bottom. It’s just that I’m not so keen on fads. Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat. I have no game. None. Even Tinder or OkCupid, not so much. It’s not because I don’t have internet presence; it’s not that I can’t use the platform. It’s that I’m unsure why these platforms are considered the best methods. We humans are mammals, after all, we need physical touch. When the major form of communication excludes by its nature basic humans needs I’m distrusting of it.
Okay, that philosophy is nice and all, but the modern day world has demands, and survival is often based on moving with the times. It doesn’t particularly matter what I think or feel about the platform if the general population disagrees. Success, in short, at least right now, hinges heavily on the internet. We’re talking financial success. We’re talking jobs. We’re talking methods to get food, and housing, and medical. It’s all online. Convenience, and more, efficiency, says that it has to be. Even if you are like me in your beliefs you can’t argue that booking a doctors appointment online is easier than a phone call. Who uses a phone like a phone anyway, anymore?
Now, I’m relatively rare as a person. I’m a certified welder, a professional chef, and mixologist bartender. I travel internationally extensively, and I don’t have a college degree to my name, and I’m unsure if there’s really a good reason to have one besides bravado. Funny enough, I’ve done all the generals, which is really what businesses want to know you’ve done as a standard for being educated. What this means in practical terms is that my chances of survival are pretty damn good. I can survive without the internet. I can build a home, plant my own crops, make medicines, and connect people with physical skills. I can make tribes. Be that the case, what do I need the internet for?
Personal Branding. This is a new concept to me. The idea is that now that I’ve spent two decades making myself into a capable adult the best way for me to succeed, and effect change towards human survival, is to be findable. How am I findable? By the internet; by promoting my Personal Brand, and that Brand is Me. It’s weird to consider selling myself, instead of selling my projects. For years I sold my food, my skills, my art. I’ve worked in the service of others all my life. Aiding others, bolstering others. Working in the service of myself is a strange concept, if in large because there’s something inherently selfish about the idea.
Example: I write a book. This book I write for me, because it makes me feel good to do so. The focus of this book is altruistic in nature; it’s intended to help the world. I do this not because I believe the book will succeed, but because I’m compelled to do so. I need to write it. I’ve spent too much time gathering data to not frame that data and give it back. It’s as though my internal storage capacity is at its peak, and if I don’t write this book, vacate the internal storage to an external drive, my internal system might explode. Okay. Can do. I can write said book, and there it is. What if I never give it out? This is a million writers, right here; write it, but never publish it. We are our own worse critics. But why not publish it? The answer, of course, is fear. Fear that I’m not good enough. Fear that my thoughts, my frame work, my data, won’t be received well because I’m not as smart as I think I am. But fear is silly, and you can’t know until you try. It is through mistakes that we learn to improve, and the great business owners will tell you on average that they failed at three businesses before they succeeded big at a fourth.
Say I put it out there. Say I publish. Who buys? This is what Personal Branding is about. This is what web presence is about. If I have no web presence then I sell my book to my mom and dad, who are proud of me, and that’s about it. If I have a Facebook presence maybe I sell ten copies out of my four-hundred Facebook friends. If I have a WordPress, which I write into every day, or a couple times a week, maybe I sell another few copies. If I have a Snapchat, an Instagram, and Youtube channel, then I sell exponentially more just by existing on multiple platforms.
Except I have a problem. I don’t believe in the system. It’s not that I don’t believe in the success of the system. The success is evident. It’s that I believe in human contact, in physical experience, and that lives are lived outside the internet. I’m not going to spend sixty hours a week promoting my book online through platforms. Not that I can’t. Truly, I don’t term success by cash dollars. If I term success by how many people I help with my experience and knowledge, then I need to divide my time. Twenty hours a week in promotion of my book, twenty hours a week in communications and connecting people together, twenty hours a week physically outside, on the ground, talking to people face to face. That’s sixty hours a week right there. Sixty hours a week where I may not be making money.
Or maybe I am? The neat part about this modern day is that because the internet is successful in the way that it is there are people making changes, and moves, and money, who are interested in helping. I don’t need ten years to make my efforts produce effects. I need one year of high intensity focus surrounded by people of similar momentum. That one year of not working for cash dollars, but working for social dollars, may provide me and my family a home, and protection, for the rest of our lives. That one year of focus might mean living on couches, and in hammocks on the beach, and may mean… well, who knows? A helluva adventure any which way it goes.
I’ve been in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for almost a month now, contemplating this whole Personal Branding thing. In the last week I sat down at bars on two separate occasions with two incredible movers. Met them both on accident. Met them because sometimes I’m an event. Charismatic, interested, present, and engaged. These fellows each, and separate, are brilliant business minds, capable, and for the better part, humble. I couldn’t have met them through the internet. Not because I couldn’t have found them, or reached out, but because in the internet I’m just another piece of biomass. I don’t have a noted Personal Brand. There’s nothing remarkable about my name on the internet. In person, on the other hand. Well that’s a different can of worms entirely. If I hadn’t drawn out of them an interest in the subject matter they never would have brought it up, about their businesses, goals, personal lives. They never would have opened up as they did, and trusted me with the inner workings of their worlds, if I hadn’t had a focus in listening, a curiosity in knowing for the sake of knowing.
Here’s the thing, these two guys are the kind of people who see someone like me, and help give me the space to create. They see me, feel what I’m doing, what I care about, how it can help the world at large, and they want to buy into that. It helps them. It helps me. It gives me a month on a couch to write, and talk, and connect. It gives us together a space to Think Tank, and consider. It gives us mutual promotion, not in terms of the internet, or sales, but in terms of personal self growth; in confidence, and in worth.
I realize after talking to them that the best way to promote my Personal Brand is to write about my daily experiences. They are frequently fantastic. I’ve done something of a disservice in keeping them to myself. The idea of being a blogger hasn’t been appealing to me in the past because there is a whole generation of trite people blogging about trite shit. That said, I’ve read plenty of blogs that changed my perspective on a subject. Maybe that’s worth enough.
Change one mind. Touch one person. That’s enough. Yet, as my new friends reminded me the other night, you can think small if you like, but is that really the best you can do?
There are a thousand ways to succeed. If you believe in what you are doing, and are willing to try, the universe will conspire to help you succeed.