Forget the Title, Just Build Something

Today we have a guest post from the very talented Mike Tekula, that man that inspired the post ‘Your Niche Is You’ from a few weeks ago.

On first read it may seem somewhat unrelated to self development, but I think there is an underlying message not dissimilar to the ‘Just do it’ approach beloved by so many people.

Before we get on to that I wanted to offer massive thanks to all of you that have offered encouragement and advice via the comments on ‘The Paleo Experiment’ and also via e-mail.

It seems that I may actually about to kick off a Primal rather than Paleo experiment, but in any case I’ll be ignoring the sensible advice to transition slowly into the process by hammering the carbs, sugar and wine this weekend. Expect me to be in a foul mood on Monday ;-)

I’ve just finished my August newsletter and that will be going out in the next few days, There’s another exclusive life coaching offer, information on Ask The Life Coach and a shiny new post on personal responsibility, so get yourself signed up by clicking here.

Forget the Title, Just Build Something

Have you spent time plotting your “personal brand?”

Before you answer, consider this: anything you’ve done with the intention of guiding the perceptions others have of you, online or elsewhere, fits the bill.

When you sit down and write a short bio for your Twitter account, you know it’ll be the first place many people get an impression of you. It’s a 160 character box you’ve got to fit yourself into.

So we resort to titles.

“Social Media Expert,” “SEO Specialist,” “Marketing Consultant,” “Entrepreneur,” “Writer,” “Life Coach”

This seems smart enough. It’s short-hand. It lets people know what we do without getting into wordy explanations.

It also makes us completely forgettable.

Pretentious titles are the new business attire

Online, nobody sees what we’re wearing. The dirty unspoken secret, of course, is that while we’re talking business and marketing, being clever and informed on Twitter, most of us are picking our noses, sitting around in our underpants and eating Mini Wheats from the box. (…just me?)

Titles are the cheap way to look important. They’re the poor man’s Valentino.

The goal is to send a positive message about ourselves. “I’m an authority.” “I’m knowledgeable.” “I do good stuff.” “Hire me.”

Except, it’s the opposite of a message. It’s nothing. A whimper, at best.

Because when we recognize a title, we bring previous associations to bear on it. We know other “SEO Experts” – so this new girl identifying herself as such? She goes in the box with the rest of them. Identified, sorted and put away.

You can’t build a reputation on talk

People know who John T. Unger is because he builds remarkable stuff.

Consider the title this artist, creator of artisan fire bowls and once famed designer of spanking paddles made from recycled tires (no joke) gave himself: “Impossibility Remediation Specialist.”

Heard that one before?

As John explains it: “If it can’t be done, I’m on it.

It’s a joke, mostly. It has little to do with how John pays his bills. John doesn’t need a title for that. So in this play, he’s reminding us how little titles actually mean.

See, John didn’t build a reputation by worrying about his reputation. He didn’t “personal brand” his way to having a personal brand.

He built things that he found interesting, built them in his own way and had the spine to stay away from the middle ground in the process.

The only identity worth having is based in action

How you see yourself only makes its way into other people’s minds when it translates to action.

For a long time, I labeled myself as a writer when I wasn’t writing. Why? Because I was “good with words,” I’d written in the past and I felt I’d probably write again at some point.

But in the mean time, calling myself a writer in my online bios wasn’t worth a damn. I doubt anyone gave it a thought – I wouldn’t have. It was a meager expression of an identity I wanted but wasn’t willing to work for.

“Everybody wants the big time. They just don’t want to work for it.” – Capt. Phil Harris

People aren’t too impressed with what you say about yourself. In fact, the people talking louder about themselves, we learn, are often the ones least worth our attention.

What others say about you is much more telling.

Until you get into the habit of acting on something, anything, that inspires you, chances are people won’t say much about you at all.

That may be fine with you. Reputation isn’t everything. To some, it’s absolutely nothing.

But if you’re hoping to build and leverage your own authority, to grow your business, earn a living or some other end, reputation means something to you.

Mike Tekula runs Unstuck Digital a business and helps small businesses online. He’s a great guy that I highly recommend and you can also follow him on Twitte