The Most Important Word When Building Your Personal Brand

About This Blog

This site is for  entrepreneurs.  A full RSS feed to the articles is available.  Please subscribe so we know you're out there.  If you need more convincing, learn more about the site.

Community

Google+

And, you can find me on Google+

Connect on Twitter

Get Articles By Email

Your email:

Google

Blog Navigator

Navigate By : 
[Article Index]

Questions about startups?

If you have questions about startups, you can find me and a bunch of other startup fanatics on the free Q&A website:

Answers.OnStartups.com

Subscribe to Updates

 

30,000+ subscribers can't all be wrong.  Subscribe to the OnStartups.com RSS feed.

Follow me on LinkedIn

OnStartups

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

The Most Important Word When Building Your Personal Brand

 

Do your colleagues have a choice word for you? If not, here's why you want them to…

Sometimes one word can make all the difference.describe the image

I was at a conference and a friend who runs a startup introduced me to one of his friends, who was looking for a new opportunity. “I’d like you to meet Joe,” he said. “He’s great.”

I’m sure Joe is talented. I’m sure Joe is skilled. I’m sure Joe is, in fact, great.

But I only remember Joe because of something that happened a few minutes later. Another friend introduced me to one of his product managers. “This is Michelle,” he said. “She’s relentless.”

In the dictionary, “great” means remarkable in degree or effectiveness. “Great” is a wonderful word, especially when used to describe someone… but like “awesome” and “outstanding,” “great” is used so often to describe people that it has lost much of its meaning. When just about everyone is great… no one is great. Great is no longer impactful or memorable.

When described as “great, however remarkable in degree or effectiveness he may be, Joe seems like – however unfairly – just one of many. He doesn't standout.

But “relentless” – who can forget relentless? Hear the word and you instantly think of someone so determined, so persevering, so persistent and tenacious that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stand in her way.

A “great” product manager you might forget. A “relentless product manager you remember for a long, long time.

Authentic Positioning Matters – Especially for Individuals

Many companies, as Al Ries describes in his classic marketing book Positioning, try to own a single word or phrase in the minds of customers. For Mercedes it’s “luxury.” For Volvo it's “safety”. At my company HubSpot it’s “inbound”.

The goal of positioning is to create an immediate and direct connection in the minds of consumers; that’s what branding is all about.

Individuals need to think about positioning, too. Where Tony Hsieh is concerned, that word is “culture.” Where Eric Ries is concerned it’s “lean.”

So imagine you ask a colleague or a boss or a customer for to pick one word that describes you and they aren’t allowed to use words like awesome, fantastic, great, terrific, etc. They have to pick a specific, non-generic word. What word would they choose?

The word they choose – for better or worse and, where you’re concerned, intentional or unintentional – is your positioning in the minds of the people you work with. That’s how they see you. That’s how they think of you.

That is how they remember you.

What is Your Most Important Word?

The cool thing is, you get to choose how people view you. As long as your actions constantly and consistently match your positioning, as long as you are intentional in thought and action, you can determine the immediate and direct connection people make when they see, hear, or think about you.

What one word best describes you? Better yet, what one word do you want to describe you?

Here are a few possibilities – in the right circumstances these are all wonderful qualities:

· Insightful

· Shrewd

· Ferocious (hopefully in a good way)

· Unflinching

· Indomitable

· Irreverent

· Scrupulous

· Relatable

· Determined

So, back to the original question: What is the one word that can transform your career? As you've probably guessed — it's different for everyone. But, if you can find yours, it can have a profound impact on your person brand, and hence your career.

A short, powerful exercise…

Make a list of the adjectives you want people to repeat after they meet you, talk to you, see or read about you... what do you want other people to think of when they think of you?

Make your list. Then boil it down to the one word you want to encapsulate you – and, in effect, your personal brand. (If you don’t, other people will definitely decide it for you.)

Decide how you want to be defined.

Now, share your one word in the comments below. If you can't quite get it down to just one word, that's OK (I'm an easy going guy) — pick 2 or 3 words. But, leave them in the comments. We're not going to hold you to it, but the simple act of writing them down and sharing them is super-helpful. And, it will help others come up with their words.

I'll kick things off with the words I'd like people to associate with me: creative.

Read, think, GO!

Leave your one (or two) words in the comments.

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Wed, Jul 24, 2013

COMMENTS

"Loyal" is one I usually think about for myself. I'm passionate about companies that build similar loyalty in their customers.  
 
A colleague recently told me he thinks "Quiet grace" when he thinks of me, which is an unexpected but flattering sentiment :)

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 11:09 AM by Justin Normand


Curious, strategic, irreverent, relentless.  
Is that two?  
Let's see if any of my current or former colleagues / employees are reading this...

