What You Can Learn from Microsoft


Today I was reading an article about Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.  *Update: he left the position in 2014.  While he tripled both revenue and profit after he took over, his stock didn’t really budge.

One interesting point a hedge fund manager made is that Ballmer himself is the problem.  It’s almost like he does a great job, but no one can see it because they’re distracted by his poor personal branding.

Are you like Steve Balmer?  Have you been busy creating a business you care deeply about, but you’ve neglected to 1) define who you personally are and 2) plan how you can show who you are to others in a way that can’t be misunderstood?

If you’ve seen the “monkey boy” video of a Microsoft employee dancing around, you’ve seen Ballmer.  Now, a person can dance around on stage and make that part of his positive branding, but in Ballmer’s case, no branding campaign ever was considered, as far as one can tell.  So, other people have had a heyday defining him and making fun of him, whereas the video could have strengthened his personal branding in a positive way.

Don’t let that happen to you!

In case you haven’t gotten into personal branding much, it’s basically like branding a product or company, but, instead, you’re defining yourself and making sure your “message” and “look” is always saying the one thing you decided you want people to think of when they think of you.

So, while Nike has people thinking “Just do it” (corporate branding), Barrack Obama has people thinking “Yes, we can” (personal branding).

It’s important to define who you are and how you project that in everything you do and say.  For instance, if you’re a small business owner who wants to get a loan, find your strong points and emphasize those to the bank both in person and in your business plan, documentation, etc.  Look the part and act the part. Be consistent.

The same is true if you’re looking for angel investors, partners, employees, etc.  Know who you are and show it in everything you say and do.

Lesson:  Don’t be a monkey boy unless that’s what you’re going for. If that’s what you’re going for, be consistent and emphasize what’s great about having a monkey boy head a company (fun environment, whatever). Make sure you’ve considered your personal branding and consistently represent yourself correctly.

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