Personal Branding Curse. Pretty sure you haven’t heard about this term. So I suppose you wouldn’t know if you are a victim of this state or not.
So let me make it easier for you to understand.
Almost everyone goes about talking on how Personal Branding can improve their lives, make them stand out and help them succeed.
But then does Personal Branding always really work this way?
- Has every single person who has adopted the strategies & techniques of Personal Branding succeeded?
- Has every person who has used the principles of Personal Branding had a better life?
- Or is it just a Marketing Hype & Temporary Fad?
I have worked with a few hundred people over the past 7 years.
Some individuals have experienced incredible success – success that has even baffled me.
And then there are those who have tried their best, given it their all and spent years – only to achieve average results.
But I am not speaking about the ones who have achieved success or the ones who have failed.
I am speaking about those individuals who became a Personal Brands or walked through that journey and then it backfired on them.
Ever heard of such examples?
I am sure you haven’t.
So let me entertain you with the realities of the elusive Personal Branding Curse.
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE – INTRODUCTION
When you constantly focus only on the positive aspects of any subject, there is a certain degree of cognitive dissonance that comes into play. Just as nothing is too good to be true – Personal Branding, in the same way, is also one of those strategies that may not necessarily work for your good.
Let me give you 7 instances where your Personal Brand can become a Personal Branding Curse.
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #1
YOU BECOME A ONE-TRICK PONY
Personal Branding is all about being known for one thing and one thing alone.
For instance, if you take the case of Tony Robbins – he is primarily known for Peak Performance where Self-Improvement is concerned.
If you talk about Donald Trump (for now), it would come down to Politics & Business.
And if you talk about Kim Kardashian, it would come down to Fashion & Sexy.
Now imagine for a minute if you had to swap
– Tony Robbins for Fashion & Sexy. Or
– Donald Trump for Peak Performance on Self-Improvement or
– Kim Kardashian into Politics & Business.
Sound ridiculously funny right?
So we have to agree on one point that is – you have to choose one genre or industry and then you have to stick to it for the rest of your life.
However, what happens if once you choose something that you want to excel in, works for some time, helps you make tons of money and then after a period of time – success just stops.
This has happened to many movie stars, singers & celebrities alike.
Take for instance….
– Social Celerity Paris Hilton
– Actor Owen Wilson
– Rapper Iggy Azalea
– Actress Katherine Heigl
– Once upon a time child actor Macaulay Culkin
– Ex-CEO John Sculley
So now that these people achieved their fame and success, what do they do next?
You may assume they just change to something else right?
But here is what I want to you to think about.
Do you think they can successfully be known for anything else other than what people associate them to?
Research and find out if any of these ‘once’ successful people have been known for repeating their success in anything else, any other endeavor or any other undertaking?
Once you are known to be good at one thing by a large number of people, it becomes impossibly hard for you to change your image in front of the same audience. That is why it is always impossible for your parents or friends or loved ones to look at you in any other way other than how they have perceived you to be.
So if you are looking for a complete change or makeover – remember – it most probably maybe impossible.
Remember the Kodak & Vertu Phone Brand?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #2
YOU CAN BE HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
Ever heard of a small child telling you that when they grow up they will become an Astronaut, an Engineer or the President of the Country?
It sounds cute when children speak their minds out because they live in a dream world, a kind of innocent paradise where everything is picture perfect and everything is attainable.
That, however, is not a problem.
What is a problem is when an adult chooses a direction and decides that is the direction he should be headed.
And then dedicates the next 5 years, 10 year or even 20 years of his life to that goal – only to realise – is this what I really wanted to do? Is it really working out? What do I do next?
I interact with a lot of youngsters and middle-aged professionals who share with me the frustration, confusion, and pain of having invested time, effort and money into the wrong direction, the wrong path or the wrong career.
But now consider what would happen if you invested time, effort and money into a strategy only to realize – this wasn’t what you thought it was?
For instance, consider Zoya (Name changed)
Zoya was a successful DJ right from her early 20’s.
For 15 years, she dominated the scene as one of the hottest & best DJ’s in her city.
3 years ago, she got married and had 2 children. Because of this new found commitment, she couldn’t continue the DJ-ing lifestyle anymore. So given the choice between her career & her family – she chose her family.
Now after a gap of 3 years, she is looking for other career options that would enable her to continue working but also spend time with the family. However, she quickly realized everyone knew her only for her DJ-ing skills. And whichever place she applied for, they identified as a DJ & Music Producer. She tried her hand in other ventures – but she wasn’t able to do justice to the role. Now she regrets taking up a lifestyle, career and brand that was possible only as a young single woman.
So what was she going to opt for now?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #3
SUCCESS ONCE DOESN’T EQUATE TO SUCCESS AGAIN
Helen was one of the best Saleswoman I had ever met.