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM by Marissa Verson Harrison


PASSIONATE 

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:13 PM by Karthik Hariharan


Persistant 
Strategic 
Creative 
Let's see if my colleagues agree

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM by Daniel Thompson


Our start-up has gone through many iterations and I like to think of being "tenacious" in serving our customers.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM by Richard Doerer


Not very easy but really fun trying to choose in between various "branding words" like Visionary - Atypical - Pragmatic - Efficient - Original - Creative ... :) or Unforgettable!

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:23 PM by Lambelin Marc


Great post! I have launched a few circles that went to the top of circlecount.com over the past two weeks - and have been bequeathed the nickname #CircleQueen by many of the people in my circles :)

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM by Christine DeGraff


Wise

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:29 PM by Dennis Fischman


The use of the word "relentless" to describe a female product manager is interesting. Would that word have the same positive associations if used to describe a male product manager? Why should a female product manager have to be "relentless" to be effective? "Relentless" implies asking for something repeatedly until you get what you want. I'd rather command the respect to get results the first time I ask, and be knows as "amazingly good at shipping product" (is there one word to encapsulate that?)

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM by Diana Holm


CLEVER

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM by Don


called "analytical" all the time .not always in a good sense

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM by kathy


unstoppable

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM by Liv


For this start-up "committed" or "disrupter" would be good. It's amazing how far we've come in marketing (e-mail, blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) and yet the basics are just as true today and when Ries and Trout wrote their books 15-20 years ago. The more things change the more they stay the same.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM by Noel Huelsenbeck


Driven

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:36 PM by Pam McBride


Innovative

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:43 PM by Tim Zager


Well, I wrote my list...I was hoping to use an adjective that started with "P," however I've come up with "TENACIOUS." 8 )

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:23 PM by Pam Stellato


Words constantly used about me: 
Inspirational, Connector, Driven, Motivated, Wise, Smart. 
 
I am happy with 'Inspirational' as it is used the most.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:29 PM by Rachel Gedney


WhipSmart, Gladiator, Visionary

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 5:36 PM by Dale Vaughn


Knowledgeable, persistent, invested

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6:29 PM by Ian Pratt


"I'd rather command the respect to get results the first time I ask" 
 
Ouch! 
 
Perhaps it is not an issue of respect but mis-communication, misunderstanding or a cultural issue.  
 
All the respect in the world won't help you with any of the issues I mention above.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 6:48 PM by Stephen Kellett


Focused, attentive, superficial. Abrasive, snow off

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM by Kartik pandit


Pioneering

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM by Dele Atanda


"Brilliant" — it's watered down in the UK, but in the States, it's a *great* word.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 11:14 PM by John Windsor


Outstanding

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 11:20 PM by Sandra Kelly


That's a key issue for the personal and professional development. We must understand that all of us we are differents, so we must try to discover what should be out personal brand for the world and market eyes.

posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 11:36 PM by Juan Luis


Committed, Passionate, Industrious

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:01 AM by Piyush Sanduja


The words that have been used to describe me are Passionate and Relentless - I prefer Passionate

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:50 AM by Sita


How about ... mendacious ??? 
 
It's how some people see me. My postings on forums isn't always taken kindly, as insight can be very unsettling to the unprepared.  
 
After all, the closer you get to the individual, the bigger the chinks in their armour. If they need that armour just to get out of bed, they'll be in trouble with me around.  
 
I'm not always mendacious - only sometimes it just seems that way. And it's something I can play with too ;-)

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6:20 AM by Gemma Laming


WOW

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 9:35 AM by Andrew Rush


Great and inspiring stuff! The personal brand that I strive for is "Wow!" It isn't always attainable but I know that I'll make a connection with somebody if I can elicit the thought “Wow!” And I know that I will have a terrific client and relationship for life if I can consistently deliver on “Wow!”  
 
When I can connect the art and science of a person’s marketing objectives, challenges, and goals and turn them into smart and creative solutions I can tell if they are thinking “Wow!” and if I have exceeded their expectations. Earning (through passion, dedication, listening, thinking, and analyzing!) that “Wow!” moment, is what gets my juices flowing and is why I work in marketing and advertising. Delivering that “Wow!” moment consistently is when lasting relationships are built. But most of all what really excites and inspires me is when somebody tells me something that makes me think or even say “Wow!” 

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM by Andrew Rush


For myself: Intelligence 
 
For my business: Invisibly Powerful

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:00 PM by Stanley


"JUMP" 
When I sense the opportunity is near or now, I jump right in....

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM by Gil Martinez


Perfectionist

posted on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 3:46 PM by Noreen Din


Simple

posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:43 AM by Alula


Been called <Bureaucrat>, and <Professional>, <Expert>! But am one who is <relentless>, <strategic>, <dynamic>,

posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:11 AM by MArtin Morris Okolo


Tenacious!

posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM by Connie


Very thought-provoking post. I too am described as "analytical"and it depends upon the audience as to how that is interpreted. 
In terms of my one word, I am going with: INTEGRATOR

posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM by Gary Brown, Ed.D.,PMP


Effective 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM by HunterGatherer


Creative, Brave and Inspirational - I like it.

posted on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM by Ezra Holland


Love the approach. Describing with one word is lean, focused and accessible. I also love how you associate this with personal branding. Personal branding is as important as any skills. 
 
For me I would say: Independent / optimistic 
 
Hopefully me going against the norm (Asian culture), traveling solo, running my own startup will help convey this message. :)

posted on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM by Pete R.


Logical.

posted on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 10:49 AM by Tony A.


Creative. Insightful. 
 
Though I like the simplier and more memorable "whip smart" that was mentioned earlier

posted on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM by Paul


Dharmesh, you have done an awesome job with the post. I learned from Ramit's Sethi about the exact same thing and I started practicing it about 2 years.  
 
My branding: Multi-talented, Curious, Interesting 
 
In retrospect, These are several things you want to think about. 
1. It's a good practice to ask people (I.e. friends and family) about what are the three words they'll use to describe you. Follow up with why these three words. This gives you a view on how you are currently viewed by people close to you. I did this before I chose my personal branding. It greatly helped me since almost everyone said they view me as an all rounder or multi talented. I liked it, so I kept it in my three words. They also told me that I'm funny and that's the reason sometimes they don't take me seriously. So I decided to reframe it to interesting. 
 
2. Use the words you want to be branded with when you converse with people. For example: I will say "I'm curious about what you actually do / how yo do it so well". Try not to use it all the time and use it when you find appropriate.  
 
3. Do health checks - feom time to time, ask your friend to introduce you to someone you don't know and listen to the words they use. You will notice that you slowly get introduced with the words you used. Note that if people are not using the word, then your branding doesn't match your actions. It's time to restrategise. 
 
4. It's normal for different group of people to view you differently. At work, they say I'm multi talented. My friends and family say I'm curious and always trying to learn about new things. And the ladies find me interesting! It's fine as long as you make sure you are not branded anything else. 
 
It took me 2 years to make sure people see me as the the three words I chose. You have to be consistent and make sure your habits are aligned with your branding. 
 
Good luck. 
 
SK

posted on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 9:02 PM by SK


Dreamer!

posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 3:14 AM by Prateek Lohia


interesting. original. genuine.

posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 11:15 PM by Jason Kosarek


Probably not a quality you can deliberately aim for: Charismatic.

posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 at 12:30 AM by Jeff


One word - Visionary 

posted on Friday, August 02, 2013 at 8:42 AM by Selvin


Resourceful

posted on Monday, August 05, 2013 at 3:22 PM by Michel Billard


I would like to think I am seen as "insightful." 
 
After reading this, I am tempted to poll my network to confirm it or see if something more energetic rises to the top.

posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 at 8:09 AM by Zeta


After doing some much appreciated thinking, I would have to say the word (or if you want to call it two words) that describes me best is "Open-minded". Leaving myself to become open-minded has entered me into some amazing venues, which I'm extremely grateful for!

posted on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 at 12:09 PM by Nate N.


As described by one of my recent clients (ArtBookPrinting.com): Haute

posted on Thursday, August 08, 2013 at 12:55 AM by Daniel McClintock


My word is EGO (I am in Latin). I started my first blog on May 7, 2002, and it was named EGO. I have since then added sites with the word ego in it, e.g., EGO Sole Trader and EGO NetCast. You have to start with your self if you want to build a personal brand.

posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 at 9:13 AM by Martin Lindeskog


Empowering! 

posted on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9:48 AM by Doreen Hathaway


Conceptual

posted on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM by Andria Goldin


Great article. Boy how do you get an attorney to use only one word about anything? This one really got me thinking. 
I really work for my clients and have a lot of insight and experience after doing this for 35 years. So.... 
"Dedicated" to my clients' well being may be a word to use. But I really need to think about this one. Thanks for the post.

posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:01 AM by Steven J Fromm


One other thing. I need to ask my wife this question as she is smarter than me on most things in life.

posted on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:04 AM by Steven J Fromm


Versatile Tenacity. 
 
i am very focused ad determined yet extremely adaptable - forward looking even

posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 at 10:37 AM by cdubb


 
 
 
Confident, and Correct  
 
 

posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 at 5:51 PM by Jack


Astounding

posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 7:37 AM by Dilpreet Bhatia


Ambitious. (By the way, it would be great to first ask 5-10 people around you. They would give you a rough then you could find your killer word).

posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:11 PM by Ali Mese


yeh Thats Cool and nice article, i loved it, 
Fortune Cosnultants & Co

posted on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 at 2:05 AM by Furqan Jamal


Great thought experiment how an introduction could shape someone's perception of you. "Visionary"

posted on Friday, September 13, 2013 at 4:23 PM by Eric Kuhn


Intense, Focused, Accountable

posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 5:20 AM by Ant


Visionary, competitive

posted on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:16 PM by David Robbins


Comments have been closed for this article.