musings about entrepreneurship & life…
In this day and age, it is becoming relatively difficult to find one’s heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the advantages of tweeting, flickering, wetokuing, twitterfalling and all/many other versions of the new ing-form verbs. The truth of the matter is that in the midst of not falling behind the technology scene, I am losing the ability to connect with my heart.
I was recently trying to update my LinkedIn profile. Everyone seems to agree that if you are not on LinkedIn, you might as well stuff a note in a wine bottle “Cast Away” style in hopes that someone finds you alive. My profile description is probably as boring as it gets. You know, it uses typical meaningless phrases such as: forward-focused professional, motivated self-starter, management of cross-functional teams, meets & exceeds expectations, and all other bla, bla, bla that one learns in MBA school.
The challenge is: how do you brand yourself when current definitions of self are based on meaningless business adopted jargon? What would a brand look like if it were to reflect the human side of things? What about a LinkedIn summary description that presents who we are as humans rather than productive machines?
In the perpetual quest of self promotion, I am expected to be creative on LinkedIn. God forbids if my life doesn’t fit the linear nature of the LinkedIn platform format. Where do circular people fit in? LinkedIn is all about “your brand”, HR experts affirm. It is all about showing “uniqueness”. What is so unique about a herd of professionals mooing together on a paid platform?
As a scientist for many years, “brand” was never a word part of my vocabulary. In the world of science, you are what you know and that is the end of the story. Whether you show up to the lab wearing Payless white running shoes or whether your armpits smell after a running break, your “brand” is still that of a good scientist. As I transition into the business world, I notice that brand and positioning are critical elements of product success. You are lucky if your “human brand” is as specific as the positioning of a tomato sauce, a diaper or a chain store like Walmart: “save money live better”.
What if you are a Heinz 57? Can the market bear creatures like me? I refuse to think of myself as a product for consumption. I am a human. I am a scientist, an entrepreneur, a dreamer, an immigrant, a languages lover, a traveler and so on. I am original and my formula can’t be replicated (thanks God for transposons). How can you possibly pretend to position human beings? What if there is a gap on one’s professional repertoire? Is that a sin? In Corporate America it seems to be the case. LinkedIn is a platform configured to display linear progressions. Unfortunately, most configurations in nature are circular: the atom, the cell, the brain, the magnetic fields and yes, some of us humans.
Based on the idea that natural processes change continuously, the concept of branding a human being seems pretty futile to me. Branding is practical. It is categorical. I believe that we brand human beings to prevent our brains from working overtime. I argue that branding and positioning should only apply to products. I argue that the current overemphasis on “branding yourself” takes instinct to its minimal expression. I advocate developing instinct. Even if our modern lives are spent on Facebook, Twitter and alike, we are still ultimately animals. Instinct still sits at the core of animal survival.
Branding should be left for Frito Lay, currently positioned as “naturally delicious”. Naturally created Doritos, where the word “Naturally” doesn’t mean a thing !