You want authenticity? Here it is: I have been ill for more than two months — a cold turned to pneumonia and I am still wheezing and hacking. I have a toothache, an ear ache and a pinched nerve in my neck all at the same time. The unrelenting cold and snow this winter have worn me down. I am writing this in a crowded, noisy airport sitting through my seventh flight cancellation in two weeks.
In short, at this moment, I’m a bona fide man-bitch.
Within this period of chronic illness, the Content Shock post went viral. For more than two weeks, this one post became a career … something I never intended and of course could not plan for.
Although 95 percent of the resulting posts (more than 100) and comments (more than 1,000) were along the lines of “well done,” I also withstood my share of cheap shots.
I think in general I handled the situation well. But in at least one response my man bitchiness came through. I reached a boiling point mentally and physically and on one post I wrote a response that came across as impatient and unkind.
One fella wrote back “Kind of full of yourself, aren’t you?”
That hurt … but I deserved it.
Here’s the deal. Even though I was having a difficult week, I should not have said that. People do not really want “authenticity” (which means a reflection of a true situation). They want — and deserve by the way — constant patience and kindness even when we may be bursting at the seams on the other end of that Internet connection.
Wear your bitch mittens
Insulating your personal brand is different than not taking a stand on issues. I take stands on this blog almost every week. People may like it, people may not … that goes with the territory.
But with whatever I write, I want to connect to people in a professional, and hopefully uplifting way. I don’t always succeed, but that is the brand image I really aim for.
There is probably a camp who will say, “But it’s OK to have a bad day, Mark.”
No, it’s not. Not on the web.
I am a professional denizen of the Internet and how I show up means something. The Internet is forever and one slip-up can create an unintended viral disaster. We all know those stories.
Showing up as truly human and showing up as a person who people want to hire is a delicate dance, isn’t it?
I think that if I am trying to build a brand, I need to keep my daily bitchifications and dysfunctions where they belong … in the privacy of my home. I have issues. You have issues. We all have issues. But don’t be your own worst enemy by flying these as the flag of your personal brand if you are working professionally in this space to attract customers.
That’s right. I’m saying that you should not be authentic (gasp). It’s official. I am now kicked out of the Social Media Guru Club. About time, too. Who wants my secret de-coder ring?
Don’t become a meme.
Everything I do and everything I don’t do, everything I write and everything I don’t write, reflects on my personal brand … and the same is true for you and your company.
Be who you aspire to be. Be the person online who YOU would want to hire with total confidence. If you feel like shit, take a deep breath and pull out the bitch mittens before unloading in public.
Here is a good rule for a professional life on the web: “Be honest, be human, but be careful. And above all, never become a meme.”
Illustration courtesy we know memes