Human branding Self branding

Personal Branding Series | Interview with Mangal D Karnad | Co-Founder FableSquare. Marketeer, Writer, Personal Branding Expert

Mangal has had a varied professional journey and her ability to reinvent is what struck me as inspirational. From sales and marketing to starting out as an entrepreneur, as a communication professional and as a writer, she has charted a path very few women leaders have. Her father was her inspiration and she leads with her heart in every action she does. Watch the YouTube video interview and read the complete interview below. Look up more such stories on my YouTube channel and on LinkedIn.


  1. What according to you is personal branding?

I was born and raised in a small town called Mulki, near Mangalore (India) and had a secure childhood. My father helped people – giving them letters of introduction, funding the college education of others. People loved him for his kindness and generosity. People recognized me as the ‘daughter’ of the man who helped them. When we create value for others or help others, our credibility builds and so does our reputation. Personal brand is the image of what people have of you in their minds. It is uniquely you and a combination of skills and reputation you carry.

2. Do you consider yourself a personal brand? How do you know it?

I am known to deliver on promises I make. I don’t let people down. I am careful of other peoples’ reputations. Known in my network as Network Mangal and had a network much before I got where I am.

3. What does one do to go about building a personal brand?

There are two elements – a deliberate effort and being consistent.  I changed my career twice in 30 years. I worked in the public sector, at NGEF and did not have a CV when I quit. When I hunted for jobs, I heard remarks that I was too old to start working in the software industry and the tag of ‘public sector employee’ being laid back stuck. When I started working again, I had to rebuild my skills. When I quit my profession and started as an entrepreneur, the skills I needed were different.

The 2nd aspect is to know your target audience. Creating messages and doing so consistently helps. Unlike the touted method of ‘speaking at a TEDx event’. or to ‘become an author’ is a template. Instead, I chose to live by my values.

4. What are the attributes of a personal brand? And what do people associate your brand with?

Of being a good communicator, public speaker, and blogger. Delivering on promises made. Being a stickler for time, I am known to reach early for whatever the occasion. It is not about being a superhuman – when I say I will do it, I make sure it is done.

5. Based on your observations and learning who according to you is a personal brand? What characteristics do you admire about them?

My all-time favourite is Steve one point he was a bigger brand than Apple. The other is Mahatma Gandhi – to the extent the garment he wore to showed solidarity with the Indian common man.

Another person is Saalumarada Thimmakka, who is known for her Banyan trees. She didn’t have children, but she planted 385 banyan trees, near Kadur in Karnataka and nurtured them. She did not do it for fame.  Dr. Kiran Bedi is another personal brand and so is Bharat Goenka a Padma Shri recipient.

6. What steps did you take to build your brand? How do you know it is working?

While I worked at Tally and made the decision to go from being a professional to an entrepreneur, I had to build a network. I was systematic about approaching people. Business came my way due to my reputation I had built over the years as a professional.

You know your personal brand is working, when you are invited to speak at events on a subject where you are an authority. Or when people reach out to you for advice/mentoring, that’s another indicator.

7. What challenges did you face while building a personal brand? What techniques did you use?

There are the biases about working in the public sector. When I started working in the private sector, I  had to fight that. I had to learn new skills from scratch. I had to learn from people half my age. The phase included lots of learning. Fortunately, for me people were nice and helpful.  It was about rebranding. Every time you reinvent, you need to reskill yourself.

8. What did you gain in the process? What did you lose?

I gained credibility, customers, financial independence, confidence, ability to build and run a business. Instead of using the word ‘lost’ I would have built my network earlier. I am an accidental entrepreneur.  I am a person who speaks my mind and I may have become unfavorable. It is a trait – you cannot please everyone. Rather be yourself.

9. How can someone starting from scratch build a personal brand? What is the first step he or she must take?

We already are a brand, think of the image people have of you. It’s our reputation, who we are and what we stand for. When we create value for others or help others, our credibility builds and so does our reputation. Our personal brand is built. Character is the tree; reputation is the shadow.

Know your values and unique skills. When you create meaningful content that is useful to others. It’s a long haul and it is a process.

Here in India, people do business with whom they trust. Establishing the credibility and reputation of the business owner is essential.

10. If you had the opportunity to change something about the way you built your personal brand, what would that be?

Probably writing and speaking more.

11. What is your recipe for personal branding success?

Be yourself, be authentic. Because which is not authentic will come undone. People will see through it.

12. Who according to you are personal brands whom others can follow and learn from?

Devdutt Patnaik for his management principles on the Indian ethos and mythology.  Shoaib Ahmed, a technology evangelist and Harish Bijoor, the brand expert are two others.

13. With COVID19 and other crises what steps can personal brands take?

How normal is normal is going to be? However, nothing to be done differently.

Be yourself. Continue to do what you were doing, instead of doing it in person, do it digitally. If things are not happening, pick the phone.  Get on Zoom or Skype if needed. Be kind. Be safe.

14. Final thoughts on people who are considered past their prime and want to build a personal brand?

It is never too late.  I started my company at 51. Honestly, each of us has a brand already.

Figure it out. Who will benefit from your skills and capabilities? What is the one word that comes to their minds when they think of you? People remember you for how you add value.

Liked this interview? Please do share your feedback and comments.

Keen to get ahead with your personal brand? Here are some resources:

Missed the earlier episodes? Read the interviews with Muqbil Ahmar, Tinu Cherian Abraham, Joseph Fernandez, Christina Daniels, Karthik Srinivasan, Gautam Ghosh, Alexander Michael Gittens, Mubeen Azeez and Itzik Amiel online and share your thoughts.

Keen to join this Series and share your thoughts on Personal Branding? Write to me at [email protected]

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and follow me on Medium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *