I read a wonderful profile of William Styron by his daughter, Alexandra Syron in The New Yorker. Styron was not an easy man to have for a father, given his extreme moodiness and withdrawal, but the author nevertheless loved her father. What makes the article so poignant is that the daughter ultimately finds her father in the pages of his novel, “Sophie’s Choice,” which she first reads late in life. However, she is never able to share what she has learned with her father.
By now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with personal branding. Bear with me for a minute. I’ve also been thinking a lot about leadership and how that relates to personal branding. The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article about a new book, “True North,” by Bill George that analyzes what defines a leader.
In an interview with the Journal, George says,
“What we learned was that leadership is not about traits and characteristics. What really stood out was (the leaders’) life stories. That’s where they found their passion to lead — their experiences. That’s what gave them the authenticy of leadership. A lof of the inauthentic leaders got pulled off by trying to be something different than they were.”
Or as George quoting GE CEO Jeff Immelt, says, “Leadership is a long journey into your own soul.”
The same qualities apply to personal branding. The best personal branders become leaders in their field. While we don’t need to write our memoirs, we all on some level need to undergo the personal excavation Alexandra Styron did. Only by data mining our lives will we have the “right stuff” to be personal branding exemplars.
Wendy Marx, Personal Branding and Public Relations, Marx Communications