Google changed everything. After the Internet changed everything.
Back in 2008, when I was teaching at ECU, I had this light bulb moment that my students could now Google everything, or almost everything that was being taught in higher ed except knowledge gained by personal experience.
Never before has infinite information and knowledge been so easily available to so many. It used to be that you had to know people to learn anything outside of your personal experience and then books came along.
It’s almost spooky to me the way ancient Greeks classified two concepts of knowledge, as if they knew the internet was coming. They have the concept of “sophia” which is translated as “wisdom” in a general sense and “phronesis” translated as prudence or “applied wisdom.”
You can Google “sophia” knowledge, which is general and overwhelming. Phronesis, or knowing how to apply knowledge to your specific situation, comes through personal experience. Okay. Greek lesson is over.
I’m not saying everyone’s becoming a sage through Google though, the top 5 Google searches for 2016 were:
3. Hurricane Matthew
4. Pokemon Go
(For last year’s top 20 Google searches click here but you won’t find surprises.)
So what’s more valuable in any conversation, sharing what you can Google or what you know from experience that can’t be Googled?
The Google Effect means your point of view on any given topic has more potential value than anything we can Google. The Google Effect rewards personalization of work: bringing your views, quirks and obsessions to the office humanizes work and opens space for inspiration.
This process of personalizing your work is a new approach to personal branding, which I’m about to explain. To get an idea of where you are in this process, consider the following questions.
- Does everyone know what you care deeply about (or obsessed with)?
- Does the audience actually engage when you make a presentation?
- Do you look forward to coming to work (most days)?
If your focus is to be all things to all people, or strictly filtering out your non-work personality, you’re probably generic. Safe (maybe?) and boring.
Your point of view on the topic at hand, your professional experience, hobbies and obsessions, things that annoy you, your heroes and even personal appearance, comprise your personal brand, your non-generic self.
This is the essence of personal branding, which is not packaging yourself in a some socially-acceptable wrapping paper, but rather sharing your unique point of view and personality at work.
You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no right way to create the brand called you. Except this. Start today. Tom Peters
That’s why the Mixonian theme for 2017 has been The Brand Called You.
Not all luxury brands are soft and pretty like Johnstons of Elgin fine cashmere; your particular personal brand may be rough and strong like Dewalt drills. I use the word “luxe” because I want you to add more value and get rewarded for that.
Your Point of View, your way of considering the matter at hand, is at the heart of the Luxe Brand You. Without that clear Point of View (POV,) you cannot move from information (boring) to inspiring action and changes of heart.
Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. Jeff Bezos
To develop your #brandyou, start with a self inventory in terms of skills, certifications, obsessions, hobbies, pet peeves and people you greatly admire.
Being yourself, and being more of yourself at work, is the ultimate differentiator.