On Personal Branding and the Addiction to Self-Importance

July 6, 2016

There are some wonderful things about living in California, and also some things that make me want to scream.

I just returned from a wedding in Massachusetts, the state I grew up in. I met a lot of wonderful people, had some stimulating conversations and noticed something surprising.

Out of all the people I talked to, no one seemed to have a “personal brand” like we do in California. In fact, most people were reminiscing about college days, speculating on the Red Sox and talking about their job. Cause you know… they work for a “company”.

I know, right? So weird.

At least it was to me, because the world I live in is remarkably different. Everyone is their own personal brand, accompanied by yourname.com, an email list with a free giveaway and aspirations of being a TEDx speaker.

What’s that? Dave Booda does that too?
Yep, it’s true. Why do you think I moved to California, silly?

I want to be important.

I don’t just want to just be rich, I want my wealth to be a direct reflection of how awesome I am. I want people to say “ohhhh Dave Booda, you need to meet him.”

Do you feel me Californians? I mean, isn’t that what we all want?

Look, I can talk about the benefits of living in California all day long, but it’s worth taking a minute to really get how self-absorbed we are. We are addicted to self-importance.

Why else would everyone and their brother want to be a speaker?

The purpose of personal branding is to build trust with your audience. If I have a strong brand as a blogger and I release a book, the people who follow me will likely buy it because I’ve established trust through years of useful content.

But personal branding can also be a huge ego trap if we’re not careful. In the same way that we get emotionally hooked by collapsing our life with our Facebook profile (guilty as charged), we can also get caught in the delusion that our personal brand is who we are, and it’s not. Nothing turns me off faster than someone consistently tying every post on their personal Facebook page back to their brand. #boodatruthbombs

Sometimes it gets so bad that I feel like my community is just a handful of TV personalities interacting with each other. We’re so busy jerking off each other’s ego that we hardly have time to notice why our human self feels so lonely and unfulfilled.

Here’s what I’m proposing.

Leave work at work.

During the day we interact with each other through the context of business, but at night and on the weekends we do our best to be curious about the more human parts of our lives. How is your love life? How are your parents? Can I get a hug?

And therein lies the problem. What if our business is helping people with their love lives or healing our inner-child through hugs? #hugasana

It’s complicated, but that’s why the awareness is so important. It’s harder to leave work at work when you do what you love. As trendy as it sounds to have no separation between work and play, this can spiral out of control and leave us wondering why we see everyone as clients, never questioning that this isn’t healthy because we’re “doing what we love”.

Even the most enthusiastic go-getter needs a break from themselves.

But what about the people who still say you don’t have to separate work and play? There’s truth in that too. Many people would be greatly served by bringing more play into their work and doing more of what they love.

But maybe you’re like me and sick of measuring your personal life up to the image of yourself that you’ve projected onto the internet. Maybe you find yourself going to social gatherings and wondering if you represent your personal brand well. Maybe you’re tired of everything you do having to tie back into your business slogan. #boodaisms

Is it all too much? Should we stop branding ourselves and get 9-5 jobs that are easier to disconnect from?

I certainly don’t think so, and I’m betting that with a little more awareness we can do what we love and also clock out and be human when we’re not working.


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