11 Steps That Make the Difference Between Successful Authentic Personal Branding and Sure Failure

In Your Personal Brand Development Options we talked about the following 11-point checklist.

Use it to find the personal brand strategist who will help you develop the effective Authentic Personal Brand that delivers an excellent return on your personal brand investment (ROI).

1. A “Top Notch” Personal Brand Strategist WILL be Hard to Find

They will be especially hard to find on-line.  Because they’re busy “doing the work” of personal branding, they have little time to spend writing and speaking about personal branding.  It’s a better bet to ask someone who has a personal  brand that they are happy with for a referral. Once you have that,  ask that personal brand strategist the following questions.  As with diamonds, those that are found easily on the surface are usually not worth keeping.  You’ve got to dig deep for the quality stones.

2. They Will Deliver an Excellent ROI

“Top Notch” personal brand strategists deliver an excellent ROI. (Return on Investment) Their clients can easily identify the tangible benefits their personal branding has (and is) delivering. You must verify that the personal brand strategist you are considering gives their clients a consistently solid return on their personal branding investment.

3. They Are Experienced

An experienced personal brand strategist can readily prove “they know their stuff.”  Typically, they do this through numerous testimonials or case studies. You should be able to validate by actually speaking with the person who wrote the testimonial or is the subject of the case study.  Be wary of “unidentified” case studies or “name withheld” testimonials. While it’s true that some clients prefer to have their identity protected, if only a few of a personal brand strategist’s clients are willing to put their names to their testimonial – this is a “red flag” you should heed.

4. They “Walk their Talk”

An experienced personal brand strategist has their own distinctive, consistent, and authentic personal brand.  They genuinely “walk their talk.”

5. They Have “The Right” Backgrounds

The only professional experience that equips a personal brand strategist with the skills they need to “do” personal branding is a background in corporate or product branding.  And there’s a BIG caveat here.

In order to make traditional branding work for people – as opposed to working for products or businesses – the personal brand strategist must make adjustments to the traditional branding process.  Corporate and product branding is a process that requires the brand strategists to “assign” values, attitudes, strengths and other brand traits to the brand they are developing.  These brand traits are carefully chosen to appeal to the target market who will buy the branded product, or the services provided by the branded company.

In order to build an Authentic Personal Brand, the personal brand strategist needs to be able to work with their client’s REAL values, attitudes, strengths, and other authentic brand traits.

6. They do NOT Hold Any Sort of “Personal Brand Certification”

As Personal Branding is a new and unregulated field – you need to choose your “personal brand strategist” carefully.  Those who cite a “personal brand certification” are telling you that they have been through some sort program that is equivalent to a general interest course in the traditional education system.  They may have learned some good information, but taking the class does not enable them to “think like” an experienced brand strategist. It does not equip them to  “do” personal branding.  At best, such training makes them a talented amateur who has educated themselves on the subject of personal branding. They have a theoretical perspective – but lack the practical, functional skills that come only from the “right” professional background.

7. Their Own Personal Brand Appeals to You

It’s important that you find the personal brand strategist’s brand appealing. Why?  Because it’s necessary for your brand values to relate to theirs.  If your goal in developing a personal brand is to build a technology based business that will net you a massive amount of wealth, you should not choose to work with a personal brand strategist whose brand values do not include achievement business success and wealth. And you must avoid working with the personal brand strategist whose values make her the perfect selection for NGOs or non-profit organizations.  You need to be able to relate to your brand strategist on numerous levels, and as your brand values are not yet identified – use your “gut” response to the appeal of the strategist’s personal brand as your compass.

8. Their Personal Branding Process Includes Multiple External Checks and Balances

The personal branding process used by the personal brand strategist you choose must NOT be solely dependent on the opinions and views of the individual being branded.  Their branding process must require that others’ perspectives are included at critical point, in order to validate or redirect the personal branding process.

