“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the [industry] we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding… To be [successful] today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”   Fast Company, 2008

Kids and barney Although personal branding is a topic that is discussed very little in education, the idea of branding is not new. By age two, our toddlers are asking for products by their brand name. children start to believe that brands communicate their personal qualities: Barney is my friend, Dora is smart, and Tela-Tubbies are cute and silly. Some branding experts say that upon arrival at the schoolhouse steps, the typical first grader can evoke 200 brands.

There is no question that branding has commercial power. But what about personal power? Should we be talking to students about "personal branding"? Should we be teaching them how to discover, develop, and sustain their unique personal brand?

This is the topic that Dan Schawbel ,the leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y'ers. explores in his new book, Me2.0. I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy for review, thinking that this would be a great read to share with high school teachers as their students prepare for life after school. I am now convinced that this is a conversation and resource for every teacher.

Me20 Me 2.0 is a Handbook for Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century laying out:

  • A proven  4-step process for building a powerful brand (discover, create, communicate, maintain).
  • Tips on using social media tools for personal empowerment, confidence building, and professional networking in order to attract jobs directly to you, without applying!
  • Tested advice on how to create an online and offline presence for career protection and self-promotion.
  • Over 40 expert quotes from leaders including Don Tapscott, Guy Kawasaki, Penelope Trunk, and David Kirkpatrick of Fortune Magazine.
  •  More than 70 research reports, three personal case studies and examples to give you a broader perspective (My favorite part!)

Speaking from both his head and heart, Dan makes he compelling case that it is no longer is it enough to show that you are great, you have to show why you are a great match for a culture and brand of the company you want to work for. You have to be able to sell yourself, your talents, your passions, your uniqueness. (Aren't these Key 21st Century Skills?)

He advises that we teach this generation of learners and future world changers to become Career Commanders making the point:

"In order to be successful in the new world of work, you have to be the commander of your career. The world is changing. There is no escape from the world I’ve brought you into. If you fail to recognize that you’re a brand and implement marketing strategies to your advantage, you will lose. If you fail to use social media tools and claim your name on social networks, you will lose. By not taking time to become this “new-age” commander, you won’t live a fulfilling life. You will end up doing work that doesn’t make you happy, not earning your potential income or having a positive attitude when you’re with your friends or family. By not investing in your brand now, you are setting yourself up for a life of doubt and turmoil later.

Schawbel goes on to offer practical, step by step advice on how to do this, using social media tools like blogs, Facebook, Linked in, and Twitter, but cautions that being "Commander U” is a mindset:

"It’s not the tools, it’s how you use them. It’s not the title, but the experience. To be a commander, you need possess the ability and skills to lead with confident, passionate,intelligent, strategic, while simultaneously gaining the respect of those around them."

While Schawbel is targeting audiences looking for a job or worried they may be looking for a job in the near future, I believe this is a must read for educators no matter what age they teach. This can be a powerful tool and resource in our quest to help the future Oprah's, Gates, and Einstein's recognize their unique talents and powers to impact the world.

For more great stuff from Dan, check out his:

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