At the conclusion of Saturday’s “Maximum Impact” conference (Thank you to all who attended!), as I was preparing to leave, someone asked me, “What’s the most significant first step I should take to begin developing my personal brand?” Since I was in a bit of a hurry (and I needed a little time to think about it), I promised to email her my thoughts the next day. Following through on my commitment–a great personal brand-builder in its own right–I sent her the following short but impactful story shared by author and personal branding consultant Nicholas Boothman:
“Benjamin Disraeli became a member of Parliament of Great Britain at thirty-three, and its prime minister at sixty-four. Disraeli’s main political rival was William Gladstone, a four-time Liberal prime minister who was renowned for his abilities as a speaker.
One evening, Mr. Gladstone took a young woman out to dinner: The following evening the same woman had dinner with Mr. Disraeli. Asked later what impressions the two distinguished men had made upon her, she replied, “After dining with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest person in England. But after dining with Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest person in England.”
As Boothman explained, here were two equally intelligent and articulate men who created two completely different impressions. Judging by their reputations, Mr. Gladstone spent his time focusing the conversational spotlight on himself rather than his guest while Mr. Disraeli did the exact opposite. Most likely, Mr. Gladstone spent more time talking than his guest, while Mr. Disraeli made sure the opposite occurred. By practicing the simple but powerful discipline of active listening, Mr. Disraeli was able to connect and build a relationship at a much deeper and more memorable level than a simple social or business contact.
My advice? Develop your personal brand by developing your Likeability: Make a habit of giving people space to be heard–unconditionally. In other words, make sure you spent a lot more time listening than you do speaking. As Boothman puts it, “The most interesting person in the world is someone who makes you think you’re the most interesting person in the world.”
I can’t think of a better habit on which to build a powerful personal brand. Can you?
Send me your comments. I’d love to get your feedback.