9. Their Personal Branding Process is Guided

You need to find out how much support the personal brand strategist will be providing to you.  And also, how much involvement you will have in developing the final brand deliverables.  Be wary of programs that allow you to direct the brand development entirely on your own.

Even for a professional personal brand strategist, the human trait of being unable to be objective about yourself will get in your way – and  negatively impact your personal brand.

10. Their Personal Branding Process is Fully Developed

Your personal brand strategist needs to be able to outline their process, so you can see how step 1 leads to step 2 and step 3 and so on. If they can’t (or won’t) they might be just flying by the seat of their pants.  And most of us don’t like being treated like “lab rats.”

  • 11. Your Personal Brand Strategist Has All the Answers
  • Your personal brand strategist needs to be able to clearly and quickly answer all of your questions on the timing, cost and tangible deliverables that you will get from their Personal Brand Development Process.  If they don’t have a quick answer, they may be applying their creativity to develop one – and that is something no “real” expert will EVER need to do.Using this checklist will enable you to find a competent Personal Brand Development expert.  They will be able to give you the functional, quality, personal brand that enables you to maximize your performance and realize your goals.

    This Checklist was first made public by Rosemary Davies-Janes in a March 18, 2009  interview broadcast by The Guru Nation.  Rosemary (RDJ)  served as The Guru Nation’s Authentic Personal Branding Guru.

Your Personal Brand Development Options

If you are thinking about developing a personal brand, how will you go about doing that?

1. Who will you ask?

2. What will you ask them?

3. How can you tell if a personal brand
is truly effective and authentic?

Perhaps you’ll try to find someone to help you develop your Authentic Personal Brand through a Google search? 

If you do, “personal brand” will deliver 391,000,000 + results. You’ll get links to lots and lots (and lots!) of information on personal branding.

You’ll find that people are  talking about personal branding on every available platform: blogs, websites,  audio and video.

And while all that talk will give you some information on personal branding, what you learn won’t give you the insight you need to develop your own Authentic Personal Brand.

But all of this information won’t give you the insight you need to develop your own Authentic Personal Brand

When you come to this conclusion, what’s your next step?

If your next step is to search for “personal branding experts,” you will get  more links to sites, articles and posts promoting people who call themselves personal brand experts by talking about personal branding.

The same holds true of searches for “personal branding products.” You’ll get a lot of information, and the option to possibly buy some products, but little or no support.

Ironically, when you key in “personal branding support” you’ll get even more talk, but little  support.

Do you believe that someone who writes or speaks extensively on the topic of personal branding can build a personal brand?

I think most people do!

So it’s astonishing to see how many of the people writing and speaking on the topic of personal branding have NEVER actually developed a personal brand.  Not even their own!

Many of those writing and speaking  about personal branding
have NEVER developed a personal brand. Not even their own!

I’ve been shocked to find that many of these self proclaimed personal branding experts are themselves in dire need of personal branding.  They wear many hats, hoping that the more services they offer, the more clients they will attract.  Nothing could be less effective. After all, who hires a “jack of all trades” when they could hire a “master”?

The following example was provided by someone who recently wrote a personal branding post for a branding blog.

“I often function as a [1] brand [and] [2] social media expert… I also function as a [3] public relations consultant…a [4] trainer… a [5] columnist and writer…a [6] Public speaker…as a [7] social crusader…”

Based on how he presents himself, I don’t think he’ll need to worry you’ll be asking him to find time to brand YOU!

What searches deliver better results?

  • “Personal Branding Services”
  • “Personal Branding Programs”

These search terms are a little closer to the mark. But you’ll still have to do a lot of sifting and sorting of the results.  Why?

Because most Advertising “leaves out” a method for you to use to make a good buying decision.

  • Is the personal branding expert you find relying on flashy
    or funny stories that are repeated over and over again?
  • Are they giving you a methodology that you can use to
    choose a qualified and experienced personal brand strategist?

Whether you find a likely personal branding expert on-line or through a referral, there are a number of key questions you need to ask to separate the “pros” from the “pontificators.”

