Do you need a personal brand or is your personal voice enough?


I watched a fascinating video of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg interviewed at Stanford Graduate School of Business View From The Top talk on Thursday, May 25 2018. In the video (the relevant excerpt is below), she challenges the notion of humans having a “personal brand” and instead we need to craft our voice not her brand.

Sheryl says: “When you are selling a product you are trying to package it and explain it — I’m going to walk by on a shelf and I’m going to decide what to buy. that value proposition is packaged, explained clearly and simply is how I’m going to make that decision …

That’s what products need to be — they need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely.

People aren’t like that. If you are trying to package yourself, you’re almost certainly false.”

So should we worry about our personal brand or instead, our personal voice?

While I understand what Cheryl is trying to explain, I believe that unfortunately in the world today, when companies are looking to hire, the almost certainly want a neat package rather than a “voice”.

When you present yourself to the world online, whether it is on LinkedIn alone, or through a blog, speaking engagements, podcasts or any form of “thought leadership” then you are packaging yourself for “sale”.

Companies don’t always want your voice, they want your skills, and the way you present yourself — your packaging, your brand is an easier way for an organisation faced with many alternatives to choose one person over another.

I don’t think companies necessarily want their employees to have a “voice” at all.

I had an experience working for a company in London and I was offered an amazing opportunity to move to New York and run the global social media team for the same firm. There were just a few catches. I would be offered 2/3 of the salary I was on in the UK, would be given no relocation allowance and here was the kicker — had to stop my public speaking and my blogging.

This company did not want my “voice”. They did not even want my brand. They wanted to rent me as a “resource” to do a specific job.

I believe that no matter what Cheryl says, we are in fact renting our personal brand to an organisation for the period we are there, and you can read more about this in a previous post on the subject.

I’m a strong believer that having and maintaining a personal brand can help you stand out and get hired — watch my Personal Branding Masterclass below.

Where do you sit? Do you think a personal brand is important in this increasingly noisy world to stand out and get noticed, or as Cheryl argues, we should concentrate on our ‘voice”.

Tweet me your thoughts @AndrewGrill or leave a comment below.



Andrew Grill - The Actionable Futurist®

The Actionable Futurist®. Former Global Managing Partner @ IBM. Proud Dad. TEDx & International Keynote Speaker. Aussie in London.