Developing your brand can be tough, especially when you’re first starting out.
You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to emulate the people you want to be like, and there is merit to that. Emulating your role models’ actions is a great way to achieve your goals faster and more efficiently, but copying their personality will come off as insincere and inauthentic.
You should NEVER do that!
If you want to build a brand people will trust, you need to be yourself because they will be doing business with you—not the people you’re trying to emulate. The “fake it ’til you make it” approach might work for thinking big, but it doesn’t work for telling people who you are.
That means embracing your real personality. If you’re dry and stiff, embrace it, and if you’re bubbly and energetic, embrace that, but never try to be someone you aren’t because you think that’s what someone else wants. They’ll either see right through that and choose not to do business with you, or the business relationship will be awkward and strained, leaving them dissatisfied. Besides, it will make you miserable.
When you pretend to be someone else, you attract clients who aren’t really a fit and things go south fast, but when you are yourself, the right clients will naturally gravitate towards you and you’ll work well together.
You can be exactly who you are and still be wildly successful. Here are a few examples of people I admire who don’t fit into the mold of a “traditional” business person, yet are 100% authentic and very successful.
I stumbled across Mike Michalowicz while doing outreach for a client, and his podcast quickly became one of my favorites. The guy is incredibly smart and knows his shit, but he’s not one of those boring guys in an over-starched shirt who vomits industry buzzwords and takes themselves way too seriously. (Check out his website and watch the images as you mouse over the menu choices.) He’s goofy in a good way, funny, approachable—and most importantly, he is authentic.
I LOVE her presentation style! Marie is another brilliant business mind that doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her B‑School is an interactive video-based training program that teaches entrepreneurs how to kick ass at marketing, and I can’t think of a better medium for her use. Her charisma just draws you in…seriously, pull up her YouTube channel and once you click “play,” I guarantee it will be running in the background all day—tons of useful information delivered with tons of personality.
Rand has a brain that would make the smartest geek you’ve ever met jealous, has overcome challenges that would make most people crumble, and has achieved amazing success, yet he’s humble about all of it. His personality really shines in MOZ’s Whiteboard Friday series where he shares SEO and marketing advice, but one of his presentations at MozCon 2012 says even more about his character. He doesn’t try to play the “big important CEO” card. He doesn’t beat his chest yelling “look what I accomplished!” In the first few minutes of this video, Rand makes it very clear how much he appreciates all of the people he works with. He cares about his team, and he lets them know, often, and publicly.
I found Chalene’s podcast while I was struggling through some health issues, and after a few episodes, I was hooked. She is a fitness trainer turned self-help guru who always maintains an intensity level of 11 and superhuman positivity, but it’s 100% real. It’s not the “everything is awesome” mantra we usually hear from people in her industry—she’s is very open about her challenges and fears, but she just doesn’t let negativity take hold. That’s a Hell of a lot more authentic than most coaches and business leaders who want you to believe their lives are always perfect and yours will be too if you just buy their book or coaching package.