Does Creating a Personal “Brand” Really Help Your Career?

In the last few months, I’ve been reading and discussing a few different books. One is Chad Fowler’s “Passionate Programmer”. I’ve found his book to be extremely entertaining and in many ways have spoken to me at some level.

I have felt for some time that careers of those I meet (at least a high percentage) are simply “drifting where the current takes them” instead of having a specific purpose. As Chad puts it, they are not leading a career of “intention”. This is one of the first steps to understanding how to look at your career and manage it like a business (with YOU as the product). Intentionally create a brand. That brands sole purpose is to elevate YOU as it’s product.

The question I have posed to myself is, will creating a personal brand, complete with all the trappings of my own distinct personality really help my career move forward?

Well, that is a goal I have set out to test. I currently have a strong, sometimes overwhelming feeling that my career has stalled in some way. I work for a large enterprise leading development teams that write large enterprise-scale software systems. By my standard I am making a good living for myself and my family. I am staring at a good job working with great people. Is that enough?

So now I am taking the advice of Chad Fowler and asking myself – if I were running a company with ME as the product, would I be OK with the results I am getting? Or, would I want to push the envelope, take risks, and come out on the other side with a remarkable product and career? I am feeling compelled to make an honest effort at setting my career and character apart from peers. I would say I am taking a path that leads me to educate myself in every way I can and not rely on a typical approach. As James Bach says, the typical path will ultimately not help you distinguish yourself, but will only place you in a slightly smaller (yet still massive) sea of similar people with very little chance of differentiation.

Interestingly enough, when I pose these tough questions to myself using Fowler’s advice as a backdrop, I always have the same answer.

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