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Personal Brand Leadership at Any Level
By: Don McLean
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The term "personal branding" has been around for a few years now. However, many individuals still have a difficult time grasping what exactly that means. When focusing on your personal brand the goal is to elevate, while staying true to, yourself at work and at home.

In the effort of elevating yourself to the greatest possible potential is another key term — personal leadership. In the book by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Who Says Elephants Can't Dance, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IBM touched on this topic heavily. Gerstner spoke largely of his days at IBM and its turnaround, but he also spoke to ideals in personal leadership. Three portions to take away from this book for anyone looking to elevate their personal brand are as follows:

  1. “Passion. As a student going through Harvard Business School, I would never have guessed that passion would be the single most important element of personal leadership.” You must be passionate about your work. If you are not passionate you will be passed up like a bum in a subway station. Your work will go unnoticed. Passion shows that you care about your work, the good of the company, and the health of your family. A man by the name of Louis Chevrolet has a passion for driving. A women by the name of Emily Dickinson had a passion for writing. A man named Steve Jobs had a passion for computers. Maybe you've heard of them. While not all passions will get you to the top of your field, they will show your drive and propel your forward.
  2. “The common thread among them [great CEOs] is that they were or are all passionate about winning.” Winning is the key word here. Not #winning like Charlie Sheen but actual winning. Even if you lose, you find a way to win. You learn why you lost and strategize on how not to lose the next time. If you are not only passionate as in point one but are also passionate about being the best, you are another step ahead. You may never be the best but you are passionate about trying to continually better yourself. Kaizen is your middle name. Continuous improvement until you hit the top. What do you do if you do hit the top? Keep improving so you can stay there.
  3. To paraphrase his last points, Gerstner says to maintain focus and love thy business because you will spend one third of your life for more than 30 years at work. This point could not be more important. Do you want to spend one third of your life doing something you hate? How many stories have you heard about the man who dies of a heart attack just after he retires? When your passion shows through, you win. When your winning, you should be in a place you want to win at.

Are you focused on your passion, on winning, and on love for what you do? Other people, maybe even your colleagues, are getting ahead using principles such as these. Why can't it be you? You are the only person standing in the way of your personal brand and leadership.

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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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