Recently I was part of a panel to launch a new book by Trevor Young called ‘Micro Domination‘.
In the book Trevor identifies a number of what he calls ‘Micro Mavens‘ – including people like Chris Brogan, Jonathan Fields, Marie Forleo, Chris Guillebeau, Trey Ratcliff, Pamela Slim, Gary Vaynerchuk (and he generously includes me too) and goes onto describe their characteristics and how they’ve built businesses around their personal brands.
The book is a good read – particularly for those starting out and wanting to get their head around the idea of building an online personal brand.
As I read through the list of Micro Mavens that Trevor identified it struck me that he’s actually put together a group of people who have a number of very common traits (many of which he outlines in the book).
The Power of Being Constructive
The most obvious trait to me is that the above group of people are a very ‘constructive’ group of individuals.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had both online and face to face meetings with most of the above group and many others listed in the book and in each case I’ve interacted with them I’ve been struct by how positive they are as people.
There’s a certain uplifting vibe about each of them in meeting them but when you look at what they’ve built online over the years you can see the trait again and again.
Day in and day out they use their time to build something that is useful for their networks, readers and followers.
- The books and blogs that they’ve written have been positive and full of constructive advice.
- Their tweets are largely positive and the communities that they form are largely positive and constructive too.
- When they speak at conferences their messages almost always contain inspirational and useful ideas.
While from time to time they probably all have had a rant or have complained about something and they all are quite capable of bringing critical thought to what they write about…
- They spend a lot more time constructing than being destructive.
- They build more than they tear down.
- They focus more upon the positives than the negatives.
- They focus their energy upon helping those who interact with them to have positive outcomes
My suspicion is that this ‘constructive’ approach is probably a large part of their success over many years.
Destructive Personal Branding
This may all seem quite obvious – however as I pondered the group of people Trevor has written about I found my mind going back through the years to another group of people who took quite a different approach.
Many of those that came to mind rose to prominence in their niches quite quickly through using a more ‘destructive’ tactic.
They often burst onto the scene in their niches in a flurry of controversy, snark and personal attack – tactics that do often cause a stir and get the person behind them lots of attention very quickly.
The problem with this negative or destructive approach is that it is much more difficult to sustain over the long term for a couple of reasons:
Firstly for most people it is particularly draining to be constantly being negative. Controversy, snark and attack doesn’t really bring anyone life and isn’t something most of us can do on a day by day basis without it taking a personal toll.
Secondly creating a brand on the build of a more destructive approach makes it difficult to build a business model around it. While it is possible to build a following with such tactics I find it difficult to think of too many ways to build a profitable long term business on that. What advertiser would want to associate their brand with it? What product could you create that people would want to buy with such negativity?
In the long run these ‘destructive’ online personalities tend to attract others like them and something of a cesspool of negativity emerges around them.
Build Something Positive!
Building something ‘constructive’ is probably not the quickest way to build an online profile but what I find is that it is the key to building a more long term and sustainable online brand.
The rise to prominence may be a little slower but in time what you build is much better. In fact in my observation of the people mentioned above (and many many others) is that in time real momentum can grow when you’ve built something positive over time.
The accumulation of generously helping people over years and years can have a massive return in a business sense but on a personal level it is much more life giving back to you too!
The key lesson to me is to think about how you can build something that gives hope, that solves problems and that genuinely and generously serves others.
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. I’m sure there are a few examples of ‘negative’ brands that have managed to succeed despite their approach and I’m happy to hear about them but I’d also love to hear other positive examples and hear about your experience of this.