Our world increasingly favors who you are. But more than that, it values what you do, what you ship and what you stand for.
The rise of personal branding is a direct result of this. The idea that you should and need to stand for something is not new. Not long ago you were the shoemaker, the blacksmith, the general store owner. Then industrialists tried hard to erase you, to make you a cog and convince you that you didn’t matter. “We’ll give you a salary, we’ll give you benefits, we’ll give you vacation, we’ll give you a pension. All we need in return is your individuality, your creativity and your vulnerability.”
The connection economy requires us to be us again. It begs us to create a ruckus as Seth Godin puts it. We need to take a stand. That’s why, I think, my friend Frédéric Harper published his book: Success in Programming, How to Gain Recognition, Power, and Influence Through Personal Branding.
It came out today so I haven’t read it yet (What? No advanced copy?), but I know Fred well enough to know this is a book not only for programmers, but anyone who works behind the scenes and anyone who wants to do work that matters. I look forward to reading it and I encourage you to do the same.
On a more personal note, I’m incredibility proud of what Fred has accomplished – writing an important book in a language that isn’t his mother tongue. Fred is a great example of someone who has chosen himself.
Go, choose yourself, read the book.
The hard part isn’t writing. It isn’t coming up with the plan or lacing your runners. Actually, it isn’t even presenting the plan or heading out for a run.
The hard part is clicking publish. The really difficult thing is implementing the plan, dealing with the bumps and roadblocks, the naysayers and the critics. The truly difficult part is running consistently enough – building strength, endurance and stamina – to run the race.
Publishing, implementing, racing are difficult because they demand openness and vulnerability. We might fail. The post might not be read or shared. The plan might flop. You might lose the race. And what’s even harder is that although there are very few thrusters and lifters, there are more than enough drags and weights – critics that will jump on any mishap to tell you they were right: “I told you you would fail.”
That’s why there are so few remarkable projects. It’s too hard.
Implement. Race. Click publish.
Fred Pellerin is a story teller. He tells tales that take us back, make us dream and entertain.
They might not be as polished or practiced, but we all tell stories. “I’m too fat,” “I’m to old,” “people like me don’t do stuff like that,” “I can jump that high,” “I try things,” “I’m adventurous.”
Stories have more power than we acknowledge. They give us permission, they give us excuses. They help us and stop us, inspire and frighten. The strongest stories, I think, are those told by one person. The ones that are raw, honest and open. Sure, a good editor can help tell the story, but the essence is there – it’s vulnerable and will make us care.
And that’s precisely where the problem with corporate stories lies. The ones written on plaques at the door or in taglines on sites. The ones with phrases like “commit to quality,” “invest in our people” and “excellence driven.” They were written by committees. They’ve been asepticized, cleaned and Cloroxed. There’s no emotion left, they lost their ability to inspire, educate and make us care.
(Photo credit: Rick Hanzelin)