She could literally sell anything to anyone.
Name the product or service – she would figure out a way how to sell it.
From being a Salesperson, she realized she had the natural ability to be a hustler.
And from that point on – she moved from being a saleswoman to being a salesperson who worked on commission only but very high commissions.Fast foward many years later – she was now a working Business Partner in various ventures – where she would be the working partner and take home part of the profits.
Everything in her life was going perfectly well, until the day she found out she had cancer due to which she had to end all her business commitments & focus exclusively on her health. Over the next 6 years, she ended up battling this disease. And it wasn’t cheap.
After lots of treatment, expenses & rest – she had finally beaten the disease.
But it came at a cost.
She was no longer the woman she was once physically.
She had gained more than 20kgs in body weight.
She was no longer physically attractive.
And she didn’t have the same energy levels as before.
But she was determined.
And because she had a brand that was well-known by many – she got offers once again easily.
In a bizarre twist which no one saw coming – now things were different.
She wasn’t able to replicate the same success as before.
She tried new products, she tried new services and new partnerships.
But somehow her levels of success wasn’t like before.
The market conditions had changed.
The business dynamics were not like before.
And the 6 years had given rise to new government rules, competitors & key players.
Within a few years, the extra money she had – just vanished.
So did the trust people had in her brand.
Given that she didn’t have a choice and had to survive, she began applying in the corporate world.
To her surprise – no one wanted to employ her simply because her experience was that as an employer – not employee. Whichever company she applied – she was looked upon as a threat. And in most companies, she was either given the excuse that she was either over-qualified or too senior for the job.
So what could she do now?
Remember Tiger Woods?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #4
MONEY IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
Peter & Paul (name changed) were two close friends and banking sales executives working for the same bank but with a key difference.
- Peter was the best in his department.
While Paul was the worst.
- Peter would achieve his target every single month.
While Paul would never achieve his target.
- Peter was the recipient of the monthly awards & bonuses.
While Paul would only get warning letters for his abysmal performance.
- Within a year Peter got promoted to a senior position
- In another 2 years, Peter became the Department Head and ended up having Paul working under him.
- Then one fine day, due to management pressure Peter had to make the difficult choice of terminating Paul.
And because of this – their friendship also ended.
Fast forward to 2017.
Peter was still working for the banking industry as a Sales Director.
However, his career had now stagnated and the market for banking products wasn’t as lucrative as it once was.
But he was content with his job.
It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.
One fine day Peter & Paul bumped into each other.
Paul was now a Businessman running his own retail & services outlet for smartphone devices in 7 countries.
He was also a Speaker, Trainer & running an Online Internet-based business.
Paul’s annual turnover was over $33,000,000.
How did Peter (and I) come to know about this?
He was now the ‘salesman’ who was begging for Paul’s Business.
All of a sudden it hit him –
- Paul and him both started their career at the same time.
- Both of them worked more or less the same number of hours.
- Both of them had dedicated the same number of years to their respective careers.
- But Paul was earning 10 times more than he was.
How do you think that made Peter feel?
And most importantly – do you think it mattered that Peter was always an achiever in the banking industry as a Banking brand and Paul wasn’t?
This is what I call “money is the name of the game”
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #5
THE ROI MAY NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS
Mark spent years and years learning how to be a professional bodybuilder. He spent every possible penny, every possible second and every possible waking time of his life being obsessed with the bodybuilding world.
For him – bodybuilding was his life.
He would eat, sleep, train, dream and live bodybuilding.
After years and years of spending money for overpriced supplements, steroids, weights, weight training, gym memberships, professional mentoring, certifications – due to the wear and tear on his body and joints – he had to retire from professional bodybuilding.
Now all he was left with was a gym business & a name that he was a professional bodybuilder. And in his gym, there were trophies, certificates & memorabilia of his glory days.
But now, because of the new breed of bodybuilders, fancy gyms, global competition & yes, social media bodybuilders – he found it very tough to sustain and survive. And with a flood many gyms opening up, cheaper membership and alternative lifestyles like cross fit, yoga & running clubs which have made bodybuilding a passing fad – he has no idea what to do next.
How would Mark survive?
Being a bodybuilder and being known as one – how can he do anything else?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #6
IT MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU TRULY WANT
Tony spent 6 years learning, studying and specializing in Engineering that too in some of the best universities in the world. He even worked as an Intern in his Father’s friends prestigious company.
Last year however he realized, this is not what he wanted to do.
Now he has no idea what he wants to do next. What makes it worse is that his Father spent all his life savings helping his son achieve his dream to become an engineer and position himself as one.
How do you think he would go about this?
Do you think he can get back those 6 years?
