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Tag: Personal Brand

Personal Branding: Steelers QB Roethlisberger – Bad Boy or Dirt Bag?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed to another Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger at the quarterback position.  Roethlisberger’s already won two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers.  In those games, he set up wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes as Super Bowl MVPs (in 2006 and 2009, respectively).

Big Ben Rothlisberger, QB, NFL, Steeler, Super Bowl, champion, Pro Bowl

NFL superstar, Super Bowl champion and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback "Big Ben" Roethlisberger

The Personal Brand

With due respect to defensive standouts Troy Polamalu and James Harrison (and to Polamalu’s insanely distinctive hair) – I suggest that Roethlisberger is today’s face of the Steelers franchise.

Physically large and notably tough compared to others who play his position, “Big Ben” seems a good fit for this role.  The city, the uniforms, the tradition – they all say “tough,” “blue collar,” “hard-nosed.”

Pittsburgh Steeler Quarterback Rides a Motorcycle

Roethlisberger's Personal Brand: Bad Boy?

With his penchant for riding (and crashing) motorcycles without a helmet, sporting sleeveless (cut-off) shirts, wearing his ball caps backward and sporting facial hair in various styles and stages of growth, Roethlisberger is Steelers football.  The only NFL locale more fitting for this might be Oakland, but Ben’s a Pennsylvanian who played college ball in Ohio.  He’s far more a Steeler than a Raider.

I could simplify Roethlisberger’s personal brand as NFL superstar, Super Bowl champion “bad boy.”

I could … but I won’t.  “Bad boy” is too cute and harmless.  Instead, I’ll go with “dirt bag.”

Please note: you are building your personal brand and your legacy every day.  They’re in every decision and every action you make, as well as in those you don’t.  You’re welcome to take control over your brand and your legacy, but know that they will be built whether or not you exercise any control over them.  Now, back to the current topic …

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Big Ben with women at the bar

Roethlisberger's Personal Brand: Dirt Bag?

The Dirt Bag Brand

Ben Roethlisberger drags around everywhere he goes the weight of multiple rape allegations.  To be fair, he’s never faced charges due to insufficient evidence.  He has, however, enjoyed a 6-game suspension from the NFL due to this behavior.  Not even a year after he claimed a Lake Tahoe woman’s allegations “false and vicious,” adding that he would “never, ever force (himself) on a woman,” he officially locked down his dirt bag brand in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Fact: this two-time Super Bowl champion, perennial Pro Bowl quarterback and multimillionaire had sex with a 20-year-old girl in a bathroom in a bar in rural Georgia.  Read that again, let it sink in, then proceed to the next line.

This is not a winning play.  In fact, it’s a guaranteed loser.  This time, it resulted in another rape allegation.  He admitted contact, but denied assault.  I hate to add this, but I must … this happened in a bar bathroom, not in a club, not behind a velvet rope, not in a VIP section, not in a private room, not over at a nearby condo or hotel room.  Consensual or not, this is dirt bag behavior.

Witnesses claim that Roethlisberger demanded “all you bitches, take my shots” at the bar (“Wow, thanks for the invite!” and “Will do, Big Ben!”) and that his bodyguards were blocking the bathroom door (“Please move along, nothing to see here.”)  Enjoy this video deposition from his accuser.

All these details aside, guilty or not, fair or unfair media treatment … Roethlisberger’s not in control of a winning brand.

By Comparison

A quick look at Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowl quarterback contemporaries in the AFC shows the difference between a winning personal brand and a losing one.  Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts: generically All-American, son of an NFL legend, best athlete host of Saturday Night Live ever (a nod to the hilarity of Michael Jordan’s obvious discomfort as SNL host), pitchman for all kinds of common things.   Tom Brady of the New England Patriots: GQ cover guy, dated supermodels before marrying one, pitchman for high-end luxury goods and brands.  These Super Bowl MVPs (Manning in 2007 and Brady in both 2002 and 2004) have relatively clear brands.

Though young and not yet as accomplished, there’s AFC championship game competitor Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets: southern Californian and USC grad, third generation Mexican-American and serious playoff competitor with 4 wins in just 2 years … all on the road.

