Why Having a Perfect Brand Will Work Against You
Have you ever lost anything?
Sure you have!
I am pretty good at losing things.
Historically, I have been famous for losing my sunglasses.
Whether I’m on a boat, or near the water, they somehow go swimming, get misplaced, or just disappear.
I’m pretty good at losing other things too.
In fact, I lost my fourth water bottle recently. I was speaking in Haiti, and made a bet that I would not lose it on the trip. I was very careful the whole time. When I got back to Los Angeles and was waiting for the Lyft to pick me up from LAX, I put the waterbottle on the sidewalk instead of in my bag. As soon as the Lyft left LAX, it hit me. I forgot it! The whole trip to Haiti, and I lose it at the very last minute, after I am home.
It was devastating. And a little embarrassing, since it was my 4th lost waterbottle of the year!
The one before that, I lost when I was speaking in New York at an event and was running late. I was stressed out. I remember taking a sip in the Uber, and then I spilled all over myself. That only added to the stress. When I jumped out of the car, I forgot to grab my water bottle. The one before that, I can’t even remember where I left it. And the one before that, I don’t remember when or how I lost it.
I also lost one of my AirPods, which meant that I only had one AirPod. I was in denial for like two weeks, but finally gave in and got a replacement. And then while speaking at INBOUND, I lost an AirPod and the charger case, and bought new ones at the airport!
So, the question of the day is, are you perfect?
No, I am guessing you are not.
Am I perfect? No, far from it.
But if you’re not perfect, and I’m not perfect, then why on earth do people continue to try to build perfect personal brands? In my new book, co-authored by Leonard Kim, called Ditch the Act: How to Reveal the Surprising Power of the Real You For Greater Success, we talk about sharing things that you wouldn’t think to share.
Before we dive into the details, I want to first define what I consider a perfect brand.
A perfect brand means that you are only sharing the good.
It is hard to relate to a perfect brand, because none of us are perfect!
When you only share the good, and you don’t share the bad, your version of ugly, or when you lose stuff, then you’re actually missing out on chances to connect with more people more often.
Losing things like glasses, water bottles and an AirPod, are not big deals on their own. But building a brand that makes you human is a big deal. And I am excited to share that the little things you lose, the silly things you do, and your small snafus, are a big part of building an authentic brand.
I was pretty frustrated about losing my last water bottle, but a couple years ago, I would not think to share my frustrations publically. Why would anyone care that I lost something? Won’t it make me look like an idiot for not only losing it, but for sharing that I lost it?
The answer is no and no.
I have learned that the silly little things that don’t go right are some of the best things to share.
Because other people lose things too.
Real-life is messy, and that is why building a perfect brand will work against you. If you pretend that nothing bad ever happens to you, you won’t be as relatable. To help you understand how sharing silly things can help you build your brand, here are 7 reasons why you should consider starting to share the little mishaps that happen to you, that you would not think to share.
1. Prove that you are human
When you share little things that don’t go right, it shows that you are human. In our book, Leonard and I call these things “Level 1 Exposures.” Level 1 includes things that you are thinking or things that happen to you that you might not think to share. This is the lowest level of exposure and is an easy way to show people that you are human.
Level 1 Exposures are:
The silly things you do (or don’t do): Spilling a beverage on yourself, misplacing your keys, making a spelling typo in a social post or important email, forgetting to water your plants and having them die, washing your car after six months, missing a workout, etc.
Things that impact your mood: Having a pimple, having a bad hair day, getting inadequate sleep, exhaustion, feeling sick, being sick, having poor Wi-Fi signals, making time for date night, going to Costco, getting your car smogged and failing the test, going to the DMV, buying a book but not having the time to read it, misplacing and losing your water bottle, being late due to traffic, etc.
Being human is key because at the end of the day if you want to build a personal brand, people need to get to know you, as a person. If you present yourself as somebody who has never made a mistake, who is always awesome, who is always happy, who is never losing anything, then I’m sorry—you are not a human.
You are somebody who I cannot relate to.
2. Sharing small things gives you perspective.
When we share things with others, especially the “small stuff,” it gives us a chance to discover new perspectives. I don’t know about you, but when I am upset, even about something as dumb as loosing a water bottle of a pair of sunglasses, it is hard for me to snap out of it. My view is myopic, and I am either angry at myself, or can’t stop thinking about where I lost them.
When I tweeted out that I thought I had lost something of value recently, I was upset and frustrated. After tweeting it, and after the multiple replies, it really helped me change perspective.
So many people replied with positive comments, and many helped me to think outside of myself.
And I thought to myself, “Wow. What a great perspective.”
I mean here I am super upset, my day is being ruined about being stressed about missing what I lost.
And Russ not only gave me a new and valuable perspective, but many others did too. Believe it or not, since that tweet, I lost yet another pair of sunglasses while in San Francisco for a sailboat race. But you know what? I didn’t stress as much. I reminded myself of what Russ and others said. And, I was not as upset as I would have normally been.
3. Level 1 Exposures help you find new resources
When I finally came to terms with the fact that I lost one of my AirPods, I was embarrassed, and was hesitant to share. I had perspective, did not freak out, but was still bummed that I had to get new AirPods.
I thought that my only option was to buy a whole new set up, which is quite expensive.
I have found that when I am upset, I don’t always think logically. The logical solution to my problem would be to do some research on what to do. But, I didn’t think about the option of buying just one AirPod. That is until I tweeted out that I had come to terms with the fact that it was gone for good, and Lisa Loeffler replied, letting me know that she did the research for me, and that I could in fact get a replacement right AirPod.
And that is exactly what I did. And now I am back at full speed with two AirPods!
