Sunday, February 20, 2011

Free Speech Advocate

There are stories told of the great thoroughbred, Secretariat. In his retirement he was paddocked at a farm within earshot of a racetrack. They say that whenever this old warrior would hear the bugle calling the field to the starting gate, his nostrils would flare, his muscles would tighten and he would prance and carry his head the way he did when he was entering the track to compete against the best horses of his generation.

Or maybe it was Man O War or Seabiscuit or Affirmed or some other great racehorse. But you get the idea. Some times retired champions cannot hide their hard-wired love of the game they no longer play. And why am I mentioning this?

LK has volunteered to speak later this year at the conference she used to organize before her retirement. And the topic is not some old-fart blather like "How To Retire Gracefully" or "Memories of the Past". Nope, it's a presentation on Personal Branding for the IT executives who were her audience when she was an editor.

Personal Branding, I gather, is important in career development. From what I can see the phrase is somewhat misleading and open to misinterpretation. I was evidently incorrect in assuming it involves heating a hot iron shaped like your company's logo and sizzling that image onto your buttocks. Apparently it is more about how to create positive impressions about yourself and your group so the big muckamucks think you're worthy of even more stress (and occasionally more money).

A good example of Personal Branding would be me. When I was head of the publishing company, I pretty much had a brand that said "Fat Guy relies on other people and doesn't do a lot himself, but he gives a good speech." In retirement, this personal brand has been shortened to "Fat Guy doesn't do a lot."

Before you assume LK is doing the IT industry equivalent of Brett Favre (Is she retired or unretired this month?), I think you need to know her side of the story. She says she isn't giving the speech for money (because she isn't getting any). Obviously a strong advocate of free speech, LK says she doing this for the free trip to Sydney. Fair enough, that does sound like a retired thing. And on the scale of things, I would think it is better to stand on the side of the road with a signboard that reads "Will Work For Travel" than "Will Flip Burgers for Free Lunch".

It's a bit of a coincidence that I, too, am trying to get a free trip to Sydney. No, not by doing work. (Think Maynard G Krebs when you say that word!). Nope, I have played in a qualifying poker tournament that gets me in free to another qualifying poker tournament. And if I can win that one tonight, the prize is entry into a Sydney tournament plus airfare and hotel.

So LK shares knowledge, helps others with their career development and is guaranteed free travel to Sydney. I have about a 50-1 shot playing online poker that I will get free travel to Sydney.

I think that says as much about both of our personal brands as anyone needs to know.

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