Break from the Flock

Don’t be a sheep. And don’t listen to cookie-cutter advice that has you churning out soulless clichés and flat platitudes.

Leave that to your competition. You want to be head and shoulders above them.

Audiences are generally selfish. They are greedy. They don’t care about your flaws or your fears; they want your message. They filter through the chaff. They make meaning in their heads where you stumble or miss.

Audiences are also generally distracted. Studies argue over the exact percentage and clearly it is impossible to average with the range of speakers and contexts out there, but claims are that as many as 60% of people in audiences – at any time whatsoever – are not listening to you as you speak. What they may do is use their 10-second short-term audio memory to ‘snap back’ if they lapse for around that time, that is if they want to stay ahead of what you say; and if they are not fussed about the content, the lapses will be much longer. They are worrying about their partner’s sexual urges, their divorce proceedings, their itchy elbow, the food in their fridge, their cats water bowl. But they are not often thinking about you.

Likewise, interviewers are generally bored. They are tired. Imagine asking ten people the same questions while feigning an interested smile. They don’t care about the greater context behind your promotion or why your company merged; they want your key achievements and efficiencies gained from your transformation process following the merger. They want a piece of you. They want to tick boxes in their head. And score on their indicator scales.

Personal branding is an exercise in making yourself distinct and memorable in the mind of the other. It includes a gamut of things from the interpersonal charm of engaging and building rapport, to how you appear and act, to the zeal for life in your eyes that might be driven by what you believe in. It includes what names or brands you namedrop as associations, to your unique combos of experience spanning sectors or blue-chips, to colourful glimpses of formative narrative that made you who you are, though without the ‘yawn’. It includes having an honest mission and letting it shape and drive you.
Like any brand in any marketplace, it is about differentiating yourself from the flock. These are the people who get remembered.

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