There are quite a few of us out there who have the dream of building a highly profitable, personally fulfilling business. But turning that dream into a reality isn’t always so simple — there are many forms you have to fill out.
But once you fill out those forms, you’ve got to do something even more daunting: create your personal brand. My guest Mike Kim, however, is here to demystify that process. Mike is the author of “You Are The Brand: The 8-Step Blueprint to Showcase Your Unique Expertise and Build a Highly Profitable, Personally Fulfilling Business.” Mike’s mission is simple: “I just want to help the small sliver of the population that wants to go out and create impact with their ideas to get their message heard, help them do a good job, live a good life, make a good impact on the world and call it done.” For those of you figuring out how to pivot in a post-COVID world, I can’t think of a conversation more relevant.
What Is a Personal Brand?
While Mike admits he is not a huge fan of the phrase “personal brand,” it is actually something all of us already have in some way. “It’s a forward, public-facing identity that is a composite of your ideas, your expertise, your reputation, and your personality,” says Mike.
The concept of personal branding is often associated with the rise of the Internet and social media. But while researching his book, Mike found that the idea pre-dates even the birth of Al Gore. Mike credits the invention of the personal brand to Josiah Wedgwood, an English potter in the 1700’s. After winning a royal-sponsored pottery competition, judged by Queen Charlotte, Josiah sold his goods under the name “Queen’s Ware,” turning his royal endorsement into a personal hallmark. Josiah even offered free shipping and moneyback guarantees, all helping to bolster his personal brand long before LinkedIn.
A Campfire Moment: Personal Branding in Your Business
In this transitional moment at the end of the pandemic, I’ve spoken with many people who are thinking about embarking on new journeys in their careers. There are quite a few brave and talented people who are thinking about hanging a shingle on their own, but marketing is a challenge for them. Telling their own story can be difficult, and not many of us will have a royal endorsement.
But Mike cautions against getting too bogged down in the weeds. Instead, he suggests leading from a single core principle: “Can you build a campfire around it?” he asks. “By that, I mean, is what you’re sharing inviting? Is it a beacon of light in a world of darkness and cold? Are you someone who people actually want to sit around and share stories with?”
Ultimately, creating such an inviting personal story will attract other people to your brand, ideas, and business. “When you have a big enough campfire, it turns into a bonfire,” says Mike.
Mike’s Three Questions for Self-Expression
It’s one thing to say you want to build a campfire — but how can you make sure that campfire becomes a bonfire? Even though we spend our mental energy helping large organizations determine their perspectives on various issues, doing that work for ourselves doesn’t always come naturally. “A lot of us have had our own points-of-view pummeled out of us by work life, organizational life — you name it,” says Mike.
Channeling what Mike calls the “atrophied muscle of self-expression” is essential to building your brand. To build that muscle back, Mike recommends asking yourself three questions:
- What pisses you off?
- What breaks your heart?
- What’s the big problem that you’re trying to solve?
As you build your brand out, make sure that your content can provide the answers to your message. “That means you have clarity,” says Mike. “That’s what makes it clear and attractive.”'You've got to do the hard work of becoming who you're trying to say that you are, and then everything will fall into place.' ~ Mike Kim. Learn more about the art of personal branding on this episode of Punk Rock HR! Click To Tweet