“You help people with their personal brand. Right?”
I was having brunch with a dear friend this week. She’s a joy to be around—we met years ago and bonded over similar histories and our ability to laugh at the craziness of it all. She wanted to talk to me about an upcoming speaking opportunity. Could I give feedback on her presentation idea and help her shape her brand?
Instead of saying yes, I did this.
I asked her to describe herself as a product. How does she think? What are her theories about business? Why is she brilliant (she is) at what she does? Where do people see value?
This kind of Q&A isn’t one we have with ourselves very often. So I had to push her periodically to go deeper than the usual “strategic, connector, ability to get shit done” language. I also asked her to share with me what her audience might want from her—is it inspiration, empathy, learning, empowerment, or a challenge?
My friend is right. I do help people with their personal brand. But this, awesome people, is what I do first with people before we start talking about the brand: understand the product.
We need to understand the product and how it’s is solving a problem for its buyer before we start crafting the brand story, and this is as true for people as it is for mundane things like toilet paper and toothpaste.
Now you may be wondering, “Why is Joanna comparing people to commodities?” I know it sounds terrible. And to be honest, when I first started this venture I did jump right into the topic of building personal brands for people. But here’s the thing.
If you don’t share with people about who you are and how you think, they have no idea how to “rent” your brain. And in today’s world we “rent” our brains to each other.
Your brain time is your product. You might charge for this time (a job) or choose to give it away (love, friendship, volunteering). Either way, people are continually buying your brain time, and to live your personal brand, you first want to show people exactly what unique goodness you have to offer.
So this week, I’m giving you the same challenge I gave my friend. Ask yourself this:
When people buy your brain time, what are they buying from you?
What’s your product?
Share your answers with me. I can’t wait to hear them.
PS. I’d love to hear what you think about this as I have a lot more passion, energy and ideas on this topic. I think it’s how we should start thinking about the answer to the question “What is the future of work?”
PPS. I’ll fully unpack the “renting your brain” concept in a future article. I wanted to share this idea with you now because I think it can help you right away. I’m a bit impatient, and I want 1,000,000 people to think differently about themselves this year.