Itzik Amiel is a global authority on networking, a sought-after speaker and author of The Switch. I had the opportunity to listen to his energizing keynote address at the 2018 IABC EuroComm conference at Copehagen, Denmark where I also spoke on internal communications. Itzik brings a personal touch to his engagements and is a great example of a personal brand who has reinvented himself over the years. Always looking to give back to his network, he knows how to build strong relationships and deep connections. Look up his website (itzikamiel.com) and his bestselling book (www.attentionswitch.com) to learn more about his work. Watch the YouTube video interview and read the complete interview below. Look up more such stories on my YouTube channel and on LinkedIn.
- What according to you is personal branding?
Many people think it is for celebrities such as Shahrukh Khan or Priyanka Chopra. They think that people who are personal brands have lakhs of followers. Even if you have just 20 followers can also have a personal brand. Being an influencer doesn’t mean you are a personal brand. Each one of us has a personal brand. We are born with it and have it for years. We should ask the question – ‘How can I control it?’ When I talk of personal brand, the quote by Jess Bezos comes to my mind. It says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Do you let your personal brand happen or do you control it? If you ignore your personal brand, it will disturb your career path. Clean up your act and shape it.
- Do you consider yourself a personal brand?
Yes, I see myself. The personal brand is ME. My character is the core of my personal branding circle. Character is the values, beliefs, think, say and do what you do. Around the character is what they see of you. If we ignore it our personal reputation gets impacted. Personal branding is about reputation management. What people think and see about you is what makes up your personal brand. You need to control the circle of influence.
2. How do you know it?
Since I was in the teaching business and network, I am aware of how people perceive each other. What is said behind your back is what your personal brand is. Don’t measure it by ‘likes’. So many people are not on social media, they have not had the time to go there. Good comments on social media doesn’t mean you are a personal brand. There are actions they don’t share online which count. It is the letters, the phone calls and feedback which says ‘you changed my son’s life’ that matter. These private moments are important and justify your actions. If you have a gift, you are selfish if you don’t share. I made my money as a lawyer and now my goal is to help people achieve success by giving other tools and resources.
3. What does one do to go about building a personal brand?
I teach personal branding as a course. The first step and the hardest one is Discovery. It is about figuring out what to do the rest of your life. The rest of life you can be using various tools – talking, writing, creating videos and audio. It took me 20 years to get where I am, and it began by setting goals.Think about your personal branding statement – who you are and what you stand for. The unique combinations of your strengths, passions, gifts, and purpose all create your personal brand. You need to define and design your personal brand. As Mark Twain said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.” Objectively consider your strengths – what do you most enjoying doing? What clients do u like working for? Where you are now and do you know where to go next? Every additional skills professional you can acquire, will help you in your journey. Do you know people in your network and ask – what can I do to nurture my network? Consider your passion, the 2nd step. Why did you decide to do be a lawyer? Very small amount of people know that I am one. Consider – what industry are you drawn to? What do you want to change in the world? Every person can change the world. What issues upset and excite you? Need the passion to commit to the brand. Think of hobbies and communities aligned with your passion. The 3rd step is to identify which factors that make you unique. It is ethics, personality, ambition, region, careers or other factors. There is no one like you! The 4th step is to know the marketplace. Where is the economy ended? There is no point being a life guard in the Sahara Desert! The world is a big village. Who you are, what you do and how you do it is all about alignment.
4. What are the attributes of a personal brand? And what do people associate your brand with?
What people remember about you may not be what you think. People think of me as an energetic leader, speaker and motivator. They gather this knowledge from interactions and what they hear. What is it mean? I am known for collaboration; connection and it is a natural gift. I wrote about The Attention Switch. You may know the story of the terror attack and that I survived due to a hug from my wife. You need to be authentic in your engagement. Be Real. How you do repeat this? I didn’t eat something different. It is the behaviors that I can repeat and teach. It is not that I can teach someone about pottery. Formula is to do it repeatedly. In the right order, and consistently from the bottom of your heart. You can’t be there all the time and therefore when you give attention, it needs to be complete and compliments your effort.
