Now come to think about it, why should your boss like you when you give him just what every other person in the office can offer? Why should your agitation for career step-up be approved when there no grain of difference between you and others in your workplace?
The reality is that career growth is all about professional differentiation. By this I means stepping out of the queue, differentiating yourself from the ordinary. No one is honestly going to admire you if you have precisely the same characteristics as them – if you have nothing more to offer than they do. If they admire you in such a context, it is artificial – it is sycophancy.
Across my career, I have come to the realization that being “nice” and “okay” takes you through your career (in terms of career growth) at bicycle speed while being “strange” and “unique” takes you through at jet speed. Understandably, you can’t drive through a crowded road at full speed. This is why you need to come out on your personal lane and drive up your career at breakneck speed. This is what personal branding is more about.
You have to establish a characteristic novelty as emblazoned in your personal brand. The personal brands I have seen to work best in typifying the individual are those which pour in fresh solutions. You must be able to drive uncommon results even in the most unsupportive circumstances. You must have that knack for “delicious weirdness” and an urge for adventuring beyond the perimeters of the normal – for doing the extraordinary! This is the only way to beat the abundance of genericness loitering around. This I emphatically explained in my Fresh Passion book.
To make it more practical, let me demonstrate the need for uniqueness with a story from the book Fresh Passion: Get a Brand or Die Generic. It is about myself. By the age of 15 when other kids were bubbling away in the exuberance customary to the teenage phase of life, I was already in the act of creating a personal brand – giving uncommon value to customers. I was already peddling sweets and candy and strategically grew my fragile business from one of $40 a day to about $300 – $400 a day. This was by delivering exponential results to my customers – even more than they could get from the concession stand.
Now after synthesizing your personal brand, you still have to sell it. This is the phase of self-promotion. As I put in my book Fresh Passion – Get a Brand or Die Generic, “self-promotion is an art, not a science”. Here you have got to craft the interpersonal skills of evangelizing your brand and winning “souls” for your brand in terms of admirers. More especially these admirers best serve your upward growth if they are your superiors. I personally don’t advocate shinning your light from a “static candlestick”. Rather be mobile, move around and let the people that matter see your value. This is about building a nourishing network and selling your exponential value around.