Near the end of two days teaching the Personal Branding Boot Camp at UCLA last weekend, I had to break bad news to my students.
“I am afraid you’ve been misled. Seriously.”
The job-seekers, managers, up and coming experts, athletes and others in the group stared back at me. Concern, disappointment, and worry went viral in the room almost instantly, like Dollar Shave Club on YouTube.
During the mid-day break, I’d seen their Facebook pages. I slowly broke bad news to them.
“I saw you’ve been posting status updates. Some of you for years now. So here’s what I know about you. You run out of gas. Have a beige couch with a stain. Think Ayn Rand was an economist. Like kittens. Eat eggs Benedict like cholesterol isn’t a national health crisis. Drink cheap wine. You have a really ugly sister or maybe that was a pinata. You share ironic motivational posters that really aren’t that ironic.”
Their eyes widened since, after all: wasn’t that what social networks were for? Wasn’t Facebook et al there for them to post the high and low events of their lives, favorite meals, angry political tirades, and a sign that reads: “Stay calm and Wear a ***tfaced Grin?”
They had been seriously misled. As would be their future employers, investors, meeting planners and other people who could pay them to do what they dreamed they could do, if that’s what sources of income viewed about my talented, smart and ambitious campers.
So, I told them the truth, busting the #1 and #2 myths and their chops.
#1: “There is nothing strictly social on social networks.”
#2: “What you’re doing is doing nothing for your networking.”
No one burst into tears – after all they just endured nearly two spring weather days in Southern California locked up in the belly of a building where no sun shined. This was a boot camp hardened group. Still, it was clear they were in shock. Of course, it could have been an afternoon dip in blood sugar or the fact that sequestration took air traffic controllers out of their local airport control towers, right about when their planes would attempt to land that evening.
But seriously, do you understand the facts behind these myths?
The #1 myth? Facebook is just for connecting to good friends and close family members.
The #2 myth? Your friends and family will always love you, or think and act discreetly.
Apparently you haven’t heard about Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian and the boyfriend with the sex tape. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
Unless you think you will be the next Kim Kardashian, hit the powerball numbers before you’ve paid off your student loans, or be the one in 7 billion people on our planet who keeps all your friends and lovers for life:
– Stop blackmailing yourself.
– Stop holding your career hostage.
– Stop being HIP: hostile, insane and profane – at least on social networks.
I know this is tough talk. Forgive me. I am fresh from a stint as a drill sergeant running a boot camp.
So, clean up your social network pages!
At ease, recruits. Now, I have to go clean up mine.