Personal Branding, PR/Marketing
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The emergence of the “so what” influencers.

Have you noticed that NOBODY cares about the truth these days?

What people seem to care about are:

  1. What is likely to be the truth;
  2. What “feels right”; or
  3. Stuff that reinforces their existing beliefs.

You see, the media landscape has evolved dramatically over the past 25 years. Traditionally we have publishers as gatekeepers–now, with social media and blogging platforms, everyone can write whatever they want.

Suddenly, everyone has a voice–people with power are not people who are working at newspaper agencies or publishing companies. Power is now defined by viral-ity and the number of people who know about you AND agree with you.

And, there seems to be a positive correlation with viral stuff and people who read your work and will support you. For example, why will you as a reader want to read something that is the truth, when it feels better to read something that feels good and probably feels like the truth?

This brings me to write about the emergence of the “so what” influencers. I probably did just coin this term, hmm–this term basically refers to people who do whatever they want, say “so what?” to their distractors, and are widely popular. 

The “perfect” persona Vs The “so-what” persona.

I sense fear when some leaders want their personas to be perceived as perfect…and then they screw up.

Fear. It’s then too easy to influence their next course of actions. People who go for perfection fear being judged. And they also fear their weaknesses eventually being used against them.

For perfection is a function of consent of certain social groups.

Yet, what if your weaknesses can be used to make your personal brand stronger?

So let’s introduce two concepts here: Fragility, and Antifragility.  Nassim Taleb defines both terms as follow:

  • Fragility: The state of being vulnerable or easily broken.
  • Antifragility: Antifragility goes beyond robustness; it means that something does not merely withstand a shock but actually improves because of it.

We know that most great brands ideally include aspirational features.

Personal branding however, relates to human beings. Human beings change, products don’t. You can have close to perfect control over the branding of products and goods–but not over human beings, including yourself.

And all human beings make mistakes from time to time.

Therefore, if we were to compare a leader/ executive who wants to keep a “perfect” image VS a leader/ executive who is says “so what?” whenever he makes a mistake–which person will seem more human?

The leader who wishes to keep a perfect image will most likely be pushing blame to his/her subordinates in order to keep the perfect image of say…a Semi-Godly person, which is a lie. This implies that any leader who goes for a blemish-free image will inevitably be easily manipulated.

The leader who says “so what?” to an embarrassing mistake however, can complement his perfect/ beautiful/ charismatic visuals to being human. So this leader can own everything good and bad about his leadership. After saying “So what?” he can work at fixing the issues.

And I guess, saying “So what?” is how people don’t feel cheated whenever they see a perfect image. And perhaps, authenticity will almost always lead to an antifragile persona.

So don’t go for a “perfect” personal brand. Instead, go for a humane one which gives you space to admit and own your mistakes. Start by saying, “I’d made this mistake and so what?”

For, nobody can fight against something that is antifragile–all stress and chaos make the system stronger.

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