We’re having a BBQ with about 50 people up at my house in a few weeks. It’ll be in August, which weirdly enough, is when about a full third of my family and friends are born. So it’s always a big party, featuring crowd favs like ribs, beer and cake. What could be bad? Nothing if I survive my drive to entertain.
Among the characteristics of my personal brand is “entertaining” and not just for guests at home. I speak, train and teach at venues where audiences are no longer satisfied by being educated or enlightened. “Adult learners” must be simultaneously entertained as they graze on facts and analysis. Someone coined a word for what we do now in the knowledge transfer business: “edutainment.” I don’t have a casual relationship with this concept, because I believe it the single most important factor in moving people forward. With all my might, I relentlessly edu-tain.
Personal brands aren’t something you can turn off and on at will. Qualities that are authentically you will come through in most every venue.
For example, I am known for throwing really great parties because I believe that you must entertain guests. I see it as part of the job when you host a party. I have developed a formula. I like to splurge on a real bartender. He makes signature drinks and margaritas with that tiny shaved ice, like Slurpees (I bought the machine). We have live music (I live in LA where musicians are desperate for an audience much less a pay check). And I always add in something novel to up the cool factor and kind of make it a scene.
This summer my cool factor is futons instead of chaise lounges. It’s got that Beverly Hills Hotel cabana, Hollywood’s Hotel Roosevelt bottle service cum Vegas Rehab with beautiful people lounging vibe.
This is where it gets ugly.
The best place to buy cheap futons is IKEA. If there’s a store that’s more grueling to move through, filled with more screaming children and surly customer no-service people at the checkout, then it must be in hell.
Other than hell, which I can only imagine is IKEA without air-conditioning, there could be no other place where you are trapped with hundreds of other lost souls, as your brain is assaulted with the smell of damp Swedish meatballs and you try to find your way out from the moment you get in. On the floors you see arrows, but they return you to the same places you came from.
Okay, it gets worse.
We persevere, gripping our soiled list of product numbers, plus awkwardly juggling a tower of assorted doo-dads we picked up on the way down. How could you resist? They force you to pass every single item ever made in Sweden on the way, three stories down, to the self-serve warehouse.
We arrive at the beginning of the end. We make our way through a maze of towering aisles and pull hundreds of pounds of futon assemblage and mattresses off the shelves, only to push them around in a side-less steel cart that hits you right in the curve between your leg and ankle.
It’s still not as bad as it’s going to get.
We pay after fumbling with what looks like a taser, and is actually an optical scanner that only works at a very specific distance and angle. We wobble our way out to pick-up zone.
Therein lies the difference between IKEA and hell.
Above our heads – like lettuce in a supermarket – is a power shower of wet mist pouring out of a cable strung all across the overhang between the store and the curb.
This is where you must wait with your cardboard and plastic covered, yet to be assembled furniture. Now we know it’s not hell, because we’re wet and freezing. We are literally standing in a monsoon with our cardboard shack and plastic tarp wrapped mattresses, all soaking wet.
“It’s to keep you cool,” says the lone attendant. Now if you don’t know, Los Angeles is about 78 degrees by day and 65 degrees by evening during most of the summer, with no drag of humidity. This is not Phoenix, Orlando, Houston or anyplace where having buckets of water thrown at you is really the only way to manage your body temperature outdoors.
Blame it on my personal brand. I endured because I must entertain. The show must go on. The mantra doesn’t waver when you are authentically what you are, no matter where you are.
In case you are navel gazing about your own personal brand, ask yourself this. What do you endure that tells you who you are?