When it comes to personal branding and finding clients, social media is valuable for many soloists. But should passionate opinions be curbed by professional restraint? Or does authenticity demand unfiltered honesty?
I recently came across outspoken blogger and bestselling author, James Altucher.
James bares his soul in brutally honest writings about his life, failures, successes, innermost thoughts and (often divisive) personal opinions.
I certainly got a good helping of all of these in one of the first posts of his I read, the highly confrontational 7 things happen to you when you are completely honest. In this piece, James expresses fierce disdain for what he calls the lies of personal branding (and advertising for that matter) in that they frequently gloss over the truth.
The thing that struck me immediately upon reading James’ words was ‘here is a person who truly does not care what anyone else thinks of him.’ Further reading leads to the discovery that he’s lost friends and received verbal abuse and death threats as a result of his writings.
So what’s the payoff?
Well (according to James) honesty doesn’t bring happiness, but it does bring freedom.
Personally, I go the opposite way to Altucher. I take a diplomatic approach that runs the risk of sitting quietly on the fence and missing all the controversy (and clicks!). In fact, it seems I share some common ground with one of the commenters on his article who said, “I rarely lie, but I often keep my mouth shut”.
So I find myself a little torn.
I do filter what I share publicly – especially when it comes to touchy subjects like religion and politics.
But I also enjoy a bit of lively after-dinner debate with close friends no matter what the topic. And I do believe having strong opinions in our area of expertise can build our reputation and influence.
While I’m not convinced public confession is the best approach for most individuals, or their businesses, I have seen many people make a name and career for themselves as outspoken advocates of divisive topics.
So what say you about personal branding?
Do you say exactly what you think when you comment online? Is it dishonest to present a lightly airbrushed view of yourself to the business world? Or is it just common sense?
Tell me what you really think! I’ll likely nod politely and look at both sides of the story.