Building a brand while being private: making it work for you

With the web being more and more obsessed with extremely “personal brands”, the advice often given to starting entrepreneurs is to be radically honest about who you are.

I think this is misleading and overwhelming for many.

Where do you draw the line? What’s relevant? What’s narcissistic to a fault?

And how do we find our own balance?

Personally, I have a need for extreme privacy while wanting people to know my innermost thoughts. That may seem bipolar or odd, but I’ve made peace with it, as I now understand the difference.

I don’t need to share my whereabouts when I’m at my favorite restaurants or post closeup photos of my child everywhere. I don’t need to show you how “happy” I am in a bikini on Hawaii.

But I do want to share the common thread of human experience and to find the similarity in us. I want to reach inside my heart, my head, my soul and find that commonality of experience, to write it down and to pass it on like a wooden toy boat filled with sugar hearts and brambly leaves (to signify the balance of the beautiful and convoluted that the human experience is.)

I give the boat a small shove. It floats on, reaching whatever banks it may.

This is my aim and the intention of my life.

And I realized this when I was quite young.

I’d write in myriads of journals in coded terms so that if my work was ever found, one could never know whom it was about. The reader could only gather the experience and share it or reject it. The details would be irrelevant, lost to time. The irony is that the details have become lost to me as well. I no longer know who I wrote of; I just have the experience of my 16 year old self to observe. The feelings are real; the details unnecessary.

I have always loved my privacy.
Some years ago I shut down my Facebook page and started a new one, allowing only a small group of people in, rolling everyone else to my business page.

I first shared and then deleted most of my daughter’s photographs from the web. I don’t mention my man often or say much about him. He likes his privacy too.

But I do want you to know what I feel and think about. And I want you to know that details are often irrelevant. We are human. And that’s what binds us. What my happiness looks like is irrelevant. Should be irrelevant. I think it gets in the way. I think it misses the point if my preferences begin to matter to anyone. I take my coffee the way I take it. Maybe finding out I drink it at all will taint your view of me.

I met someone whose work I really admired and emailed her. She was horrendous to me, rude, short, dismissive, technologically in the dark age. I decided to delete the email exchange. I really didnt want to tarnish my experience of her work with her personality. Don’t meet your heroes, they say.

So I’d say the same thing here.

Be real. Don’t find it necessary to constantly show off what you’d hope your life looked like.

Find the raw experience and be capable of sharing it if it’s necessary. Make us laugh and relate.

And find your happy medium. You can build a brand even if you’re very private. I have.

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