EXHIBIT A: OLD TIMER
35 years of experience.
5 Twitter followers.
EXHIBIT B: SELF BRANDER
2 years of experience.
5,000 Twitter followers.
Old Timer has the experience.
But Self Brander has the audience.
And, today – for better, or worse – it’s all about the audience.
Seniority has lost its edge; disruptive innovation reigns supreme.
Which means Self Brander is slowly yet surely invading Old Timer’s hard earned territory.
Out with old, in with the new.
Welcome to The Age of Self Branding.
Where clout and visibility trumps character and longevity.
Is this a “good” thing, or a “bad” thing?
Are we self obsessed narcissists, or ambitious trendsetters?
I’m not interested in diagnosing the dynamic.
I’m simply here to observe it, explore it, and, perhaps, harness it.
In today’s world of systematic digitalization, we are all in the sales business.
And the product we sell is the product we are: OURSELVES.
Selling ourselves may sound strange (perhaps a tad dirty), but it’s the new normal.
If you want to be relevant, you need to raise your voice.
And if you want to raise your voice, you need to brand yourself.
Self branding is, essentially, the way we package a public image.
Until recently, humans didn’t even have last names, let alone logos, tag-lines, profiles, and portfolios.
But, today, self branding has become a 24/7 public relations campaign.
And – whether we like it, or not – there’s no way around this new reality.
The question is not how to escape it, but how to embrace it.
How can we brand ourselves without commodifying ourselves?
Is it possible to maintain a sense of genuineness and sincerity in a realm of incessant showmanship?
I’ve sketched out a basic blueprint for “keeping it real” in the world of show-and-sell.
SHARE, DON’T SHOVE
A major part of self branding is sharing our work with the general public.
Social networks provide powerful platforms for showcasing projects.
But there’s a fine line between showcasing and showing off.
Share your work, but don’t shove it down people’s throats.
The soft sell is far classier (and more effective) than aggressive harassment.
DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
Having a blog or a Twitter following doesn’t make us the arbiters of “Truth.”
Lots of people get carried away with their online personas.
They begin preaching their opinions and judgements with an added dose of determination.
It’s important to keep an open mind, a light heart, and a self deprecating spirit.
Remember: self branding means defining our voices, not deifying them.
Imitation = limitation.
The web is replete with redundant, repetitive regurgitations.
It’s like a festival full of cover bands, with barely any originals.
If we look, think, and sound like everyone else, our brand is bland.
Develop and hone a distinct voice; let your work reflect something different.
Make it uniquely “you.”
STAY OUT OF CONTROVERSY
Controversy provides a cheap and easy way to grab lots of attention.
Politics, religion, scandals, — these are touchy topics.
It’s tempting to chime in and get all passionate.
We’ll get a lot of buzz, but we become activists instead of artists.
Self branding is not about activism, it’s about artistic expression.
PREPARE TO BE IGNORED
Be realistic and manage your expectations.
Remember: most people couldn’t care less about what we have to share.
There’s nothing personal about it; they just have more going on than we tend to assume.
The goal is not to “go viral” and become an overnight sensation.
Focus on the craft rather than the fanfare.
I know, I know — this whole thing wreaks of narcissistic self promotion.
It feels phony, insincere, and artificial.
But the best way to “keep it real” is to struggle with it.
Sincerity is not hiding our talents, but keeping them in check.
It’s sharing what we do, without begging for stares in return.
So consider this your license to ignore my work.
(And then share it with everyone you know.)