I was recently thrown an exciting marketing challenge that forced me to dig through many years of old business books looking for a solution. Fishing through books like a famished racoon going through a garbage can, I came across a notable book from 1999. 1999 if you remember, was a tumultuous year that marked the height of the first dot com bubble. Company valuations and aspirations were off the chart. Anyone that was anyone was racing to build their own “media” publication, printed and online. Online business models were being launched and funded at breakneck speed; Grocery delivery, auction sites, online communities, you name it, someone was attempting to monetize it.
The book that caught my attention was Tom Peters The Brand You 50. While it didn’t turn out to have the solution that I sought, it did captivate my attention, with some of its prophecies now fifteen years old. Here are three points from the book, and what they mean for you in today’s world.
“Package yourself” is the simple concept that YOU are a brand, so define it, put it out there, and live it. This concept made sense in 1999, but putting it into practice at major scale was difficult. Online publishing and promotion required some technical skills and budget to retain an audience. Today, we live in an era where anyone with the desire can leverage intuitive networks to make a lucrative profession from their personal brand. If you haven’t already, you should conduct your own personal brand audit. Look at everything you have “out there”. From the email addresses you use, to the content you post on social networks. Do they represent you as a brand? Have you packaged yourself in a way to drive outcomes that fulfill your professional aspirations?
“Master bootstrapping” means that you don’t have to wait for money, permission, or power. Unlike the rise of business experts, authors, and celebrities from twenty years ago, today self-starters are succeeding, and even grabbing the limelight. Bootstrapping is not just about money and power. I believe that the concept takes on relevance when you harness relationships and work ethic. One example lies in the fragmentation and complexity of skills. The tremendous amount of segmentation across skills, creates opportunities for more areas of expertise. Anyone willing to put in the work, and master a skill, can leverage changing trends to establish their thought leadership. With the right relationships in place, sharing at scale is now achievable versus 1999 when it required “million-dollar” budgets.
“Whet your appetite, again and again”, is summed-up perfectly in the quote from Winston Churchill. “The most important thing about education is appetite”. Over the past fifteen years, many individuals have made the first two points from this blog post a reality; packaging themselves and bootstrapping their way to success. Re-inventing yourself in the face of success however, seems to go against our intuition. The top one percent reach that plateau because they find a way to continually “whet their appetite”. Not only do they master their field of expertise, but they reinvent how they practice within that space. They drive their own education via experimentation, which then provides them unique solutions to offer through their content marketing. You might not be ready for the top one percent position, but you should begin to find your own pace for experimentation and growth.
If you haven’t read The Brand You 50, I highly suggest the book, as I have only referenced 3 of its great ideas in this post. Always keep an open mind to reading historical works, as they can serve as guidelines and inspiration even in today’s vastly different world.