About 15 years ago I read a story about a guy that loved Larry Bird. He made the cover of the local paper (must have been a slow day!) because of his extensive Larry Bird memorabilia collection. The story ended with the man’s admission that he “even almost met Larry once.”
I have nothing against Larry Bird. In fact, I looked up to him in the 1980s. However, Larry Bird is a rich and successful man. In other words, he has a solid “brand.” I don’t know much about that guy who loved Bird, but I can guarantee he isn’t as successful as Larry. In fact, I would guess he was a factory worker who wasn’t very famous at all. Now, I am not saying that is bad. I am glad he is hard-working, However, let’s look at the facts. He spent thousands of dollars and hours of his time making someone else successful, and he didn’t even get to meet the guy!!
Before you laugh, think about the ways that we build the brands of other people (and companies). As a teacher, I meet students all the time who derive their identities from sports teams, music groups, and corporations. One student knew everything about the Ohio State Buckeye Football team. I like sports, and Ohio State. However, this kid devoted hours a week of his time, and hundreds of his dollars to promoting the Buckeyes. Others do it with musical artists. One friend of mine collected every single possible CD by the band Smashing Pumpkins. I like that band, especially their newest album, but this guy even spent a hundred bucks to buy a CD of an interview with Billy Corgan which was secretly taped under a table during a casual conversation.
Guys also make corporations more successful. I know guys who only wear Abercrombie and Fitch or Hollister. They gladly overpay for cheap Chinese clothes. I am all for being stylish and looking nice for your age, but I also know that essentially paying to advertise for another company is going to make somebody rich – but it won’t be you! I have to give brands like Abercrombie credit; they get follower types to pay a lot for their brand and get free advertising in the process.
In all of the above examples, people spend their time and money building someone else’s brand. Larry Bird? Rich and successful. Smashing Pumpkins? Rich and successful. Abercrombie? Rich and successful. You? Umm…
“But…” you might be thinking, “I don’t have a ‘brand.'” Yes you do.
You are your brand! And…if you are popular and successful, people will be building your brand and not the other way around. Right now, you may not have a good brand, but we can fix that. I highly suggest our book Be Popular Now as a starting point. Also, be sure to keep visiting this website. You can create the best possible version of “you” and that will be your brand, and like I just mentioned, people will start promoting you instead of the other way around.
Let’s go back to the Ohio State Buckeyes again. I am friends with some former Buckeyes (who played on the 2002 championship team). They are not decked out in Ohio State gear all the time. They do not have their homes painted in Scarlet and Grey. Their Facebook photos aren’t all about how much they love the Buckeyes. They are successful in business. They build their own brands up.
I build my own brand all the time. Since I have written two books, and own companies that have published more, I am bringing up my books. I also promote my consulting. When I go out in public, I like to make it all about “me.” This means, that if you see me in public, the guy next to me in line may be promoting the Cincinnati Bengals, and may even talk about how much he likes them, etc. You will leave the conversation knowing more about the Bengals, and you may even want to go and buy a Bengals’ jersey. But…after talking to me, you’ll want to have coffee with me, buy my book, or work with me on a project. See the difference?
Is this self-centered? Yeah, in a way. But…let’s be honest. Your time is going to be spent making somebody more successful, why not make yourself more successful? I also believe that “everybody wins” when I get more successful. I am a generous person, so as I get more successful, so do a lot of others. Can you say that about the people you are making more successful? Are they giving back? Are they cool?
I am not saying to burn that album or sell your season tickets, just to start making yourself a brand worth promoting!