I recently stumbled across and reread Tom Peters’ seminal article, "The Brand Called You," which first appeared in Fast Company ten year ago. He argues, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
I realize that many of you are not in business, but most of you as applicants can and should apply Peters’ lessons to the application process. After all, you are trying to market yourselves to the schools.
Let’s examine three critical points in his article.
- "What makes You different?" You’re not just another bio major applying to med school, software developer applying to b-school, political junkie applying to law school. There is something about each and every one of you that will break you out of the stereotype, shatter the mold, and reveal your individuality. What is it? In Peters’ words, "What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?"
- "What’s the pitch for You?" How is that distinctive element going to benefit your class, the school, your chosen profession, or society? Quoting Peters, "What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? …Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression you’ve climbed in your career up to now. Burn that damnable ‘ladder’ and ask yourself: What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about?" If you want to increase that value, increase your visibility and impact by volunteering, taking on additional responsibility at work, or freelancing.
- "What’s the real power of You?" By "power" Peters means influence. When have you influenced others through your persuasiveness, leadership, charisma, or impressive contributions. That’s real influence. Real power.
As I reread Peters’ article one more time in writing this post, its wisdom strikes me all over again. Great piece.
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