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Branding Leaves a Mark

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It's All About the Brand

I apologize for being late to the Un-SQL party, but work related problems have kept me busy since the PASS Summit. The Summit had a profound effect on me and I’m still trying to process it all.

Never mistake motion for action. – Ernest Hemingway

Like my new friend Grant “You’re Grant Fritchey!” Fritchey, I was invited to participate in Brent Ozar’s first FreeCon and one of the primary topics was branding.

Until now, my approach has been similar to Grant’s though I haven’t been at it nearly as long as he has. I got involved in various things like blogging, presenting, etc. without really having a goal in mind or a plan as to how to get there. When Brent asked the group to come up with their “three things” I was struck with the realization that I had never even thought about it. What does that say about me and what I’ve been doing the last few years? If I’ve been working hard to make career and personal progress, and after all this time I couldn’t come up with three defining words about me and this effort, how much of that effort and time has been wasted? Unfortunately, a lot of it.

Choose Your Own Adventure Books as a Career Model

There’s a reason Hemmingway didn’t write Choose Your Own Adventure Books and I shouldn’t be modeling my career after them. I’ve made progress, but I’ve been doing so in a random, unfocused way. One of the reasons I created the blog, and named myself Made2Mentor was because I was already receiving e-mails requesting help all the time. I’ve been a Made2Manage expert for a long time, but I haven’t really focused on it for years. My attention has shifted to the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform and Data Warehousing. Yet I continue to split my energy, attention, and focus with Made2Manage and all of the things associated with it. In fact, when I purchased this domain Made2Mentor, I also purchased SQLServings.com because I knew that my career would eventually move in this direction.

This past year I presented to large groups at Consona Connect 2010, the national conference for Consona’s customers including those who use M2M. I didn’t present on M2M topics; I presented on SQL Administration and PowerPivot. I’ve also been encouraging other M2M admins to advance their skills and specialize in areas such as SQL Server, .Net Programming, and network infrastructure.

It became obvious at PASS that I had been juggling too many balls at one time. Since then, I’ve been re-evaluating those balls and putting some of them aside so I can focus on others.

What does this have to do with branding?

Branding, to me, is about how others perceive me. Others perceive me based on what I do and how I act. This critical self evaluation has lead me to certain decisions about my career focus, professional community participation, and in my personal life. Branding to me is not jumping up and down and yelling to everyone how great I am. It’s about making measurable progress, helping others through the benefit of that experience, and looking forward in a focussed way.

I guess it’s all summed up in a line from The Color of Money. “He’s got to learn how to be himself, but on purpose.” – Paul Newman

It’s not about acting like something I’m not, but rather maximizing my strengths and minimizing my weaknesses. I think that’s what every one of us should strive for. When we maximize our potential others will see it and benefit from it.
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Walking the Path

“Sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” – Morpheus The Matrix

I’m not going to bore everyone with my three branding words, my career plans, or some other half baked advice about branding because I am far from skillful and it wouldn’t help you anyway. Rather than tell you what I’ve decided, I’ll simply show you in the coming weeks and months. That’s what this is really all about anyway, not telling everyone what you can do, but showing them.

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