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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Personal Branding (Good), Self-Promotion (Bad)


This is a followup to the earlier post about not hogging the spotlight, which is distinct from the very important personal branding activity that I would recommend for every professional, government or not. Some additional comments in response to a question received on that post--
1) Every professional should be accumulating things they can take credit for - titles, achievements, degrees, certificates, experiences - these are our trophies. A person won't be able to compete without them. I don't want people to confuse my recommendations on personal branding with thoughts on being a successful change agent.
2) As you get more experienced and go up in the ranks, the kinds of changes you want to introduce are subtler, broader and more sweeping. At that point you must let other people think it's their idea. Not just that -- you have to implant in them this evangelistic mission to motivate others themselves. Think about Starbucks -- it is not about Howard Schultz it's about the barista.
3) On internal satisfaction - when you get depressed about how nobody will take you seriously, think about how many inventors and great thinkers were laughed at, ignored, reviled and persecuted during their lives. Now imagine that you are as great as Freud. See how great you feel!!!
4) A special note for women - I have noticed that women tend to shy away from the spotlight and that men tend to hog it. Generally any dominant group tends to speak with a louder voice. I don't want anyone to interpret my advice as reaffirming passivity, shyness, or lack of self confidence. Rather my advice is to focus only on the goal and not on yourself. Moses was a humble guy with a speech impediment and G-d put him in charge.
5) The big message here - in government being a team player who doesn't promote themselves is a core value. In the private sector being self promotional is a given. While it's fine to be recognized for valid achievements you don't want to stick out as the person who is always drawing attention to themselves.