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Friday, January 07, 2005


We Are Not a Product

I find myself caught in a bit of dilemma. As a career coach growing his practice (while at the same time looking for new work within a company in organizational development), I have tried to follow the ideas behind The Brand Called You. It's about marketing all that is distinctive and noteworthy about ourselves. It's a way of getting ourselves out there, attracting possible clients and employers to us using many of the same ideas that companies use to sell their products.

Here's the problem: We are not PRODUCTS. We have allowed the commercial and the economic to infiltrate even how we view ourselves. We might think we control the identity of our brand, but that's unrealistic. When viewed in this light, the true valuators of our brand lie outside of us. No matter how much the folks at Coke try to build and rebuild their brand, it's the consumer who determines whether it has any worth. And by allowing others to view us as a brand, we give them the same power to determine our worth. In the end, we become more about projecting an image and less about living and working toward our true purpose. In The Answer to How is Yes, Peter Block writes:
We become products measured by market value. And soon our relationships, our dreams, and even deepest insights become a means to an end.
Okay, so what's the alternative? This is where I admit that I am still working on new ideas. Here's what I do know: it must include a commitment to pondering meaningful questions, engaging in self-awareness, and slowing down from the hectic pace the U.S. culture demands. These three actions are not easily or quickly rewarded, but I believe the results will be far more enduring.

Categories: c.Books; c.Careers

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