A few months back I made a presentation on Building Brand Value to a group of industrial service providers. While I spoke there were about 300 people furiously scribbling notes. When I finished a bunch of hands shot up.
A nervous middle-aged man in a green and white golf shirt stood. “Your ideas make a lot of sense,” he started, “but what you don't know is that even though we're all from different states we compete with one another for the best projects around the country.”
He spread his arms wide to show he was talking about the whole crowd.
“If all of us do what you say, we'll all do exactly the same thing and it won't benefit any of us.”
His gaze dropped to the floor and he sat down.
I answered something about different people doing different things and even though they had all been given the same direction, they'd interpret it in different ways.
But if we go back and poll the group a year from now we'll find very few of them implemented the things we talked about. Sure they were excited and energized when I was done talking but let's face it, once they got back to their offices the daily grind took over. And while all 300 people in the room heard my message about their brand value, only a very small percentage will actually put the message to good use. And it's the implementation – not the learning – that creates success.
Think about the unfulfilled aspirations you had in college. Whether it was to learn guitar, play tennis or get a black belt in karate, if you had started back then you'd probably be pretty good at it by now. But as John Lennon sang: “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
I remember when I first decided to write a book about brand value. I though about what I wanted to write, I dreamt about what I wanted to write, and I told everyone what I wanted to write. The only thing I didn't do was write.
But while I wasn't working on my book I still believed I would write it. Steven Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance explains it this way: “We don't tell ourselves, ‘I'm never going to write my symphony.' Instead we say, ‘I am going to write my symphony; I'm just going to start tomorrow.'”
One day a friend of mine who had published a few books of his own asked how my book was coming. I was about to launch into my standard pitch when he put up his hand. “You haven't started, have you?” he asked.
I shook my head slowly.
“You know,” he went on “if you write a page a day, that's a book a year.”
That little piece of advice was all I needed. After all, writing a book is an intimidating goal. But writing a page a day? Anyone can do that.
Building your own brand value is exactly the same. While it may be intimidating to look at well-established brands and wonder how you'll ever create such notoriety, it's not nearly as difficult if you break down the scary whole into lots of manageable little bits.
It is never too late to be who you might have been. All you have to do is get started.