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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Personal Brand Review - J.G. Mikolajczyk...

...The Value of a Balanced View !
by David Bookout

There are two things that you would immediately notice when meeting J.G. ( Jerry ) Mikolajczyk, Chairman and COO of Minecore International, Inc., and former Interim CFO of Silicon Valley's Valley Transit Authority ( VTA ). First, is his big smile, which is difficult to miss even though he is sitting at a remote table at a local Peets Coffee & Tea, and then you notice that he is wearing a blue suit, fresh white shirt and colorful tie. If I didn't know better, I would think this was all just for the interview, but if you know Jerry, you know that he always smiles a lot, and that he always dresses for success.

As we move into the interview I ask him how much formal marketing and branding education he has had. He quickly responds that "We are all marketers". I know Jerry as a finance guy, and quickly rephrase - he adjusts and confirms my speculation that his study of corporate marketing and branding, as a percentage of his total course work, has been relatively small. As I assure him that my opening question was in no way intended as an insult he relaxes and we move into the interview.

? - What is a Personal Brand?

A - "It's my label. It's how I want others to see me."

? - Do you have a Personal Brand, and how would you describe it?

A - "Sure, integrity. Get the job done. Do it now."

? - Did you happen to do the exercise? I remind him hopefully ( writers just want to know that someone is reading and taking their work seriously ), the one at the bottom of the last post? The one about starting to "Define Your Personal Brand"? I hold my breath as he answers.

A - "No, I didn't." His smile broadens, and he adds - "But, you could ask anybody that knows me at VTA and they would tell you that I have integrity, and get the job done."

Jerry goes on to describe an issue he encountered early at VTA. The Federal Transit Administration ( FTA ) endorses a specific set of values each year that greatly effects VTA's revenue calculations. When Jerry started, the values had not yet been endorsed and there had been quite a bit of back and forth, mostly via eMail. After checking with staff Jerry decided to request a meeting with FTA's Region 9 leadership. Jerry reflects - "The meeting lasted less than 1/2 hour and the issue, which had been open for over a year, got resolved right in that meeting!"

As I listen I think about how effective it can be to go straight to the source. I also realize that Jerry has just unknowingly broken the first rule of Personal Brand development. In brand development of any kind, and particularly in Personal Brand development, it is critical to review, understand and move with exactly what the customer ( your boss ) and the others around you think!

As I know Jerry, and there is no pun intended, he has a very balanced view when it comes to business and financial strategies.

But, I call what Jerry has done, in terms of thinking about his Personal Brand as being "internally focused". There is no doubt that internal focus ( in this case what we think of ourselves ) is a part of brand development, but it can not be the only focus. Why? Because "brand", if we have a brand , lives externally. Brands live in the minds of others, and we don't know what others think unless we open a dialog and ask them. We need both an internally focused, and an externally focused view! Coming at brand development from this perspective effectively balances the vision we have of, and for our brand. The dual observation allows us to not only see where we are in our brand development, but where we need, or want to go.

Check back as we continue our interview with Jerry over the coming weeks and learn more about his views on Personal Brand, becoming successful, and get his quick tips on being successful in an increasingly competitive market.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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MineCore International, Inc. is publicly traded as an OTC.PK stock under the symbol MCIO.


Anonymous said...

Interesting concept about branding. And that it's considered mainly externally focused, but what you showed was that it is also internally focused as well. It seems he thought you used your internal brand in solving VTA's problems whereas he considered it a function of the external brand to consider the client's wishes first (?). Not sure if I got that right.


Effetti said...

Dear Bill,

Thanks for your comments. May I offer the following to help clarify?: First, I'm suggesting that Personal Brand ( the essence of who we are ) exists in two ( 2 ) places - internally ( who we think we are for others ), AND externally ( who we actually are for others ). The key is balance. To expand on this, and build a powerful personal brand, we assess this "perspective balance" by utilizing a key question set. For example: Are there consistencies in these perspectives?, Are there discrepancies?, Am I on the path I want to be on?, How do I design a way to get on a new path?, etc. In Jerry's case, we ONLY currently have one ( 1 ) viewpoint, the internal perspective. And, finally, in Jerry's mind, his Personal Brand is in part comprised of "Get it done now". So, when the FTA issue surfaced at VTA he had two ( 2 ) choices: (a) Take the action he did, and BUILD on his Personal Brand, or (b) Take a different course that would have continued to protract the solution, AND take a step backwards relative to his Personal Brand in the process. If Jerry would have done anything other than (a), then he would have also acted in a way that was "Not-In-Integrity" as well.

Hope that helps !

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