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31 March 2006 Cape Peninsula University of Technology Graduation Faculty of Informatics & Design Cape Town The pre-eminent authority in Marketing, globally, Philip Kotler, says his first experience in public speaking was more than 30 years ago at the American Marketing Association, and only one person had shown up. He spoke for about 40 minutes, and when he finished, the person applauded. And then as he was about to leave, the person said “you can‟t leave.” And why not he asked. “Because I‟m the next speaker,” he said. Knowing that I am not alone and you are not here as the next speakers, it gives me great pleasure and I am honoured to be in the company of, and I acknowledge with respect, the chancellor, the vice-chancellor, all educators, parents, siblings and friends, fellow students, most importantly, the graduates, and all invited guests, on this glorious occasion, the graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Informatics and Design, in this great city of Premier Rasool, Mayor Helen Zille and the beautiful people of Cape Town, in South Africa. I am sure we are both imminently qualified to talk on end about Informatics and Design, and its impact on the economy, which was the central theme of the DesignINDABA last month. I have chosen instead, to speak about: The Design of A Brand New You – Making an impact within the context of your world and your work, while remaining true to yourself. On 26 April 2004 –a day shy of the tenth anniversary of the new South Africa, Time Magazine released their A-List of the World‟s Most Influential People from all walks of life. Chances are you and I are familiar with a fair number of them, if not all. We have some connection to them. As Time put it, they are “a relatively handful of humans with strong ideas and a determination to pursue them has had an outsize impact on the rest of us.” Among them, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the world‟s wealthiest individual. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the first African to head the UN, the late spiritual leader of the Catholic Church Pope John Paul II, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, Sepp Blatter of FIFA, Oprah Winfrey, and Osama bin Laden. At no. 94. in the category of heroes and icons – our Nelson Mandela, the only South African in the top 100. His feature in the top 100 is no surprise. The only surprise is that he‟s not placed at the top of the list. Given it‟s global nature, for many of us, our span of influence and reach (or riches for that matter) is probably not expansive enough to get us on any of Time‟s list. Or that of Forbe‟s Richest People. But closer to home, in the NewAfrican, featured it‟s poll of the 100 Greatest Africans, which is dominated by men and politicians, mostly from the post-independence era (recent 50 years), includes former state president Nelson Mandela (1), Ghanaian and author of Africa Must Unite, Kwame Nkrumah (2), Zimbabwe‟s Robert Mugabe (3), state president Thabo Mbeki (8), matyred Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko (11), Winnie Mandela (12), Shaka Zulu (13), Mirriam Makeba (43), FW de Klerk (50), Oliver Tambo (54), Walter Sisulu (57), Hugh Masekela (77), Brenda Fassie (91), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (99) and Helen Suzman (100). In a list that includes continental and disaporans (people of African descent), South Africans made a good showing with 14 in the top 100. The Mail & Guardian‟s annually has its list of Top 100 South Africans. The Movers & Shakers as they put it. Financial Mail publishes “The Little Black Book,” which according to the deputy Chairman of AMB, Peter Vundla, himself a distinguished businessman and co-founder of HerdBuoys McCann Erickson, a top 10 advertising agency, “it has become the premier reference of a pool of intellectual capital from which the nations current and future leaders can be drawn.” The Little Black Book, according to the editor of the book, Thandeka Gqubule, “a compendium of the most influential and powerful 400 professionals in the South African business, social and political sphere.” The lists may not be quite scientific. But when it comes to human beings, the measure is based on impact and public opinion. The impact these individuals have on the world and the people around them and the public‟s opinion of them. Just like Nielsen empirically measure market share, these lists are a measure of people‟s “mind share” assessed in public opinion. Public opinion is one of the barometers of brands, and the key driver of personal brands. The world is not run by thought, Nor by imagination, But by opinion. - Elizabeth Drew, “The Modern Novel” There is no science behind people‟s feelings about others. But there‟s a certain infectious aura about the world‟s most recognized and admired people which appeals to us – because of their social, commercial or moral achievement and/or influence. We don‟t always have to love them or have fond memories of them. But we can never ignore them. As is the case with Osama bin Laden. Or Germany‟s Adolf Hitler. Or, Hendrik Verwoerd. Or Idi Amin of Uganda. Sometimes we can‟t imagine what our worlds would have been without them. As is the case with former State President Nelson Mandela, India‟s Mahatman Ghandi. The late Mother Theresa. The late Lady