Read 11 Steps That Make the Difference Between Successful Authentic Personal Branding and Sure Failure.

Use this checklist to find the personal brand strategist who will help you develop the effective Authentic Personal Brand that delivers an excellent return on your personal brand investment (ROI).

Why Personal Branding Examples and Metaphors Don’t Deliver the Goods

Of all the people who don’t know about Authentic Personal Branding, I eliminated the 50% who know NOTHING about personal branding.

Why take them out?

They’re not likely to EVER find out about it because they’re focused on external solutions.

Authentic Personal Branding is primarily an INTERNAL process that drives EXTERNAL performance and results.

As I’ve discussed in a previous post, the perspectives of people in this group are either: POSITIVE (rose colored glasses outlook) or NEGATIVE (complainer/victim outlook).

And ALL of them search outside themselves for the things, items, places, positions or people (usually those who are “in charge,” their bosses, the companies where they work or the government) that will “fix” their problems for them.

The solutions this group finds most appealing are “one size fits all”  One solution that fixes all of their problems – or if not all, then many.

But whether the solutions promise to “make them” – happier  –  more attractive   – more popular or “get them”  – a promotion  – a better job   – a new business   –  a financial windfall… There’s something missing from these sorts of fixes.

These solutions distance folks from their need to address how their internal perceptions and performance impact their external reality.  And that’s a problem, because…

While all of the goals listed above ARE totally achievable, a person’s INTERNAL perceptions and performance need to change if they want to get significantly different EXTERNAL results.

I’ve eliminated this group as they’re focused on externals.
And I’m not going to try to sell gasoline to people who don’t own cars.

I’m focusing my attention on the 49.5% of people who have an awareness of Authentic Personal Branding and an interest in developing their own personal brand, because…

Despite their interest in personal branding, their desire to brand themselves effectively remains unsatisfied.


Many personal branding experts, rather than having serious content, serve up nothing but metaphors and loose examples.

Examples are fine for demonstrations during the branding process. They are also helpful when illustrating how some aspect of branding:
– has a specific positive effect or
– achieves an intended outcome.

But when an individual who wants their own personal brand is supposed to “get it” by listening to numerous branding metaphors and examples, all they “get” is frustrated.

All They “Get” is Frustrated!

Hearing an inspiring success story that you’d like to emulate gives you MOTIVATION. But it doesn’t give you the KNOWLEDGE, PROCESS or MECHANICS you need to ACHIEVE your desired result.

Many of those who claim to be “Personal Branding Experts” are nowhere near being included in either the half of 1% who have an accurate understanding of personal branding OR the .001% of that half of 1% who have an Authentic Personal Brand. Consequently, they are unable to deliver the tangible process that enables others to develop and document authentic personal or business brands.

So Beware!  Here’s a kind warning.

There’s often truth in the famous quote, “Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach. originally coined by Henry Louis Mencken, “an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, and acerbic critic of American life and culture.”

Mencken believed that every community produces only a few people who are “distinguished by their will and personal achievement.” In other words, there are only a few legitimate experts in any group or professional body.  And these individuals have not only earned their reputations, but have done so by generating a body of accomplishments that offer valid proof of their expertise.

A real expert in the process of branding would not have to express a single example or metaphor.

They would not have to “teach.”  They would simply “do.”

And they could take an individual (even one from the group who knows absolutely nothing about personal branding) through a defined process that would enable them to develop and document their personal brand. What’s more, they could equip this same individual with the knowledge necessary to both support their own brand and communicate the Authentic Personal Branding rational to others.

At Miboso, we “do” branding, and our clients’ results speak for us.
We build Authentic Brands for people and businesses, and we have been doing this since 1998.

Relevant links:
Read more H L Mencken quotes

What 99.5% of People Don’t Know About Authentic Personal Branding

Of all the people I meet, a full 50% know nothing about Authentic Personal Branding.

They’ve never even heard of it!

And they haven’t noticed anyone who has a personal brand. Not even the famous people with HUGE personal brands.

