So imagine you are a the only person of your race in a world full of money, power and prestige. Now imagine that through your talent and pure force of will… that you build an impeccable career and reputation. What would it take for you to overcome all the odds against you?
Some reading this, may not know Sidney Poitier. For the rest of us, Mr. Poitier is a movie star who starred in tour de force movies like, In the Heat of the Night . If you haven’t seen this wonderful film, I encourage you to check it out. If you are wondering how to build your personal brand, I suggest you examine the public life of this amazing human being.
He rose to be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. No rehabs, no scandals, no spin — just a high quality ‘service’ (his acting) delivered with dignity and thoughtfulness. It’s not about being famous… it’s about a sure and steady knowing, inside ourselves, that we have done the job well and conducted ourselves in way that makes us proud.
As I think about my own career, I can say that I have done well on some fronts and could have done better on others. Here’s what I learned from Mr. Poitier…
1) Be myself. I can learn and grow, but don’t take any crap from anyone; particularly those who would exploit or diminish me.
2) Don’t let them judge me by my looks and don’t judge others that way. Remember the words of Martin Luther King …” where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Substitute age, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. for color of their skin).
3) When in doubt, don’t do it, say it or type it. Mr. Poitier gained his reputation by making thoughtful choices from words to roles. Did he sacrifice tremendously for those choices? My guess is yes.
If you want to figure out how to build your personal brand… look at those who have done such an amazing job before us. They’ll teach us everything we need to know.