What does the advice of most of the world’s most successful people always contain? There is always some language to the effect that success requires 5% innovation and 95% perspiration. There is just no easy way. Sure, there is the occasional “Pet Rock” and some sort of moronic fluke every now and then like Justin Bieber, but most overnight success stories take years. I am reminded of a story about an aging Pablo Picasso taking a napkin and scribbling one of his sketches on it. He handed it to the lady who had requested it and informed her that his fee would be $25,000. Upon this news she was aghast and exclaimed “but that only took you 30 seconds” to which Picasso replied “but it took me 40 years to get there.”
The short answer is that there is no short answer. Building your own personal brand takes discipline and time. It’s funny how incremental investments of time and effort can add up though. Two years ago my gig as a corporate travel development manager fell prey to the recession, and the fact that the owner’s son had the same title I did. Blood being slightly thicker than water, the writing was on the walls and I could feel a career change calling me. At this stage of my life it was improbable that I could re-create myself, but what I did was to take an inventory of what was usable, what really interested me, and what was needed to get to a position that would make all of that possible. Every interesting marketing job that crossed my path I was not qualified for was noted in a log. Every job skill that eluded my possession was documented, and when there was a statistically significant sampling of what were my most impactful areas of deficiency, a solution began to show itself. The answer was for me to return to school and pursue my masters in internet marketing. There was no financial aid available, and it was expensive, but the investment had to be made in myself so back we went. I say we, because my wife had to sign off on our making a several thousand dollar investment because I was out of work.
The choice to analyze where the investment needed to be made, what skills needed to be learned, was an easy one. The money was tough, but do-able. The time it took each day to study and look at a “bigger” picture was an invaluable discipline. Re-branding myself became my 8 hour a day job. OK, a good 6 most days, but there were plenty of 10’s and 12’s in there around final’s time. Paying attention to my mentor Jay Berkowitz, we began to blog, created a reputation as a social media instructor, began publishing other articles in syndication, and established an optimized website for the business. Everything was new, from what to charge, to billing, to properly setting client’s expectations. Slowly over the months of my routine (wake up, check emails, publish blog, reach out to my business group on FaceBook and LinkedIn, and at least 2 webinars or podcasts a week to keep current) there began to be a bit of traction. The last time I Googled my company name it occupied the entire first page of the search results. It almost brought tears to my eyes.
With a bit of practice we were able to get several of our clients to be ranked #1 for their local businesses in LinkedIn. It never seemed possible to me to be able to effect search engines THAT much, but the incremental discipline of doing that little bit EVERY DAY is finally paying off. My routine only takes me about an hour a day in the morning, and the rest of the day can be spent working on client projects, mentoring, or the occasional Giants game. It’s all good as long as I invest that hour or so every day in myself. I have also learned a few things along the way that keep me from beating my head against the walls. At first I tried all of the techniques I learned in business school that were taught to me by people who had worked for Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Sprint. Some of those techniques were transferable and scale-able, and some not. I never thought it would come down to abandoning SEO as we know it, but I have to admit the Google/Bing/Yahoo universe is no place to spin your tires. Its just not worth it. to be continued.