Know thyself to define your personal brand. If you don’t know who you are, what makes you special, what your genius zone is, then you may merely add to the noise rather than occupy your unique place in the universe. Your Genius Zone System helps you identify your expert zones, then your genius zone, and build a personal brand tagline. Then it helps you know when to change it, when to refine it, and when to change it up entirely.
[taken from LinkedIn short email course, needs rewriting for book]
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should do it. You have a lot of expert zones, things you can do pretty well, but you have very few genius zones, where you can make a contribution that is truly unique.
To find your genius zone, identify all your expert zones, then overlap them to find interesting combinations.
For example, I’ve run a marketing agency for 20 years, so I know a few things about marketing, and you could call me a marketing expert. But there are a lot of marketing experts out there who know just as much as or more than I do. Knowing a lot about marketing doesn’t make me unique.
I also know a lot about skateboarding. I’ve been involved in the skateboarding industry for decades, but that also doesn’t make me unique. There are 20 million other skateboarders out there in the world. But how many people know as much about marketing as I do, and also know as much about skateboarding as I do? Maybe a dozen. Skateboarding + marketing could be my genius zone.
While it isn’t the intersection I’ve chosen to make my genius zone–I’ve chosen to focus on LinkedIn and thought leadership–this example shows how experimenting with overlapping interests will help you find a niche around which to build a powerful personal brand.
Homework: Find Your Genius Zone
- Make a long list of all your expert zones. This is a list of everything you’re good at. Note: You don’t have to be The Best at something to include it on your list. Just good enough that you know more about it than most people.
- What’s one of your expert zones that has to be one of the circles that creates your genius zone?
- What are some other expert zones you think may be part of the genius zone you want to focus on?
- We can always change this later, but let’s make a decision right now–final answer: which expert zones are you going to overlap to find your genius zone?
- Having a genius zone is kind of like having a superpower. Did you have a favorite comic book superhero growing up, or a favorite superpower you wished you could have? Now that you have a superpower, what are the problems you can solve with it?
By the way, the idea for the genius zone came from Gay Hendrick’s book The Big Leap, which I highly recommend.
Tomorrow, we will talk about your ideal audience, and if you love Venn diagrams, you’ll be creating more.
What position do you want to occupy in your audience’s mind? — Al Ries and Jack Trout, Positioning
Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person. ― R. Buckminster Fuller
What is a personal brand?
Personal brand tagline
Fake it ’til you make it?
The perils of fame
Fame vs. impact…false dichotomy?
I thought A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle was going to be a touchy feely hippie meditation book when I started reading it. I wasn’t expecting to find a treasure trove of information on influence.
For example, Tolle writes about how our sense of self, our identity, is often strongly tied to a role, be it parent, child, victim, student, coach, entrepreneur, executive, or influencer. But that role is not who we are, it is something we do. When that role is threatened (for example, our parenting role disappears or at least changes as our children grow up), we sometimes react to protect it, which can produce negative consequences for ourselves and others we influence.
Our sense of identity can be threatened by events such as:
- Loss of a job
- Loss of physical ability
- Loss of a relationship
- Failure to accomplish an objective upon which we’ve staked our reputation
If one’s identity is tied to his financial well-being, you may see an especially negative response when that identity is threatened.
Have you ever lost a role, or felt a role was threatened? What positive ways have you found to respond?
Who should be the primary face of your company? Is it the CEO, CMO, VP Sales, an actor, your customers, or other? Let me know what you think in the comments.
I vote for the CEO, but I don’t stop there. Check out my latest blog post for the full analysis:
Should Your CEO Be The Face Of Your Company? - Josh Steimle
Who's the best influencer to be the face of your company? Who will best represent your products, services, quality, and…
One of the most common questions I get is: “How do I manage my personal brand when I want to focus on two things?”
I love answering this question because I’m right there with you.
I have two businesses, @MWI and @Influencer Inc.
I have multiple roles, I’m “The CMO guy” because I wrote Chief Marketing Officers at Work, I’m “The marketing agency guy” because of MWI, I’m “The influence/thought leadership guy” because of Influencer Inc, and I’m “The write-for-Forbes guy” because I’ve written 300+ articles in 20+ publications.
Is it better to just be one person?
@Bailey Reichert is the virtual summit gal
@Joe Pulizzi is the content marketing guy
@Rand Fishkin is the SEO guy
@Russell Brunson is the marketing funnel guy
@Cheryl Snapp Connor is the PR gal
Or can you overlap your interests?
@tim ferriss is the work, health, life hacking, investing, entrepreneurship guru guy
@sheryl sandberg is the Facebook COO, Lean-In, facing adversity gal
What’s your take? Tell me in the comments. Then go read my latest blog post in response to someone asking me this question and let me know if you think I steered him right:
I help CEOs develop their personal brands, but I recently read what @sheryl sandberg said at Stanford about how we should develop our voices, not our brands. Read her comments below and let me know if you agree/disagree:
“People aren’t brands, that’s what products need. They need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely. People aren’t like that.”
“Who am I? I am the COO of Facebook, a company I deeply believe in. I’m an author. I’m a mom. I’m a widow. At some level, I’m still deeply heartbroken. I am a friend and I am a sister. I am a lot of very messy, complicated things. I don’t have a brand, but I have a voice.”
