I finished reading Keep Going by Austin Kleon this morning.
I enjoy his books. He’s clever and insightful and witty.
He made some great points about the online worlds we create for ourselves. He made me think twice about how I use the term “personal brand.”
We need to be careful not to commoditize ourselves. We mustn’t pigeon hole ourselves inside of our brands. When we become a brand, what we are doing is creating a message or an idea that we must conform to. With this, we are also creating an ethos or a “way that it should be.”
We feel obligated to stick to our guns because having a brand means having certainty.
That can be a dangerous game to play.
Building a personal brand is different than building a company brand. Because you are a person. You are a lot of things.
I’m a man. I’m a husband. A brother. A son.
I love working out. I am passionate about recovery. I love comic books and birds. I love physics and quantum mechanics. I love the Eagles. I hate the cowboys. I love websites. I don’t like drawing. I love tacos. I have lots of tattoos. I’m a company man. I’m an entrepreneur. I love the snow. I love the beach. I love learning about history. I don’t like school.
I’m probably a democrat, but I’m pretty conservative with my money. I have lots of energy. I don’t like sitting in the car. But most of all, more than anything, I absolutely positively despise mayonnaise.
Ok great. So what’s my brand?
How do you cope with being a brand and being a person at the same time?
Austin Kleon has a great solution.
Don’t be a brand. Create art.
To do that, we first have to define art.
Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.Seth Godin
I first read this line years ago when I read Seth Godin’s life-changing book, Purple Cow.
This concept of art has had a huge impact on me. It made me realize that art is more than a painting. Your art is your contribution to the world.
- The way you answer the phone
- The way you greet customers who walk in your door
- The way you smile when you bring customers their milkshakes
- The way you stack the pizza boxes neatly in the corner so the cook can easily access them
- The way you fill the pothole so it’s smooth when someone drives over it
This is your art. This is your contribution to the world.
When you present your art to the world, you don’t have to be labeled as a certain something. You can be you, doing the things you do, in only the way that you can do them.
Your brand is a by-product of the way you make people feel. But to make people feel something, you need to first show them your art.
Now, what is the art you will share?
You matter. Your art matters. Your contribution matters.
Make art and the world will thank you for it.