Over time I’ve noticed that people in this group:
a) Have two radically different outlooks
b) End up battling similar types of problems

Two radically different outlooks
Some of them live in a dream world, where they stay for their entire lives. Their “rose-colored glasses” view of the world enables them see what they choose to see and filters out everything else.

And those who don’t choose to live in a dream world get stuck in a harsher reality. They live in a world of complaints.  And they never escape.

What  “similar problems” can’t these folks get past? They include being:

  • Content to accept whatever life dishes up for them
  • Conditioned to complain about whatever life has dished up for them recently
  • Underachievers, because to achieve more than would require “a lot” of effort  – Or so they think
  • Stuck in jobs they dislike or hate and complain about regularly
  • Deeply in debt, because they feel “entitled to” far more than they  earn
  • Victimized by life

And like the passengers on a speeding, out of control bus, they know they’re going to crash. But they’re not sure exactly when that will happen, how many other vehicles they’ll take out when they do, or, if they are one of the few to survive, whether they’ll be so badly injured, they’ll wish they had died.

I’m sure you know some of these people.

49.5% of the people I meet have an awareness of Authentic Personal Branding.

They might have heard “something” about the concept.

Or they’re impressed by some of those famous people’s personal brands.

They might have noticed that some “non-famous” people have personal brands.

And some have even contemplated getting a personal brand for themselves.

Most of these folks have figured out that personal branding is related to corporate or product branding. But they aren’t really clear about what makes up a personal brand.

The most common misconceptions are that a personal brand is:

  1. A logo
  2. A selection of favorite colors
  3. A slogan or tagline
  4. An elevator speech
  5. A website or social networking profile
  6. Any combination of the above

Most are also unable to express:

  • How personal and corporate or product brands are different
  • Who needs an Authentic Personal Brand
  • What benefits an Authentic Personal Brand delivers
  • What problems a Authentic Personal Brand solves

Despite knowing something about personal branding, this 49.5% group ends up facing the same problems as the 50% who know nothing about personal branding.  They can’t fully escape these problems either, but their heightened awareness enables them to duck and dodge somewhat.

They have a strong sense that there IS a way to escape.
They know they should be searching for ways out.
But the overwhelming majority do not, and so they stay stuck too.

Of all the people I meet only HALF of 1% have an accurate understanding of Authentic Personal Branding.

These folks believe they are fully in charge of their lives.  They make plans and they achieve goals. But they lack the “master plan” that identifies which goals they should “go for” and which they should bypass.

This group knows how to escape some of the issues and challenges that arise in their lives. But as this has been learned by trail and error over the years, their awareness is somewhat random. So when they’re confronted with a brand new problem, they rarely have  reliable tactics or solutions to fall back on.

Of all the people I meet, only .001% of that half of 1% have an
Authentic Personal Brand.

These are the individuals who have taken action to:

  • DOCUMENT and EXPRESS their personal brands
  • EVOLVE and LIVE their personal brands
  • Make their personal brands the significant agents that drive  success in their lives.

This tiny percentage of people (.001% of .05%) who understand and act on their personal brands have a perception that their lives are on track and a reality that they’re clear and moving forward.

These folks feel that life is good, orderly and clean.

And they’re equipped to handle any issues or challenges that arise in their lives. As opposed to the other groups who try to escape or avoid them.

What else is different about this .001% of .05% group?

They’re accomplishing goals that are important to them.  And, far from requiring a great deal of “effort” or “hard work”, they find it easy and enjoyable to do so, because the development of their Authentic Personal Brand has aligned their talents, strengths, values,  passions, ideals and experience.

So what appears to others as “hard work,” for them is “pure delight.”

Each accomplishment takes them to their NEXT level of success and fulfillment. Their brand map gives them the “master plan” that directs their actions through successive achievements to their ultimate “end game.”

And this group experiences an interesting side-effect that defies rational explanation.

Because they are willing to do whatever it takes to get clear on their goals, their natural assets and the real value they give to their families, clients, employers and communities, it’s absolutely amazing how “the universe” conspires to support them.

