Clarity Human branding Personal Branding

Personal Branding Series: Episode 26 | Karthik Nagendra PhD | Founder & CEO of ThoughtStarters Author, Marketing Consultant, Life Coach, Gender Diversity Champion, Professor

Karthik Nagendra is an award-winning marketing thought leader and the founder and CEO of ThoughtStarters. A certified life coach, Karthik is the author of “The Thought Leader Way” and a serial entrepreneur with close to two decades of experience across strategy, marketing, operations and HR. Karthik has been featured as a Top 10 Content Marketing Consultants in APAC & Japan by CMS Asia & among Top 30 Marketing Consultants in India by CEO Magazine. He serves on advisory panels of Harvard Business Review & LeanIn India’s HeforShe initiative.

“Ask yourself – why do you want to become a personal brand? Once you know your why, you need to have a clear road map, timeline and milestones to be achieved en-route to becoming a personal brand”, says Karthik.

In the 26th edition of Intraskope‘s Personal Branding Series, Karthik Nagendra talks of the virtues of planning, patience and practice and what it takes to stay on track. Learn more in this interview.

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?

Something that is considered the gold standard for.

2. Do you consider yourself a personal brand? If yes, how do you know it?

Yes, I do consider myself as a personal brand in the area of thought leadership. This is substantiated with the papers/articles I have published on this topic in leading publications, the awards I have won, the speaking engagements & teaching engagements I have been involved in this space at ivy league universities globally and finally the book I am publishing on this topic this year. All these put together position me as a personal brand.

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

Ask yourself – why do you want to become a personal brand? Once you know your why, you need to have a clear road map, timeline and milestones to be achieved en-route to becoming a personal brand

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

Attributes of a personal brand are authority, uniqueness and consistency. These are attributes that people associate me with – expert in the field of thought leadership marketing, a unique proposition that’s gaining ground in India and my consistent presentation of point of view on this topic over the years.

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

Personally, for me there are two people I consider as personal brands Madan Padaki- Co founder & CEO of 1Bridge & Jessie Paul- CEO of Paul Writers. Both have visionary thinking, have a unique point of view, are consistent in showcasing their expertise and have been duly recognized across industry and other forums for their thought leadership.

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

I had a clear goal- ABCD by 2020. A- to be awarded for my expertise in the space of thought leadership marketing. B- write a book on the topic of thought leadership marketing. C- design curriculum on this topic which can be taught to MBA grads and D- get my doctorate in this area. And I can humbly acknowledge that I have successfully achieved this by 2020 which is a testimony to the fact that I have been successful in building my brand around thought leadership marketing.

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

One of the challenges faced was to be consistent till you start seeing results. It does take a long time to achieve that and one shouldn’t give up mid-way. One way I ensured I was on top of it was periodically reviewing my brand plan with my mentor, making the necessary course corrections and continuing the journey.

8. During the process of building your own brand, what did you gain in the process? What did you lose?

During this process, I gained a lot of subject matter expertise, some wonderful network of connects and an opportunity to push my limits. What I lost would probably the slight hesitation I had initially of thinking if I was blowing my trumpet too much!

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

The first step is to ask yourself why you want to build a personal brand and do you have the patience to consistently take the necessary steps towards that goal.

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

I think I would have probably wanted to start the process earlier than I did

11. What is your recipe for personal branding success?

Who you are + What you do consistently with focus = Your Personal Brand

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

I think it would be Madan Padaki & Jessie Paul.

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

In the current pandemic situation, personal brands can extend a helping hand to see how their expertise or networks can help others overcome challenges they may be facing.

14. What’s your advice for youngsters (Gen Z and others) who want to consider their personal brands?

My advice would be that it pays to build your personal brand. But you got to be patient while on this journey till you see the desired results.

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, Itzik Amiel, Mangal D Karnad, Abhijit Bhaduri, Sandeep K Krishnan PhD, Scott Shirai, Sunil Robert, Latha Vijaybaskar PhD, Abha Maryada Banerjee, Dr. Amit Nagpal, Sukanti Ghosh, Amith Prabhu, Dave Carroll, Prof. Deva Rangarajan, Ramesh Thomas, K V Dipu, Chip Helm and Suresh Ramdas online and share your thoughts.

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

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