Self-aggrandizement, Sex, Drugs, and Personal Brand.

Maybe some people will criticize the fact that I have every intention to teach our son about his personal brand at a very young age. Why is that? Because the way you treat people, how you behave, and the choices you make stay with you. I want this little guy to know that of our actions carry results/consequences/outcomes with them forever. People may forgive, the may even forget, but the certain gravity of our actions etch themselves upon our self-concept and become our personal brand.

I’m sure you’ve been asked “if you could go back to Jr. High/High School and do things differently would you?” and it seems the canned response is, “no because all of those decisions made me the person I am today.” Shoot, I’ve probably used that response a dozen times myself in the last 10 years. How silly. I wish I would have said, knowing what I know now, I definitely would go back and primarily do two things different: be nicer and try harder.

I’m very fortunate to have been blessed with a natural talent to lead. Even though I was never the tallest, fastest, or smartest guy on the team/group, my peers gave me permission to lead. I would go back and direct some of that influence towards looking out for vulnerable kids and challenging my friends to hustle. Hustling towards their passions and achievement instead of dime sacks and notches on their belts.

Somehow I ended up with a 3.5’ish GPA in high school while half the time I was sitting in class (probably a little stoned) with my headphones on or I was planning what I was going to do after school or the weekend. What if I would have treated high school with the same discipline and focus I operate my life with today? How different would I feel today when I see someone that knew that version of me if I had been more thoughtful?

Sometimes I’m haunted by the way I acted. The self-aggrandizement, fighting, sex, and drugs. I was just a boy. I hope that one day when I tell my son the story of my teens he’ll heed some of my advice. I don’t want to raise a tough kid, just one that is self-aware. If I had to bet, teaching a 5-year-old about their personal brand will do a lot less damage than extending a child freedom without a deep meaning of the responsibility it carries.

Of course, there’s a lot I wouldn’t take back. I built an amazing community of friends (thanks all), took advanced classes that challenged me and participated in Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (thanks Mom), worked with my hands and every opportunity I got to make money (thanks Dad), hung with the big boys (thanks Ry, Mikey, Steve) started my first company with a couple buddies (thanks Bubba), started listening to Tony Robbins at 16 (thanks James), etc.

We never get the chance to rebrand ourselves. You will always be You, Inc. Sure, you can come out with new marketing campaigns (how you self-promote), improve your product (how you self-develop), you can even do a merger (get married) but at the end of the day the stories about You, Inc. in the market will remain.

It’s never too late to start creating a brand that’s known well.