Career Branding for the next Steve Jobs

Somewhere out there is a young entrepreneur who will one day be ‘the new Steve Jobs’. Is she one of your colleagues? Is he one of your friends or a member of your family? Is it you? Whoever it is, help them out with this good advice on career branding.

When I work with entrepreneurs on their personal brands, they often admire Steve Jobs and there are two frequent comments: “that guy was just so lucky” or “that guy was a genius”.

Was he? Or did he in fact follow the fundamental rules of brand-building to ensure success?

For the entrepreneur, developing a business and developing a personal brand are intertwined. So, we looked back at the younger version of Steve Jobs as described in this recent Fast Company article and our career branding experts used it to put together guidance below for the next Steve Jobs.

Authenticity: who am I?

There is no shortage of ‘personal branding’ advice available online for free but much of it focuses on how to present and market yourself: the first step in any branding process is to know what you are trying to ‘market’.

Who am I? What are my values, beliefs and motivations? What are my talents?

If you are an entrepreneur, you are probably driven by a wish to make your mark on the world and change or improve something. Perhaps you have a burning desire to radically improve the lives of your customers.

You also want control and mastery of your working life, or you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur.

This combination of change and mastery is one of the four fundamental psychological motivational patterns for brands and is key to knowing who you really are.

If, like Steve Jobs, you also believe that your competitors' offerings are not good enough and you have a talent for giving customers something better, you might be prepared to challenge and overturn the existing market. This is the pattern of a revolutionary, outlaw or rebel brand with the potential to make an impact in businesses or markets that are crying out for change.

Potential: who could I be?

Steve Jobs was very strongly and consistently rooted in the patterns of the outlaw with a talent for successfully challenging ineffectiveness enabled by comfort with taking risks and an ability to move to action quickly.

If you are as single-minded and consistent as that, your best option is probably to focus on being a very effective revolutionary and apply those talents in new and different environments. Richard Branson built his business empire by revolutionizing a series of different markets from music through travel, cosmetics, banking and mobile telephones.

However, most people are not so strongly rooted in one pattern and there are other patterns that can work to achieve change and mastery.

For example, if your outlaw talents are balanced with an ability to invent products that create new markets (rather than just challenging existing markets), you have the pattern of a magician, wizard or reinventor. Steve Jobs was most effective when doing just this.

Becoming a wizard entrepreneur needs an outlaw to make some modifications and dial up or dial down some aspects of their pattern. For example, outlaws often have a confrontational style that can be counter-productive unless it is developed to be more charismatic.

Our branding experts have a systematic method for helping you discover realistic options using a system of brand archetypes. (You can find out more about the system in our slideshare on archetypes here and from the recommended reading at the end of this post.)

So, there can be many different brand options for the entrepreneur. Each option will lead you in a slightly different direction. Some will be easier to follow than others and some will require more change. You need to understand the implications before choosing a direction. For example, moving from a strong outlaw pattern to the magician pattern described above requires an ability to find win-win outcomes for everyone, something that does not come easily to some revolutionaries.

Choice: making a commitment

When you have explored your options and understood the implications, it is time to make a choice and commit to your career brand.

Some people do this easily and quickly with an instinctive choice of the one that just ‘feels right’. From experience, the most useful guidance is:

1. Be true to your values. If you have identified them correctly, they will give you a clear purpose and you will be inspired by them so choose a direction that fits your purpose and values.

2. Recognize your true motivations and don’t try to bury them. Someone motivated by change and mastery is unlikely to be happy and successful developing a career based on following rules and maintaining stability.

3. Have a consistent personality. The worst advice given to entrepreneurs is the advice that tells them to act as if they are someone else. Some people are naturally extrovert, others are not. A sudden change in your style to suggest a different personality is likely to feel uncomfortable, convey lack of authenticity and make other people distrust you.

4. Stretch your competences. Choosing a direction that requires you to stretch your skills and competences is a good thing. No entrepreneur has all the competences needed to achieve their vision. Learn new skills but also recognize the need to surround yourself with people who complement you. They will protect you from failure by helping with your blind spots.

Make your personal brand choice carefully and forensically. It is important. If you get it right you will feel completely engaged. The aim is to reach total brand engagement.

Roadmap: how to get there?

You know your purpose. You are clear about your values. You have identified the skills you want to showcase and the style that best communicates your personality.

Now it is easier to follow all the advice about marketing your business through your personal brand. You can identify the ideal customers for your brand, craft the right messages for them and select the best way to reach those customers with your messages.

And – every entrepreneur is overworked and short of time so, just as important: with a sharply-defined  personal brand you can clearly see the things that do not help your brand and choose not to do them.

When you achieve brand engagement, as my friend and personal branding author John Purkiss puts it perfectly you will “attract the people who want what you do in the way that you do it”.

What to do next:

Explore the detailed analysis of the outlaw brand in our demo openbook.

Let our career branding experts guide you through the steps, analyze your entrepreneurial brand patterns and provide you with suggested options  with our Brand Engagement product.


Recommended reading:

Brand You: Turn Your Unique Talents into a Winning Formula by john Purkiss and David Royston-Lee

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