Personal branding initially sounds like something you need to be doing – that is, until you remember who really owns a brand.

You do not own it. Everyone else does, and it exists only in their minds.

The only effective and lasting way to differentiate yourself is to act with consistent integrity.

Forever. Until you die.

Don’t worry: long before your expiration date, you’ll have created something far more valuable than a personal brand. You will have earned a reputation.

And, unlike your cultivated personal brand, which only exists in everyone else’s minds, a reputation is tangible. It will speak for itself and have no need for positioning, packaging or embellishment. That’s a good thing because branding requires spending a lot of time, energy and resources doing those aforementioned things.

I’ve earned my reputation. I own it. To me, that trumps renting space in other people’s minds and spending the days sweeping the floors.

So sayeth the StickMonkey.

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