No One Makes it Alone – NO ONE.

Ninja Squirrles Cooperating
Ninja Squirrles Cooperating

Reading Gladwell‘s book Outliers, and this quote grabbed my attention.

He’d had to make his way alone, and no one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.

I have always disliked the phrase “self made man” because in my experience I have never met one. Ever. We have this vision of a Galt-esque intellectual warrior who single handedly drives to success. And while this archetype may exist, they don’t achieve this success without innumerable amounts of assistance from people.

So the next time you hear someone say they are “self made”. Or a friend describe someone as a “self made man”. Please call BS. And buy them a copy of Outliers.

The photo? Two squirrels cooperating by the vision of the artist Elaine Bradford.

In Defense of a Personal Brand – I Rename this Blog

futbol in a vineyard
futbol in a vineyard

Technically I specialize in online marketing. Hence the name of our firm is Schipul – The Web Marketing Company. So it is funny that I am just now (finally?) updating my blog away from www.brandtobedetermined.com to eschipul.com to be consistent with my current personal brand. It is funny, but it is not without precedent. I have made more than my fair share of branding mistakes.

In fact “Schipul” as the name of the company was an accident. It was simply that I couldn’t come up with a brand name that day, used my last name for the DBA paperwork, and figured I would change it later. Well, that never happened.

Being a fan of Ries and Trout’s Positioning, there are some good and bad things about the “Schipul” brand name. But it works. And if it takes 10 years to build a brand, we are 11 years in with a great reputation. Thanks to our clients. To a community of people that help us! And thanks to a consistent brand promise.

What is different about a personal brand in my observation is that it is a bit unfair. For example, companies were forced with the advent of the Internet to come up with a globally unique brand for the first time ever. For the first time ever. And it turned out there were a number of companies working in different geographical areas, or specialties, with the same name. ACME Brick versus ACME Medical. And there was only one “ACME.com”. You had to reserve it first.

What is different about personal brands is that you CAN NOT RESERVE IT. You must defend it. A new social software site arrives and there can be only one Cosmopolitician. Someone else forced Monica to use a different personal brand of Metropolitician on flickr. This makes me crazy, but there is no global trademark method for personal branding. And if there were, WTO or whoever would screw it up.

For the rest of us, consumers of personal brands to simplify our lives, we need personal brands consistent. We don’t want to have to figure out that Joe is really John is really Bill on different sites. We extend privilege to personal brands that we recognize. If confused, we walk away, or at least hesitate.

This is an unfair standard for individuals with no marketing training. Forced to globally defend unique personal brands without even the ability to reserve them. That is harsh. But there it is. That is personal branding in a global economy.

That weight led me to finally give up on BTBD and go with “eschipul” even for my blog name. Knowing full well that it will be confused with “corporate me” which is “schipul”. But I can defend “eschipul” given the only other “Ed Schipul” has long since passed away.

That image? It’s the very first photo on my flickr stream from 2006. My very first blog post from 2005 is somehow just gone. It was a rant on the government response to Katrina. Its just gone. So I have to celebrate the very first flickr upload. The beginning of the development of my photography personal brand. Funny how it all works out.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go spend countless hours claiming my blog on Technorati, adding SEO plug ins to wordpress, configuring Google analytics, getting my twitter and flickr badges working. And then I’ll tell all the newbies that “blogging is easy and fun!”

PS. No, I’m not a cynical generation X’er. Why do you ask?