What Leaders Can Learn from Angelina

One thing that you may or may not have noticed in this series is that all of the women featured are known by their first name. First there was Britney and then Madonna. And now this is about "Angelina". They need no other introduction. One of the most effective things that a leader can do is understand the power of a personal brand. Ask yourself, how are you known in your organization? How do you stand out?

Angelina Jolie on goodcircle.org Originally uploaded by goodcircle.org

But the personal brand is not just a name, it is linked to outcomes. What is it that you are known for? Tightly linked to the personal brand is an understanding of its power to create change and achieve outcomes. Angelina is one of those celebrities who are known for leveraging their celebrity to assist causes. Let's take a look at how Angelina uses both her celebrity and her personal brand to achieve her leadership outcomes. CEO of Angelina Inc Way back in 1997, Tom Peters wrote about The Brand Called You and set in chain a whole personal branding industry. Personal branding is about branding and marketing yourself and your career -- taking lessons from the marketing and advertising industry and applying them to yourself. As Tom explains, personal branding is both easy, hard and inescapable:
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
As with any brand, there are what marketers call the "four Ps" that you need to be aware of:
  • Product -- well, that's you. You have to know yourself, your strengths, benefits and features. Angelina is clearly in charge of her own image. She understands that every movie role (ie every strategic decision), every appearance and every outcome she achieves contributes to the overall impression of "Angelina". She plays to her strengths, reinforces her "personal value proposition".
  • Price -- not that you want to sell yourself, but you do need to understand your value. Movie stars command significant salaries for the movie projects they are involved in. They can also command the attention and energies of others.
  • Place -- think of this as your career or work stream. Who are the leaders in your industry or niche? You need to place/position yourself within your organization and your industry. As Chris Brogan, points out, brands "stand for something". The question leaders must ask themselves is "where do I stand". Angelina's position is clear. She stands for children and for education.
  • Promotion -- how do you communicate the value that you offer your industry or employer? There is nothing I can add here. Celebrity is its own promotion.
But the celebrity as leader goes beyond the four Ps, adding a new dimension -- Power (or the 5th P). The Power of the Brand Angelina is well known for her commitment to social causes -- especially those related to children and education. And perhaps more importantly, she is also committed to networking and bridging the gap between the causes that she supports and the global business community. She has attended Davos, worked with the UN High Commission for Refugees and recently become involved in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) -- you can see the press conference below. Listen to the murmur in the room before she arrives and watch as the camera flashes light up when she arrives. This is power in action. Here Angelina is manifesting the five Ps. As the Co-chair and Co-founder of the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, Angelina combines these two passions and uses her personal brand to raise awareness and drive change. Late last year at the Clinton Global Initiative, she stated:
These are children who most need a safe place to learn; a place to heal; a place to learn reconciliation and a place to just be children. Some think we should only provide emergency relief to children in conflict … they say education is not lifesaving. All of us here today would beg to differ.
These are not words alone. This is a call to action. Angelina is articulately positioning herself and her audience as active participants in the solving of a problem.
Nina nets it out: Working with the four Ps and then activating the fifth is a powerful way of demonstrating leadership driven outcomes. Please share any of your own stories how you have built and activated your personal brand. Nina Simosko's personal blog can be found at http://www.ninasimosko.com/.

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