How in the world would he go and tell his Father that his Father invested all his life savings into something that he is no longer interested to pursue?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE #7
THE CHANGING TRENDS & THE UNPREDICTABLE FUTURE
Consider the following examples:
In the late 70’s & early 80’s, if you called yourself a Motivational Speaker, it was a badge of honor.
Today if you call yourself a Motivational Speaker – you will be looked upon as a guy who talks a lot of talk, acts overly hyper, positive & happy but in the end, lacks substance to provide change to any organization or individual.
After all – how difficult or impossible is it to become a “motivational speaker”?
Remember the eat a toast & grapefruit?
Remember Rocky swallowing 6 eggs?
Remember the low-fat fad?
In the 80’s Dieting, Exercising & Bodybuilding with Muscles were the in-thing.
The bigger your muscles were, the stronger, healthier & fitter you were perceived to be.
Tell anyone anything – as long as you had the 6-pack abs – people would believe and buy whatever you gave them.
But as time went by, people discovered that eating all these ‘grape-fruits’ or ‘toast’ was nothing but adding even more carbs to your diet. Aerobics only made you tired but not toned. And finally, the 6-pack abs that most of these athletes were displaying was because of something extra called “Steroids”.
Today if you call yourself a Bodybuilder – people are aware that you do not earn a lot of money, that you spend a lot of time in the gym and that you are a steroid user.
In and around the 2000’s, there was an exceptionally high demand for Y2K certified IT professionals.
Almost every youngster, IT professional and aspiring IT Enthusiast spend hours and hours trying to get this elusive qualification & title. After spending pot loads of money, after spending months and months going through tons of theory & material…..today – no one even bothers if you are Y2K certified or not.
5 years ago every Tom, Dick & Harry was an Internet Marketer, SEO Expert, MLM Millionaire & Online Expert.
Today, everyone knows this is all hype & rubbish as most of the school dropouts, the con-men, and the inter
Right now every advert you see online either talks about:
– How you can make millions – sorry billions investing in Cryptocurrency,
– How you can get 500% email responses
– How you can master Facebook or Instagram or Google Algorithm
– How you can rank higher on Google or youtube easily through 10 steps
– Productivity Hacks, Interviews with Star Achievers & Secrets to making millions….
IMAGINE if today you were branded into any of the following bracket …
In another 10 years – what would happen to your overall brand?
This is exactly why I never branded myself as….
- NLP Coach
- Coactive Coach
- Career Coach
- Peak Performance Coach
- Public Speaking Coach
- Sales Trainer
- Executive Coach
- or any other particular title which would put me at part with an on-going trend.
I created MY OWN line of work.
And for something that is created by your own self – which is not a trending or happening phenomenon, how it can it die when it isn’t trending?
PERSONAL BRANDING CURSE
You are at Point A.
Point B is 1,000 km to your left
Point C is 1,000 km to your right.
You are asked to make a choice.
And you decide you want to go from Point A to Point B.
So now you start driving from Point A to Point B.
After 3 days, however, you realize, you do not want to go to Point B.
Now you want to go to Point C.
So now you have to not only drive all the way from Point B to Point A.
You also have to drive from Point A to Point C.
The total of which is 2,000 km.
So now if you calculate the total…
You drove from Point A to Point B = 3 days + 1,000 Km
You drove from Point B to Point A = 3 days + 1,000 Km
You had to drive from Point A to Point C = 3 days + 1,000 km
Total number of days – 9 days.
Total number of km – 3,000 km
Had you made the right choice, you would have saved one-third the pain, effort, time & money.
This is just to give you an idea of how much time, and effort it would take for you if you made a wrong decision. And it was a childish example to make understand the price you pay if you were to assume the example of driving from one point to another and then changing your mind.
However, when you talk about one’s career move or changing Personal Branding Portfolio, you have to factor in many other aspects of life:
- Number of years invested
- The cost of moving your residence, your family, your base from one place to another
- The total amount of money spent
- The total amount of effort which seriously cannot be measured
- The cost of opportunities lost since you opted for one over the other
- The rising competition, changing market conditions & lack of acceptance due to age & experience related factors
- And then the biggest and most painful of them all – that the market will never change its image about you or forget what you once told them you were.
When you take all this into consideration – Personal Branding does become a double-edged sword. While it may be safer to completely ignore the process of Personal Branding and remain neutral – it does prove difficult to survive in an overly crowded dog-eat-dog marketplace. And then when you factor in 1,000,0000 other engineers, salespeople or managers – people like you in the same line of work competing for a few job positions – it eventually forces you to Think Personal Branding.
I wish there was an easy answer to this, however, I can tell you this much.
Either you evolve or you will become extinct.
Personal Branding or not, you have to decide what is right for you.
Because there is no other way out.
I just hope you choose what is right for you and do not become the victim of yet another Personal Branding Curse.