Category: Brand You

Brand You

This week on the blog at the, an article titled "You Are What You Tweet" discussed the subject of personal branding. It gives credit to Tom for sparking the phenomenon in his Fast Company piece, "The Brand Called You," which outlined the idea that all workers (receptionists to CEOs) must be in control of their own careers. Sixteen years after publication, Tom's article is still the go-to resource on the subject, though he couldn't predict the impact of social media, as explored in the New Yorker blog. We suggest you read them both.

The "Thank You" Tweets

Got going on Twitter re "Thank You"-power. Herewith the riff. Brackets at the end of a tweet are the source when it's not me—brackets with question marks are "source unknown."

Herewith, in the order they were made:

Overdoing it on "Thank yous" is a problem—0.0000001% of the time.

Timing is not everything. Thank you is everything. [leadlikeahero]

Overdo thank yous? I am 70. I've had far more than my share of "Thank yous." Love 'em as much as ever! Please feel free to overdo it.

Whenever anyone does anything of any magnitude for me I am literally delighted. An effusive "Thank you" is always in order.

The wee-est of wee "un-necessary" efforts rate mega-"Thank yous."

Courtesy not only makes things easier, but heartfelt appreciation makes lives better. [??]

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. [M. Eckhart]

Saying thank you is a supreme leadership "tool." Believe it!

Saying thank you is in a way selfish. Reward is huge appreciation for tiny investment.

The more crushing the pressure or nearness of a deadline, the more powerful the pause to say "Thank you."

The most effusive thanks from a leader should be reserved for someone who has the nerve to bring her/ him bad news in a timely fashion.

"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?" [William Arthur Ward]

Eye contact may be the ultimate acknowledgement. (Hey, significantly reduces retail shrinkage.)

Sorry to sound like somebody's mom, but power of thank you multiplied by crystal clear eye contact.

When we're busy, we often fail to make eye contact. For God's sake ... work on this! (Sooooo common when one is staring at a screen.)

Thank you/eye contact: Great news ... you can consciously practice and improve.

Funny, we think about getting better at fly fishing or carpentry, but not when it comes to the likes of saying "Thank you."

Don't ruin a good apology with an excuse. Don't ruin a sincere 'thank you' with noise. [??]

When I say "Thank you" to someone, that's 100% it for that communication. No pollution

It's like calling to wish someone "Happy birthday" followed by a reminder of a looming deadline

"Thank you" isn't a starting point of something else. It is "the point." [Vala Afshar]

Hate to be crude, but someone who is thanked is in your debt. ("Thank you" is a power tool as well as a gracious-humane gesture.)

Re "Thank you"s: I am preaching my Mom's Gospel ... enforced with the Wrath of God.

Over to you ...

Join The Mash-Up Revolution

[Our guest blogger today is Ian Sanders, marketer, writer, and idea communicator.—CM]

Glancing down my LinkedIn connections this morning, I was reminded how meaningless job titles have become in a world where so many of us have gone multidimensional: how can you communicate multiplicity in a singular title? In an increasingly competitive and uncertain job market, communicating our professional talents is more important than ever. Whilst some of my LinkedIn contacts have selected stand-out titles like Change Agent and Risk Taker, the reality is that, for many, a job title doesn't cut it anymore.


Thought blocks


Effective Leadership/100% Under Your Control/ "Rank" Irrelevant:

Relationship EXCELLENCE.

When: NOW!
(Every day brings an infinite # of full-fledged leadership opportunities regardless of name, rank, or serial number.)

No.1 Life Decision: The attitude you take into your next conversation/interaction.


"We do no great things, only small things with great love."—Mother Teresa

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble."—Helen Keller

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."—Anne Frank

"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."—Churchill

"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."—Henry David Thoreau


"The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party but they say nothing. And if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them silently away."—Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I suppose I've known all along that there was a lot more to life than a professional career, but surgery has been a very demanding mistress, and it has given me a self identity that will be hard to shake."Ned Cabot, upon retirement from his medical career, and who died in a boating accident in the North Sea in September 2012

"Living alone has also made me much, much more conscious of inconsequential things, the sweet banalities of a day in a life. I feel now as if I spent most of my previous time on earth in a state of perpetually frenzied obliviousness, intent on executing all the Important Tasks at Hand.. The test to take. The application to finish, the man to marry. The job to get, the brief to write, the motion to file, the verdict to appeal, the meeting to schedule, the PowerPoint to prepare. The apartment to buy, the meals to organize, the two miles to run, the sex to have, the kids to get to school and playdates and doctors and volleyball games and SAT tutors and college. The marriage to end. The books to write. I was always good at screening out the noise and focusing exclusively on the signal, which made me successful at school and at work and (more or less) as a parent. Until I lived alone, I was not so good at understanding—really understanding, beyond the obligatory modern lip service to smelling the roses and living in the moment—that the extraneous noise can be lovely. The Buddhists call it mindfulness, a word I sort of hate but an MO I've come to believe in.

