Personal Brands: Take Your Time

The longest emails I write take the least time. The shorter and thus, more powerful my note, the more I weed whack out unnecessary words. The more time I have to prepare, the better and shorter my presentations. I’ve had a year to plan my Personal Branding Bootcamp at UCLA coming April 17-18. Are you ready to pump up your brand at warp-speed?

Personal branding is all about using your audience’s time wisely. Mark Twain once famously wrote at the bottom of a letter to a friend, “Sorry, I would have written a shorter letter if only I had the time.” Twain’s personal brand is carefully tongue and grooved, wise and wry toned words that evoke vivid pictures in our minds. As a renowned wordsmith, Twain laments the lack of time to edit a letter, which begets the apology to his friend.

Do you unfairly take up more time than you need? Do you owe someone an apology for over-communicating?

In last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, author Christopher Sorrentino laments the job of trying to respectfully and faithfully edit his deceased father’s last novel, left as an unpublished manuscript with just a few cryptic notes in the margins. Christopher describes his search to find clues that would reveal how his father, the brilliant author Gilbert Sorrentino would have edited the work himself. As the son stews about the chore, he remembers his father’s guidance on editing his own writing. The advice was consistently: “First revise by deletion.”

Do you see words as reasonably rationed foodstuffs, as they are in wars or during disasters? Or, do you see no difference between sweet, delicious bananas and their inedible thick peels? Are your emails a lot like a careless fruit salad with the peels, cherry stems, apple cores and one ripe bit of cantaloupe mixed together?

Personal brands: is that how you are communicating?

Communication is the one aspect of business and life we all engage in, and thus might not seem like the single most critical element of personal branding. It’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of power you wield with your words.  Words are your weapons, giving you the chance to advance yourself or land on a grenade.

To make the case for communications’ ubiquity: consider that underwater scuba instructors and traffic cops in busy intersections use hand signals to get their message across. Even a mime is trying to communicate he’s stuck in an imaginary box or walking an imaginary dog. These people hone elegant and streamlined gestures, as if their means of communicating were rationed.

You and I probably have more conventional jobs, where we speak or write easily and often. Plus, we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a panoply of other public forums to prove what compelling, empathetic, brilliant, and interesting personal brands we are.

That is the rub, so many places to communicate and so little time. The less time you take, the messier the message you deliver.

Great personal brands may tweet or update their status as often as 25 times a day, or even more. Unless you have settled on an authentic brand presence and can deliver on it regularly, we see and hear what you’re like when you are smart, savvy, funny, lonely, angry, cranky, crabby, snotty, snobby, sad, silly, sweet, sentimental and sassy.

The cure for sloppy over-communication? Personal brands take more time to plan what you say.

Consider putting together an editorial calendar for yourself, perhaps choosing to focus on building your brand presence around one topic that is the centerpiece of your blog. Choose a consistent tone that comes naturally to you. If you’re funny, you don’t have to make us laugh every time. If you’re hip, you don’t have to wear the gladiator shoes in every photo. But, plan to deliver on your brand promise as often as possible.

And to quote the sign above the mess hall in Italy where my father served in the Air Force during WWII, “Take what you eat and eat what you take. Food is ammunition.” Thus personal brands, are your words.

That is the rub, so many places to communicate and so little time. The less time you take, the messier the message you deliver.

Great personal brands may tweet or update their status as often as 25 times a day, or even more. Unless you have settled on an authentic brand presence and can deliver on it regularly, we see and hear what you’re like when you are smart, savvy, funny, lonely, angry, cranky, crabby, snotty, snobby, sad, silly, sweet, sentimental and sassy.

The cure for sloppy over-communication? Personal brands take more time to plan what you say.

Consider putting together an editorial calendar for yourself, perhaps choosing to focus on building your brand presence around one topic that is the centerpiece of your blog. Choose a consistent tone that comes naturally to you. If you’re funny, you don’t have to make us laugh every time. If you’re hip, you don’t have to wear the gladiator shoes in every photo. But, plan to deliver on your brand promise as often as possible.

And to quote the sign above the mess hall in Italy where my father served in the Air Force during WWII, “Take what you eat and eat what you take. Food is ammunition.” Thus personal brands, are your words.


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