Building the Brand of You

February 2, 2012

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about careers and career trajectories, and what a career even is anymore. Maybe I’m just trying to reconcile the chaos of my own resume, to weave a narrative through the collection of my experiences. As school is winding down it’s nearly time for me to peddle myself again, I’m again thinking about where I want to go and how everything could be stacked together to get me there. For the first time I have a much clearer picture of what the goal is and I  know that I will be more active in telling my story instead of doing what I think I “should” do or just reacting to the next choice put in front of me.

I don’t really mean for this to be about me though, I think it’s much bigger than that. There’s something about the interplay of the recession and technology and maybe a million other things like social networks and millennial impatience and entitlement, and environmental degradation, and the possibility of nuclear war that translates into a lack of a clear path to success, no sure fire way to become CEO, or king of the world. This is not my idea. I first learned of it while working at Endeavor Global over the summer and in full disclosure, I’m realizing now, I’m just repackaging it because I was thinking about it this morning. It used to be that you enter a company at the bottom–mail room, assistant–and work your way up. After twenty or thirty years you consistently gained more responsibility and had a “successful” career. The next transition was when people started jumping between companies in the same industry to advance. Now we’re all over the place, and the thing we can do is build our own skills, invest in ourselves. Work on the brand of you.

In some ways it’s scarier this way. There’s no prescribed path and it requires constant openness and evaluation of opportunities. It’s hard to know what a misstep looks like and I think it’s dangerous to think that there aren’t any. I also couldn’t, at this moment, describe what one looks like. There are also so many possibilities! I’m curious to see what happens on the other side of this brand building, if in thirty or forty or fifty years our kids will think it’s great to rise up through the ranks of one company, or if we’ll be broke, without feeling like we ever really accomplished anything. I don’t have an answer. Mostly it keeps me coming back to the idea of investing in yourself and that personal relationships matter most. Anyone have thoughts? Advice?

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One Response to “Building the Brand of You”

  1. Megs said

    I always like catching up on your posts, Brooke. This one reminded me of yesterday’s David Brooks column: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/opinion/brooks-the-talent-society.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.

    Personally, I’m old-fashioned and, at times, ill at ease in this newer, individualized, talent paradigm. Likewise, the level of “reputation-management” that kids today (and eventually, my own children) have to confront at such an early age to protect their digital footprint and their eventual “personal brand” is terrifying. Not really what you’re talking about but a somewhat related issue…

    Anyway – see you Saturday! xoxo

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