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?