Personal Branding: A Success Story
It turns out that we often start establishing our personal brand without being fully conscious of what we’re doing. When we become successful doing what we love, we may not even realize that it’s because we have a strong, consistent, authentic brand.
That was the case with Dr. Hagai Gringarten, a professor of marketing at the Gus Machado College of Business at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, an editor and publisher, and an author. Although he is now an expert on marketing and branding in the business sector, Dr. Gringarten initially built his personal brand almost inadvertently, through a commitment to hard work and reliability.
He says, “I came to the U.S. short on English skills, money, and family support, but high on hope, determination, and the desire to overcome any obstacle coming my way. ”
A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Gringarten pushed himself to finish school alongside his classmates before going to work in the international retail and hotel industries. Eventually, he founded a successful coffee company and co-authored a best-selling book about coffee. He even served as president of the South Florida chapter of the American Marketing Association.
The importance of a strong personal brand as a factor in one’s success cannot be overstated. Dr. Gringarten likes to use this historical example as proof: “In 1872, an African American engineer by the name of Elijah McCoy invented an oil-drip cup that became popular with railroad engineers. Looking to avoid inferior copies, they would request it by name, inquiring if it was ‘the real McCoy system.’ This became synonymous with genuine or the real thing. Talk about the value of a name!”
Our personal brands begin forming at an early age,
Dr. Gringarten believes, based on our values and circumstances. But by high school or college, we must start taking control of the narrative: “If you do not control your story, someone else will.” He recommends evaluating your points-of-difference (what makes you stand out) and points-of-parity (what connects you to others), then leveraging both to find your niche. That becomes your authentic brand, your unique value — your you.