An elder who’s a fair comparison is also a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback who spent his career in the AFC.  Similar to Roethlisberger in physical size, throwing ability, willingness to take a hit and overall style of play, John Elway of the Denver Broncos: worst thing he was ever involved in was a Ponzi scheme … and he was the victim, serious enthusiasm, big smile, looks kinda like the horse he wore on his helmet.

Roethlisberger wears number 7 in Elway’s honor; too bad he doesn’t take Elway’s approach to personal responsibility.

To Summarize

As I argued a couple months back, when Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics refused to own his words, you have to own what you say and own what you do.  These decisions and actions define you.  You can use them to build, develop and enhance your personal brand or you can just let it all happen and deal with the consequences (“Drink Like a Champion Today”).

Having sex with a 20-year-old girl in a bathroom in a bar in rural Georgia  – consensual or not, with your bodyguards blocking the door or not – is always a losing play.

Being an incredible on-field performer buys lots of forgiveness, but it buys no respect.  To me, Big Ben’s brand is “dirt bag.”

To Provoke

Bad boy?  Dirt bag?  Other?  What’s Roethlisberger’s brand?

Was media treatment of Roethlisberger and the rape allegations fair?

Does off-the-field behavior of NFL players affect your thoughts or feelings about the players or the League in any way?

Have you read Jack McCallum’s Sports Illustrated cover story with the subtitle “An NFL Superstar’s Repulsive Behavior, the Ultimate Expression of Athletic Entitlement Run Amok, Has Forced Even the Most Die-Hard Fans to Question Their Team and Their Football Faith – and Made a Small Town in Georgia Wish He’d Never Paid a Visit” yet?

Crush It! by Vaynerchuk: What It Looks Like Off the Page

If you’ve already dropped your New Year’s resolution and you’re looking to pick up a new one, I recommend that you start to Crush It! The concept is laid out by Gary Vaynerchuk in his book of that title.  I wrote about it late last year.

The subtitle of the book is Why Now Is The Time to Cash In on Your Passion.  In it, Vaynerchuk advocates that you put family first, do what you love and work super-hard.  Tools are now available to help you build your personal brand and monetize your personal passion.  It involves a ton of hard work, but your passion should continue to pull you in such a way that it doesn’t feel laborious.

In thinking again about the key takeaways, I realized that a friend of mine is starting to Crush It!  My favorite part: I don’t think he’s explicitly trying – he’s just doing what comes naturally.

Sawatch, mountain, summit, peak, Emerald, Colorado, Rockies, Rocky Mountains, hike, climb

From Left to Right: Ethan Beute and Matt Payne on the summit of Emerald Peak, Sawatch Range, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

 

Matt Payne’s got a full-time management job with Peak Vista Community Health Centers here in Colorado Springs.  He’s a husband and father.  He’s also a mountaineer at heart.  Matt achieved the summit of his first “fourteener” (14,000+ foot peaks for which Colorado is famous) at the age of 6.

After losing touch with this innate passion, he decided a year or two back to revisit a long-time goal to climb the top 100 peaks here in Colorado.  Researching the peaks, planning the trips, getting new and necessary gear, locating and screening climbing partners – it all consumes a great amount of time.  He layered on another set of tasks by committing to shoot photos and write trip reports, which he’d post to a personal blog (now defunct, more on that next) and to other sites, like SummitPost.org and 14ers.com.

Both SummitPost and 14ers have good features, active communities and loads of information.  Not perfectly satisfied with either site, though, Matt taught himself Joomla, a content management system, and built 100summits.com from scratch.  He’s since added loads of features (interactive map of all the Colorado mountain ranges, deals of the day, photo sales and tons more – like an algorithmic breakdown of summit “impressiveness”).  The blog has turned into a series of Examiner posts.

The new skills he taught himself by building a website with no prior programming experience has resulted in potentially revenue-generating outcome – offers to built others’ sites.  Consider, too, that the Examiner series is revenue-generating (authors are paid per page view).  Add in the various revenue-generating aspects of the site (he gives away 25% to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute).  Also consider the value of building a community around such a focused concept – climbing the 100 highest peaks in Colorado.

 

In short: Matt’s using newly available tools (like Facebook) to begin to monetize his personal passion.  These efforts eat up nights and weekends.  It’s a sacrifice.  The revenue’s not nearly enough to boot the day job (it may be just enough to buy new gear), but he’s building an asset for himself, for his family, for their future.  The best part: he’s loving every minute of it (or most, anyway).