When you share Level 1 Exposures, you may find that your followers and friends can help you think outside of your own momentary box, and can help you brainstorm more solutions to your problems by sharing their own ideas. These ideas become real resources. Lisa has helped me out on more than one occasion. And as a result, we have formed a friendship. I know she has my back, and as a result, I have hers. Next time you have a silly problem, let people in your network know, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how resources surface!
4. Sharing lets others add value
If you’re trying to build a brand, a lot of what you need to do is create and share valuable content. If you want to be known as an expert, then it would make sense that you need to share your ideas and thoughts so that you can add value to those who you want to influence and help out. Building a brand is about deciding what you want to be known for, and then creating value around your niche. But if you’re creating value, and you don’t let your audience give value to you, then it’s going to be an imbalanced relationship.
Have you ever had people in your life who are willing to do anything and everything for you, but they just don’t let you help them out?
I have had those people in my life, and thought it was nice to have people there who want to help you all the time; however, it can be a bit annoying after a while. I believe that we as humans want to help each other, but if someone does not let you help them, you feel a bit useless.
It’s like if someone gives you a ride somewhere far away, and you offer to help pay for the gas, and they don’t let you. Then you try to buy lunch, and they refuse. It will make you feel a bit awkward. You want to help. You want to contribute. It would make you feel good to give some sort of value. I believe that if you only produce content, and never give your followers a way to give some value back to you, there will be an imbalance that will impact the possible connection with them.
Sharing little silly things that happen in life, or things that you are thinking in your head, are a great chance for others to chirp in by sharing their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. If you let people add value to your life, it makes them feel good and it helps create real bonds. For example, Ross, reminded me that things are just things—that really is valuable. I have thought about that tweet many times since.
I can tell you, at least from my experience, it’s really rewarding when people have a chance to help you out. Sharing the things that don’t go right, by exposing yourself, gives your audience a chance to bring value to you. I’ve actually formed some really strong relationships with people because I value the value that they give me, and that wouldn’t have happened if I just showed all the good stuff, and never shared the stuff that didn’t go right.
Building a brand is really about letting people get to know who you are. When you get to know me, you know that I lose stuff. If I didn’t share that I lose things online, then I wouldn’t really be giving people a chance to get to know the whole me.
5. Sharing your version of bad builds community
If all I did was share the good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, it wouldn’t give me the chance to build the community that I have, because I might come across as unapproachable or intimidating.
When it comes to building a personal brand, it is crucial to build a community, not just a following. A community will be there for you in the good and the bad. But if you only share the good, and you hide the bad, then you are missing out on connections that you never knew you had.
Number of followers does not mean anything. Really. Yes. I said it, and I will say it again. Your number of followers does not matter.
What does matter is the relationships you build with people who follow you.
We all share time as a limited resource, and these days, you have to understand that there is so much content, so many people to follow, so many experts, that people have to pick and choose wisely when to really invest in building relationships. It takes a nano-second to hit the follow button, but it may take months, or years to really build a long term relationship with someone.
For years, before I met Leonard, I thought that a perfect looking brand was the way to grow. But learning from him, I saw how being more vulnerable, a little less polished, and real, was a way to really create connection and community.
People relate to people through their own personal experiences. And you know what? Not everyone’s life is peaches and cream. In fact, many people are struggling. Whether it be financially, emotionally, or a number of other life stressors, there are millions of people who wake up everyday facing challenges big and small.
I was once told that people don’t care about your stories, they care about how they see themselves in your stories.
This is a powerful realization.
Think about it.
People care about how they see themselves in your story.
If your stories are always good, then you will miss the opportunity to have followers who are not doing good or feeling good, who don’t see themselves in your story.
6. Sharing Level 1 Exposures lowers your stress and anxiety
I was really stressed out when I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I lost some expensive equipment.
However, I didn’t keep this to myself. A few years ago, I would have. But I realized the value in ditching the act, and being more transparent about sharing the not so good times in my life.
Once I shared my thoughts in a tweet, it felt like I got it off my chest. Then seeing positive comments coming in all day, made me feel loved. It made me feel like I was not alone. One person that had replied to my tweet told me that they had so many lost and found stories, they could write a book.
Another person, helped me by sharing a funny story of his. He thought his car was stolen, but it was really in the garage.
His story made me laugh. And his point was that sometimes we miss things in plain sight. He encouraged me that what I was missing might be somewhere obvious. I hope that is the case. But even if it isn’t, me tweeting and him replying was a real interaction. It was meaningful and made me feel better.
Somebody else told me that your brain processes something like 200 Kb, and if you put too much load on the brain, the spot that will help me remember where this equipment is won’t be activated.
For these reasons (and more), when something goes wrong, I think about if it is a Level 1 Exposure, and then I think of how I can share it online, to translate what is really going on.
Being who you are, sharing that process, the good, the bad, what you lose, and your version of ugly is what allows me to be less stressed as I go through my day, less anxious about what people are going to think about me because I’m not just trying to showcase the good. I’m trying to ditch the act, so that people get to see me for who I am, and that is something that makes social media less burdensome, and more fun. I use it as a way to connect with real people in real time, sharing the real me…warts and all!
Consider these seven reasons why building a perfect brand is not about being perfect. And the next time you lose something, I challenge you to share it, and see what happens. I bet you that it’s going to show that you’re human. It’s going to help you find new perspectives. It’s going to help you gain more resources. It’s going to give you a way to let others add value to you. It’s going to showcase your personality. It’s going to help you build community, and it is going to help you lower your stress, and lower your anxiety.
Are you perfect?
Am I perfect?
Then why would you think that building a perfect personal brand is the answer?
So, think again, and start sharing the silly little things that go wrong in life. You will find it helps you connect more, more often.
To learn how the 5 Levels of Exposure can help you build a perfectly imperfect personal brand, grab your copy of Ditch the Act today!