Decluttering Personal Branding

23 Nov,2022



By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaYou can read ‘All The World’s A Stage’, by Ambi Parameswaran, for a brief view of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of personal branding. It is like the foundation course in an MBA institute – Personal Branding 1.0. So, after reading the course material- the book ‘All The World’s An Stage’, you know enough to hold attention and conversation on Personal Branding. However, there is not enough for you to push on a journey.


Having read almost all the books by Ambi Parameswaran, I did expect something more. Something much solid. Something that could help a novice to start working on Personal Branding and not just think about it.


As with all his books, in ‘All The World’s A Stage’, Ambi Parameswaran declutters and simplifies the subject matter. In this case, he oversimplifies the damn thing. It is an easy read with hardly any jargon. And wherever new terms are introduced, they are to create the opportunity to explain the subject – No complaints there.


I do like the way the subject is approached. A conversation between friends Ambi, Shankar, Rita, Kunal and Joe during the Silver reunion at IIM Calcutta. Ambi plays the field expert role, amply supported by Rita, the HR expert, and Kunal, the almost convert. Shankar is the sceptic who gets converted by the end of 2 hours late-night walk late on the last night of the reunion.


Now, in terms of personal branding, by naming the character of branding expert AMBI and suggesting he is much younger.


Not that Ambi Parameswaran needs it, but demonstrating the nuances of personal, he uses the opportunity well. Ambi’s expertise, success with brands, networked connections, teaching assignments, books like Sponge and Spring, talks and references to keynote addresses are sprinkled throughout the book. Well, that is some real suggestion and hints towards Personal Branding.


‘All the World’s A Stage’ does an excellent job showing that each individual is a unique brand. Your responsibility is to care for and create your Personal Brand, as it is an influencing factor in your professional life.


In the book, Parameswaran touches on various steps and questions that one needs to address in creating and nurturing a personal brand. However, it lacks a concrete roadmap and exercises that would allow the reader to gain much from the book. Maybe that is a flaw of the conversational storytelling adapted by Ambi Parameswaran in his books for the first time. But some exercises could have helped make the book more relevant and impactful.


Discussing the process or the steps of Personal Branding will spoil the impact of enjoying reading ‘All The World’s A Stage’, which is not right.


However, here is something that I can share without taking much away from the book. Brick by brick, the book brilliantly demolishes seven personal branding myths.

1. Personal branding will conflict with corporate branding.

2. Personal branding happens on its own.

3. Personal branding is very different from product branding.

4. Personal branding gets set in stone and is unchangeable.

5. Personal branding can exist independent of your executive presence.

6. Personal branding is very different from executive communication or executive voice.

7. Social Media is a unidimensional one-way street for personal branding.


Ambi’s book almost kills the book that I have been writing, which is still WIP. The idea of the book ‘You The Brand’ was seeded in our 30th Reunion at IIM Ahmedabad. There I took my batchmates through a small part of my ‘Brand-i’ workshop and empathised with my belief in being responsible for our Personal Brand. That night I ended up discussing the subject with a few of my friends at Louis Khan Plaza and a walk through the old campus. So, the book was almost a déjà vu and a reminder that the projects should be completed on time.


I go further in my ‘Brand-i’ workshop on Personal Branding or individual coaching. I warn the participants that they better care and work towards the desired Personal Brand identity – impression and perception or be willing to be branded by default. Because branding anyone is as simple and naturally involuntary as breathing. Well, one does need to perform and have the desired skill sets. Still, a right Personal Brand – actual or perceived can definitely smoothen the process of climbing the organisational pyramid and exploiting business or personal opportunities. And here, as a true advertising person, I am more interested in how it is perceived than it actually is. Because perception is more potent than reality. I know I should have placed more importance on Executive Dressing, Voice and Presence than I did during my corporate life.


To know more, read the book ‘All The World’s A Stage’ by Ambi Parameswaran. He does a pretty good job of explaining their importance.


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