“If you are doing it to develop your personal brand, it’s empty and self-serving and not about what you’re talking about. If you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the world, that’s where it will have value and depth and integrity.”
Is it bad to work on one’s personal brand, or is it just bad to do it the way Sheryl says it’s bad to do it? Is there a fundamental lesson to be learned, or is this more an issue of semantics, a discussion about what it means to work on one’s personal brand?
— — post in first comment
Here’s the link to more of her comments, and video of the full presentation: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/sheryl-sandberg-develop-your-voice-not-your-brand
[Folding Knowledge system into genius zone]
System 5: Knowledge
Learn more to impact more.
You see it all the time–people talking about something they know little about. They may be able to fool those who know even less than they do, but those who are true experts can see right through them. A little knowledge can make you influential. More knowledge can make you more influential. Put a Knowledge System in place to make sure you know enough to deliver maximum value to your audience.
Read constantly, and use a system to capture, organize and find the content you’ve curated. — Jeff Goins
How much do you need to know to be an expert? Reverse crab bucket analogy.
Be proactive about being acted upon. Choose to be open-minded. You can be open-minded without accepting everything you encounter. To be open-minded is to consider and seek understanding, rather than to blindly accept.
Humility is the key to learning. Ego is the enemy–Ryan Holiday.
Why books. Books are distilled knowledge, highly focused.
What if you’re just starting out and don’t know much? The role of the researcher as influencer.
Mentors–how to be mentored by the greats, even if they’re dead.
Connection between physical health and knowledge.
Knowledge more than rote memorization.
Wisdom is knowledge correctly applied.
[working on this…]
Step #2 — Choose your 10 top dreams.
Of all your dreams, which are most important to you? Which would you most like to see realized 10 years from now, and which could you put off in favor of those top 10?
To narrow all your dreams down to your top 10, mark the dreams that are most important to you, without worrying immediately about whether you have 10 marked or not. If you mark all your most important dreams and you have fewer than 10, mark more. If you have more than 10 most important dreams, then begin putting them in order by comparing pairs of dreams. Choose two dreams and ask yourself “Which is more important to me, dream A or dream B?”
Once you have your dreams in a loose order you’re comfortable with, chop off all but the top 10. Yes, this hurts. This is the painful part of the funnel, but don’t worry, this is a system, and that means you’re going to come back to this exercise on a regular basis as you accomplish your dreams so that you can add more dreams to your funnel.
Note: As you go through this step, do not fall into the trap of saying “Oh, but this is such a tiny, easy dream to accomplish, I’ll put it on the list.” The objective with this exercise is to dramatically and permanently change your life, not to make a list of 10 easy to-do items you can finish by the end of the day. You can create that to-do list later; sufficient is the day unto the to-do list thereof.
Step #3 — Prioritize your dreams.
Out of the list of your top 10 dreams, which is the most important to you? You may already know from the process in Step #2 of narrowing your list down to your top 10, but if not, now is the time to prioritize. Compare each dream in your top 10 to one another until one rises to the top as the clear winner. If you can’t identify one most important dream, do the best you can to put your dreams in order, and if you need to come back later and change the order that’s perfectly ok.
Step #4 — Create goals that will make your dreams reality.
A goal is a dream with a deadline. — Napoleon Hill
We already have a rough deadline for your dreams — within the next 10 years. But a goal is also more concrete than a dream, it includes something we can measure so that we know the dream is reality.
For example, if your dream is to become an influential author, how will you know when that has happened? Perhaps it’s when:
- 100 people contact you to let them know how your book changed their lives.
- You sell 3,000 books (which would make it a best seller).
- You become a New York Times best selling author.
These are concrete goals you can measure. Either you can check them off, or you can’t.
As you create goals to make your dreams reality, you may create multiple goals for each dream, as I did above in the example. Do not worry about the number of goals, nor the order in which you will accomplish them. If you end up with 100 goals, that’s good, that’s great! Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of your goals, because you’re not going to take them all on at once.
Do not worry about influence, personal branding, thought leadership, your audience, or anything else related to how you will accomplish these goals, just focus on transforming your list of dreams into a list of goals which, if accomplished, will make your dreams reality.
Step #5 — Identify a top goal for each dream.
For each of your top 10 dreams, what is The 1 Goal for each dream that will make the biggest difference in terms of turning that dream into reality?
If you have multiple goals associated with a particular dream, some goals may be easier to check off than others.
[revisit this step to flesh, not feeling 100% clear about it]
Step #6 — Apply the rest of the 7 Systems of Influence.
What we lack at this point is the answer to the question “How will I use influence to accomplish my goals?” You may already have ideas, and if so write them down alongside your goals as “sub-goals,” but then read the rest of this book before you dive in. The rest of this book will answer the “how” question in detail.
Step #7 — Review your top 10 dreams and goals every day.
Even though you will likely be updating your dreams and especially your goals frequently as you go through the rest of this book, create a list of your top 10 dreams and their accompanying top goals to look at each day. I have these on a whiteboard that is in front of me as I sit at my desk. You may print them on a sheet of paper you put up somewhere you’ll see it every day, or perhaps you’ll keep them in a list on your phone and develop the habit of looking at it each morning as part of your routine. The important part is that you review your dreams and goals every day so that they are top of mind and lead you to structure your life around them.