When I was a sophomore in college, I had the chance to meet Mark Cuban. Yes, the billionaire entrepreneur turned Shark Tank star, Mark Cuban. He had just spoken at an event in Milwaukee, and I caught him for a moment afterwards to ask him a question.
“What would you say to young people who are starting to establish their personal brand?”
That was my question. I remember being proud of it. As a sophomore in college, I felt it was a good question that would allow him to give me some pointers on building a future in business.
His response was one I was not ready for and one I’ll never forget:
“Drink more PBR.”
There was an awkward pause as I just looked at him, confused. I was relieved that he didn’t stop talking there.
“Everyone is walking around making all of their decisions based on what other people think. Stop judging yourself by other peoples’ standards. Take a step back, have a beer, or a few beers, be yourself and don’t worry so much about your personal brand.”
Then he asked me a question.
“How old are you?”
“You have plenty of time to grow up and worry about your personal brand. Enjoy your time with your friends. Enjoy the college experience. Take everything in now. You have your whole life to be boring.”
That’s some pretty cool advice that has stuck with me through the years.
However, what I’m not sure Mark Cuban realized when he was saying this is, everything he said is exactly what makes up a personal brand.
A personal brand is simply the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that others have when they think of you. While I don’t condone underage drinking (for the younger folks reading this), being easy-going, valuing friendships, and enjoying life are all great things to be known for. What seemed almost like “anti-advice” was actually a pretty solid personal branding nugget.
I think my biggest takeaway from meeting Mark Cuban was this:
Have the confidence to be yourself; it will take you a long way.
Spending time worrying about what other people think can deter you from achieving what you’re meant to achieve. Be yourself. Go for it. Who knows? Your original self may just get you further than you would have gotten otherwise. Apparently Mark Cuban made a billion dollars while drinking PBR. Who says you can’t be next?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of ascribed intent, or making judgments about the intentions of others based on their actions when you may not have the full story.
Think about this. How many times have you sent a text message and not received one in return? This person probably hates you and never wants to talk to you again, right?
We are always thinking of the worst possible scenario. Why do we ascribe a missed text to a failing friendship or relationship? Why do we think someone snickering across the room must be talking about us? Why do we immediately determine the person who cut us off in traffic is cold-hearted and definitely did it on purpose?
I forget to respond to text messages (or tweets) all the time. My intentions are in the right place. I want to respond. I think about my response. Then, as I’m about to type it out, something takes my attention away from my phone…and I flat out forget.
I’d like to think that most of the things that worry us or put us in a bad mood can be described as unintentional. Don’t get me wrong, the action is there. Things happen that can make us upset. However, the thing that tends to upset us most is the intent we ascribe to the action.
In realizing this, there are three things that I’ve pushed myself to remember and put into action.
- Live intentionally
Knowing that everyone around me will judge my intent no matter what, I might as well make it easy for them. Using words and taking actions that direct these ascriptions can help remove tension, avoid animosity, and limit misunderstandings.
- Stop it
Don’t ascribe intent. At least not in a negative way. This one is really, really difficult. It is not easy to say: “I’m sure they meant well,” or “They must have had something come up.” However, when I move toward this type of thinking, I find it much easier to keep a smile on my face and a positive outlook.
- Forgive others the way you forgive yourself
I know, I know, this sounds like a line from the Our Father, but hear me out. When I do something wrong, I always think: “It’s alright. That’s not really who I am. I’ll do better from now on.” For some reason, we don’t give this same lenience to those around us. When someone else does something wrong, we say: “What were you thinking? You’re so irresponsible. I hate you” (We may not always go to this extreme, but I hope you get my point). Forgiving others quickly – and I mean actually forgiving them the way you forgive yourself – will remove stress from your life; I guarantee it.
At the end of the day, I don’t believe people want to hurt other people (if you disagree with this statement, you should probably start spending time with different people). However, our mistaken judgements about others’ intentions often lead us to think differently. I challenge you to join me in reminding yourself on a regular basis of the 3 points above, and don’t forget to let me know how it works for you (@FOCUS_Kyle).
Photo Credit: http://www.exboyfriendrecovery.com/chase-theory-how-to-make-your-ex-boyfriend-chase-you-again/