What is your claim to fame?
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he describes the parable of the fox and the hedgehog.
A fox is a true multitasker with many talents. It is stealthy, clever, has a keen sense of smell, and is an excellent hunter. In contrast, a hedgehog has only one skill: it curls into a ball and pokes out its spines. Yet, the hedgehog does this one thing so well that the fox can’t beat it.
Collins discovered that companies that consistently outperform competitors know what their ‘hedgehog’ concept is, and focus with laser-like clarity on being great at it.
A similar principle works when creating a powerful personal brand. It begins with giving up the temptation to be good at many things, and famous for none of them.
Building from Collins’ concept, when considering what you want to build a reputation for in your career, start by drawing a Venn diagram with 3 overlapping circles.
Name each circle for one of the 3 essential elements of a great brand:
1) TALENTS: What are your greatest strengths, skills, and talents?
(Or, which new ones could you easily learn?)
2) PASSIONS: What are your passions?
(i.e. what subject matter areas could you remain endlessly fascinated with, for the rest of your life!)
3) MARKET: What does your company, industry or market need, want and reward?
(... that you can be paid handsomely for)
Your challenge is to identify where the 3 circles overlap for you -- and what you could become synonymous with in your career. Too many women try focus on their talents and passions, without first investigating whether there is a market that will reward them. It is vital that all 3 conditions are met, but when they are, you can build an outstanding brand and a rewarding career.
My favorite examples of personal brands are simple and concise.
“I am a world-class subject-matter expert”.
As one senior executive in charge of a multi-million dollar business (and former partner in a big consulting firm) shared when I interviewed her recently: one of the best career moves you can make is to “Be Famous for Something!" Her claim to fame was closing large business deals.