The Wolf Teaches Personal Branding

You never know where you’ll learn about PR, marketing and branding. I had a terrific reminder this week, while re-watching the movie, “Pulp Fiction.” It’s one of my favorites, and I practically have the script memorized. Yet I never realized that its characters provide fantastic lessons on the subject of personal branding. O.K. Bear with me. I know you’re wondering how John Travolta’s comeback movie taught anything. Trust me: Quentin Tarantino is a quirky producer who wove all sorts of lessons into that gritty film.

It struck me during the piece called “The Bonny Situation.” That’s when Travolta’s and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters, mobsters Vincent and Jules, arrive on the doorstep of Jule’s friend (Harvey Kitel) with a body in their car. Kitel’s wife Bonny would not be happy about having a body in her home (go figure!). Even mobsters need help when faced with an angry wife (no, that’s not the lesson). So, they called in a specialist.

And then the lesson began.

Jules and Vincent opened the door at their friend’s home to find their tux-clad specialist.

“I’m Winston Wolf. I solve problems.”

It was that simple. Forget about the laborious 30-second elevator pitch. In six words, he articulated his value. Of course, he had to know his value before he could come up with such a tightly spun introduction. That’s something everyone and every company grapples with and spends time and money trying to figure out.

In essence a personal brand — or even a company brand — is about leadership. Are you perceived as a leader? If not, unleash your inner leader and see your personal brand skyrocket.

Here are 10 leadership tips, based on my work helping companies, organizations and executives brand themselves:

Do what you will say you will do — Nothing conveys leadership more than being accountable.

Trust others — People won’t follow you if they don’t believe they can earn your confidence.

Help others trust you — Remember that your personal integrity is at stake.

Be a stellar communicator — Choose your words wisely and communicate with your audiences’ interest in mind.

Grow your emotional intelligence — Learn more about this by reading “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ,” by Daniel Goleman.

Understand business basics — Whether you’re a PR coordinator, VP of human resources or software engineer, you’re job is to be a businessperson first, a specialist second.

Admit what you don’t know— Then surround yourself with people who can fill in the gaps.

Nurture a positive attitude — Your words and attitude become your reality.

Manage your energy — Leaders must look the part, too. Low-energy individuals appear disengaged and won’t spark enthusiasm among their colleagues. Those over the top can turn off people. Find a middle ground.

Create a personal brand strategy — The Wolf did it. You can, too. Remember this equation: promotion + promises = delivery. What do you promote about yourself? What do you promise you’ll do? They must be the same as what you deliver. Your words must be in alignment with your actions.

Now, it’s your turn. What’s your value?

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