Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a workshop with management consultant and trainer John Spence for a day. It was stimulating on a number of levels from a business strategy perspective, but it is in the context of personal branding that I wish to share. In personal branding one needs to understand and be committed to owning something by way of expertise. Like business brands, individuals need to have a value proposition that is compelling. Spence suggests that there are 4 P’s to being an expert. They are:
Passion – a need to love what you are doing
Persistence – being prepared to the hard work (a decade or 10,000 hours type thinking)
Practice – deliberate and systematic
Pattern recognition – see data and information insights others don’t see
His comments on being an expert reminded me of a great book by Daniel Pink, called a ‘Whole New Mind’. In particular Pink’s thoughts on the need for us to change. He makes the point that the last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crack code, lawyers into the detail of contracts, MBAs big on analysis and strategy. But he says the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathisers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people — artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, care-givers, consolers, big-picture thinkers, will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys. It is what he sees as the move to the Conceptual Age and the time for right brain thinkers.
To survive in this age, individuals and organizations must examine what they’re doing to earn a living, and Pink suggests that everyone should ask themselves three questions:
– Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
– Can a computer do it faster?
– Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?
When you ponder these questions, it is clear there are very few sacred cows, everyone needs to be thinking through how they continue to offer value in the roles they are playing now and into the future. But there is some real upside, as the attributes that Pink suggests we need to master have a rather uplifting tone to them.
Pink believes we need to excel in the following attributes if we wish to be the type of high concept and high touch individuals he is advocating:
1. Not just function but also DESIGN. Today it’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create something that is beautiful, whimsical, or emotionally engaging.
2. Not just argument but also STORY. The essence of persuasion, communication and self-understanding has become the ability also to fashion a compelling narrative.
3. Not just focus but also SYMPHONY. What’s in greatest demand today isn’t analysis but synthesis — seeing the big picture and, crossing boundaries, being able to combine disparate pieces into an arresting new whole.
4. Not just logic but also EMPATHY. What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman and man tick, to forge relationships, and to care for others.
5. Not just seriousness but also PLAY. Too much sobriety can be bad for your career and worse for your general well-being. In the Conceptual Age, we all need to play.
6. Not just accumulation but also MEANING. A world of material plenty has freed us to pursue more significant desires: purpose, transcendence, and spiritual fulfilment.
There is no doubt that some of the above attributes are increasingly growing in importance. The question is what are you doing with your personal brand to express a little bit of Pink (thinking)?