Sunday, October 11, 2009

Personal Branding + Social Media = Brand Camp University

**Photo courtesy of Hajj Flemings

Did you know you're a brand? Each and every one of us has a personal brand, and that brand is amplified by the conversations and content we share online.

The concept of social media's affect on personal branding is the foundation of Brand Camp University, an event I attended over the weekend at Lawrence Tech University. Attendees ranged from entrepreneurs and communications professionals to business owners and students. The rockstar speaker lineup included the following:

Hajj Flemings - author of "The Brand YU Life" and found of Brand Camp U (Brandon Chesnutt was this year's co-organizer); Scott Monty, global and digital communications manager for Ford Motor Company; April L. Holmes, world's fastest amputee and 2008 paralympic gold medalist; Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image; Kenneth Brown, best selling author of "A Leap of Faith" and McDonald's franchisee; Rohit Bhargava, senior VP strategy and marketing at Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence; Valeria Maltoni, co-author of "The Age of Conversation" and blogger for Fast Company Magazine and Bob Fish, CEO and co-founder of Biggby Coffee.

The knowledge I gained from these speakers is invaluable. I can honestly say that each presentation was outstanding and very on-par with the type of info I was hoping to take away from this conference. I filled about five pages of notes, but here are details from each presentation related to the themes I focus on in this blog:

Hajj Flemings
  • Hustle is your passion, what you would love to do full time. Your passion needs to be a mesh of what you do on a daily basis and what you do on the side.
  • Genius equals intersections of passion, problem and process.
  • Read the book "Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity".
  • Passion can’t be taught, but everyone is passionate about something.
  • One of the great ways to meet your own needs is to help someone else.
  • Use social media tools to amplify who you are and what you do. Identify your own signature voice and separate yourself in the space you are in.
Mitch Joel – How You Connect in a Connected World
  • A brand is an emotional connection. Universally, we all connect to this same thing.
  • Establish your values, goals and beliefs – find the real you (internal conversation).
  • Really listen to learn problems others have, then relate to them and form a relationship (one-to-one conversation). The more you give the more you’ll receive.
  • The Free Hugs Campaign video on YouTube is an example of how one person can have a positive impact on many (one-to-many conversation). In a day and age when people are trying to separate everyone, Juan Mann brought people together.

  • Social media is not about technology. It's about being authentic and understanding your internal convo (personal brand).
  • Make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework (way to create a personal brand).

Rohit Bhargava – How Your Personal Brand Can Save the World

  • If you don’t have to spend 15 minutes explaining who you are, you have more time to build a relationship.
  • The idea that drawing, writing, acting, etc. is only for certain people is always out there. You define who you want to be and become. It’s all about creativity and innovation.
  • Keys to building a powerful personal brand: don’t limit yourself, stand for something, find your twist, rethink your packaging, take the right risks (life is like Jenga – pull the right blocks out at the right time), think visually (like how Target creatively changed the design of its prescription bottles) and create/do what you love.

Valeria Maltoni – Personal Brand in a Wired World

  • How do you come across in real life vs. online? If you’re nice in person, you come across as nice online. Online tools let you amplify who you are.
  • Take a step back and look at the way you portray yourself online – is it authentic?
  • Organizations can be more powerful online if you help build a team.
  • Do: participate, share, listen actively, give value, appreciate.
  • Valeria came to the U.S. barely able to speak English and knowing no one. But she came with the determination to connect and to be helpful (her story was very inspiring).
  • Fit your own personality into everything you do and accept who you are “because that rocks”.

Ken Brown

  • LIFE = live in freedom every day.
  • Your life is not about what happens to you, you can’t control it. But you can control your ability to respond.
  • Passion is when you set yourself on fire and people will pay to see you burn.
  • Powerful words can change someone’s life. Ken's parents told him - “God promised you as far as your eyes can see”.
  • To be truly great, you must first serve others.
  • Vision is the art of seeing the invisible. When you see the invisible you can do the impossible.
  • FAMILY = forget about me I love you.
  • Don’t get caught on the money because you are money – that’s personal branding.

Scott Monty – The Rise of the Brandividual

  • Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes his company as a customer service company. Everyone he hires has to go through CS training. He wraps the individual right into the company.
  • With great power there must also come great responsibility, especially when you’re also responsible for a company's brand.
  • It's our job to help others understand about brand responsibility and power.
  • Opening up your corporation/work with a corporation makes you more human.
  • Competing companies need to collaborate and learn from each other to help customers.

April Holmes – Creating Victory Through Branding

  • A gold medal is within your reach (April passed her gold medal around the room and told everyone to take a picture with it). Check out my gold medal moment.
  • Appreciate the journey, and don’t be so focused on the end result. Appreciate the people you meet along the way.
  • Are you fulfilling your dream or someone else’s? You will fall down and get bloody, but visualize your goal.
  • A goal in April’s life is to touch other people’s lives, especially those with disabilities.
  • You may need to take a step to the left or the right, but you’re the only one who knows if you’re traveling in the right direction.
  • April Holmes Foundation – April's passion, heart and soul.
  • Learn how to celebrate yourself and know what you want to get a gold medal.

Bob Fish

  • When Biggby Coffee first started (back then it was Beaners), there were 35 other coffee shops in the East Lansing area. Bob made his company unique/stand out to succeed.
  • Success depends on knowing who you are and communicating it.
  • Bob's goal is for every customer to leave the store in a better mood than when they arrived. He hits this goal 72 percent of the time (uses secret shoppers and asks this question).
  • Core values: you need energy, excitement and enthusiasm – no matter what business you’re in; always have faith, confidence and courage – the real definition of courage is doing something you’re afraid of anyway; dedication and dependability – steadfast tenacious responsibility
  • Biggby's culture: have fun, be happy, make friends, love people, make great coffee.
  • There have been three weddings at a Biggby and there are countless stories of people meeting others and forming a relationship at Biggby.
  • You have to show your personality/persona through social media if you're representing a brand.
A HUGE thank you to Hajj and Brandon for putting on such a kick a** conference! I'm sure the sweat and tears you poured into this conference was worth it.

If this wasn't enough Brand Camp U goodness for you, check out the Twitter stream and photos on Flickr for more.


Brandon Chesnutt said...


I'm so thrilled you took away all of this great information from Brand Camp University.

As I stated when we kicked off the conference, "prepare to be inspired." :)

Thank you again for attending!

Brand Camp University Co-Organizer

Todd said...

Thanks for the detailed summary! I hope people who couldn't be there get as much from your post as I did.

It's much appreciated.

EstrellaBella10 said...

Brandon - I definitely was inspired!

Todd - Sorry you didn't make it to the conference, but thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

Hajj E. Flemings said...


I am glad you could be apart of Brand Camp '09. It was a very inspiring day and your blog post captured the essence of what the attendees experience.

Hajj E. Flemings

Scott said...

Thank you for the detailed post. My own notes should be so organized!


Conner Financial Coaching said...

Hey Nikki!
Great recap! I love it! Nice blog, I subscribed so I can keep up.


Conner Financial Coaching said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EstrellaBella10 said...

Scott and Dorethia - sorry we didn't get to meet at Brand Camp, but hope to meet you both in person soon!