Personal Brands: How to Think Your Way to Fortune and Fame

Would you drop out (or drop in) to think for a living? How about for $90,000 over 6 months? That would cover your stint as an “entrepreneur in residence” aka EIR. This job does exist. In fact a legion of companies with EIR positions compete for people who think of great ideas. Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital companies and some large corporations as well sponsor this warm and nurturing – and highly connected – life.

Are you an idea maker?

What exactly does the job description specify? Apparently, just the commitment to think, meet and mingle with other thinkers and doers, and prior experience thinking and materializing great ideas. Not the lemonade stand type of idea – even if you sold peppermint and guava flavored choices, made from secret recipes you and your fellow third-grade classmates devised in your school’s young entrepreneur club.

Via Sunday’s New York Times, we discover that relatively mature great idea makers are courted and rewarded, including Michael Bauer at Foundation Capital. Mr. Bauer has previous experience thinking. In fact, prior to taking an EIR slot, he successfully envisioned and launched ventures in broadband technology and green businesses. For this he gets a villa, an assistant, fantastic lunches and even more fantastic lunch partners. Clearly his personal brand includes thinking, and he’s leveraging that.

What’s the lesson for your personal brand?

Answer this:

  • How much time do you spend thinking?
  • How often do you record your great ideas – and review them?
  • How much time do you spend connecting with people who can help you transform your ideas into a great ventures?

Are you too busy working or job-hunting to be thinking?


No matter how mature you are – and how much successful experience you have, really great ideas happen to people even before they finish college or have a day of real work experience. Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs…. you know the biggest names read Malcolm Gladwell’s work to discover much less vaulted stars in their respective industries, making a great deal of money.

Gladwell says all the greats pretty much have 10,000 hours at the one thing they eventually leveraged for fortune.

So, personal brands: if you have been you for about one and one-half years, you’ve had all the time you need if YOU are a great idea.

If you haven’t yet been the fantastic, elastic, bombastic personal brand you need be, in order to leverage yourself for a fortune (and fame): there’s time.

Personal brands: Make yourself your own EIR.

Pay for yourself with whatever work you are doing and more work you could bring in. Present a crisp, clear, compelling reason to be hired, and be relentless about leveraging your personal brand promise. As money rains in for what you may or may not want to spend your life doing, spend part of every day being an idea maker.

The lunch you provide yourself won’t rival what the Silicon Valley EIRs are eating. But, you should be making calls to people who would go Dutch with you to Subway, in order to engage in the kind of connectivity that doesn’t come from a router.

Personal Brands: Eat. Think. Connect.

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