What makes a person finally start paying attention to personal branding after 15 years of ignoring it? More importantly, why you should care.
I’ve spent my whole life in technology, but outside personal use, I haven’t engaged widely in the social space. I haven’t had my own web experience since the early days of Geocities…yeah.
As a digital leader at Laughlin Constable (a Midwestern independent ad agency) for the past 10 years, it’s my job to know, do, see, and engage with technology, social, and the digital echo system. But, like many others, my career skills and their use for personal needs has been divergent.
But that changes now, and it should for you too. It’s one of the most exciting times in human history with technology moving at a mind-blowing pace, you and I should both be more actively participating in the conversation.
I might have needed a slight kick in the ass. And as the stars aligned a few things helped grow the excitement and push me over the edge. Maybe you’re in a similar boat, if so, here’s how I got there:
1. Chris Dessi
If you haven’t heard Chris Dessi talk about personal branding, you’re really missing out. I’ve had the distinct pleasure to catch him twice so far. First when I went to MBO16 which we enjoyed so much we invited him to our very own annual Digital Marketing Summit.
Chris’ story is an inspirational one with also a ton of practical, tactical information. Go learn more or even better, make sure you catch him live. He talks about the changes it made in his life and career and how you either manage your online brand or it gets managed for you.
To paraphrase: Personal branding is critical, get off your ass and do it. Chris’Ass kicking #1 – check.
2. John Malkovich
I’ve kept an eye out for my own domain name for the better part of 12 years. It was never used, but always owned, I’d wait for the expiration date only to see it get renewed. I eventually stopped looking, but this past big game commercial from Squarespace made me think again…
Unfortunately, I didn’t use Squarespace for this site.
3. I PayPal’ed a stranger $1,000
So, sure enough, someone was still squatting on my domain. Well shit. What could it hurt to send them an email. A quick whois search and a random Canadian email address lead went from:
Me – “Are you interested in selling SeanBarry.com? I’m not a celebrity nor rich..”
Seller – “Sure for $5,000.”
Me – “I don’t like my name that much, maybe $750 or $1000 I could swing?”
(please note, simply amazing negotiation skills…)
Seller – “$1000”
Me – “Yup”
Seller – “PayPal me here”
At this point, thoughts of scams, Nigerian princes, Bill Gate testing a new email system and practical thing’s like escrow briefly pass through my mind before I logged into PayPal, read about their fraud policy for 30s and hit send.
I spent ten minutes in sheer panic, sweating, swearing, laughing hysterically, until the domain transfer email arrived and I was up and running.
Isn’t that a lot of money Sean? Sure, but I anticipate the hundreds of current Sean Barry’s on Facebook and the ones yet to be born forever might disagree. Let’s hope one of them gets super famous and wants to buy it from me…just ask my friend Chris Christie (the less famous one) about that. Amortized over the next 10 years, I think it’s a great investment, one you should make too as controlling our digital identities becomes ever more critical.
You don’t need to pay a stranger a $1,000, just $10 Find a variation of your name, add your middle initial. I like Instant Domain Search to quickly sort through options.
4. Gary Vaynerchuk
A man who should need no introduction in the space. I developed an unhealthy crush on WineLibraryTV back in the day and recently reacquainted myself with Gary’s unique brand of inspiration and insight. Are you working hard enough?
Personal branding takes work. But it’s well worth the time.
Ass kicking #2 – Check.
That’s the story
I’m looking forward to the next steps. Here’s hoping more than my mom finds it interesting. But there are far worse outcomes.
Oh, one last tip from, secure your kids future’s by registering their domain names.
I’ve spent the past 10+ years at Laughlin Constable evolving, growing, and leading digital marketing. We’re a proudly Midwestern, fiercely independent agency. We work best with clients looking for a transformational and not just incremental change. leveraging creativity, technology, and an inflection point take brands from Now to Next.
Before that I spent my days building enterprise software solutions and nights gaming. Being a father of two amazing daughters shapes much of my perspective.
Also published on Medium.