What a Fortune Cookie Can Teach You About Personal Branding

Today is Tuesday, so this post is on positive personal impact.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I frequently eat Chinese takeout food when I travel, and that I often find some wisdom in fortune cookies.  I got a fortune a while back that is worth sharing here.  “Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.” It’s too bad for Elliot Spitzer that he never got this particular fortune.

People with positive personal impact have three things in common.  1) They build and nurture their personal brand.  2) They are impeccable in their presentation of self.  3) They know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.  The fortune cookie wisdom above relates to the first point: building and nurturing a personal brand.

Your personal brand should reflect you.  I have branded myself as “The Common Sense Guy” – which captures the essence of who I am.  I am good at breaking complex things down into easily digestible and manageable components – that’s the “common sense” part of my brand.  Second, I am an easily approachable person, a regular guy – that’s the “guy” part of my brand. 

However, while I believe that every personal brand should be as unique as the individual who creates it, all personal brands should be built on integrity – the point of the fortune cookie.  People with integrity have the character it takes to keep from falling backward.

If you go to my www.BudBilanich.com website, and click on “About Bud”, and then “About Me”, you’ll be redirected to a place that says “What I Stand For”.  These are the values by which I run my business.  They’re important to me because they are my personal and professional guiding principles.  And, as John Mellencamp says, “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” 

The fourth point in my personal values says, “My clients trust me. They openly discuss their hopes, fears, problems and opportunities with me. This trust is sacred. I will not violate it.”  This is true, and it’s one of the places where integrity comes into play for me and my work. 

The people with whom I work do trust me.  They honor me by sharing information that they don’t share with lots of other people.  If I violate this trust, I am not only letting them down, I am letting myself down because I have not acted with character, I have violated my own sense of integrity.

I believe that every personal brand should be built on integrity.  Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  Personal integrity provides a strong foundation for any personal brand.  It will provide you with the moral character you will need to keep from falling.

And that’s the common sense point for today.  Build your unique personal brand.  Stay on brand by following the three C’s – Clarity, Consistency, Constancy – described so well by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson in their book “Career Distinction.” But, most important, build your personal brand on the bedrock of personal integrity.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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