“Convey a sense of passion for what you’re doing, and they’ll be hooked.” – Richard Branson
In order to clearly define and articulate your personal brand, it is important to look at the bigger picture. This initial process involves better understanding five principle elements of your inner brand: passion, purpose, vision, strengths and values. This “core identity” serves as the foundation upon which your personal brand is built. In this post, we take a look at passion, as taught to us by Sir Richard Branson.
Think of passion as the fuel that propels a successful brand. You can’t necessarily see it, but when passion is conveyed — for an idea, cause or belief — your chances of bringing others alongside of you increases exponentially. In personal branding, passion is magnetic.
A sense of passion can be conveyed in different ways. For some, it’s the motivation that comes with connecting to certain issues or causes they care deeply about. For others, it’s the motivation to solve a problem or address a need. One thing is almost always certain: passion is rarely self-indulgent.
Let’s look to mega-entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. Founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has built one of the UK’s best known corporate brands. Branson’s business was built on passion from day one. After dropping out of school at age 16, he launched a student magazine, directly born out of his passion: giving young people a voice on current affairs such as the Vietnam War. Branson needed to sell advertising to make the money to publish it, and soon a business was born. He went on to create Virgin Records, after which he expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors into other sectors, with his Virgin Group holding more than 200 companies.
Branson has undeniably made his own name behind the Virgin brand, one associated with attributes like “nonconforming creator”, “creative problem-solver”, “rebel”, “philanthropist”, “adventurer” “passionate dreamer” and “risk-taker”. His Twitter profile brilliantly captures the essence of his personal brand: “Tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at @virgin”.
I’ve always felt that passion is an unmistakable feature of Branson’s personal brand, transparent in his actions as well as his words. He wrote in his blog, “Finding your passion means you will never have a job. I have learned this from my years creating businesses. I’ve never had what I would call a job, but I’ve worked every day for five decades. It’s all about finding a balance between work and play – it’s all living.”
Branson believes that passion is one of key motivators behind launching a business, and also one of the surest predictors of success. In Branson’s book, The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, he shares how passion has propelled his panoply of successes. He also shares a strong belief that you can’t teach people passion – “it’s either in their DNA or it’s not.” He further admonishes against wasting “your time and energy trying to light a fire under flame-resistant people.”
I happen to agree that passion cannot not be taught. However, if passion is all about being motivated by something you care deeply about, then this begs the question: can you tap into (and communicate) this sentiment as part of your personal brand?
For example, Richard Branson became passionate about space exploration after watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon as a child. He tapped into this passion and channeled it into a sense of purpose. He then followed his vision and actively pursued ways to make it a reality for decades to follow; keeping a notebooks of ideas, gathering information and researching ideas to help transform his passion into reality. The result of course was Virgin Galactic, the manifestation of a passion dating back to childhood.
If you are unsure of what exactly your passion is, check out the following exercise:
Take note of the events, people or issues spark emotion in you, and the problems you connect with. Ask yourself the following:
What in the world angers you?
What moves you during your day to day life?
What past or present events get you really excited or interested?
What are the challenges you see others face that you’d like to help resolve?
Such observations may very well reveal your passions!