Personal Branding – Riding the Black Caviar Lesson

Undefeated after 21 races in Australia was justification enough to book a first class ticket in June and head to England to take on the best of what Europe had to offer in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. The results will show that the wonder mare notched up her 22nd straight win there and her place in racing history (as it was before the race) as the fastest horse in the world sealed. But for of those who followed Black Caviar’s adventure to England will know she ‘just’ won – half a head, long nose, called it what you will, she just got across the line. What should have been a celebration of one of the greatest horses ever seen turned into a conversation of how her jockey Luke Nolen had let her down, with the cry from the experts and the punters that he eased her up too early.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjSOqlEs6qo

However for me, what followed was a lesson in the power of the humble apologise. The disarming impact delivered when someone admits to not quite getting it right. For me Luke Nolen became a person who I had really not paid any attention to previously to someone I now have great admiration for. He simply did not attempt to shy away from a fundamental error in judgment. An honest Nolen said after the race that he had a ‘brain fade’ and underestimated how tough the 1200 metre straight had been on the horse. “I underestimated the gruelling six-furlong straight. Because it was such a test for her, she pulled up very quickly and it took me by surprise,” he said.

Back in Australian talking to media, Nolen said he was down on himself for the ride, but is over it now. “It was far from my best ride, it was probably one of my worst,” Nolen said.

You cannot but help get the sense that Nolen has learnt from his ride. He has accepted fully his role in what could have been one of the truly big ‘stuff-ups’ in racing. But he is ready to move on, as I assume is the racing public that will be part of his world.

From a personal branding perspective Nolen offers a great lesson in the power of humility and contrition. What else can be said about his ride, because he has said it all him self. For many of our politicians I would encourage them to reflect on Luke Nolen’s experience. If ever we have a segment of our community who seem beyond carrying an ounce of blame for anything it would have to be our politicians. Personal brands, like product, service and organisational brands are far more potent when they express high degrees of honesty and authenticity. If your game relates to the human race, as distinct from a horse race, why not display a little vulnerability – you may find you actually have more followers rather than less.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist (someone who occasionally gets it wrong…occasionally!)

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