Personal Brand, Personal Experience – Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of my Personal Brand Camp keynote presentation, in which I talk about my pre-social media existence and my general approach to presenting myself online. Today, in part 2, I talk about what I have learned and offer some guidelines that I live by.

If you are thinking about the concept of your “personal brand” or simply how others see you online, I hope you find these simple rules to be helpful.

There’s only one me

Personal brand sounds like a marketing concept, something where can I separate myself from my brand and my brand is a contrivance.  That’s not possible.  Ultimately, my brand is about me.  And there’s only one me.

Be conscious of my decisions, but never contrived

I make  conscious decisions about what I will reveal (I protect my privacy by thinking through my boundaries in advance), what I want to say about things and how I want to interact with other people.  Authenticity will be seen.  Duplicitousness will be seen through.

I must be conscious of my decisions, which is good, but definitely not contrived, which would be artificial and bad.

Be introspective and self aware

Before going online, I ask myself, “Who do I want to see in the mirror?” Once online, I’m mindful of how others perceive me. I must acknowledge that what other people see in me is what I am.  And I understand that if others don’t see the same person who I see in the mirror, then I have failed in communicating who I really think I am.

Lies will be found out

There’s no point in trying to construct and project a “public persona” different from the private person. And the judgment that I exercise in my personal life will reflect upon the judgment that I may exercise in your public life.

I can’t hide deception. We’re all just too visible for that. And too many of our friends are online and connecting with one another. If they see deception, they’ll recognize it and they’ll call it out. So, I try always to  be honest and not live a lie.

It’s not just about the words.  Actions speak louder.

From time to time, I have been called to account through social media.  I may not like what people tell me. But I must listen to what they say and accept that some of it may be right.  And if it is, the true test of my character is whether I act upon it.  If I’m not prepared to change the way I am, I will be a lesser person.

Be human. Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is a basic human condition. If we aren’t willing to show our vulnerability, we won’t come across as authentic or trustworthy.

I’ve learned to admit when I have uncertainties. It’s hard to do. But it will lead to  much stronger and real relationships.

“Draft” is my friend

It never hurts to think twice about something we might want to say. If I’m in doubt, if I’m writing in the heat of the moment, I save it, sleep on it and don’t hit the “publish” button until I’ve had time for second thoughts. ‘Nuff said.

Sarcasm and sniping are the refuge of the unimaginative

Why hurt someone to demonstrate how smart and witty I am? It’s harder to be original in my thinking and to advance our understanding in a positive way. Why not be kind, honest and helpful to everyone? It won’t cost anything and I’ll feel a lot better about myself when I face that moment of truth before sleep puts an end to the day.

Don’t feed the trolls

I never respond to anonymous comments. Unless I recognize truth in what they say. (See “Actions speak louder” above)

Trust is the currency and I have to earn it

You’ve heard the mantra before: Transparency, authenticity, reliability, generosity. Absorb them. Live them.

I try not to keep a tally sheet of who received how much. Instead, I simply give as best I can and then celebrate when I receive something back.

Become the person I want to see in the mirror

Put all of this together and I will thrive in social media. At least this is what I believe and this is what I try to live by.

Personal Brand, Personal Experience – Part 1 of 2

Do you think you have a “personal brand?” Do you consciously develop or manage it?

I’ve been online for several years and never really thought of myself as having a “personal brand.” But I had to give it some thought when Michael Cayley invited me to keynote Personal Brand Camp 2 in Toronto. What I came up with was probably the most personally revealing presentation I’ve ever been called upon to deliver. I’ve decided to share it here. I hope you find it helpful in sorting out your own perspective on your online “personal brand.”

I’ve broken the video into two parts so that I can upload it to YouTube.

In part 1, which I’m posting today, I talk about my pre-social media existence and my general approach to presenting myself online. In part 2, which I will post tomorrow, I’ll talk about what I have learned and offer some guidelines that I live by.

What do you really know about me?

What do you know about me? Chances are, you know what you find on Google – my involvement in social media, Third Tuesday, my support of others in social media or through my companies,  Thornley Fallis and 76design. Probably, you are unaware as the people in this video of my 35 year involvement with the Liberal Party of Canada, much of which time I spent in senior roles at the national level. In effect, my pre-social media life has been pushed to the background by how I have defined myself through social media. What doesn’t show up on the first page of search or in the flow of conversation seems almost not to exist.

Before social media, others defined me

In the pre-social media era, others defined me. What reporters and columnists said in traditional media was taken as gospel. However, I’d read the paper in the morning or watch the TV news and know that what I read and saw was not an accurate portrayal of who I really was or what I believed in. The problem with the news media, I realized, is that it’s one way. I was impotent to change what the media reported.

