The key to being interesting is to go where you aren’t boring.Found on the internet.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “branding” and what that means for me and my business. It doesn’t take much looking on the internet to find someone that usually has a bunch to say about “personal branding” and branding in general. These days, the prevailing theory is that without a good “authentic” personal brand, you are dead in the water. And while I can see the thinking behind that. I also have some issues with that. A bunch of issues in fact. Although they can all be boiled down to one key point really.
I think its simplifying things too much.
People are complex and messy and unorganized and sometimes scattered. You know. People are human. To that end, I’m just not sure I can be distilled down to a catchy phrase or a cute tagline.
How do you distill your personality and complexities down to a neat and tidy personal brand that encompasses all that you are? (And does it all in a flattering light so we don’t come across as the bundle of complications and contradictions that we all are.)
Let me give you an example.
When I look at my life I just don’t see much that’s interesting or out of the ordinary. I figure overall I’m pretty boring and safe and normal. I do what I do, and I don’t put too much weight behind those day to day things. Now, from what I can determine, everyone outside of my head sees something very different. They don’t see normal and boring. They see interesting and unique and different. I just have a hard time reconciling that with my day to day. I’m just me. I just do what needs to be done.
Outside of VO I have a bunch of different interests. I do a lot of different things throughout the course of a day and a week and a month. And I like learning new things. I suppose at heart I’m a collector of skills. I’ll find something that I need to “do” to accomplish a specific task, and then figure out how to do it. And if that means I need to learn a new skill, then that’s what happens. It’s just how I work. Most days, I like to think that I’m pretty sharp, and I can pick up new things reasonably well. Also my Google-Fu is strong, so I can generally find a resource that I can use to learn a new skill. Nothing special there. I need a skill, so I learn a skill.
I was thinking about the stuff that I’ve done outside of work in the last couple of weeks.
- Landscaping – I’ve been cleaning up my back yard so its more functional for summer. And the work has included irrigation work, weeding, raking, decorative rockwork, a little plumbing, and fabricating a metal countertop for an outdoor sink area.
- Roofing – I had an outbuilding that was leaking, so I pulled the old roofing off, replaced the damaged deck boards, repaired the flashing, and then reroofed the whole building.
- Ceiling fan replacement – The ceiling fan in my office has been acting up, so I pulled the old one down, repaired some bad wiring that the previous owner had left, and put up a brand new ceiling fan.
- Automotive repair – I’m rebuilding the fuel system on a utility vehicle that I have so I can use it for larger yard projects.
- Auto restoration – I’m about 40% into the restoration and repair of my dad’s 1937 Ford Pickup. We are fixing 80+ years of abuse, and customizing the truck to make it reliable and comfortable. So far we have it all apart and down to bare metal. Now we are starting on the metal work.
- General welding – I had a piece of equipment in the shop that I’m fabricating a new stand with wheels for so its more stable and easier to move.
- General fabrication – I’ve built a couple of sets of shelves, and some additional storage out in the shop to better organize all of my parts so I can find what I need when I need it.
- Electrical – I had to replace a couple of light switches, and an outlet that were old and getting brittle. I took the opportunity to upgrade the switched to smart switches while I Was in the walls.
- Audio engineering – This is slightly work related, but I was about to help a couple of friends diagnose and solve some audio quality issues. I also helped them streamline their workflow.
- Computer support – A friend of the family was having issues with their computer and was convinced that it was time to replace it. I remoted in and took care of the issues, and got the performance and responsiveness back to where it was before.
- Website design – I’ve built a DIY website course for small business owners and VO folks, and I’ve completed the live sessions, and I’m going through and taking care of the video editing and clean up now so its available as modules for others to use going forward.
- Graphic design work – I’ve been tinkering with a new logo design for my business, as well as designing some printable projects for my kid.
I’m slowly realizing that’s not normal at all.
And those are just the everyday sorts of things that I do. That doesn’t include some of the more unusual hobbies I have. Things like building working, street legal movie replica vehicles. The vintage ambulance that I restored from the ground up. Random furniture and accessories (Metal and wood) that I’ve built for the house and yard. Or any of a hundred other skills that I’ve learned over the years. I guess I like to be self sufficient. I like being able to just take care of whatever comes up. No drama, no issues, I just handle things and move on with my day. I try to do the same with my business. I want every client interaction to be easy, painless, and drama free. Get in, do the job, deliver, and move on. I look at that as part of respecting my clients time.
I’ve started wondering if my feeling that my life is just “normal” is getting in the way of my branding and marketing efforts. If the rest of the world doesn’t do things like I do, then maybe I need to try to embrace all of that interesting stuff instead of minimizing it.
I built a full size vehicle replica of the Ecto1a from Ghostbusters 2 (pictured above) because I really loved that car in the movies and a tiny bit because everyone said it couldn’t be done properly. And I loved that challenge. That one project let me learn a bunch of new skills to make it all work. There was a ton of research to make it all accurate. And YEARS of tweaking to get it as close as I could to the real movie car, even though no one but me would ever notice the tiny details. It was important to me to get everything right to respect the work of the people that built the original. That’s the sort of thing that interests me. That’s who I am.
I collect skills and I’m pretty decent at whatever I put my mind to. So perhaps I need to own that more and not be so low key about everything. Will that make promotion and branding easier. I doubt it. I’ll still more than likely chafe a little at the promotion parts of branding and marketing. But that’s just because I’m not a shout from the mountaintop about what I do sort of guy. But think I can learn to embrace and own the skills that I do have. That’s part of what makes me unique. And that’s my competitive advantage. I’m like a multi-tool. I’m one person with a whole bunch of seemingly random, but useful skills. You never know what you will need, but you can depend on me to be able to deliver it for you when you do figure it out.
If that means that I’m interesting after all, then I think I can learn to live with that.