Consider this…
You have a personal brand. Manage it, and create a draw for your services. Ignore it, and be commoditized. Jonathan Fitzgarrald provides practical tools for developing and managing a strong, personal brand. Read more...

As I’ve begun to receive graduation announcements from family and friends, it’s caused me to reflect upon the unexpected high and low points that have defined my post-college life.

Especially considering the current economic climate where employment prospects for grads are limited, I think about the advice I would share with them. My counsel serves as a good reminder regardless of where we are in our careers.

Be flexible. Upon graduation, I relocated to the Silicon Valley to pursue a public relations position with a technology company. Three years later, I found myself jobless as a result of the tech meltdown of the early 2000’s.

A young professional, I was competing against seasoned pros for a limited number of opportunities. As unemployed days turned into weeks and then into months, I realized that the traditional means of job hunting were not going to cut it.

In an effort to regroup, I focused on my personal brand—resourceful, creative, innovative, proactive. I zeroed in on those characteristics and qualities that would set me apart from the competition.

Whereas most applicants were submitting resumes online, I mailed a hard copy of my resume to a law firm looking to hire its first-ever director of marketing. I attached a PowerBar to the cover letter that read, “Looking for a marketing professional who can cut through the noise and reach prospective clients? Take a Power Break (the term had just been introduced into the vernacular), review my credentials, and let me know a good time to chat.”

Two days later, I received a call to schedule an interview. Instead of merely arriving well prepared for the appointment, I took the initiative to draft a sample-marketing plan for the firm, which I shared with it’s managing partner. I landed the job.

Stay the course. In 2007, I finished the construction of my first home. The American dream my mine! Two years later, and at the end of a personal relationship, I found myself with a property that no longer suited my needs. Instead of allowing the grief of both matters to overtake me and potentially stall my progression, I weighted out my options and made a decision to sell the home at half my original investment. Albeit an ill-timed misfortune, I didn’t allow it to derail my momentum.

Make something good, better. I come from a large, connected family. Unfortunately most of them live outside California. When my out-of-state sisters started having kids, I enjoyed taking calls from my nieces and nephews wanting to talk to “Uncle Jon.”

Not anticipating the joy these little people would bring to my life, and despite the geographical divide, I found ways to become even more connected to them.

As much as sending a toy or new outfit on their birthdays would bring a smile to their faces, I discovered I could develop a closer bond and create a more lasting experience through funding their extracurricular activities. This allows me an additional avenue to connect and share in their upbringing. I took what brings me joy and augmented it.

College graduates aren’t the only ones with hopes and dreams for the future. All professionals have them. Let the virtues of your personal brand guide you through the highs and lows of accomplishing your goals.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”


5 Responses to Let Your Personal Brand Be Your Guide

  • Paul Ward says:

    Great looking blog. We rescued a bird the other day and for a week all it did was chirp and open its beak for food. Feed me! Was all is seemed to be saying.

    Advice for my grad…. Don’t be that bird!

    Keep up the good work.

  • Jim Hughes says:

    Jonathan makes the point that making an investment in someone, be it your nephew or a major client prospect, is not only good business but good living, as well. Those who go to a new client pitch meeting evidencing that they have researched the client prospect, understand his/her business, and give something of value like a proposed marketing plan – not just the typical “hire me ’cause I’m good” pitch – show the client that they add value. And giving the gift of piano lessons, baseball hitting instruction, or dance lessons to a young person – investing in their formation of life-enhancing skills, that’s priceless. Same principle, different application, same positive result. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Laura Powers says:

    Great tips for personal branding. Another one is to remember to continually invest in yourself. Employer / employee loyalty has been diminished from a generation ago, but loyalty still exists in the form of being loyal to yourself. When you continually learn and grow, you not only gain a competitive business edge, you are able to provide value to the teams you work on and increased value to your employer in turn. You are also more ready for the challenge of change should you need to seek new opportunities.

  • gale mcallister says:


    As a single woman, professional and most of all a mother, I found this article to be of interest and will send it on to my two grown children as they follow their personal and professional endeavors. We are never too old to learn new tricks and I intend to integrate what you have shared here in my daily walk.

    Thank you Jonathan.