While thinking about identities, personal brands, and what people remember, I thought it might be useful to think about what people probably remember about me:
Presentations are probably the clearest time I present a “brand” or a slice of myself, because I focus on a single topic and I write a bio that highlights relevant aspects. At work, on my blog, and in life, I can bring out more complexity.
I started thinking about this when someone asked me how one makes the shift to talking about identity when people ask about their brand. When I thought about the question, I realized people don’t really ask me about my “brand”, they just figure it out.
People find happiness and energy remarkable. One of the tags people added to my profile at work is “howcomeshesalwayscheerful”. <laugh> Ditto with energy – people are surprised by that. It seems like being passionate about your work is a rare thing. I’m going to work and live as if these things aren’t rare, assuming instead that everyone can be happy and energized and passionate about what they do. =)
Happiness, energy, and passion don’t fit neatly into the idea of consciously building personal brand. Happiness doesn’t work well when you’re being happy just because you’re the happy person. You don’t say, “Hey, happiness would be a good brand for me, so I’m going to be happy.” You just are. You can focus on the bright side of life, but that’s more about you and less about what you want people to think of you. And happiness doesn’t mean that you need to hide the sad parts of your life, because those challenges help you grow too.
The cross-over between different parts of my life (such as Emacs people sharing their insights into my hobbies) is totally awesome, which is why I like sharing the complexities of who I am instead of boxing myself in with a brand.
I like working this way. I like being myself, seeing what people find valuable, and then building on those strengths so that I can use them to help more people. Instead of thinking of this as one-way, like personal branding is often seen, I think of the conversational development of identity. It doesn’t spring full-formed from my solitary thoughts, like the way someone might deliberately develop personal branding. It emerges as I interact with people and the world, and as I reflect on what I’ve learned.