Whenever we talk about a personal “brand,” a significant part of that conversation is about perception. What do people think of when they think of you? I encountered two friends the other day in New York that illustrate the idea very well. Both are terrific vocal coaches – in fact they were business partners early in their career. But for whatever reason, a number of years ago they decided to
split up and go their separate ways. They were both very talented and stayed friends.
As I mentioned, they both were extremely good vocal coaches, and had each worked with numerous stars in the industry, helping train their voices for their latest CD, Broadway musical, or rock show. But when they went different ways, something interesting happened.
One had a really good understanding of his talent, so he rightly knew that because of his reputation, students would start coming. So he set up his studio and waited.
But while the other also understood his talent, he was much more proactive about his career. He started networking in the industry. He would attend music conferences, go to parties, movie screenings, and other events where music industry people attended. It was difficult – especially with his student schedule – but he really “worked the room.” He decided that he needed to continually fashion his perception as a remarkable vocal coach.
Now, a number of years since their separation, they couldn’t be more different. The first is struggling, living in a rented apartment, trying to do extra jobs to make ends meet, and having a really tough time. But the other partner is at the top of his game. He’s busy, has enough clients to turn some away, and has the opportunity to work with the best recording artists in the business.
So what’s the difference? Both are incredibly talented. Both are great guys. Both are still friends. How did their careers take such different paths?
Because of perception. While one just sat there and allowed others to create their perception (or brand story) about who he was, the second, created his own story. He knew that if he didn’t help create his own perception, he would spend the rest of his career at the mercy of others who would.
In the competitive world we live in today, talent is never enough. It’s up to you to create the story that surrounds you. Be the very best you can be, but those that realize success today, take that extra step of understanding the importance of perception.
Because in a media driven culture, it’s not just who you are, but how you’re perceived that matters.