Become the 'CEO of You' to build your personal brand

In a career spent managing corporate reputation, I've learned that a CEO who takes personal responsibility for the organization's reputation is hugely important.

In a career spent managing corporate reputation, I've learned that a CEO who takes personal responsibility for the organization's reputation is hugely important. Many of you have seen this too, but have you thought about applying the principle to your own career by becoming the "CEO of You"?

I emigrated from Greece when I was eight, speaking no English. Behaviors that came naturally to other kids were - literally - foreign to me. I had to build my reputation from scratch, observing how to project a positive persona in the American context and embracing Socrates' dictum: "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." Try to view your unique talents and experience as a "company" with you as its CEO. Your job: create a strong, recognizable brand, grow and differentiate your business, and, above all, protect your reputation.

  • Your brand and reputation rest on integrity. Building a brand and a reputation takes hard work, a commitment to excellence, and especially integrity. To gain influence and respect in any aspect of life, you must be honest. People often forgive honest mistakes, but they'll rarely forgive lies.
  • Make yourself relevant. Effective CEOs live in the moment and the future simultaneously. This helps them understand both what's relevant today and what could be the next big thing. Rigorous study of trends and demographics can give you this skill that differentiates you from others. You'll make more thoughtful, strategic decisions.
  • Use kaleidoscope thinking. Twisting a kaleidoscope reveals changing patterns. When you "hit the wall" on a challenge, demonstrate innovative problem-solving by twisting your mental kaleidoscope to apply new thinking patterns and find creative, strategic solutions.
  • Strengthen leadership values and deliver on them. Hold true to values that make you unique, but discern complementary values practiced by highly successful leaders and blend them with yours. Be decisive, visionary, and compassionate within your leadership style.

If you don't grab the job as CEO of You, your "business" - a.k.a. your life - will drift. Remember Aristotle's words: "We are all citizens of the world." Brand yourself as someone who can embrace change while taking a long, broad view of the world. Becoming the CEO of You brings your strengths and weaknesses into sharper focus, helping you craft your career and manage your brand and reputation successfully.

William Margaritis is corporate VP of global comms and IR at FedEx. He is also incoming president of the Arthur Page Society.

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