Your Personal Brand and Career Success

As I mentioned the other day, I was in Florida over the weekend.  As I was driving I found myself behind a lawn service pickup truck.  The back tailgate had an interesting message.  It said, “Free Snow Removal.”  I didn’t think a lot of it at first; then I realized I was in Florida.  It doesn’t snow in Florida.  I thought to myself, “If I lived here, I’d call this guy to do my yard work.  He’s pretty clever.”

And being clever is at the heart of the career advice in Tweet 65 in my career success book Success Tweets.  “A good personal brand highlights your uniqueness.  Be unconventional.  Break rules.”  Offering free snow removal in Florida is pretty unconventional in my book.

I experienced a rule-breaking moment a while back.  I was in a local bookstore looking for a book on fitness.  As you can imagine, there was no shortage.  As I opened various books to check them out, I found the business card of a local personal trainer in every one of them. 

I thought this was a great example of breaking the rules and personal brand building.  This guy spent the time to go to a local Barnes and Noble and place his card in every one of the fitness books they have on the shelf.  He was getting his name in front of a very targeted audience: people who purchase books on fitness.  Pretty cool idea in my book.  This is a perfect manifestation of breaking the rules to get recognized for your uniqueness.

When I first started blogging, my dad read a few of my posts and said, “You’re giving away some of your best ideas.  You shouldn’t do that.  You need to be selling your advice, not giving it away.”  At the time, content-rich blogs ran counter to the rule of jealously guarding your proprietary information. 

I told my dad that I’m happy when people read my blog and find ideas they can put to use.  More power to them.  I also told him that people who find my ideas helpful are more likely to look to me for career advice and my career success coach servcies when they run up against a problem they can’t solve on their own.  I was breaking a rule to build my brand.

Interestingly, giving away solid useful information is the new rule for blogging and social media.  Ask any internet marketer or marketing guru.  They will all tell you to build a relationship and establish credibility with your target audience by providing them with useful information at no cost.  Funny how things change.

George Bernard Shaw is my favorite playwright.  There is nothing so good as a well-performed Bernard Shaw play.  He also had something to say about breaking rules…

“All great truths start out as blasphemies.”

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

So go ahead, break a few rules.  Be a little unreasonable.  Be unconventional, make your brand uniquely you.  Offer free snow removal in Florida.

One last story.  Tim McKernan had one of the most unique personal brands I have come across.  He was The Barrel Man.  You might say that Tim was a superfan of the Denver Broncos.  For 30 years and in all kinds of weather, he attended every Bronco home game wearing nothing but an orange barrel with a Broncos logo and a cowboy hat and boots.

He wore his costume for the first time in 1977.  He had a $10 bet with his brother.  He bet that the costume would get him on TV.  He won that one, and was on TV every time the Broncos were for the next 30 years.  John Madden always mentioned him when he was doing a game in Denver.

Tim’s unique brand got him inducted into the Visa Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He passed away in 2009.  He was in the stands for both of the Broncos’ Super Bowl victories.

You don’t have to go to the lengths Tim McKernan or the guy who offers free snow removal in Florida did when building your brand.  But I encourage you to think like Tim and the Florida lawn service guy.  Being a little outrageous — like wearing only a barrel to football games in December in Denver, or offering free snow removal service in Florida — can help you stand out from the crowd, get recognized and create the career success you deserve.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people build personal brands that are unique.  Breaking a few rules is one way of building a unique brand.  By breaking the rules, I don’t mean doing something illegal or unethical.  I mean thinking outside of the box and not being constrained by conventional wisdom.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 65 in Success Tweets.  “A good personal brand highlights your uniqueness.  Be unconventional.  Break rules.”  What rules are holding you back from building a great personal brand?  How can you break them to demonstrate your uniqueness?  Don’t do anything that will land you in jail, or get you fired.  But think outside the box, find ways to create a Cherry Garcia brand, not one which is plain vanilla.  Think of new ways to combine ideas.  An iPod after all, is nothing more than a hard drive with a set of headphones.  Figure out how you can become the iPod in your work team.  Create a brand that shows how unique and fascinating you really are.

That’s my career advice on creating an unconventional brand by breaking a few rules.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily career success thoughts.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 395 pages of common sense career advice explaining each of the tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to to claim your free copy.

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