Last Tuesday, I was lucky enough to present at the latest AIGA Buzz gathering. My good friend Diana Merkel hosts the event and got me involved late last year. We brainstormed on a topic and landed on “How to establish and build your personal brand”. I’m by no means an expert on this subject but Diana asked that I share the story of my career, how i got into Mass Customization as a passion and the recent partnership of my company Friend Or Foe with custom packaging experts Nosco, INC.
I didn’t attempt to explain how to build your brand, only how i built my own.
We started with my background, typical resume type stuff and then moved into the four pillars of the Betts Brand:
- Always start with a why, define your goals then write the brief:
About five years ago I was exposed to Simon Sinek’s mantra “Start With Why”. This concept applies to both how I approach a creative problem and how I present myself in the industry. If you define and depend on the WHY behind a task, project, design or story, your work transcends a group of tasks and becomes a mission. In everyday practice, this approach forces you and your team to clearly define things up front – resulting in a good brief – and who couldn’t use more of that.
- Be a leader, not a boss:
Don’t Tell / Teach
Champion the big picture
Inspire and trust
Don’t Talk / Listen
Don’t Dictate / Collaborate
People over profit
Coach / Don’t Criticize
Don’t Create Followers / Create More Leaders
- Pick a Passion:
Pick something for which you have a natural affinity. A specialty in your field perhaps – say technical drawing if you’re an illustrator. Or, get great at selling a particular product category. Let’s say you have a passion for high-end watches. Learn that market segment, the trends, the influencers, study what the big guys are doing, learn to talk with authority on this topic. Then go find some gigs in that field and build your brand. For me, this was Web-Based mass customization. It all started with a project for Tervis Tumblers, lead to a research sabbatical and ultimately spawned FoF.
- You must BELIEVE:
The last key piece of my personal brand is being the consumate cheerleader, the eternal optimist, the dreamer, the enthusiast, the believer. I try to be the personal embodiment of the light at the end of the tunnel for my team. This often leads to great things but it also means that I can be a pain in the ass to work with. I’m brutally hard on my fellow directors, I’m stubborn, often manic and I’ve crossed the line with both clients and fellow employees. Passion sometimes comes at a cost. I’m working on it but it’s all just part of Brand Betts. Sometimes I’m a dick.
From here we looked at some of my past projects, talked about the teams who made each a success and my role and philosophy on each. Now, this thing was at 8am in the damn morning and that might as well be the middle of the night for me – but i had a great time! Diana let me know that the engagement in the form of questions, conversations and lingering bodies after the event was one of the best she’s ever seen. That feels great. It was an honor to share my little story and offer some encouragement, insight and inspiration to these budding young minds 🙂
Next time you think the Millennial generation is entitled, lazy and dull, attend an event like this. It’s packed with this age group – hungry, curious, humble and super talented.