Rex Tillerson, former Exxon executive who served as Secretary of State for 14 months, has a problem with his brand. Since getting fired by the President on March 13, 2018, Tillerson finds himself untethered from his duties as top diplomat and looking back (longingly?) on a 40-plus year career with Exxon. He leaves the Trump administration having lost favor with the President, and owning credit for dismantling the country's State department.
Of course he has the money and connections to minimize the damage, but when you're managing your personal brand, one major mis-step might send you on the express elevator to the basement of your career.
With this in mind, here are several personal brand strategies to help you hurdle major potholes that get in the way -- and maintain the equity in the brand you've worked hard to create.
Stay humble. In 1980, singer Mac Davis wrote a country music hit called, "It's Hard to be Humble." The lyrics of the chorus included, "Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way." When you create a snafu at work, the best thing you can do is take responsibility. Own the issue and offer your employer a solution that fixes it. Don't hide or point fingers at others on your team.
Do good deeds. Volunteer your time and talent with a community organization where you have a close connection. Community and volunteer service pays huge dividends in creating a personal brand that says you care about people and the world around you. If opportunities exist at your workplace to volunteer, do it! The rewards for your good deeds are lasting and people around you will remember your efforts -- even in bad times.
Reinvent yourself. Sounds daunting, but reinventing yourself can be as simple as broadening your skill set; or as complex as trying on an entirely new management style. In a Forbes magazine article, writer Glenn Llopis shared the following: "...the greatest leaders in history are those who enabled environments of continuous reinvention and innovation (e.g., Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc.). As a leader, you can’t enable the innovation of products and services unless you know how to innovate yourself." The key is that you seek ways to make self-improvements - especially when things go wrong.
Keep an active network. No matter where you are in your career, your personal network is vital. Don't let it stagnate. Connect with professionals both above you and below you. And be purposeful in the connections you make. Search for new connections at events and activities - from your son's soccer match to your workplace's summer picnic. And when you share a business card, and get one in return, follow up with a thank you.
How you tend to your personal brand during long stretches of fair weather makes all the difference. You might suffer through a career setback or, instead, survive and thrive when a negative issue strikes all because your brand has the foundation it needs to stay upright when a tornado rips through your life. The choice is yours and your brand is your own.