Playing Your Hand At Personal Branding
Why playing the cards you were dealt will give you the best chance to build a successful brand.
There are two imaginary lines in your life that intersect between the things you love to do and the shit you’re actually good at doing — these are your two cards. This is what staying in your lane refers to, something I thought was just a power phrase until it finally sank in.
Rather than trying to be the next Leo Dicaprio or Michael Jordan, I let them have it. Not only because I’m 5'7" and can’t act worth shit, but it’s just not in my lane. Those were simply not the cards I was dealt. Instead I have my very own set of unique skills and things I love to do. My point in all of this is; you do too, and when it comes to building a successful personal brand this is vital to your success.
Winners in personal branding can be anyone from 72-year old Gretchen Nelson from Wichita, who is a world class crochet master and knits real AF life portrait quilts… or Jonny Allstar from LA who is tall dark and handsome, wins all the fitness competitions in the world, has the genetics of a god and just hit his late 20’s. It’s all just a matter of how you play your cards.
Gretchen knows her shit and hustles hard. She raised 3 kids on a shoestring budget, so she started selling her quilts and building her audience on Pinterest out of necessity. Before you know it, she had a following on IG by posting her sexy quilt pics, and began throwing YouTube vids up as the ‘Queen of Qrochet.’ Her hustles started to pay off and wouldn’t you guess it, she caught Kanye’s eye. She crocheted a Yeezy quilt that speaks to him and now Kanye wears it every day in rehab so Kanye knows that Kanye’s always got Kanye’s back. The Queen of Qrochet hit it and her value went through the roof. Her quilts started selling for $10k a pop. Now she knits one a week and just got a publishing deal from Penguin for her new book — I’ll knitcha face. Mrs. Nelson is living the dream as an author, celebrity quilter and still does her YouTube show once a week, generating a sweet mil every year on the back of her new brand.
Jonny Allstar seized his opportunity and got in with some great sponsors, he also kept improving his knowledge of health and nutrition while he pumped out content and training videos on YouTube, IG, Facebook and the like. After some time Jonny was able to build a brand through years of valuable content along with his success on stage and in the media. Through his success, Jonny became a celebrity trainer and built a natural supplement line called Natur-Allstars Good Good, with some snazzy ass merch to go along side it. Shortly thereafter Jonny started building online courses and speaks at The Health and Fitness Summit every year for a cool $50k.
Those examples were both absolute nonsense, but they shine some light on the potential that is out there for personal brands. The reason it’s key to play your hand is because if you try to cross over into someone else’s lane, you’ll get crushed by their expertise, aptitude and passion. Michael Jordan is the absolute GOAT in the NBA, and because of the reasons above you and I will never compete with him on his court. That said, the Queen of Qrochet would smash Jordan at the International Crochet Games because that’s her passion, her aptitude and her lane. See what I’m saying?
The tough part for me was coming to terms with my limitations, realizing that I couldn’t act like Leo or fly like MJ. There is something inside of us that wants to believe we can do or be anything we want. When you can come to terms with reality and understand just where your strengths and interests intersect, you’re playing your cards and you will start to win at this game.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that goes into creating a successful brand. It’s more than a full time job, and you have to provide tons of valuable content before you can ever extrapolate any long term financial gain, but with our current social landscape and marketplace there is a lot of available space. Just remember to be yourself, show some vulnerability and show your process. Let go of your ego and accept that it’s ok not to be perfect in the eyes of the social media monster. Think of Gretchen, she didn’t win because she tried to be anyone other than herself.
If you have the hustle and self awareness to stay in your lane, there is a room for you in this game, and if you play your cards right you will win. If I was a gambling man I would say that now is the time to go all in on yourself and commit.