Build YOUR Personal Brand, Not a Bobblehead-Brand!


Aren’t bobbleheads awesome?  They smile adoringly and nod their head up and down in affirmation no matter the circumstance.  Perfect behavior for an office accessory – but a terrible example to follow while building your personal brand.

It is easy to hit the brain’s snooze button and mindlessly agree with everyone – especially with those in positions of authority (experts in your field, your boss, established media outlets).  We blindly accept every order from management, leave positive comments on every blog we see, cruising around life like a sheep that can type.  But you know what?  Sheep don’t get anywhere. Neither will you if you don’t voice your own opinion and blaze your own trail every now and then.

Several recent events have confirmed my belief that voicing an alternate opinion can be a powerful move.  A while back I wrote this article recommending that everyone follow back all of their Twitter followers.  And I got skewered for it.  Just roasted.  The comments section filled up with well thought-out, reasoned explanations of why folks disagreed with me.  Even Robert Scoble and Charlie Gilkey stopped by to intelligently blast me out of the water.

But, a strange thing happened in the process.  A few of the commenters e-mailed me saying they enjoyed my blog.  Ironically, I connected with almost all of them on Twitter.  I voiced my opinion, they voiced theirs – and in the process, we connected in a way we never would have otherwise.

In a similar set of circumstances, Marian Schembari wrote a fascinating and controversial guest article entitled “Why Employers Love Bad Girls and Boys”. The comments ranged from supportive to outraged, and Marian responded to each one with class and reason.  The added conversation that occurred turned the article into something special – much more than just a few words on a static page.

Think about yourself now.  Pick a time that you really stood out at work or in school. Was it because you did exactly what the person before you did?  Or was it because you voiced your own unique opinion and initiated change?

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For personal branding tips and tricks from Ryan Rancatore and a great group of guest bloggers, visit Personal Branding 101. Or, connect with @RyanRancatore on Twitter.

Bobblehead image by dayglowill.

16 Comments

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  1. 1
    Jessica Simko

    Great post Ryan! Truer words have never been said. So many people think that sitting quietly and agreeing with people is how to impress them. People need to ADD VALUE at work. Being a bobblehead just makes someone a “nice guy” but it doesn't make that person stand out.

    I just read your Twitter post. 🙂 Very interesting perspective. I don't follow everyone back because of the spam factor and I am not sure if I will, but you raise a good point. On one hand, when you get a follower it really is kind of like someone is saying “HI!” and if you don't follow back it's like you turned and walked away. However… there are so many twitter services out there where people can just mass follow a whole bunch of people and they never did take the time to actually read about you and then genuinely found you interesting. But for the ones who did do that, not following back can appear rude. The thing is, you never really know how people found you. It has me thinking though….

  2. 2
    Ryan Rancatore

    Jessica – I appreciate the thoughtful comment, and in this case…I'll let it slide that you agree with me! 🙂 Yes, the Twitter following issue is an interesting one – for both individual and (especially) corporate accounts. Thanks again for adding your insights!

  3. 3
    Marian Schembari

    Thanks for the shout-out, Ryan! I never thought of bobbleheads as the perfect office accessory but of course when you put it this way you are sooo right.

    Of course, I pretty much disagree with everyone – either to be contrary, just for funsies, or because I get bored with the “normal” way to do things. I like how you think, dude. Though, I guess to prove my point I should disagree with you, no?

  4. 4
    Derek

    One might say that if people don’t disagree with you, you’re doing something wrong. Best to stick to your guns and stand for something, and I think that even those who disagree with you will respect you more than a bobblehead…

  5. 6
    Ryan Rancatore

    You make very valid points, Jake. In reality, I just take an “innocent until proven guilty” stance on Twitter following. It is only fair to give everyone a chance – if they blow it, well, at least they had a fair shot!

  6. 7
    Marianne Cantwell

    Agreed (ironically). I think another way of putting it is that if some people don’t hate what you have to say, then there’s not much chance of your message being strong enough for someone else to LOVE it.

  7. 9
    Ryan Rancatore

    You make very valid points, Jake. In reality, I just take an “innocent until proven guilty” stance on Twitter following. It is only fair to give everyone a chance – if they blow it, well, at least they had a fair shot!

  8. 10
    Charlie Gilkey

    Ahoy, matey! Here I am to blast you out of the water again. ;p

    What I’d like to share is that the alternative concern is becoming the anti-bobblehead. A lot of people work really, really hard to stand out (against something) without recognizing that merely reacting to a meme or zeitgeist isn’t really a brand either. Once people have forgotten about that thing, the reactionary is left with a vacuous anti-position, so they either have to come up with something else to react to or, gulp, come up with their own platform. Too many take the former route.

    Sometimes, nodding isn’t bobbling, and not-bobbling isn’t taking a true stand. Instead of blowing you out of the water, I’d like to say “Great post!”

  9. 11
    Mars Dorian

    Hey Ryan

    Saying what you mean is vital in today's age – too many people play it safe, and hide their opinions.
    It's sooo much more fun and rewarding to be your best self !
    Not only branding-wise.

  10. 13
    Ryan Rancatore

    Charlie – How dare you comment intelligently on one of my posts yet again! But seriously, quite the fascinating point. Simply going around engaging in arguments for the sake of being a contrarian is just as empty as the agreeing bobblehead. Yours is a point I would not have even considered. Well done, as usual.

  11. 14
    Ryan Rancatore

    Marianne – True, but definitely easier said than done. Some just don't have the stomach to be disagreed with (or worse…hated). I appreciate your comment, and I'm glad it led me to your blog. Great name, great content – consider yourself subscribed to!

  12. 15
    Ryan Rancatore

    Derek – Yep, there is serious power in “respectfully disagreeing” with someone. IMO it leads to a deeper mutual respect, and a real interest in what they will say next.

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