 

Related: his wife, Angela, is taking a more blended old-school/new-school route.  We were one of her earliest customers, ordering holiday cookies that she baked and sent to our family’s homes across the country.  Check out The Sweet Shop on Facebook.

Their efforts are young; I’m excited to see where it all goes.  So, will you start to crush it this year?

 

Photos from our visit to Collegiate Peaks Wilderness to summit Missouri, Iowa and Emerald Peaks are right here.

Photos from our visit to the Sierra Blanca to summit Mount Lindsey, Iron Nipple and “Huerfano” Peak are right here.

 

2017 UPDATE

Years after writing this post, Matt continues to drive into his passion for landscape photography.

See that passion on display at his photography website and in his landscape photography podcast.

 

Personal Branding: What You Say Can Be Used Against You

Respect must be earned constantly.  Your personal brand is alive.  What you say can be used against you, especially if you live in the court of public opinion.

For years, I’d respected perennial NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett for his hard work, high achievement and defensive prowess.  I liked the Pierce/Garnett/Allen trio they assembled in Boston.  I preferred they win over Los Angeles in the 2008 NBA Finals.

I lost most of my respect for Kevin Garnett after his failed attempt to shout his sponsor’s slogan immediately after winning the 2008 NBA Championship as a Boston Celtic.  I found it shameless to pass off the commercial as authentic.  You can see that video here.

“I’m going to Disney World!” absolutely defined an era of championship-winning and became a pop culture reference, something about which Adidas’ “impossible is nothing” could never dream.  Apparently, having KG as your front man gurantees its dormancy.

2008 National Basketball Association Boston Celtic Garnett Anything Is Possible

Garnett tries, but fails, to shout "impossible is nothing!" (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Today: reports that Garnett called Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient” during a game.  By tweeting about it after the game, Villanueva is said to have violated an unwritten players’ code against sharing such on-court antics off the court.  Read the ESPN story here.  Read the Bleacher Report story here.

I’m no cheerleader for political correctness.  Garnett has every right to say whatever he wants whenever he ways, no matter how insensitive, childish or reckless it may be.  Even with a parent who’s a cancer survivor, I’m not offended by the remark.

What I do find offensive: “You are cancerous to your team and our league.”  Garnett claims this is what he actually said – in the middle of the game, in the “heat of the battle,” as a piece of trash talk.  Right.  I’m sure that line was preceded by “Excuse me, Charlie.  In a moment, I’ll commence talking trash, as they say, to get inside your head and take you out of your game.”  Given the chance to display some integrity, to own his words, Garnett passed.

Goes without saying: millions of people who are, in fact, cancer patients die every year, leaving tens of millions of family members, friends, colleagues and fellow cancer patients behind.  All of them are among your current, prospective and former brand advocates and adherents.

Worth remembering: your personal brand exists in real time across many media.  Video’s being shot.  “Codes” and other institutions are being violated (if not demolished).  Tweets are being retweeted.  Be prepared to own the things you do and say.

The bottom line: ultimately, production is all that counts to most NBA fans.  If Garnett continues to pour in 20 and grab 10 most nights, all will be forgiven.  20/10’s not enough to earn my respect, though, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

The Reconstruction Begins: Tiger Woods & Nike

I’m as tired of the Tiger Woods story as you are.  Really.

However, I’ve seen a ton of nonsense about the first Tiger Woods ad to appear since the revelation of his extensive sexual indiscretions.

Two main categories of nonsense:

  • The ad is an expression of greed by Tiger Woods and Nike
  • The ad is a personal message from Tiger Woods himself

First: of course it’s greed!  The primary reason any athlete signs an endorsement deal and the primary reason any company extends one is, not surprisingly, profit motive on mutually acceptable terms.  The athlete provides associations the brand, product or company wants in order to increase sales.  The brand, product or company provides the athlete money in exchange.  It’s really that simple, so I won’t go any further with this ridiculously easy criticism of the ad and its existence.

