Simple Ways To Think About Your "Image"

The Financial Times recently observed that Warren Buffett has done an extraordinary job at maintaining his image as “a just-folks mid-western guy,” a down-to-earth label I’m sure many people in his strata would love to boast.

I believe perception is reality and that even we small fry should think about our “image” from time to time. There exists a perception out there of who you are and what you do. Then there’s a reality. Managing your image isn’t about inventing a new reality; it’s about bringing those two things closer together.

I think the perception of you is largely driven by your associations. When I think of John Doe, I think about who John is friends with, what groups he is part of, what company he works for, and so forth. Like it or not, I think our perceptions of a person are largely the collective perceptions of everyone and everything that person is associated with. Who are your friends? Do you like what they stand for? If all of John’s friends are jerks, I’ll probably lump him into that category too.

I would prefer to be evaluated for who I am, not my associations. Writing a blog is a great way to route others’ “perception formation” to my ideas and life. Here’s a question: When someone Googles your name, is the first result a web page you own/control? If you’re not near the top, other people’s blog posts or press articles are dictating what someone reads about you.

Related Post: Creating and Projecting Your Personal Brand

3 Responses to Simple Ways To Think About Your "Image"

  1. Tim Taylor says:

    Ben,

    It seems to me that considering image or what others may think of you is the birthplace of ego. For exmaple, if Warren Buffet has to continually state he’s “just a Midwestern dude” or whatever it’s a signal that the gap between perception and reality is wide.

    If someone is kind, I’ve found that they never say it, they just live it. Living it minimizes the possibility of a gap ever manifesting.

    Interesting post bud.

  2. Jason says:

    Sometimes the absence of an “image” can create an image all of its own.

    In high school I was profoundly disinterested in most of the activities–academics and extra cirriculars included. I had a close group of friends, as well as many outside the classroom.

    I found that I’d been around more of the “real world” than my peers, and had come to enjoy many things (Broadway shows, metropolitan dining, etc) that my classmates weren’t as familiar with.

    The result? Many people assumed I was arrogant or haughty, without even speaking one word to me. I’ll admit entering class with a frappucino and the latest issue of GQ or Details isn’t exactly common, but did that automatically make me a bad person?

    I can look back now and find it funny that people would say “wow, you’re not a jerk at all” after speaking with more, though it’s definitely made me more careful as to how I conduct myself, at least in meeting people for the first time.

  3. Chris Yeh says:

    Ben, I wrote up a lengthy riff:
    link to chrisyeh.blogspot.com

    Here’s the wrap-up:

    “Your blog can showcase your writing. It can let people understand your thought processes. It can even make you richer and improve your sex life. But as a personal branding tool, you’d be wise to also develop a posse that can credibly sing your praises.

    Alas, Ben, I guess what I’m saying is that even in the blogosphere, the difference between heaven and hell is the company you keep. Not sure what your current set of complaints about the heat indicates….”

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