Personal branding and image is big these days. If you talk to anyone in marketing or PR, they’ll tell you to create a personal brand and then ensure your conduct is congruent with that brand.
If you’re a fitness guy, never let anyone see you without abs. If you’re a mindset trainer, don’t let people see you get angry! Always look your best.
That’s one way of approaching personal branding, but it’s always felt too constraining to me. Sometimes, as Dave Chapelle portrayed in his genius works of comedy, keeping it real can go wrong.
Even so, I like to keep it real.
Hypocrisy is the only morality.
One reason marketers, PR flaks, and brand advisers tell you to remain “on brand” all of the time is because we live in an era of moral relativism.
“The only modern sin,” Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton observed, is “hypocrisy.”
In the U.S. especially, we are morally stunted. There is no absolute morality. We don’t feel guilt for doing something morally wrong, because morality doesn’t exist.
Living up to an artificial reality, while perhaps giving you mainstream appeal, leaves you feeling sick and empty inside.
It is dishonest.
Wouldn’t you rather sing a Song of Yourself?
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
You are flawed and contain multitudes, which is why people love you.
When you create a personal brand, you become a slave to it. You no longer exist as a human being. You are a persona.
The real you takes shits, picks his nose, probably has a little unwanted urine leakage from time to time, and masturbates to porn. (Please do not share that level of realness with the world, but keep some perspective. You are a human being, not a persona or cardboard cut-out.)
The real you wonders if anyone truly loves you, if you are a fraud who isn’t as good as people think, and often can’t see what the point of it all is when life is decay followed by death.
Will you share your message when that necessarily means exposing your vulnerabilities and hypocrisies?
I live my life and share my story.
I am compassionate, thoughtful, emphatic, kind, cold, callus, sex-crazed, vengeful, and a bit of an asshole who thinks highly of himself while being full of self-doubt.
Sometimes I rant about SJWs and other times I teach about mindfulness and the quest for inner peace.
Some would say I’m a hypocrite! Shouldn’t I be meditating in a cave?
Others would say my contradictions give meaning to my words, as my life shows I am working to improve myself in the very way I encourage others to.
I can’t imagine having any other personal brand than this, “I live my life and share my story.”
For business and marketing types (I have never taken a course in Business or Marketing), this is my mission statement: Live your life, share your story.
No one can expose me. No one can shame me. I am me.
In fact, the media went crazy when they talked about me on TV, wrote about me, and sent tens of thousands of people to tell me to kill myself….
My site’s growth and the growth of my profile proves YOU can be who you want to be.
Be authentic, but not delusional.
If you keep it real, you’ll hit a ceiling.
I would never be allowed on TV. Some of my more controversial articles and Tweets (yes, thousands of people have formed into hate mobs based on my 140-character vignettes) would incite the masses to form online lynch mobs.
Advertisers would pull out and mid-level marketing and PR managers would cause internal corporate drama due to the feelings women have about me. Women are madly attracted to me while wanting to hate me.
Ultimately women control media and advertising, so be careful before you offend them.
Live your life, share your story.
Yes, you can be true to yourself while having millions of readers.
In fact, that might be the only way.