Wharton prof Adam Grant joined the crusade against personal branding last week, tweeting “The more you focus on building a personal brand, the less authentic you appear. Toothpaste has a brand; it’s packaged and neat. People don’t have brands – they’re real and messy.”
The more you focus on building a personal brand, the less authentic you appear.
Toothpaste has a brand; it’s packaged and neat. People don’t have brands—they’re real and messy.#SHRM18 pic.twitter.com/mDlkxpsFjn
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) June 20, 2018
A little late to the party, but hey, better late than never.
As I’m sure you know, I’ve been on a one-man quest against personal branding for ages, having written countless articles, columns and blog posts on the subject. I also hit that fad particularly hard in my book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow (shameless plug).
For #FlashbackFriday I thought it’d be fun to look back at my first post on the subject, a stunningly cynical takedown on the budding craze for CBS MoneyWatch called Gen Y Personal Branding Gurus are Uberfull of Ubercrap, c. 2010. Enjoy:
So, I’m checking out this post by Jessica Stillman called Personal Branding: 5 Secrets of Success from Guy Kawasaki. As I’m reading, I’m becoming less and less interested in the content and more and more interested in unraveling its convoluted origins.
Jessica’s post is actually a repost of something Pete Kistler wrote called Guy Kawasaki’s 5-Point Guide to Personal Branding, which appeared on “personal branding guru” Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding blog.
Now Kistler, who calls himself an “online reputation management expert for Generation Y,” derived his post from Kawasaki’s Art of the Start, a book about starting a business or launching a product that has absolutely nothing to do with personal branding.
Got all that?
Now here’s my question. Why do I get the feeling that the business world has recently taken a horribly misguided detour from B2C and B2B to Me2Me?
I mean, why does it rub me the wrong way that these Generation Me “gurus” and “experts” who’ve never built a company or marketed anything but themselves are so interested in ever-more insidious ways to promote themselves? And why does it feel like what passes for knowledge and expertise these days is really just a waste of genetic material that might otherwise have been put to good use?
Wait, is that too over-the-top? Oh well, there goes my personal brand down the crapper.
Here’s an even better question. If these 5 pearls of personal branding wisdom are so incredibly earth-shattering that they absolutely had to be posted, reposted, and repackaged by such notable gurus and experts, why didn’t said gurus and experts come up with them themselves? And you’ve got to wonder why, if they’re so important, they’re buried deep inside a book on another subject?
I don’t know. Maybe it just bugs me that personal branding is such a transparently obvious uberpile of ubercrap that takes self-help to new lows, or that there seems to be endless demand for this sort of self-absorbed, self-promoting crap by millions of Generation Me-ers who are so self-centered and self-involved that they actually buy into this nonsense.
Yeah, I think that’s it.
So what do you think: Have I lost my edge over the years?
Image credit “Generation Me,” by Jean Twenge