Golden branding

Feb. 18, 2015
Personal passions can easily lead to more business opportunities

Carrying the gold medals onto the ice during the final game of the recent World Junior Hockey Championship was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

It was also the scariest!

As I stepped onto the ice looking like a waiter from Denny’s, it struck me that millions were watching on TV. That’s when the trembling started.

It got worse when I saw that the slippery path to where the medals are presented was 30 ft. long and choked with dejected Russian teenagers. Hours earlier, visions of a ticker-tape parade in Red Square danced in their heads. Now, right after a 5-4 loss to Canada, the Russian players were in no mood to make way for the guy with the medals they didn’t win.

The good news is that even if I fell and embarrassed myself in front of millions, it would be okay. Other than a bruised ego (and keister), the experience of playing such an important role in a high-profile event was great for my personal brand.

Like a lot of Canadians, I have a tremendous passion for hockey. I’ve been involved in the game all my life. Working with Hockey Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship was an opportunity to share that passion, build my personal brand, and even do a little business. If you’re thinking of growing and managing what people think of you, here are some things to consider:

Self-audit. You already have a personal brand. What is it? What shows up when someone Googles your name? What do people think of you? Start with the three C’s: co-workers, customers, and colleagues. You might be surprised by what they say.

Protect your brand. You’re always being watched, and every action contributes to your personal brand. Before you scream at the referee over a penalty your child probably deserved, think of the implications. Letting your guard down for a second can be a lot more costly than a two-minute hooking penalty. My rule of thumb: Everyone is watching, even people you can’t see. There’s no recovery from the unknown.

The nicher, the richer. Everyone is good at something outside of work. If you don’t have any outside passions, I suggest you reflect on what you really enjoy doing. Being perceived as an expert in something other than transportation is essential for a strong personal brand. The more specific you can be, the better. Guess who ended up moving the truckloads of freight required to run the World Junior Championship? The organizers were happy when they discovered they had a transportation “expert” in their midst. Eventually, the dots do connect.

End game counts. Sounds obvious, but if you’re not sure what you want to accomplish by growing your brand, then don’t waste your time worrying about it. Letting nature take its course isn’t the worst thing you can do, but it’s better if you focus on the end game. In my case, the goal was simple: Use junior hockey to fill my trucks and my passion.

After the medal ceremony, I was amazed at how many people reached out to me. Turns out almost 8 million households were tuning in. Ironically, I can’t help but wonder how much more my brand would have grown if I had fallen on my butt. Maybe next time.

I’ll discuss how to create and distribute your brand in my next column.

Mike McCarron was one of the founding “M”s in MSM Transportation and currently works for Wheels Group in M&A. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AceMcC.

About the Author

Mike McCarron

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