Recently, I blogged about the need to think critically about what you post online and how it impacts your personal brand. While I stand behind the suggestions I made for protecting your image and actively considering what each online post can do to your future career, I realized that sometimes you have to break the rules. Some of my favorite bloggers break all of the traditional rules of image protection on the web, and I think that’s what makes them all-stars.
Laurie Ruettimann (of The Cynical Girl) is an extremely intelligent and thought-provoking blogger who curses…a lot, posts geniously inappropriate pictures of herself online, and talks about things like poop, nasal irrigation, hemorrhoids, and her cat’s peeing habits.
Jason Seiden offers some of the best leadership advice around and often involves his adorable daughter Elle in his vlogs. He also curses and finds creative ways to point out that someone may be full of something other than truth.
Today, though, I want to give a shout out to Penelope Trunk who challenges my thoughts on brandingdaily. Penelope Trunk is the founder of Brazen Careerist (a blogging community and career management tool for Gen X/Gen Y). I have been fortunate enough to write posts featured by Brazen Careerist over the past few years and cannot get enough of Penelope’s career advice. However, what distinguishes Penelope Trunk from all other career coach bloggers is that she gets personal. When I say personal, I mean open, honest posts about her experiences with divorce, bulimia, being in a mental ward, relationship issues, depression, asperger syndrome, etc. She has been criticized for the way she discussed having a miscarriage. She talks publicly about disagreements with her coworkers and her significant other (who prefers to remain anonymous). She gets death threats. She talks about politics.
These three bloggers have so much in common. They are brilliant, witty writers who push the limits and create controversy. They are leaders in their industry. They tell it like it is. They are extremely successful, wildly popular, and break all of the tradition rules of what should/should not be posted online. And while I still err on the side of caution when blogging and stick to my own rules for critically thinking about my personal brand online, I can’t help but have infinite respect for each of them.
One thing I failed to mention in my post about your online brand is that “it is YOURS.” Penelope is an open book. Perhaps that is part of her personal brand and what draws in her 40,000 blog subscribers. Penelope likely thinks a lot about what she posts and the potential consequences, but her brand is the BRAZEN careerist. She lives up to it.
So, when thinking about online presence, it’s important to remember that it is a personal decision making process. There is no one right answer, but the first step is to decide who you want to be, and then think critically about how to make that unique personal brand a success.
Who is your favorite risk-taking blogger? How has she/he broken the traditional rules and gained your respect?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.