A personal brand is a powerful tool to attract business opportunities to you and position yourself or your organization as a leader in the industry. All too often, business professionals start thinking about their personal brand when they need something – new clients, a new job or a favor. Smart business professionals are proactively building and growing their personal brand to attract the opportunities that they want in their career.
Over 13 years ago I started thinking about my personal brand. Not because I was forward thinking, but because I had a Myspace Page (yes, that long ago) and started getting friend requests from industry professional contacts. While I didn’t mind sharing my personal side, I also felt it was important to have a professional presence. This was before LinkedIn, so I created a blog and started to share what I was doing with social media marketing. I quickly became a recognized thought leader and generated clients, job offers (that I didn’t even think I was qualified for), and other opportunities.
Since then, I’ve become even more proactive about my personal brand and have a deliberate presence online and in-person. My efforts in personal branding have resulted in two book deals (a Dummies book and a textbook), media appearances on CNN, NYT, and the Wall Street Journal, job offers, speaking gigs, and clients. I’ve continuously been amazed by the opportunities that my personal brand attracted. I wanted to help others have the same success, and for the last five years I’ve been working on Launch Yourself! Define, Design, and Deliver a Powerful Personal Brand, my 6th book!
Many people think that online personal branding is about a good LinkedIn profile, or a big network. But in reality a strong personal brand is about crafting and delivering a consistent and memorable impression. There are three vital steps to do this: Define, Design and Deliver.
Step 1: Defining Your Personal Brand
Before you even start building a presence, think about your goals and objectives for your personal brand. What do you want from it? Who do you need to reach? Then think about yourself – what are your strengths and opportunities in the industry that you can feature. How do you benefit the people that you work with? At the end of this you should have a clear idea of your personal brand statement that summarizes your goal, your professional description, your personality, your professional solution, and the benefit that you provide.
Step 2: Designing Your Personal Brand
Designing your brand is where you start to think strategically about the elements of yourself that you want to highlight. The biggest brands in the world like Apple, Starbucks, and Tide use specific elements to design their brands so that people choose them. These same principles can be used to design a personal brand. Your personal brand should be Memorable, Authentic, Distinctive, and Credible. You’ll want to bring your brand to life as consistently as possible, so doing some work upfront to design your brand is vital to your execution.
Step 3: Deliver Your Personal Brand
Finally, deliver a powerful personal brand by bringing your brand to life online and in-person. In-person focus on being consistent and refining your brand over time based on feedback. Online, LinkedIn is a powerful channel to start with by increasing your activity there. In addition, a personal website sets the stage for your online presence, and using less formal channels like Facebook or Instagram strategically can further increase your presence.
Today, many of the blockchain assets are tokens that are distributed as initial coin offerings. It constitutes the Internet’s second business model. Associated jobs have soared as its value has risen. Candidates who understand initial coin offerings, know how to write smart contracts, and have a good understanding of Ethereum would have an extra competitive edge. Interested applicants should read up the online literature on how blockchain works and be aware of the basics before applying in the field.
In my last blockchain blog series, I promised that I would wrap this segment by posting the white paper written and published by an anonymous hacker who goes by the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Since the publication is in PDF format and because it is too long for a single blog post, I have attached the link for anyone who might be interested to know more about the crypto science behind digital money.
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they’ll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone.
Charlie Shrem the first Bitcoin felon went to federal prison in 2015 for 2 years. Upon his release he went about strengthening the ecosystem of blockchain. A real breakthrough came when he created a prepaid Dash debit card. He then joined Intellisys Capital and decided to raise funds in the form of initial coin offering but got cold feet, as he feared the intense scrutiny from the authorities and eventually backed off.
The Bitcoin community in the early days believed that the free flow of capital is a human right. The members were together in its sense of mission, which they considered was righteous. Because the digital currency circumvented central banks, many of its first adopters were libertarians, black marketers and anarchists who wanted to conduct business away from the watchful eye of the government. They were gleeful at Bitcoin’s impending triumph and enraged by any show of malice or incompetence by the big banks and the government.
Leads to collapse
A case in point is Charlie Shrem, the founder of Bitinstant, who was the first Bitcoin felon. He squandered the opportunity to make the company a world-beating one by helping drug dealers source funds. Upon his arrest, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the venture capitalists, disavowed Shrem and would go on to scoop up 1% of all the Bitcoins. Depending on each person’s point of view, this fact makes Shrem either a martyr or a criminal who got what he deserved.
