I just returned from a seminar about Personal Branding given by a Mr. Samuel David. There was a lot of great material covered, and I learned a lot, am still reflecting on a lot of it, and was inspired to action. I want to relay a lot of the key points and I’ll try to do so in the order they were presented, however as an audio learner, some of my conclusions might be intermixed. It must be said that Mr. Samuel David is a great, public speaker. His delivery of material, covering the main points, pause in making statements, audience interactivity, and ability to convey relevance was spot on. He apparently does workshops and other classes which sound schweet. I apologize, therefore, for my haphazard gathering of thoughts and attempting to organize them here before I take the long drive home.
To give you some background, BellSouth I’m thinking sponsored the seminar, calling it, “Personal Branding As a Career Mobility Strategy”. The 2 beginning words were what inspired me to go. Here a large, corporate company is making an active effort to inspire BellSouth employee’s to actively pursue Personal Branding to help them in their career’s. I was fascinated in the enigma this caused. Why would a company want their own employee’s to care about their own career marketability? The seminar answered this as explaining to the audience how they can increase their career mobility strategy within their respective company. As the speaker was from IBM, he relayed the message applying it to BellSouth, as well as other companies as it seemed there were other people there not from BellSouth (Delta, Bank of America, etc). I took Marta to the Midtown BellSouth building 2, and I must say public transportation is lame. While the experience of actually going through the subway was easier than Washington, D.C.’s, the price was straight crazy. It cost me, in total, $4. I could of driven there for less, and then headed straight home afterwards… assuming I found a free parking spot.
At any rate, BNAT, the BellSouth National African American Telecommunications …something… may have misquoted the name, can’t find their website, appeared to be involved. My co-workers and I arrived a little late as getting some of our tasks completed proved unexpectedly challenging, but nothing my team couldn’t handle. Therefore, it sounds like I missed a great introduction, but alas I still made it time for more good stuff.
He started talking about the 3 main points he wanted us to carry away with us in dealing with Personal Branding. I’ll have a copy of the presentation emailed to me, but for the time being here’s my best guess. He first discussed the changing world we live in compared to 50, 20, 10, and 5 years ago. How everything is networked, how we are now in communications with many who we were not before, how the top-down management and/or company structure is a thing of the past and has been turned on its side, adding horizontal career growth to the mix. Key points also being contracts between employers and employees used to being you give me your blood and sweat and I’ll provide you with a lifetime job… that concept is, in the majority, no more. Then, discussing how instead of us going to work, the work comes to us. The company assets no longer being in currency (money, gold, oil) but instead in intellectual assets. The grand cool thing about this is instead of me giving you gold, and now you having it and I don’t; instead it’s I give you information and now you have it, and so do I. The weeding out, outsourcing, and marginalizing of people based on performance says that no longer will you stand out by your performance alone… as everyone around you is there because of their performance. If it wasn’t good, they wouldn’t be there. Therefore, that is why Personal Branding is important; for you to stand out. He quoted a lot of great sayings, such as “Your either distinct or extinct” and a lot of reasons behind why you need to take proactive action to let others know who you are.
What is a Brand
He talked about what a brand is. It represents “What its best known for?”, where the it is whatever the brand is conveying. He showcased some logos, such as Starbucks, Harley Davidson, and asked us what we thought when we heard those names; what did they stand for. Starbucks, instead of being coffee, meant “It’s not work, it’s not home, it’s a refuge for our customers.” They are providing a culture for people to go to and hang out.
Harley Davidson, instead of being about American made, freedom, was instead about “…a 43 year-old accountant having the ability to wear a black leather jacket, and ride his motorcycle in a residential neighborhood.” They’re selling a lifestyle, the rebel lifestyle.
He then showcased a lot of BellSouth leaders and others, showcasing their leadership traits which got them to where they are. Neat to hear members of the audience adding depth to those bullet points, since a few of them were present in the audience. Additionally, it was really about understanding that those leaders DO understand how they are perceived, and capitalize on that.
Finally, he discussed the many facets, and man were there a heck of a lot of facets to Personal Branding. The first dealt with confirming this is not a CEO thing, but for everyone in any level of an organization; again, it is about the teams we work in and those teams ours works with. There were many strategies mentioned on how to further improve the perceptions, and ways one goes about getting noticed, positively affecting your perception, and pro-active things one can do to help further your growth. He accentuated that if you are not happy at your job, by being there not happy, people will notice, and you can’t expect to get a promotion and then be happy. You need to show that passion. He conveyed that isn’t easy, it’s hard work and is a very introspective thing. To know yourself and what you want to do, and have passion about it. I offered to the audience my way of finding what it was I wanted to do via the trials of working various jobs, school, and talking to thousands of people realizing that none of them were going to have an answer for me and I had to find out myself. And when I found it, the passion just merely followed; easy as that. Another audience member contributed that it was also about attitude. True enough.
A few techniques that stroke home like a ton of bricks was your “branding statement” and your “elevator pitch”. The first being an advertisement of yourself and what you do. It is high level, and is attractive to read; it should entice the reader to question what you do and have a positive feeling about it before they even ask. You follow that up with a Branding Statement which is more in depth, and finally your role. The role, obviously, will change with your career, but you put it down in writing. I guess those go on your resume, but he also mentioned you can put them on your corporate website’s bio page, like IBM does at their intranet.
Ok, I can handle the branding statement, “A multimedia developer, specializing in Rich Internet Applications and Rich Media nTier implementations.” Now, that’s just off the top of my head, but you I can see how that would of helped a frikin ton when my father would ask what I do, or someone you met while traveling.
The 2nd however, the elevator pitch, was laughable. While taking the elevator from the 9th floor to the 1st, a gent who works on my floor asked what we do. I replied, “We code.” He responds, “What do you code?”. I respond in a laid back tone that “Currently I am developing with some XUL, Mozilla’s bread and butter, but I usually code Flash for the  we’re working on… currently, though, we’re [so deep in our project] that [department X] wouldn’t like us doing development without being immediately available for support work (which I am mind you).” … and a “huh” later I was like, ya know, if I was prepared, I would of sold that guy into coming to work for us. I mean, heck, he’s on our floor already. Anyway, when he, the speaker, mentioned that, “Can you describe the essence of you in 30 seconds or less” I just laughed internally. What a freak I am… next time, I’ll be prepared. A great example was a Yellow pages ad for a CEO in the room. Damn, that was a good example.
He ended on some additional action items, such as a questionnaire asking what are your strengths, what have you learned in the last 90 days, the plan of how you develop your brand, how you execute it (make it available as well such as email signature, personal website), and finally how you drive it home (speaking, getting quoted, published).
So, I’m insanely glad BellSouth held such a thing, it reminds me that a lot of geniuses out there need to frikin blog, even if they don’t feel like it, they feel like they have nothing interesting to say, or whatever… no one cares cause they know your smart when they read your stuff, and you turn up on Google when people are searching for answers and find your blog. Just because you don’t get a thank you in the comments doesn’t mean jack… you just scored mad personal branding points. I can also see why a lot of people don’t make it all the way to where they want to be. I found it funny, too, the example given where a 25 year developer at IBM was an apprentice of the speaker since he wanted to get more involved in the business side and mentioned, “I just can’t get comfortable with this… I don’t like talking about myself.” The speaker’s reply was “get over it.” That’s gotta be my hardest challenge, too. Finally, I can see I have a lot of work to do, both intrinsic and extrinsic.
I know I left a lot of insanely great points out, so I’ll try to (with the speakers permission) post some of the presentation.