Coach Ron McKeefery wrote in CEO Strength Coach about the importance of having a personal brand to protect against the job insecurity of Collegiate Strength and Conditioning. I believe this was viable advice because I believe that building a personal brand and improving the quality of the job market can co-exist.
Nowadays, anyone can have a personal brand. They can open an Instagram account, record a few posts on how great of a trainer they are, and - BINGO! - they are famous. I recently saw a “certified trainer” in Florida pushing his personal brand on an Elite athlete and unfortunately the athlete was at risk due to the lack of expertise this “certified trainer” so-called had. Coach personal branding is important, but it needs to happen organically, and it needs to happen with integrity. It is important because we all deserve a chance to be recognized one day as independents who have the right to acquire a fair wage for what we do, if we want to venture out on our own and own the brand we made, but that needs to be earned in the building process.
What makes a good personal brand?
A good personal brand is like a good coach. It is backed up by someone who is qualified, objective, and skilled at their job. It is an individual who can establish rapport with a wide range of people, ask the right questions, assess problems, call audibles, and keep track of what is effective vs. what is not effective.
Your personal brand comes with your skillset. If you are good enough, people will always follow. Like Proximo said in Gladiator “Win the crowd, Maximus, and you will win your freedom.” It is all about the people; we all have our own individual situation. A personal brand also organically gives you a contingency plan just in case there is a rainy day. Or, even more simply put, do a great job at your job and you will continue to create opportunities for yourself. I happen to work with people who have some exciting and demanding jobs. If I display consistent competence, excellence, and professionalism in what I do for a living, that becomes exposed. The curtain is always up.
A strong personal brand will enhance your life
Personal branding for coaches is not an exercise in vanity; it is acting with conviction. I was given the name AMMO from one of the College Hockey Team’s I trained in the past. Boston University Men’s Ice Hockey is a proud part of my career and my life. Those guys coined the name “AMMO” using my initials and relating the attributes of the weight room that fueled their competition.
Branded for life.
Branded because of the care, and because of the constant toil that I put into their craft, and mine as well. So, with an awesome name like AMMO what did I do? I turned in into an Instagram and a Twitter feed. Those alone are and were enough to promote myself. I also created a personal blog as well. It just keeps my options open and having options in any discipline or occupation is a very good thing.
If personal branding is done properly, it can be much more or less than just self-promotion. It can be a personal or private item that can bring credibility. Being your own brand can help you discover what your personal priorities are, therefore narrowing your focus toward your personal legend.
Defining what we want in life seems simple, but it is far from that. What I wanted 10 years ago is not what I want today. Instead of trying to obtain a fancy name, or instead of launching a quick plan because it just sounds awesome, ask yourself these questions:
What do you need to achieve in life in relevance to your career?
What does success mean for you 5 years from now and what does it mean 10 years from now?
Understand your skillset and continue to do a great job. Realize your capabilities and have consistent expectations of yourself. If you can take care of these, you will be able to prioritize your road to your personal legend. Your personal legend is your brand, it’s what you are meant to do. Pursue it.