Others were defining who I was and I wasn’t very happy about that.

Through social media, we all own our own barrel of ink

Then I discovered social media. Through social media, I realized that I had my own barrel of ink. I could have a voice. I could be heard. I could take control of who I was. And the proof is in Google. Search for “Joseph Thornley” and you’ll see that I have been able to define who I am.

Not a marketing contrivance. Just me

But do I think of what I have done as creating a personal brand? Not really. I think instead that everyday I’m online is a chance for me to look in the mirror, to see what kind of person I really am. It’s not a marketing contrivance. That’s fake. It’s just me.

And I’m happy with where I am.

Tomorrow: What have I learned?

Social Mediators Video Podcast launches

Today, we’re launching Social Mediators, our new video podcast.

Each week, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I will talk about social media, ubiquitous connectivity and their impact on communication, organizations and society. We’re always on, always connected. How are we taking advantage of the new capablities that gives us? And how is that affecting the way we relate to one another and how we organize around common interests? Finally, what does that mean for traditional organizations – companies, cause-based groups and government?

In this first episode, we talk about the concept of personal brand. Terry, David and I will be serving as mentors at the upcoming Personal Brand Camp 2 that Michael Cayley is organizing for the Humber College social media students. So, we talk about some of the issues relating to personal branding and our concern that young people not build an artificial brand online, but instead make sure that their personal brand reflects the same person they’d see when they look in the mirror – their real self.

We also talk about how Thornley Fallis’ new Online Communications Policy guides our employees to understand that what they do in their private online spaces reflects on the judgment they exercise in the workplace and, by extension, on the company.

You can watch the podcast here or subscribe to the RSS feed directly on the Social Mediators Website.

After you’ve watched the episode, please leave a comment. Let me know what you think of it. What topics would you like us to cover in the future? What guests would you like us to interview?

You can leave a written comment below or a webcam comment on the Social Mediators video blog.

Mitch Joel on your Personal Brand at Third Tuesday Toronto

We have a special Third Tuesday Toronto on Feb. 23. It’s special because we’re holding it in conjunction with Personal Brand Camp – a project being undertaken by Michael Cayley for the Humber College social media students.

During the afternoon, the Humber students will meet with volunteer mentors to discuss the importance of their online personnas, the issues involved and how they can develop an online brand that will be consistent with the people they are.

Then, in the evening, Mitch Joel will be our featured speaker at Third Tuesday. Mitch has built a remarkable personal brand. He is well known and widely respected as a marketing thought leader. This year, he published Six Pixels of Separation, a handbook to digital marketing and social media.  He’s often referred to as “Canada’s Seth Godin.” That’s no small feat.

Mitch will offer us his perspective on the concept of personal brand. Does he build his brand consciously? Are there rules, implicit or explicit, that he applies in doing this? Is personal brand building something that we all should be engaged in? What advice would he offer to anyone concerned about the image they project online and in the real world.

Interested? Register online to attend Third Tuesday Toronto with Mitch Joel.

As always, I want to thank our Third Tuesday sponsors – CNW Group, Molson Coors Canada, Rogers Communications, Radian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their support make it possible to bring great speakers like Mitch, and others including Katie Paine, Julien Smith and Shel Israel not just to Toronto but also to Third Tuesdays in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. (Speaking of Vancouver, stay tuned for the announcement of a Third Tuesday Vancouver with Mitch Joel.)

Thank you to our sponsors – and thank you to our speakers.

Will you volunteer to mentor students about their online personal brand?

When we participate in social media – whether posting or commenting – we are leaving digital footprints. And as people follow those footprints, they assemble a picture in their minds of the person who left those footprints – what we are interested in, our thoughts and opinions, the way we communicate and interact with other people. These factors and many more can be assembled to paint a portrait of each of us. In effect, they amount to our personal brand.

Michael Cayley, who teaches Social Media at Humber College, is organizing a Personal Brand Camp in Toronto on Feb. 23. Through a series of rotating round tables, attendees will have the opportunity to talk about the issues surrounding the care and feeding of their online personal brands with Mentors drawn from Toronto’s social media community.

Michael is looking for 20 Mentors who will lead roundtable discussions with the participants. The best Mentor is someone who is active online and has developed an online presence that is positive and well-regarded. You may be young. You may be old. But whichever, you’ve created a positive halo around yourself.

If you’d be interested in volunteering to be a Mentor at Personal Brand Camp, please contact @michaelcayley on Twitter.