The other day, I was talking to a couple of people about the second season of Narcos, which I really enjoyed.
“Oh man”, this guy said. “What a personal brand Pablo Escobar had!”
I thought the observation was curious – I mean, who watched Narcos and thought: “personal brand”? But the guy was a marketing-type, so whatever.
A few days later, I took some quiz on Buzzfeed: “What % Millennial Stereotype Are You?” One of the questions was – not a joke – “Have you ever thought about your personal brand?”
I guffawed – what kind of asshole would think about their “personal brand”? Some narcissist “curating” their instagram feed? – before answering truthfully: “No, and that’s really stupid.”
Apparently, I’m not very millennial stereotype.
I called a friend: “Do you ever think about your personal brand?”
She: “No, but I’ve actually worried that I might not be thinking about it enough, and I should be thinking about it more.”
Me: “What? For what? Like, I want my work to think I’m professional and capable, but I don’t see how that’s a ‘personal brand’. Isn’t that just something for people who want to be famous? Or for corporations who are trying to sell things?”
I’m still confused. What’s the difference between “personal brand” and “reputation”? Why does there have to be a new buzzword for “reputation”? And also – why do you have to think about your “reputation”, unless something in your life isn’t working out or you’re having some kind of come-to-Jesus moment?
I’m going to quote my parents here, with some classic mom & dad advice (usually yelled in frustration):
“Just be yourself!”