Diana Spencer. One thing is certain - they stand out. By design or by default. As the 1984 classic commercial by Apple stated: “The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.” Today, as you descent the stage after graduation and enter the world of world, entrepreneurship or any pursuit of your desire, you‟ll find a very different future awaits you. A future very different from that of past generations. You‟ll find a place, as Michael Goldharber of Wired Magazine once observed: In times past, you could be obscure, yet secure – now that‟s harder. Your desire or ambition may not be to get on any of those lists. Our motivations, environment, contexts and reach are all different. Some of us strive just to get stand out in the queue so that we can get on with the job at hand. To get ahead in the queue of unemployment, for a tender, for a movie role, for a music contract, for a promotion or for a remuneration increase. To transcend the grey sea of sameness. Or for the heck of it, because your ego demands it. All different and all personal reasons. With over 44 million South Africans, and a fair number with commercial, social and/or moral talent, the battle to stand out has never been more fierce. Add to that list the thousands of product and service ideas and brands registered with the department of trade and industry‟s CIPRO. That‟s a pretty stiff competition to be in. Personal branding is the secret to creating an impact or rather, registering one‟s impact on the personal brand “richter scale.”. It is what enabled Nkhensani Manganyi to successfully transform from an actress and comedian in “It‟s a Funny Country” in 1997 to South Africa‟s Fairlady Fashion Designer of the Year in 2003 for leading her fashion label, Stoned Cherrie and got her label into Woolworths. It is what enables BEE commecial suitors to first look to Tokyo, Patrice, Saki and Cyril first when thinking of possible BEE partners or directors for their companies. It is what gets Leleti Khumalo a leading role in Generations or Sello Maake the role of Othello in London‟s stages, without an audition. It is the difference between Basetsana Makgalemela-Khumalo and Anneline Kriel-Bacon and all the other former Miss South Africas. Or between Bassie and Anneline and Naomi Campbell. It is what gets state president Thabo Mbeki the first call whenever there is an issue to resolve in Africa. Each man has his vocation. - Ralph Waldo Emerson - Branding and design guru, Marty Neumeier, author of Brand Gap, defines a brand as “a person‟s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” Simply ilustrated, in the movie Ray, just before the late legendary Ray Charles, then known as Ray (Charles) Robinson became a star, his agent, Jack Lauderdale said to him: “Ray we got to talk about your name. (Legendary boxer Sugar) Ray Robinson‟s got the franchise wrapped up for the name Ray Robinson.” By the time he released his first hit record, “Messing „Round,” Ray Charles Robinson had changed his name to Ray Charles, and wrapped up the franchise for that name. Mention of the name Ray Charles conjures only images of the late blind superstar with a legion of fans and multitude of hits that span gospel, pop, rock and RnB. He‟s never ever been confused with boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson. As you can tell, much similar to how chaperones groom beauty queens and entertainment stars, and executive coaches group managerial talent, and politicians are shown the ropes, you‟ll have to take matters into your own hands. History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. - Sir Winston Churchill or Do not go where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson The way to do it, is to remember the 5 E‟s of creating a personal brand: At the core, what is your Essence which defines your value proposition. Education as the foundation. What Experience you bring to bear or create through your engagements. What Expertise you develop that makes you a leader in your field. How you create Exposure for yourself. And finally, The benefits or advantages of having a distinct personal brand are immense – - Differentiates you from your competition. - Confers “top of mind” status. - Increases authority and credence of decisions. - Places you in a leadership role. - Enhances prestige. - Attracts the right people and opportunities. - Adds perceived value to what you are selling. - Earns recognition. - And perhaps of more importance to you today, it increases your chances of getting choice appointment and increasing your earning power. Does that make one an egomaniac? “You need an ego to be successful,” say‟s Donald Trump. If that ego is supported by the skills and expertise you‟ve earned today, like Donald Trump boldly states in his authorized biography boldly states, “There‟s No Such Thing As Over-Exposure.” Much of the time, many of are afraid of just how great we can be and what our difference we can make in this world, and in your world, through design and informatics. For many of us, as Marriane Williamson observed: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? - Marriane Williamson Remember this, The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that you work for someone else. - Unknown. - It‟s a new Brand world. Go ahead. Create your own history. Thank you.
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