Empowering Your Brand: From The Shades To Personable Sunshine

“The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect…”

—Neil Peart (writer and musician)

In all fairness, I didn’t read it. I only called the post out for the sake of comedic relief when others use popular, head-turning headline hooks. But then a Twitter follower asked me if I read the post in question, because it was actually tongue-and-cheek post about why recruiting is like Fifty Shades of Grey.

But I didn’t care, because I’ll never read that post, or listen to anything referencing the books’ premise metaphorically, or the actual novels themselves, nor will I ever see the movies. I chose to turn the page because what it represents to me and my sensibilities – equating abusive sexual power over women (and/or each other) to love, or at least to something that resembles mutual “like” and attraction.

You may like it and that’s fine. Enjoy. You may continue to leverage the marketing metaphor. By all means. Since the books were published and leading up to the release of the first movie on Valentine’s Day this year, relating the “shades” to HR and recruiting has been a marketing pastime.

Who am I to judge, since I’m now the one referencing the shades in this very article?

You may agree with me or not, but either way, I’m a vocal proponent of domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness. That is something I’ve been crystal clear about it, growing up in it. Plus, now that I have two young daughters, it’s even more acute to me – and I hope to you, too.

In fact, the next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about the following (according to statistics compiled by

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
  • 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

But that’s me. That’s part of my background, my now life, my persona, my personality, my personal brand, and what I choose to share about the sensitive subject includes being an advocate for awareness. That’s how I hope the world chooses to see me as well.

We are defined by where we stand and how we stand when it comes to our presence and our personality. That has never been truer than with online visibility. On the one hand it’s elevated the visibility of many more individuals across industries (while, some would argue, lowering the bar of quality and integrity).

We’re also under the microscope more than ever, and whatever we share online, stays online. Social media has forced more and more companies to use it as an early warning system to improve risk management, and for good measure, since there are plenty of missteps. Plus, every word we release online powers up the perpetual personality assessors – which are the rest of us.

And since the rest of us are judge and jury who can eviscerate and empower at a moment’s notice, wouldn’t you want to always power up that personable sunshine, the kind that drives long-term innovation and positive change? Wouldn’t you want the world to see how fascinating you are and how valuable you are to that same said world? Especially if you are innovative, passionate and positive?

If you do, understanding how the world sees you can help. There are plenty of personality assessments out there that tell you how you see the world. But how does the world see you? On the TalentCulture #TChat Show we talked about one such way via The Fascination Advantage, a “how the world sees you” assessment based on over two decades of communication research about how people and brands become more fascinating conducted by Kelton Research.

I took the personality assessment and found out that my primary advantage is “innovation,” my secondary advantage is “prestige,” and my archetype is “The Trendsetter,” which is a combination of the two.

What does it all mean? Well, it means that the world sees me as competitive and ambitious, that I’m able to influence direction with a fresh interpretation of market opportunities, that I’m a trailblazer who guides others in often-uncharted territories. I’m able to see opportunities where others see only threats and I implement change with determination.

Right on. I’ll take all these empowering words any day. Sally Hogshead, the creator of “The Fascination Advantage,” shared that, “When you find your more perfect words, that’s when you make a difference.” And because everybody has strengths, it’s the differences that matter and how we maximize our hopefully positive personas.

The differences – that’s how we power our personal brands. But unfortunately the carbon footprints we sometimes leave pollute our mindful presence and the very personal and professional relationships that are supposed to be the natural resources critical to thriving.

That’s why I recommend to live as inspirationally as possible and strive for more perfect words, and take ownership of your personality and your personal brand, online or off, to move from the shades to personable sunshine.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: Arise to a whole new world via photopin (license)

Uniting Business Vision & Brand (Or Not): #TChat Preview

Brand issues have been a hot button topic for us at The World of Work as of late. Employee brand has given way to employer brand — many companies find that their on-staff brand ambassadors have built huge personal brands and followings, but have failed to transfer that value to their employers. Personal branding has lost some of its shine, as pundits from the HR camp point out that personal brand cannot be allowed to trump employer brand when the force of an individual’s personal brand outweighs the messages and values of the company brand.

So, after a couple of years of tentative introduction, it’s time for brand humanization to take center stage as a new tool to link business vision and brand, with the goal of attracting and retaining talent.

This development leads us to this question: are talent acquisition/management and employer branding in conflict? While it’s been pointed out they have at least one common goal – making companies more successful by ensuring talent is attracted, brought on board, and retained – unless they are aligned at the executive, business-vision level, you might have a train wreck in progress.

I’ve been doing some social listening, and I’ve been encountering a lot of fingernails-on-a-chalkboard examples of train wrecks. Those conducting the trains must have the ability to steer effectively; at the same time, conductors must be made aware of the paths they are supposed to follow.  Effective communication between employee and employer could, in effect, stop a runaway train faster than a Westinghouse air brake.

I think there’s a lot of brand dissonance around. Consumer brands seem to navigate the shifts between business vision and talent management with more agility. This is due in part to their facility with the tools of social media and their willingness to experiment (and occasionally fail). More traditional businesses – manufacturing, tech, and what we used to call ‘industry’ – appear to have less nuanced approaches to uniting brand with business vision. While there are lots of social media companies, agencies and HR tech platforms which can solve for part of the problem, we haven’t seen a category-killer solution emerge to unite business vision, with its direct link to the bottom line, and brand, with its more tenuous and debated calculus.

So, in the time-honored tradition of #TChat World of Work, we’re going to ask you some questions about how, or if, it’s possible to unite brand and business leadership vision.

We’ll be discussing and debating the following questions:

Q1: How does business leadership’s vision translate into internal and external brand?

Q2: What’s the difference between employment branding and corporate branding? And should there be one?

Q3: Workplace culture drives employment branding. Why or why not?

Q4: Who owns employment branding, corporate branding, and the bridge between?

Q5: Does a company have to go green or donate shoes to Africa to have an attractive employment brand? Why or why not?

So wear your brand advocate hat, don your talent management spurs, and join us at #TChat Wednesday night, May 23 from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). Join myself, @MeghanMBiro, along with @socialmediasean@brentskinner@KevinWGrossman, and @SocialSalima.  We are also excited to be joined by our special guest moderator, @cyndytrivella.  Wherever you are, be sure to tune in!

We’ll dissect the relationships – and deltas – between business vision and brand, and with your help we’ll begin to chart a path where the two imperatives achieve synergy. Be there for the big words.  We’re looking forward to hearing all of your ideas on Wednesday!