Job at Jaxx
After the release from prison, Charlie Shrem was ready to seize any suitable opportunity that came along to get in on the door. That lot fell to a full-time job as the head of business development at Jaxx mainly because the values of the company appealed to him. Shrem is no longer operating for himself but has landed a job at this startup that allows holding separate balances of different digital coins in virtual wallets. It also lets users exchange virtual currencies and digital money with one another all over the world. Anthony Dilorio, an entrepreneur who was also the co-founder of Ethereum, founded Jaxx too. The company wants to expand to China and Shrem will play a crucial role in that process. He is in charge of working with developers and turning relationships into revenue.
Right the wrong
Today, Charlie Shrem is a free man whose world has changed dramatically for the better and is using his skills to strengthen the community. He thinks that if he can build Jaxx, he will be an industry player again like old times. Having helped Bitcoin grow to a giant, he is confident he can tell which ones do not have real promise and which ones have. He expects to see technology where Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum and other networks communicate. For instance, the balance in a Bitcoin wallet could trigger an Ethereum contact and vice versa.
Blockchain digital tokens
Today, many of the blockchain assets are not digital currencies like Dash or Bitcoin. They are tokens. They are different from digital money because they lack a blockchain. Instead, they run on existing blockchains and are built for specific applications, like a marketplace for computation, a blockchain-based advertising platform, or a crowd-sourced prediction market. These days $6.6 billion worth of digital tokens change hands every day, and the numbers are growing.
Initial coin offerings
The creation of digital currencies is through mining, but the production of tokens is through distribution in crowd sales called initial coin offerings. These crowd sales raise funds and give potential investors their first opportunity to grab a piece of the service. A token is a wealth-sharing mechanism where everyone, from hedge funders to consumers, places bets on or take positions in the future of the Internet. Several initial coin offerings have been launched already raising $230 million in 2016, followed by $450 million in 2017.
Digital token business
The tokenization craze constitutes Internet’s second business model, says Carlson-Wee a hedge funder who is backed by Andreessen Horowitz. Take the case of Facebook as a company issuing initial coin offerings as an example. If Facebook had published a token, with its value from the content and connections, then early users would have scooped up a significant amount of those tokens at low prices. Late adopters might have found themselves able to afford just a few. But all who were holders of this digital asset would have been able to participate in the growing success of Facebook. But, of course, this is not the case, and that is not how it works neither is it as easy as that. Only Mark Zuckerberg and company stockholders share the value of Facebook. Most other platforms operate on the same principle where their owners extract value from interactions between users.
Career in blockchain
Careers in Blockchain
It is the cryptocurrency gold rush era, and associated jobs have soared as its value continues to rise. According to the job site Freelancer, cryptocurrencies have been one of the rapidly growing online jobs. The practice of code-breaking known as cryptography, which is central to cryptocurrency, has also seen an increase in interest on the site. According to Zippia.com, a career website, most cryptocurrency jobs are for developers with tech skills including building full stack applications. Companies are searching en masse for qualified developers, promising substantially high salaries.
Skills worth sharpening
Job candidates who understand initial coin offerings would have an extra competitive edge. It is a method borrowed from the financial sector whereby capital is raised by putting up a new virtual coin for public sales. Knowing how to write smart contracts and a good understanding of Ethereum is another skill worth sharpening.
Awareness of basics
A variety of literature on what Bitcoin is and how it works is readily available online. Interested applicant should read it up to be aware of the basics before applying in the field. But every blockchain-related jobdoes not require a comprehensive grasp of the technology. Most of these companies also hire people in marketing, communications and human resources, just like any other business.
No unified source
Although cryptocurrency jobs are booming, there are no centralized locations to find them. A simple search on Google for initial coin offerings and token sales will bring up some startups in the blockchain space. Looking beyond traditional job-listing sites would help too and is highly recommended. Looking at specific Bitcoin forums can help find job listings in the industry and keep up with what is happening. Being involved in the cryptocurrency community creates more authentic and reliable means of detecting positions and networking.
