“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day”
I used to think that personal branding is only relevant for public figures like politicians, celebrities and prominent CEOs. Coffee with my friend Azleen a few weeks ago completely shifted my perspective. I now realize that personal branding is relevant for all of us. A personal brand is the means by which people remember us. It is how we present ourselves online and offline to our potential clients and customers.
Realizing my passion as an advocate for lifelong learning, Azleen recently asked me ‘How lifelong learning can boost personal branding?’ Here are some of my thoughts.
Why lifelong learning matters for personal branding?
Lifelong learning is the self-directed and continuous desire to seek formal or informal education for personal enjoyment or career development. Regardless of our job title, ability to add value will certainly enhance our personal brand. High value-added members are expected to be more innovative in managing the challenges of today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) workplace. Embracing lifelong learning can help us to navigate the VUCA environment.
How can we use lifelong learning improve our personal branding?
Based on my experience, I realized Innovate, Impact and Impression, are key elements to boost personal branding.
Innovate. You cannot prepare for your future responsibilities based on your past knowledge. Innovative solutions may sound simple to us today given hindsight bias. McDonald’s innovative solution such as the drive-through service provides a convenient alternative for busy parents to buy their children’s meals. Uber is another innovative solution to monetize carpooling and Airbnb to commercialize homestay. SMC Trainers Malaysia which training company that I owned is working towards the similar direction.
According to PwC’s annual CEO Survey, business leaders recognize the need to increase their organizations’ ability to learn and innovate. Knowledge is the building block for innovative ideas and embracing lifelong learning can improve our innovation quotient.
Impact. Are you the best version of yourself at your workplace? People who value their personal brand don’t just meet the expectation of their job description. They strive to create an impact by going beyond their call of duty.
Ask how we can help our manager to be successful, offer solutions to complex problems faced by our customers and be a role model to our team by consistently demonstrating high-quality work. These will enable us to create a positive impact that will boost our personal branding. Lifelong learning is imperative to ‘fuel’ our passion to create the impact.
Impression. The English idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover is familiar to most of us. Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, the leading indie ebook distribution platform believes that a book’s cover is the first thing a potential reader sees and it can make a lasting impression.
In today’s global multicultural business environment, knowledge of other cultures helps us create a positive impression. What is appropriate in one culture may be considered rude in another. A few months ago, I experienced an interesting cultural difference while teaching in Muscat, Oman. Generally, eye contact signifies interest in what the other person is saying. However, in the Middle Eastern culture, care should be given in making eye contact with the opposite gender. This signifies the importance of lifelong learning to improve our knowledge of other cultures.
Lifelong learning: How to make it happen? Whether you are trying to build a business or climb the corporate ladder, personal brand matters. Ability to innovate, impact and create a good impression will certainly boost your personal brand. Lifelong learning is the catalyst to make it a reality. From cradle to grave, life is a continuous learning process.
Today, we have many platforms that offer individuals at any stages accessible opportunities for learning. Anyone who is committed to boosting their personal brand can find practical solutions for lifelong learning. Formal lifelong learning is widely available from any organization. One obvious example is School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) UTM. Learners who know how to optimize internet will be spoilt for choices. Khan Academy, Ted Talks and MIT OpenCourseWare are among some of the excellent free platforms for learning.
Lifelong learning will enhance our ability to be a better solution provider, and the best solution provider will be the preferred brand. I do hope that these ideas can help you embrace lifelong learning. To embark this journey, you need to do the first step. It is the acquire the knowledge. At SMC Trainers Malaysia, we know exactly how you can achieve the objective as we have produced many leaders in their respective ways. We have the right methodology and courses for it. Please share how you use lifelong learning to enhance your personal brand.