Famous General and later Emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte always knew he was a legend in the making, way early in his childhood he just didn’t know how. He worked his way up military ranks, wish sheer diligence and ingenuity since he didn’t come from French nobility or royalty, his father was someone you’d call a nobody and they came from a French Territorial island called Corsica far from Paris. He fought more bravely than any other soldier in his time, he was rapidly promoted and became a general at the age of 25. He fought and won battles even when greatly outnumbered, his main strength, he never bowed to conventional rules of fighting battles, standing at 5’2 his enemy armies called him the little madman because they couldn’t make out how he beat them in battle.
One unique thing about napoleon is that his battles were uniquely documented very specifically to his requirements. There was no facebook, video or photography in the 18th century but the medium of the day was PAINTINGS and newspapers. He directed the way his paintings were done and in his entourage he always took with him talented artists. Just the way a movie director today will decide the characters, mood, scenes, dressing and make-up of his actors, Napoleon Bonaparte directed the way his paintings and captions of the same paintings were done and he sent them back to Paris. This greatly influenced how he was perceived back in France. To inject Authenticity to his propaganda tools, he inspired courage in his soldiers by being on the front lines of war and lived the ‘I am just like you’ adage to his soldiers. This ensured the consistency in loyalty with his soldiers and the message going back home through his paintings that said “Napoleon is winning battles for France and in Style”.
He also created a particular pose that was on most of his paintings, one hand inside his coat through the buttons and a unique hat style particularly known only to him. This to me was mastery in Personal branding, He curated a look which even if you erased the face, his style and pose made him so recognizable as Napoleon. Another similar case is Hitler’s unique mustache. The story of Napoleon today is told mostly through his paintings and most of them, you guessed it, done by Napoleon HIMSELF. Self-Promotion at its best. He even came up with his own newspaper with some articles authored by himself and all he wrote was personal praise about his military strategy, love for France and ability to Lead men to victory no matter what.
Self-promote shamelessly, no one will do it for you better than you can do it yourself. Your story is Key and when it is told by yourself, it is more believable and accurate since no one knows you better than yourself.
Benjamin Franklin; American Diplomat, Politician, scientist and Journalist was mostly popular for the experiment he did to prove that lightning was static electricity and even more for his accomplishments in negotiating American Independence and for being part of the team that wrote the American Declaration of independence. The one thing that is relevant for us in Ben Franklin’s story is the fact that much of what we know about him was written by HIMSELF. He self-published his own autobiography at the age of 62. He was an avid writer, having published various articles he also had his own newspaper, The Pensylvania gazette. In his publications Benjamin also had a particular ability of creating a persona through whom he would channel his thoughts that he could not bring our as Ben Franklin. An example is a publication he did in his very early years as an old woman called Silence Dogood and he did a good number of articles in the same alias. He also wrote the Almanacs in the name of Poor Richard.
All his publications, community service, and contributions to science in the end paid equity for him in London and Paris as he and his team were able to successfully negotiate independence from the British with funding from France. He landed in both London and Paris already with a ‘celebrity’ status and this worked in his favour because of his influence in the world of the day. He had aggressively promoted himself and his works in the political assemblies, various congresses and his publications. His brand and legacy lives on, even on one of the most valuable pieces of fiat currency, the American 100 Dollar Bill.
Even before the internet, people committed to their causes always found ways to grow their personal brands to levels of influence, power and authority. Of importance to note is that the principles of personal branding and self-promotion have remained the same for centuries with changes only occurring with the mediums and channels of communication that have been changing over time. Studying those who succeeded at it before us is indispensable and remember it is no sin to Shamelessly Self Promote yourself with your story.
Your story is what people really buy. Stories have been known to be the best form of communication especially of values and beliefs in different communities. This is how we learnt of the Legends and Heroes of the times before us. Their stories were told from generation to generation of course with varying accuracy. Lucky for them, they lived such extraordinary lives, they didn’t have to tell their stories, others did that for them. In our case, no one will tell your story unless you do first. Curate your story in a very compelling way, involve even a professional if you have to and let them help you come up with an inspiring and compelling personal brand story. Next thing is to promote the story; write it down, publish it if you can, tell it before various audiences and the fire will catch on. Those inspired by the story will connect with you, keep telling the story and how they relate to it and this is even more self-promotion, but in all importance, keep it AUTHENTIC, this is the only way to get your story to last.
Get a pen and paper, start telling your story!