Wishing and hoping alone won’t get you there.

Authentic Personal Branding is Your Shortcut to Success!

Productivity experts estimate there is 10 times the volume of information available to us today as there was prior to 1999.  And that figure is growing exponentially every year.

The US Department of Labor estimates that today’s students will have ten to fourteen jobs by the time they are 38. According to former US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, the top ten jobs that will be in demand in 2019 didn’t exist in 2004.

With so many options available, and more being created every day, how can we begin to figure out how to direct our professional energies, let alone fulfill our life’s purpose?

Authentic Personal Branding offers you a shortcut to success!

Authentic Personal Branding is a process that exposes your natural “hard wiring”  and leverages it so you can “be the change you wish to see in the world” with the greatest ease, passion and joy.

That’s right! Achieving personal fulfillment and professional success  does not necessarily require years of deprivation or grueling toil.  The following example shows how one individual  “naturally” connected the dots between his talents,  strengths, passions, values, and ideals. Then he added relevant education and experience which took him on a direct route to success and fulfillment.

And if you’re thinking that stories like this are rare – you’re right!

That’s why there is  another option.

Authentic Personal Branding “shortcuts” the lifelong process described below.

By exposing your “hard wiring”, the Authentic Personal Branding process enables you to connect your dots and draw the brand map that takes you to your fulfilling and successful future.

Benji* always has had a passion for clear vision.

He grew up in an Indian-American family that owned a chain of optical stores. It was a family that discussed new developments in corrective eye wear at the dinner table on a regular basis.

Having been born nearsighted, Benji knew from personal experience just how different the world looked when he had his glasses on, versus off.  He dreaded his summer swimming lessons and high school wrestling classes as he had to take off his glasses and “go blind.”

Benji’s grandmother came to live with Benji’s family when she was diagnosed with glaucoma.  After witnessing her long and losing battle to keep her vision,  Benji decided to become an eye doctor.

His natural strengths in mathematics and sciences ensured that Benji did well in his schooling. While completing his graduate studies, his passion for innovation led him to participate in several advanced studies that tested innovative applications of laser surgery for cataract removal and retinal repair.

Benji met a woman in graduate school who  specialized in geriatric ocular diseases. The two married shortly after graduation and went on to work  in their respective fields. After forging connections with several other highly qualified  opthalmologists, Benji and his wife founded a clinic that offered an array of innovative opthalmological services.

Once the clinic was established, Benji accepted an invitation to be an adjunct professor in the graduate program in which he had once studied. As his teaching skills grew, he was more and more frequently invited to be a guest lecturer at educational institutions around the world. Through this academic connection, he once again became involved in experimental research and contributed to several important breakthroughs.

Over time, Benji personally funded several ocular disease studies in villages in India like the one where his Grandmother grew up. His findings led him to develop some simple and inexpensive glaucoma treatments which were received in rural India with tremendous positive response.

When you read this story, it’s east to connect the dots and see how Benji’s natural strengths, talents, passions, values, ideals and experience combined to direct his education and vocation
and ultimately enabled him to achieve his goals while fulfilling his passion.

The Authentic Personal Branding “Shortcut”

Authentic Personal Branding enables you to shortcut the lifelong process detailed above.  By exposing your “hard wiring”, it enables you to connect your dots and create the brand map that will direct you to a fulfilling future and successful future.

Contact us to find out what our Authentic Personal Branding program can do for you.

*Name and identifying details have been changed for privacy protection.

What Does Your Authentic Personal Brand “Stand For?”

2300 years ago, Aristotle wrote,
“Persuasion is built on three pillars:”

1. The credibility of the speaker
2. The logic of the message
3. The emotional impact of the words

These pillars are more important now than ever. Because in order to lead effectively, today’s leaders have to understand and use the sources of their credibility.

  • What are their strengths?
  • What is their reputation?
  • Are they trusted?
  • Do they create common ground with their audiences?