Second: an agency (Wieden+Kenney) carefully created this message on behalf of Nike and Tiger Woods.  It’s not a personal message to you from Tiger Woods; do not accept it as such, narcissist.  It’s not a public acknowledgment of indiscretion by Tiger Woods – he’s provided one (sadly, by force).  It’s not a public apology by Tiger Woods – he’s already provided this, too.

So what is it?  It’s polarizing.  It’s talked-about.  It’s the beginning of the reconstruction of Tiger Woods’ image by a brand that stuck with him through the debacle.

Most of the negative remarks are the rightful result of Tiger-fatigue, so nonsense gets a pass.

Here’s the ad:

Here’s a transcription:  “Tiger … I am more prone to be inquisitive … to promote discussion.  I want to find out what your thinking was.  I want to find out what your feelings are.  And did you learn anything.”

Though it would have been the safest option, the absence of a Tiger Woods ad altogether during The Masters would have been quite conspicuous.

Since Nike decided instead to be present, their agency was presented a serious creative challenge.  Nike needs to turn back on as soon as possible the Tiger Woods cash machine they’ve built over the past decade or so.  The challenge: where and how does the reconstruction of the TW personal and brand images begin!?

A few thoughts about this execution:

  • Took the situation head on (did not gloss over it, ignore it or jump past it)
  • Visually simple and clean (no amazing shots, cheering crowds, triumphant victories)
  • Audibly simple and clean (no music, a couple bird chirps, dad’s voice)
  • Dad-as-conscience device works (no one wants to hear from Tiger or generic voiceguy)
  • Message is vague, curious and sensitive (no bold statements or declarations)
  • White logos over black vest and cap absolutely jump off (clearly present with being in your face)
  • All things considered, an above-average starting point (where would you have started!?)

I personally abhor Woods’ selfish and unfaithful behavior.  Though I know nothing about the science behind it, “sexual addiction” strikes me as a weak excuse for weak-minded, shameful behavior.  Climbing down off my moral high horse, as too few are wont to do, I accept this commercial message as the start of the reconstruction.

The commercial doesn’t “speak” to me.  It does not feel to me significant, impressive or provocative in any way.  It does feel a bit human, which is a good start.

Bottom line: Tiger Woods is a living case study that will eventually be published in formal marketing texts.  I don’t know how it will read or how I will feel about this commercial a year or two from now, but today it feels OK.  Nike’s got to fire back up that cash machine slowly and carefully.

Related: I’m quite curious about the original context of the recording, as Earl Woods passed away in 2006.

Also related: considering the financial stakes, “Brand Tiger Woods” moved far too slowly as the PR crisis rolled out and built up.  They had no control over public perception as more and more women emerged with allegations.  The online, print and television tabloids went burned wildly with the story.  To control the flames, it’s always best to be first and to be honest and to in times of crisis.

Happy 5th Birthday, Here’s Your URL!

Chalk Flood

This 4-year-old’s name is Ethan Beute.  He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This photo of him was published to the Grand Rapids Press website earlier this year.

Coincidentally, my name is Ethan Beute and I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan for at least 20 years of my life.  I would add that he looks a little bit like I did as a child.

The day a friend of mine posted this as a link on my Facebook page, I knew I had to buy ethanbeute.com.  What parent of an Ethan Beute wouldn’t want to give his or her child ownership rights to  “ethanbeute.com” as a fifth birthday gift!?  A stretch, I know, but I didn’t want to risk it.

With regard to my surname, my wife and I were the only “Beute” in the Chicago phone book for the 4 years we lived there.  When I witnessed a child with my name living in my hometown, however, I knew that I had to claim my online real estate immediately.

I’m Ethan Beute on Facebook and LinkedIn.  I’m ethanbeute on Twitter and Flickr.  As a natural extension of my personal brand, ethanbeute.com is the only way to go.

Claiming a url is a simple process; my technical knowledge and skills are limited, yet I had no problem doing it.  I used GoDaddy.com and paid $10/year for the rights.  I set it up to redirect to this blog site.

I have no idea where all this is going – and by “all this” I mean life online in a very general sense.  I do know that I need to be easily found online.  This online presence is necessary if I’m to have any future in promotion, marketing, and branding.

Recommendation: consider your personal brand.  As a primer, here’s a years-old article from Fast Company (1997!) from the exceptional business mind of Tom Peters (yes, that’s a link to tompeters.com).

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