"Such as right now, when I put the half-full quart of grapefruit juice back on the refrigerator shelf hastily, and watch the sloshing make the carton swivel and teeter before it rights itself, like a wobbly drunk almost falling and then too firmly planting his feet to stand perfectly still. We deprive ourselves if we ignore all the tiny inconsequential bits and pieces, the flotsam and jetsam of life. Quarks and neutrons and atoms and molecules, the earth, asteroids, stars, the shaft of light angling through the kitchen window right this second, illuminating the slow motion Dance of Ten Thousand Dust Motes; isn't it all flotsam and jetsam?"—from the protagonist in the novel True Believers, by Kurt Anderson

TLBT Video #79
Brand You: Showing Up Matters

A new video, #79, in The Little BIG Things series is now available on YouTube. Tom presents his view that you can dramatically increase your influence in any negotiation/discussion/process by simply showing up. Take a lesson from The Delaware delegation to the U.S. Constitutional Congress. Be there!

You can find the video in the right-hand column of this page or watch it at YouTube (time: 2 minutes 12 seconds). Also, you can get a PDF transcript of the video's content here: Brand You: Showing Up Matters.

MOAP #13

Part 13 of Tom's "Mother of All Presentations," or MOAP, is available now at You can download the PowerPoint version or a PDF. We'll be releasing a section every other week throughout 2012.

Here's the 6th entry in Tom's "15H Theory of Everything," featuring Sally Helgesen and presenting Brand You, Distinct or ... Extinct! We recommend you go back and also read the 1997 Fast Company article where Tom laid out the concept. Find it here: "The Brand Called You."

MOAP #10

The next installment of Tom's "Mother of All Presentations," or MOAP, is Part 10, available now at You can download the PowerPoint version or a PDF. We'll be releasing a section every other week throughout 2012.

Part 10 brings us the third "H," in Tom's "15H Theory of Everything." This presentation, which sprouted from a habit of Starbuck's Howard Schultz, is also titled "You ARE Your Calendar."

Share Your Love (and, Do So Before It's Too Late)

(This is a guest post by Raj Setty to introduce, just in time for Valentine's Day. Rajesh Setty serves as the president of Foresight Plus, LLC. He is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker based in Silicon Valley. You can follow him on Twitter at

When I look back at my engineering days a couple of decades ago, I remember a few teachers that made a huge difference in my life—even today. One of them was the late Dr. Sudhakar Samuel. Dr. Samuel was special. Very special. I still remember the sixth semester where he taught us Digital Electronics. Long story short—every single student in the class became an expert on the topic by the end of the semester.

I had an opportunity to thank Dr. Samuel at the end of the class. I don't know whether I did justice to what he had given to all of us. My appreciation for what and how he taught me in those days grew over these years. A few years ago, I thought I should go back and thank him again for the difference he made in my life. For some or the other reason, that time did not come. One day, all of a sudden, I got an email from an old friend that Dr. Samuel had passed away. There were tears in my eyes instantly, but there was also a feeling of guilt that I had left something incomplete.

Intentions do count. But, not much in such situations. Actions are what matter most.


Off the Cuff #2

Our Off the Cuff video series is a direct response from Tom to your questions. This is the second video in the series, which poses the question, "What is the greatest piece of advice you ever received that has made you a better writer or communicator?" It's a terrific question for Tom, and he discusses not only writing influences, but touches on public speaking as well. Don't miss the Dan Pink technique at the end; it may feel excruciating in practice, but there's no denying the improvement gained.

For What It’s Worth …

I was asked to contribute (a very few words) to a family page offering words of wisdom to a graduating high school senior. That's a serious challenge—and I literally spent days on the task. Here, for better or for worse, is the result:

Rules For Living Life to the Hilt

Nothing will turn out the way you thought it would.

There is no bigger waste of time than making plans.

Any success you have will be the byproduct of having thrown yourself headlong and without reserve into what you were most passionate about—and then ridden the wave you created wherever and at whatever speed it carries you.

The greatest long term satisfaction comes from having behaved at all times with common decency.

(Above: School starts next week in New Zealand. A bit of holiday cricket on the sandy Tasman Sea beach in front of our cottage.)