Ronda Rousey is the first and current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, as well as the last Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion. She is undefeated in mixed martial arts.
Ronda Rousey, the reigning women’s bantamweight champion in mixed martial arts, defeats most opponents in 34 seconds or less.
This incredibly concise and powerful effectiveness comes from hours of training.
Outside the ring, Rousey’s personal branding has landed her roles in movies in the Fast and Furious and the Expendables franchises, and she is a frequent guest on talk shows. She’s famous for her fearless gaze, and for quick-witted trash-talking with the likes of Floyd Mayweather.
Yet, as a child, she was “painfully shy” and needed speech therapy.
It took an equal amount of dedication and training to craft her personal brand. She mentioned in an interview on NPR:
“I was painfully shy for a long time,” she says. “I mean, that’s something I really had to work my way out of. And I really think it was because, after the 2008 Olympics, I spent a whole year bartending. It was the one thing that really forced me to be just not so scared to start conversations with strangers.”
She recounts how she decided to create a “superhero version of myself” to go into stressful situations.
Was this arrogant? Was this dishonest?
Not when you can back it up with a thirty-four second takedown.
It’s simply crafting the communication to match the “product.”
We only work with clients that have a great product or service. But in many cases, the quality of their product is just not reflected in the quality of their communication.
Hence, our work with personal branding.
“Any Representation Is a Distortion”
Pablo Picasso, 1905, Au Lapin Agile, Metropolitan Museum of Art
There is a story about a man who ended up sitting next to the great artist Pablo Picasso in the first class cabin of a train in Spain. (Paraphrased from Seth Rodin’s excellent book Linchpin.)
The man collected his courage and asked him, “Señor Picasso, you are great artist, and yet your art, like all modern art, is so screwed up! Why don’t you paint reality instead of distortions?”
Picasso asked the man, “What do you think reality looks like?”
The man pulled a photograph of his wife out of his wallet.
“Here, like this. This is what my wife looks like.”
Picasso takes the photograph in his hand, looks at it and grins. “Really? She is very small. And flat, too!”
Creating a Representation that Fits in the Frame
Whether or not you enjoy modern art (I’m not a fan, personally) you have to admit that Picasso had a point. The man on the train couldn’t possibly fit his wife into his wallet. So, while “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is a nice ideal, it doesn’t always fit into the constraints that situations thrust upon us. So a photograph is a nice “shorthand” that reminds the man of his wife and gives him a symbol to think about and to communicate about her.
So, personal branding, like any great art, is simply communicating an idea in the most effective possible way, given the frame you have.
When you have four hours on a Saturday afternoon, a disjointed recounting of a story is fine.
When you have seven seconds, fifteen, or thirty-four, as Ronda Rousy often has; you need to be a lot more deliberate and you had better have done your homework.
Richard Branson has a following of 2 million plus Facebook followers, 8 million plus LinkedIn followers, and thousands of subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Because he (and his team) are very good at communicating powerful ideas using these media.
Each of his messages is a representation of his brand within the limitations of the “frame.”
Elon Musk conveys his coolest ideas (and gets feedback on them, – comments with praise, criticism and some very technical extensions of his ideas) on the Tesla Motors blog.
(The use of the name “Tesla” and connection with the groundbreaking and controversial scientist Nikola Tesla is another stroke of brilliance that adds to Musk’s personal brand.)
Each blog entry is a representation of Musk’s (and Tesla’s) brand within the limitations of that “frame.”
Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners (and famously in aviation, MD Helicopters) is unmistakable in large, well-staged trade show appearances.
There was no other booth at NBAA’s Annual Convention last year boasting purple carpet.
And none that left so little doubt as to who is in charge.
Her use of the physical space was a representation of Tilton’s brand within the trade show “frame.”
An older example –An article on Herb Kelleher in Fortune Magazine, “Still Crazy after All These Years” featured stories about the legendary Southwest Airlines owner emeritus.
The article featured a photo of Kelleher in his Dallas office in a cowboy hat, drinking Wild Turkey.
Kelleher’s decisions to “be real” is actually to substitute the carefully polished corporate image expected of airline executives for an equally carefully crafted image of a renegade who does things his own way.
How Can You Be a Rock Star?
There is a method. And it can be taught.
We always begin with an assessment. We can’t possibly give good advice until we evaluate what your objectives are, what’s going well for you, and what isn’t serving you as well as it could, or should!