21 May 2019

Be Your Own Superhero: Building a Personal Brand

Kaplan Mobray may be the liveliest speaker you’ll ever encounter. Yesterday, he entertained registrants at the Lunch and Learn session by playing the saxophone, wearing a Spider-Man mask, and taking numerous selfies with the audience.

But it was more than entertainment. Mr. Mobray’s sole goal was for registrants to leave the room “better,” through an interactive session on “The 10Ks of Personal Branding.”

“Today, as we think about the amazing things you’re doing in your career, the most important piece of intellectual property you can protect is your brand. We focus on protecting brands from trademark infringement and counterfeiting, but what about your brand?” he said.

As part of his presentation, he asked registrants to take out blank name tags and write down something that defines who they are, rather than their name. “Investigator,” “valuable,” and “slayer of infringers” came the answers.

“The reality is that when people need you, they need that thing that defines you, well before they need your name,” said Mr. Mobray. “People are going to make a split-second decision about you, based on something they can quickly identify.”

“Knowing yourself” is the first K of Personal Branding. “We should always know what we do that makes us indispensable. When you try to grow your career or leverage an opportunity, there’s something you have to be known for,” he said.

The second K—“know what you want to be known for’”—is when the Spider-Man mask came into play. Mr. Mobray put the superhero mask on and roved around the room, asking the audience what their superhero names would be. This time, responses ranged from “strategy man” to “the blaster master,” who destroys the opposition.

“If you don’t tell people what to look for in your work, your effort, your expertise, and the outcome, how will they see it?” he asked.

Your personal brand is everything, said Mr. Mobray, but it’s something that needs to be managed and protected, just like your cases. “The reality is you will be known by your impact, not just your role,” he added.

Know your superpowers, know what you bring to the table, and know how you save the day, he told registrants.

“If people don’t have a narrative associated with you, you just become [another] trademark lawyer,” Mr. Mobray warned.

This was swiftly followed by the speaker’s request for the audience to take a picture of themselves and show the photo to others.

“Would you hire that face? How you show up and interact with someone creates a snapshot in their mind. There’s an impression that will be formulated based on your face at rest. It will create an impression in your life that shapes your brand,” he told registrants, referencing the third K: “know how to be consistent.”

“We should always know the narrative that is swirling around us,” he said, before asking audience members what would be “the most consistent thing said about you when you’re not in the room.” (This reporter responded with “When is she coming back?”.)

If someone doesn’t have a narrative to associate with you, they’re likely to move on to someone else, warned Mr. Mobray.

Fourth, you need to know how to accept failure. Don’t just tell people what you’re good at, tell them what you’ve learned, he said.

“If you don’t know how to talk about yourself, you could be dismissed,” according to Mr. Mobray, citing the fifth K—“know how to communicate your brand attributes.”

“You can communicate that you’re fun, but someone needs to know that you’re a fierce attorney.”

Creating Your Opportunities

“What is something that people don’t expect to get from you, but because they get it from you, they trust you more?” asked Mr Mobray.

“When you’re on vacation, you come back [to your hotel room] and there are roses on your bed and your towels are folded like a swan. It’s an unexpected benefit. But the point is, when you get an unexpected benefit you look for more value in the experience—the towels are fluffier and the pillows are softer,” he said.

Previously a banker and musician, Mr. Mobray works across the world. He wanted to bring his saxophone with him to speeches, and now he’s known as “that guy.”

The seventh K is to “know and master the art of connection.” Leading the audience in a word association game matching products with brands, Mr. Mobray said: “The products you mentioned are the ones you know are good. If you don’t manage your brand, you can be the brand of no recall.”

And “know silence is not an option” (the eighth K)—if someone can’t recall you because you’re silent, you won’t get invited back to the meeting.

“Whether you’re an introvert or not, your presence should be known,” he said. You should ask yourself three questions before a meeting: Why am I here? What will I contribute? What will they say when I leave the room?

The final Ks of personal branding are “know your expectations not your limitations,” and “know your why.”

“You have to tell people what to expect from you,” Mr. Mobray said. “Why do you do what you do? This shapes how you show up.”

He concluded: “My personal brand is the Inspire Man. I want to inspire you to be better and give you something to do that makes you better when you leave.”

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