Go For It: How I Faced My Fears and Wrote a Book on Personal Branding

This year, I did something I have been wanting to do for years. I published a book called BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand.

For more than 20 years, I have been a positioning and branding expert. Six of those years were spent as a principal and partner with Regis McKenna’s legendary marketing consulting firm that put many iconic Silicon Valley brands on the map, including Apple, Intel and Genentech. One can reasonably say that I had the experience and credentials to write a book. So why did it take me so long?

I had a truckload of excuses.

I don’t have time.

Writing a book is too daunting.

I can’t talk about my client work because it’s confidential.

But, the biggest hurdle for me was fear of failure. If you put yourself out there and commit your ideas to paper, people can tear them down. And wouldn’t you look silly?

Thankfully my desire to share a methodology that I knew could change lives was greater than my fear of failure. I owed it to the world to repurpose and extend the Regis McKenna methodology for product positioning to personal branding. As Geoffrey Moore wrote in my book foreword:

“Your job is to embrace the challenge of personal branding and to leverage the models and methods this book lays out to position yourself to provide maximum value to others. That, in turn, will create maximum value for you, both in terms of personal fulfillment and financial success.”

What helped me to get past my fear was to shift my focus away from me and to refocus it on providing “maximum value to others.” I knew I could empower people struggling with how to define their unique value and position in the world. I’d done this successfully with 150 companies and thousands of individuals.

What about my other excuses?

I don’t have time. The hurdle was me. I control my calendar, no own else. Last November, I decided to make the time. I booked a writing vacation by myself in Santa Cruz, California. Alone. For three days, I wrote in cafes and my rented bedroom, taking walks along the ocean to clear my head when I had writer’s block. I came home with an outline and a 10,000-word start to my book manuscript. But, my productivity as a writer died when I got back to the office and my pressing client deadlines. When I failed to make progress writing on weekends only, I committed to spending two months writing nearly full time to finish my draft. And, I did. Lesson learned: You have to make your goal a priority or it won’t happen.

Writing a book is too daunting. Well, looking back, it does seem that way. But, I made it easier by getting a book coach and consultant who knew the ropes and knew how to keep me on track. I used poster paper on my wall to map out my book visually with colored sticky notes to represent key points, illustrations and examples. I revised my book outline so I could break up the methodology with stories and examples, making it more fun for me as a writer (and, I hope, the reader). Lesson learned: Hire or find good people to help, and break a big task into manageable chunks.

I can’t talk about my client work because it’s confidential. I was probably just being lazy. It takes time to reach out to people to ask permission to use their stories and examples. I found, to my surprise, that instead of this being a tiresome process, it gave me renewed confidence. People like to share their success stories and want to help you spread the word. For some, I used real names, but for many others, I used pseudonyms. Lesson learned: Work arounds exist for almost any problem if you’re willing to think creatively and put the work in to make it happen.

This is the beginning of a new year. Do you have a goal that you want to achieve? If fear is holding you back, quit thinking of yourself and think about how you can help the world, your industry, or your company. Carve out time to work on your plan, find support from others and overcome hurdles with creativity and perseverance. Today’s blog is about writing my book, but it could well have been about your facing fears about personal branding. Funny thing, I know a book that just might help you.

Note: Visit www.brandingpays.com to order the book or learn more.

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5 Responses to Go For It: How I Faced My Fears and Wrote a Book on Personal Branding

  1. All of us who read your book are beneficiaries of you facing your fears and doing it anyway. Your new book is a terrific read. What I love is that you share the marketing theory, but then make it practical and immediately actionable. Well done.

    • Karen Kang says:

      Thanks, Skip. Coming from a real thought leader like yourself means a lot to me. I hope everyone will take a look at the terrific interview you did with me on your blog (http://ow.ly/gWMLU) since your questions were so insightful.

  2. Pam Smith says:

    You rock Karen!

    Great book, great inspiration and amazing all the way around!

  3. Pingback: From Italy with a Smile: How I Reinvented My Personal Brand | Karen Kang's BrandingPays