Starbucks has almost become a synonym of coffee. Howard Schultz not only built an admirable company but also paved the ground for coffee culture inspired by timeless values. Each alphabet of the word STARBUCKS mean a great deal to Howard Schultz, the visionary entrepreneur, who built the organization from scratch. Through his Successful book “Onward” and in the Spirit of sharing Knowledge he tells us a Unique story of CoffeeBrand in his own words involving Tenacity, Resilience, and Accomplishment.
S – Success
If not checked, success has a way of covering up small failures, and when many of us at Starbucks became swept up in the company’s success, it had unintended effects. We ignored, or maybe we just failed to notice, shortcomings.
T – Tenacity
I believed that Starbucks had an enormous potential to return to greatness, that the company had yet to be as good as it was going to be. I believed in the power of the brand, in our founding mission, and most of all, in our people.
A – Accomplishment
I’ve come to think that I am at my best as a leader when Starbucks is being challenged or fighting for survival. I’m comfortable with, and in a way, enjoy the rugged, steep ascent. That is my nature. And while I would not want to constantly battle against the odds, the raw feeling of accomplishing something that others did not think possible, or leading people beyond where they thought they could go, is extremely gratifying.
R – Resilience
One reason I believed that the Starbucks brand would be resilient was because our founding values still resonated, perhaps now more than ever as anxiety and distrust seeped into the popular zeitgeist, and not just in the United States. In addition to our values, Starbucks’ core product would also continue to be relevant. Coffee will never lose its romance. It will always bring people together and be part of conversations in every language, even as the conversations change. Coffee will forever connect.
B – Brand
Our ongoing challenge is to creatively nurture coffee’s essence, keeping it personal despite our size. I do not want Starbucks to be defined solely by its thousands of stores or millions of customers. More than our scale, the brand can and should be defined by the quality of its coffee as well as its value. Community. Connection. Respect. Dignity. Humor. Humanity. Accountability. It is our mission to make sure the world sees us through those lenses.
U – Uniqueness
Unlike other retailers that sold coffee, the equity of Starbucks’ brand was steeped in the unique experience customers have from the moment they walk into a store. The aroma. The sense of community. The familial relationships customers establish with their local baristas. And the pride they feel knowing that their purchases support our high standards and socially responsible partners. Reinvigorating the Starbucks Experience could provide the meaningful differentiation that would separate us from competitors.
C – Coffee
Roasting coffee beans is a delicate process requiring a thoughtful, exacting balancing act of time and temperature. Any coffee producer that truly cares about quality has a toasting philosophy, and at Starbucks our philosophy is to roast every bean to its peak of flavor in a manner that extracts its maximum potential. This means Starbucks roasts beans for longer than most commercial roasters for a so-called Full City roasts that pulls out the beans’ honest richness, flavor, and acidity, or brightness. Our professional roasters are constantly refining our roasting process. Over the years, they have customized our machines and developed proprietary software to help control and replicate their techniques. We take tremendous pride in knowing that no one in the coffee business has more control over the roasting process than Starbucks. Like roasting, blending specialty coffee is also an art form, and our blenders’ culinary talents are akin to those of master chefs. Most coffee companies mix different types of beans together as a way to mask inferior coffee, but Starbucks has always used blending as an opportunity to elevate coffees from parts of the world. Sometimes, in order to capture each bean’s peak flavor, we won’t even roast different beans together; only after roasting do we combine them. And when beans from multiple regions are blended just right, they create a unique symphony of flavor that does not exist by itself.
K – Knowledge
Entrepreneurs are builders, and the lens through which I view Starbucks and the marketplace is somewhat different from what it would be if I were a professionally schooled manager. Such a lens has, however, its strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, founders know every brick in the foundation. We know what inspired the company and what was required to create it. That knowledge, that history brings with it a high level of passion to do whatever it takes to succeed, as well as intuition about what is right and what is wrong. But sometimes we are too close to a situation. Entrepreneurs can be blinded by emotion, by our love of what we have built, unable to see it fresh and with the eyes of a more objective outside.
S – Spirit
If the barista only goes through the motions, if he or she does not care and produces an inferior espresso that is too weak or too bitter, then Starbucks has lost the essence of what we set out to do 40 years ago: inspire the human spirit.
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Salesforce.com employed guerrilla marketing tactics early on. Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.
Stand out with a purpose
In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.
The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.
PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.
Aim for potential end users
Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.
In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.
Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.
Vulture and not venture capital
Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.
The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.
Lessons for startups
The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.