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How to Build Your Personal Brand – Live Blogging the Personal Branding Summit

Imb_brandnewworld This is a great sign.  Today there is a very unique event happening throughout the day – the Personal Branding Summit is a telesummit of some top speakers all talking about the topic of personal branding.  It is a topic that is very close to my heart and one that I have been and will be writing about quite a bit in the coming months.  I am listening this morning to one of the first calls, featuring a panel discussion moderated by Guy Kawasaki and including Andy Sernovitz, Krishna De, John Jantsch, Tim DeMello.  The telesummit throughout the day is featuring lots of panels with some top speakers that you will definitely be able to learn a lot from.  I am not sure if I will be able to make any of the afternoon sessions, but here’s my effort to live blog the session that just ended a few minutes ago by collecting the wisdom each panelist shared and pulling out some actionable insights for you in building your own personal brand:

  1. Andy Sernovitz – One of my favourite writers and speakers, his Word of Mouth Marketing book belongs in your collection if you haven’t already read it.  One of his main points was that if you don’t have a personal brand, you have to sell yourself twice.  Having a personal brand answers the "who" question in a new situation and allows you to get right to the "why" and what you can do for someone.  Another point he made which I disagreed with somewhat was that you can never build a personal brand in someone else’s empire.  I am in someone else’s empire and building what I think is a fairly decent personal brand.  Could it be better or stronger if I was on my own?  Perhaps.
  2. Krishna De – Krishna is someone who has just recently gotten on my radar for about a few weeks now, but she had some very smart things to say about personal branding and reputation.  Her main point was that we all have a personal brand, which is the same thing as our reputation.  What we need to focus on is using this as a way to differentiate ourselves.  She offers a great example of that herself, in what she has managed to do with list of blogs and podcasts:,, and
  3. Guy Kawasaki – Guy was moderating the panel and used his engaging and laid back approach to again produce a session that people listening to could get a lot out of.  If you have never heard Guy speak and have the chance, I would suggest paying whatever you need to in order to make it happen.  His approach, method of delivery and thinking is inspirational for anyone marketing anything.  One of his most interesting points from the session was to point out that in his line of work (venture capitalism), a personal brand matters much less than the quality of an idea.  He noted that he would far rather find 2 guys in a garage somewhere who are unknown but have a great idea than people have a personal brand and are already established. 
  4. John Jantsch – John is also someone I have admired for some time because of how he has created his Duct Tape Marketing method and helped small businesses around the world to market themselves better.  His core insight was that building a personal brand can help you charge more money for what you do.  It’s an important distinction in a world where the ultimate goal that we all want to get to is selling our business to clients where money is not an issue and they will gladly pay what we ask because we provide that type of great value.  His second related point was that having a personal brand helps you to do what you want to do … and choose work that is interesting for you.  His book, Duct Tape Marketing, is another that you should definitely pick up.
  5. Tim DeMello – Founder of, Tim shared the view that the way people find out about you today is the Internet.  There are 55 million searches a day for proper names – so you need to pay attention to your personal brand online.  His site, Ziggs is a beta community designed to help you do that.  I just signed up for a profile there to test it out and so far it seems great.  After a few days, I’ll go back to test and see if my profile on Ziffs starts appearing on Google against my name.

Key Insights to act on:

  1. Build your personal brand around a single word – You need to select a word you can own and then focus your marketing around that.  One great soundbite from the event was "there is no ‘and’ in brand."  Guy astutely pointed out, however, there is a "bra" in brand.  Not sure what to do what that, but maybe you’ll come up with something.
  2. Personal brands overlap company ones – get used to it. Sometimes this humanizes the company brand (Steve Jobs) and sometimes it creates risk (John Mackey with Whole Foods).  I tend to believe that the positives of this far outweigh the negatives.
  3. The stronger the personal brand, the more easily you can get through the obstacles.  Essentially, a personal brand helps you to open doors and establish your reputation before walking into a situation, which helps you get to business once you’re in the door.
  4. Your personal brand lets you be more than your job.  This is a insight that was not really shared on the panel, but has been my experience with personal branding.  Just as the Internet once created a level playing field for small companies to compete with larger ones, personal branding has now become much simpler thanks to the Internet.  You can create your brand online and through doing so, you can rise out of whatever constraints you might have on your role or responsibilities at work.  It is the ultimate way to prove what you are capable of doing and not just doing a job you have been hired to do.  For the vast majority of corporate workers in roles where they are working for someone else, building a personal brand is the single best thing they can do for their careers.

11 thoughts on “How to Build Your Personal Brand – Live Blogging the Personal Branding Summit”

  1. Rohit — comment and question:

    I wonder if personal branding is more about who you ARE rather than HOW you do it. At some point, does the real person and the branded image break down and people experience a disconnect if the brand and the person do not match?


  2. Sounds like a great time at the Brand U World. Congratulations on winning the Personal Brand Award for 2007. I just learned about you winning last week.

    Question for you — what’s the one word that describes your personal brand?

    I’m having trouble honing in on 1 word…

    Chris Brown

  3. Hi Chris,
    Good question – I actually found myself thinking about that while I was listening. I am not sure that I would have one word, but if I could sum up what I would hope this blog (and therefore, my personal brand) would stand for, it would be “innovative marketing.” Put another way, I hate boring marketing. I think that this is one of the most creative and interesting fields anyone can work in … and it pains me to see average uninspired marketing. My aim with most of my posts is to inspire more innovation in a field that seems increasingly ruled by risk aversion and copying the latest thing that worked for someone else. My book, though, has been very focused on a related word – “personality.” I imagine when it comes out next year, much of my positioning for my personal brand will go in this direction so I can promote the book better. Not sure if that answers your question … but stay tuned in the next few months as I have some plans to integrate this “one word” more deeply into my blog.

  4. Hi Bruce,

    Another good question. The point you raise is one that has been an issue with “celebrity” for a very long time. You expect an actor to be a certain type of person because of the personal brand they have built up, but when you see a story in the media about how they are not like that … it’s tough. Personal branding at its most successful has to mean that you demonstrate an authentic side of yourself that is relatively close to the truth. I could brand myself as a top creative thinker, but if I get to a situation where people expect me to think like that and I cannot deliver, my personal brand falls short of reality. On the other hand, if part of your personal brand is about being open – and you live up to it by interacting with people, then your personal brand will continue to grow.

  5. I am glad to hear there are podcast coming and thanks for the wonderful summary, Rohit. I missed it all because of a long time booked speaking engagement on, well, personal branding mission and vision.

    Your last post referencing celebrities is a good analogy. I will share that interviewing executives and the branded culture daily, I see/saw disconnects all the time in reality, perception and vision. fascinating what a CEO or self employed pro thinks vs. the people on the street. Everyone has a brand, and it may not be like the campaign – not always bad news, it is just more simple often. Companies use focus groups…people….

  6. Pingback: Spoonbuzz
  7. Rohit,

    This is a brilliant summary of the panel discussion – and my favorite thing about it is the way you summed up the personal brands of the panelists: Guy Kawasaki laid back and engaging, Krishna De – Smart…

    We can learn a lot, not only from what they say, but from how they say it. It is clear how differentiated these strong personal brands are from the unique way in which each of the panelists communicated his/her message.

    Thanks for this great summary, Rohit!


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About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

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