Superheroes, a call to arms.

October 23, 2009 § 4 Comments

“Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red ‘S’? That’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. THOSE are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume.” ~Quentin Tarantino

I love that because I believe that we all have something authentic to offer, something that makes us special, something that can make us a beacon to others if we would just let that light shine for all to see. However we don’t always trust that talent, that passion, that superpower – we hide it behind a job title, we bury it underneath professional conformity. We’re taught to fit in, not stand out, but branding is about standing out.  Branding requires the risk of being noticed, especially when it comes to personal branding. If you’re not noticed then your brand never has that seed from which to grow. You may be awesome, heck I’ll even go out on a not-so-skinny limb and say that you are awesome, but if we don’t know you and don’t know you for your awesomeness, well then we can’t help you and sadly we’re not going to give you the opportunity to help us.

My ambition, my purpose, my superpower if you will, is to help others to identify their difference, to give their powers a name – to accept the mantle of their inner superhero. Yes, I’ve got a soft spot for the mavericks who were born on Krypton, but there are plenty of Earth-born humans who are mutating, who took the super-soldier serum, who’ve been
bitten by radioactive spiders and feel that light burning inside. I see them all around me. I meet them every day, but they haven’t all yet come to recognize their powers or to trust them.

Kryptonite! Poisonous vapor of doubt. Kryptonite! Energy-sapping force of the dont-make wave (believed to emanate from meteorites made during the explosion of planet Me-Too). Admit it, it’s not easy to give yourself permission to stop being a face in the crowd. The life of a superhero can be super-risky, even super-embarrassing.

Have you ever worn a cape? It’s a tough look to pull off. Even Clark Kent can’t work that look because it clashes with the briefcase – it is not part of the costume, but when you dare to shrug off the Clark Kent disguise and reveal your authentic super self that’s when the cape fits – it’s not a costume it is a part of who your are. That’s when you’ll pick the color of that cape, stock your utility belt, build your secret lair… and name your powers.

“Look! Up in the sky… It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s you!”  Super.


§ 4 Responses to Superheroes, a call to arms.

  • A cape? No. And certainly not tights! But many other costumes, especially at this time of this month.

    In the end, though, I’ve come to understand that my energy, enthusiasm, and directness are core qualities that can be perceived positively or negatively. And, of course, you know this about me based on our long history of collaboration.

    The words of Chris Brogan are ringing in my ears, including “authenticity.” Or Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

    • davidscohen says:

      Yes, getting close to 40 years now! I’ve always admired your ability to stay confident in yourself, regardless of the circumstances. Not everybody feels comfortable doing that, but I firmly believe that staying true and authentic are essential to developing a successful personal brand. And I don’t measure personal branding success by the number of Twitter followers a person has, I think the measure is the degree to which you save time because you are finding it easier to interact with people who value and care about what you offer, and likewise because those people are finding it easier to find you when they are in need of someone with your particular superpower.

  • Randy says:

    Great Post! I too will not be found in tights or a cape (and if you find photo or video evidence to the contrary — it’s not me! :-)

    This post really made me think.

    Perhaps age has helped me (I have forgotten about 40 it was long enough ago). Ihave found that I’m now willing to “brand” myself in terms of having a specific image and set of qualities (personal & business). Superman, for instance, is strong, fast and can fly. But he doesn’t shape-shift or shoot spider webs from his wrists. And he doesn’t seem to be bothered that not having these other “superpowers” limits him in any way.

    For me, it used to feel like having a too-clear identity was “limiting” in some way. Perhaps it was. But I really think being well-defined requires taking a few risks but then you are better equipped to use those superpowers that you do truly possess.

    • davidscohen says:

      I think the “limiting” can actually be a source of great opportunity. Limits help define context, and therefore can help you to determine which communities are more likely to care about what you have to offer. It can be very clarifying and that accelerates communication – it doesn’t take long for anyone to figure out that Aquaman is going to do his best work underwater. Likewise, limiting can change your vision: help you focus your efforts, help you prioritize, help you to see that a competitor may really be a partner in disguise.

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