Today’s ambitious professional must evaluate their personal brand.

  • Is it authentic?
  • Is it personal?
  • Does it stand for something?

Jack Welch, the legendary chairman of GE , became one for the first global personal brands. His emphasis on Six Sigma made him stand, uncompromisingly, for quality. His business decisions created enormous wealth for shareholders.

Welch’s personal brand “stood for” uncompromising value and investment decisions. It gave instant credibility to his messages, his business strategy and his actions.

Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey have created personal brands that support all of their investments and infuse them with excitement and marketing sizzle.

  • The mere mention of Branson evokes adventure and fun.
  • Oprah is synonymous with personal growth and consciousness.

Miboso’s Authentic Personal Branding process plays an important role in corporate leaders’ communications effectiveness.

Corporations are seeking to develop leadership that is credible in times of rapid and complex change. Credibility for a modern leader at a global company emerges not just from the knowledge of the business. The corporate communicator today must demonstrate business knowledge PLUS a sensitivity to diversity, to environmental concerns, to local and global economics,  as well as to political and cross-cultural challenges.

The Authentic Personal Brand built on these competencies is valued because today’s work depends on clear, focused and sensitive communications.

Lee Iacocca, former head of Chrysler had to make many difficult decisions affecting thousands of workers. The company understood the need for these sacrifices because they believed Iacocca could save Chrysler.

An Authentic Personal Brand creates concentric circles of value and trust around the person it represents.

It is larger than a specific message or action – it inspires people to look at the bigger picture, the opportunities and shared values of a company, regardless of its present situation.

  • What does your Authentic Personal Brand “stand for?”
  • What does your corporation’s Authentic Brand “stand for?”
  • Do both brands support the same “bigger picture” goals and values?

Contact us to discuss how greater alignment of your personal and corporate brands can positively impact your market leadership and your ability to attract brand enthusiasts.

Authentic Personal Brand Values Exercise

Your Authentic Personal Brand is Your Unique Road Map

Authentic Personal Branding is a process that requires you to understand and focus your natural strengths, talents, passions, ideals, values and experience so that your daily actions, connections and accomplishments move you ever closer to achieving your ultimate personal vision.

Our unique brand maps give us the directive guidance we that enables us to navigate through the kinds of lives we want and keep our achievements on track with our desired “end games.” How do our brand maps do that?  Primarily by matching what we know about ourselves with “like” people, places and products.

For example, most of us come in contact with over 30 brands before we start work in the morning. When you add up the brands of your bedding, alarm clock, bedroom television, radio, the morning shows you watch or listen to (and all of THEIR advertisers’ brands) along with your  toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, shaving cream, soap, towels, tea, coffee, milk, cereal, bread, toaster, kettle, stove and fridge brands…you have quite a collection!

Why do YOU choose the brands that are part of your world?

Identifying your brand values is an important part of the Authentic Personal Branding experience. Here’s an interesting Personal Brand Values Exercise that you can use. Analyze just a few of the everyday brands you choose, such as your car, your coffee, or even your condiments to uncover some of your personal brand values.

Personal Brand Values Exercise

1. Identify three brands that you like. Write them down

2. Why do you like them?
Write down your specific reasons for liking each one.

3. Now look for common themes across all three brands. You may have chosen all three because they represent “quality” or “reliability.” The traits that come up repeatedly are likely a match to your own personal brand values.

Take some time to discuss the brand values you uncovered with your colleagues, friends, even your spouse. Also, check out the brand of the company you work for, the brands of the stores you like to shop at and the brands of the causes you support. There will be far more common values between you and the people and product brands you really love, and less between you and the brands that you don’t like as much

4. Now that you know some of your personal brand values, use them as the basis of messages that you could use to advance your career or to grow your business. Write down your brand messages.

5. Review your brand messages. Are they powerful and convincing?

Show them to your boss or best clients and ask them for honest feedback.
Or contact us for a professional opinion. We’ll gladly provide feedback.