Donna Rachelson, author of Branding and Marketing YOU, explores the subject of how standing up for your beliefs is a vital part of your personal brand.
Many of the greatest figures that have helped shape modern history, like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill, are known and are memorable because they stood up for what they believed in, even if there were many who disagreed with them.
The ability to take a stand and to consistently back it up is a common characteristic of many of the most effective personal brands I’ve come across. When you raise your voice and say something different to what everyone else is saying, and you have the research and the facts to back your opinion up, you differentiate yourself from those around you and stand out from the clutter.
In my book, Branding & Marketing YOU, one of the people I profiled was Prof. Tim Noakes. He’s one of the most respected names in sports science, both locally and internationally, and the founder of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).
Prof. Noakes has defined his career through taking a stand, even if it’s meant that he is often viewed as controversial. The key reason that this has worked for him is that he does not express an opinion on a scientific matter unless he can back it up with solid proof. Because of his thorough research and ability to substantiate his sometimes unorthodox views, Prof. Noakes has built a credible reputation, conquered new territory and accomplished great things.
For example, Prof. Noakes was involved in the controversy surrounding the South African rugby team training regimen when the Springboks won the World Cup in 2007. He argued with Jake White (then coach of the team), backing up his point of view at every step, to ensure that the players were rested correctly before the tournament. Although this strategy was contentious, it paid off.
The truth is that people are not impressed by fence-sitters who refuse to take a stance on important issues. People who are passionate about issues and willing to raise their honest opinion and stand by it are far more likely to win support.
Of course, there’s no point in being opinionated if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Before you take a stand, you need to ensure you have a thorough understanding of the issue concerned and the ability to substantiate your viewpoint.
Prof. Noakes highlighted that for me in his interview when he said, “People have to believe you are credible, and you can’t fake it. People will pick it up. Sooner or later, they will know if you’re fraudulent or not.”
His advice is to understand that there is always a possibility that you could be wrong, to never be afraid to try something new, and to consistently back up what you say with solid research. These key concepts have helped to shape Prof. Noakes into one of South Africa’s most effective personal brands.
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