I really hate the concept of personal branding because it commoditizes human beings. It’s also narcissistic.
That being said, there is some value in monitoring your reputation.
I run a Human Resources consulting firm. In my spare time, I specialize in speaking honestly to workers about their cruddy jobs. I understand that no one is perfect — especially me — but I can’t do business with you when your company disrespects employees, is fiscally irresponsible, and doesn’t live up to commitments. What does that say about me and my values?
I don’t know if that’s personal branding, but I know it feels right.
I have very few rules in life, but if you have one set of expectations for everyone in your company and you can’t apply those same rules to yourself, I will not accept your money. If you consistently lack the ability to demonstrate leadership in key moments, or if you fail and blame other people, we cannot work together.
Sticking to my principles is tough. I hardly ever walk away from money. I rarely see people (or a business) as a lost cause. If there’s a chance that we can work together and do something special, I generally take the risk.
So if I say no to your money or your business because I’m worried about my personal brand, you really need to take a look at yourself and your operations. I’m no Seth Godin or Tom Peters. When Laurie Ruettimann turns you down, it’s time to think about packing it up.