We Exist Before We Exist. In the Media.


We live in an open world. If you don’t believe there are no more secrets today, just think of Wikileaks.

The hard skills we learned in school were already not sufficient in the ‘90s when a society starved for creativity and human touch was screaming for the re-discovery of right-brainers. This was prior to the explosion of Internet, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and others the like. Now we need to feature hard skills, artfully package them in a soft-skill right brain-driven strategy, and sell them thanks to a cleverly-managed public image.

Just think about it. The other day, a friend posted an ultra-sound image of his unborn baby on Facebook. We exist before we exist. This is a scary new reality, and we need to learn to live with it, because it’s here to stay.
Our public image is being created right now, whether we like it or not. We go on a press trip or to a team building, have two or three cocktails too many, and pop! our picture is displayed the next morning on a social network, from where it’s a matter of two clicks from being downloaded by tabloid media or by a competitor. Another friend was recently saying: "I just can’t believe how nothing can get packed into so much bubble and go round the world at such a speed as if someone would truly find value in nothing." Yes, but the problem is: who defines nothing? You? Your clients? Your competitors? Who defines the damaging attributes of a miscalculated thought, sentence or picture? Unless you’re Václav Klaus, you might want to think twice before you decide to ignore when communities of millions of global viewers rally around your pen “theft.”

So, what can be done to prevent such mishaps?

First of all, clarify what you want. What are your life goals? Do you want to be rich? Do you want to inspire the others? Do you want to be perceived as a good father and husband? In a way, it’s a kind of reflection on what you’d like people to read in your obituary if something unfortunate would happen tomorrow. What do you want to achieve in this life? And, more importantly, how do you want to share your achievements with the others?

Second, be aware. Where is your image being created? This is because your public image IS being created, whether you want it or not. The only thing in which you have full management is whether you decide to care about it or not. So, back to your image – where is it being created? In your family? At the work place? In your community? At the clubs you’re frequenting, may they be professional business chambers or night clubs? What image are you sending out? Is that what you want? Is that image helping you to achieve your goals in any way?

Third, become proactive. Take your image and turn it into a clever tool to help you achieve your goals. Take control of where your image is being created. If your wife is posting pictures on Facebook that you don’t want shared with your professional contacts, learn to manage your Facebook profile through lists of friends. If your PR rep is asking you to become the expert voice of the company in a certain area, take a journalist out for a drink and ask him or her: how to do that? How am I supposed to prepare myself for meeting people like you?

Fourth: listen and learn. Keep your brain active and trained to answer fast, to the point and in synchronicity with the image you’re trying to send out to the world.

The outcome? You’ll be perceived as both an outstanding human being and an outstanding professional. More will admire your skills in governing your image. They will wonder: how come he’s everyone and everyone likes him? These people who like you will be there to give you a helpful hand if someone in the digital world attacks you with negative comment.

Managing your personal and professional image in both the traditional and social media is essential today. Your image is richer, and also more vulnerable than ever. How do you plan to deal with that? Will you face that vulnerability and take control of it, or let the World Wide Web swallow your name and reputation, together with the many opportunities that could have arisen from actively managing your media image?

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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