5. Based on your observations and learning who according to you is a personal brand? What characteristics do you admire about them?
Every person is a personal brand. I admired my mother for her ability to manage the family and take care of us. Jack Welch is another personal brand who talked sincerely and candidly. He built authority through his work.
Anton Corbin is an authority in photography of rock and roll bands. I am sure not many people know him. We all know Madonna. I am not famous, but I am known to the right people. In a niche industry, if you are connected to the wealthy families, you get known. Influencers are under the illusion that personal branding is about gaining attention. It is about giving attention. Don’t look for people are famous. Instead find those diamonds when they are rough.
6. What steps did you take to build your brand? How do you know it is working?
It is about resetting yourself. As a lawyer I had established my credentials. However, when I shifted to be a speaker it wasn’t easy. People forget that I was lawyer and I had some connections. However, I had to start afresh. I wanted people to know the frustrations. When you do well, what comes to mind? Don’t try to look for a bridge; between where you are and where you want to go. Between being a lawyer and cheese cake maker, you need to find yourself by identifying the fearing holding you back. How will u make money is one of the concerns people have on the back of their minds. Don’t worry about that – money will follow you once you are known. When you do well, don’t forgot your beginnings and the struggles that helped you get this far.
7. What did you gain or lose along the journey?
There are times when you need to sacrifice family life. However, if you are aware, it is fine. Are you married? Why would your family tolerate when you travel 68 countries? People seek fulfilment. The value is so high that I feel like a messenger. When you share the message by yourself, it is fulfilling. Other people make you feel like giving more. My advice is not to live in obscurity. Don’t live in obscurity. When I get amazing letters from people whose lives I have touched and impacted, it is like a drug for the soul. It is not the money but the relationship capital that matters.
8. How can someone starting from scratch build a personal brand? What is the first step he or she must take?
First step is to go figure out the branding statement. What do you want to do for the rest of your life? It is not a business, it is you. if you don’t shape it, others will. When you wake up and you want to shape it, you must correct. You can’t lie or cheat doing this. If you start it from the beginning – think of your lifetime and the personal and professional levels. Before most people get married in India, they check the background of the person they plan to marry by asking their friends and families. What is that they say behind your back is what can make or mar your life. They will never tell you and will never be able to find out. You need to have something valuable to give, like a pill. You can’t be pushy or salesy. It will take you time. It took me 20 years to get here.
9. If you had the opportunity to change something about the way you built your personal brand, what would that be?
Being am ambitious guy with a big heart, I always look at the glass half empty and ask what I can do. My wife reminds me to look at the glass half full. This can change my character. I wanted to succeed early in my career, wanted to be relaxed and help more people. The longer it takes, people want to get there faster. You need to make them part of the mission. People get frustrated in their lives because they don’t waste time. I want to help those who get frustrated.
10. What is your recipe for personal branding success?
Be yourself. If you don’t know who you are, it will be tough. Discover yourself. It is the best rewarding journey. We are all afraid of the unknown. Watch The Coach starring Samuel Jackson and find the inner light. Gift and shine it. Life is about discovering yourself. Work on yourself. Accept how you are born. Don’t put yourself down.
11. With COVID19 and other crises what steps can personal brands take?
Three things happen every time in a crisis, be it local or global. A) Brand recognition is higher – use all kinds of media to reach out: video, marketing, blog etc., These are evergreen. B) Build warm relationships. Ask 5 people each day, how they are you and ask it sincerely not to get mindshare. C) think of people based on their agenda – their need and aspirations.
It is more about being a generalist. Be available. Help others, the more you help others, the more they remember you.
Liked this interview? Please do share your feedback and comments.
Keen to get ahead with your personal brand? Here are some resources:
- Take a FREE assessment on personal branding.
- Refer to the 3C model on Personal Branding
- Sign up for a 60-minute personalized chat on personal branding
- Personal branding for corporate communicators
Missed the earlier episodes? Read the interviews with Muqbil Ahmar, Tinu Cherian Abraham, Joseph Fernandez, Christina Daniels, Karthik Srinivasan, Gautam Ghosh, Alexander Michael Gittens and Mubeen Azeez online and share your thoughts.
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